The photograph above brought back many memories for John Porter.
It was taken by Eddie Wallace in 1961 and shows the unmistakable tower of the parish church of St Mary’s, Portsea, seen from the Manor Road/Cowper Road junction in 1961. The wasteland became the site of St Mary’s Road School for Girls.
John, of Windsor Road, Waterlooville, grew up in St Mary’s Road, and the picture immediately sent him back to his childhood and playing on this patch of derelict land.
He says: ‘I often played on this ground. The two white buildings in the right hand corner were the metal and woodwork classrooms for Kingston Modern School for Boys.
‘The big brick building on the left was Twilfits corset factory. Just in front you can see a stack of bricks.
‘It was just about here that the only bombed-out building was left standing.
‘It was a pub called either The Spread Eagle or it might have The Golden Eagle.’
John continues: ‘It was a popular place for us local kids to play in.
‘One day we were playing in the basement when we found a bomb.
‘We ran over to the factory to tell them and they made a phone call. Then we all sat outside waiting for the big army lorry and the soldiers which we had seen a few times in our area.
‘Sadly the lorry did not come. Instead it was our local policeman on his bike!
‘He knew most of the kids by name because we had many scrapes with him.
‘We never did know his name but he kept a photographic shop opposite the police station in Fratton Road.’
The bomb turned out to be a black shiny piece of a large vase, John reveals.
‘What was strange about this bomb site was that all along the road that was Cowper Road flowers and some vegetables still grew in what would have been people’s gardens.’