Unbreakable bond which links
all those who served in Britannia

The newsagents  in Somers Road where it was still legal  to park on yellow lines,  for a week at least.
The newsagents in Somers Road where it was still legal to park on yellow lines, for a week at least.
Simon the cat in HMS Amethyst

NOSTALGIA: The medal-winning moggie adored by a ship’s company

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In August 1971 council workmen were a little too quick off the mark painting yellow lines in the road outside a newsagents at Somers Road, Southsea.

Proprietor Mervyn Taylor was worried prospective customers would go elsewhere, so posted a notice outside his shop. It told drivers that the no waiting rule could not be enforced until the following week.

Mervyn Taylor posting his notice.

Mervyn Taylor posting his notice.

The shop, on the corner of Somers Road and Blackfriars Road closed some time after and later became a taxi office owned by Aqua.

n The piece last week about the Royal Yacht Britannia and Princess Margaret on honeymoon with Tony Armstrong Jones, written by my colleague Tim King, was seen by former royal yachtsman Mike Hill.

He told me: ‘I had just spent that week being kitted out in Victory Barracks for service in the royal yacht and joined it at its moorings off Whale Island on June 20,1960. That was to be the start of four years’ memorable service to HM the Queen, which I have never forgotten.

‘I was also present at the de-commissioning service on December 11, 1997.

‘The friendships formed during our years in royal yacht service remain as strong as ever and the Royal Yacht Association has a membership of more than 1,000 and holds an annual dance at the Maritime Club in Portsmouth, with the 35th biannual reunion dinner scheduled for November this year. ‘

Mike adds: ‘My talk called Life Below Decks In The Royal Yacht remains a firm favourite with many organisations and in retirement I have researched everybody who served in the royal yacht. Their details are now available on the royal yacht website.

‘Some served for decades and others just a few months, but none will ever forget the honour and privilege of being a royal yachtsman.’

Four years serving in the royal yacht – a privilege indeed Mike and I must attend one of your talks some time.

n My piece last week about the Evening Gun fired from the Old Portsmouth fortifications prompted a response from David Quentin, who was a member of the Fort Cumberland Guard.

In the 1970s the guard was based in Old Portsmouth and it was invited by Portsmouth City Museums to look into the feasibility of resurrecting not the Evening Gun but a 1pm gun firing from Long Curtain Battery. It would have been fired every day.

Two or three of the guard examined the cannon they were expected to fire, but found the barrel full of beer and Coke cans, broken bottles, newspaper and an assortment of other rubbish.

This proved difficult to extricate from the barrel in a professional way, even using the correct artilleryman’s tools.

Over the course of a fortnight the barrel was cleared out, but the following day it was discovered the public had refilled it, using it as a rubbish bin.

The lads had to report the proposal was a non-starter!

n There was a letter published in the News last Saturday from Bob Floyd.

He told of working on a train that was passed by a special from Southampton Docks to Waterloo carrying Bill Haley and the Comets on February 5, 1957.

The fireman on the locomotive at the head of the train was Eric Gosney.

Eric was born and raised in Portsmouth, the son of a railwayman. He joined the railway in 1950 at Fratton as a loco cleaner, later becoming a fireman.

When he was 18, Eric moved to London to the Nine Elms depot near Waterloo. I interviewed him some years ago for a railway magazine and he said it was the most enthralling day of his career.

He said: ‘We had a six-car train, two of which were Pullman cars for Haley and his band. It was packed with Teddy boys and girls ready to rock and roll.’