When milk was warmed around the classroom fire

Mind how you go ' children from Cottage Homes School are guided across Southwick Hill Road on the slopes of Portsdown Hill
Mind how you go ' children from Cottage Homes School are guided across Southwick Hill Road on the slopes of Portsdown Hill
The new trackbed for the Horndean Light Railway looking south across the bridge over Southwick Hill Road, Cosham, about 1903.

NOSTALGIA: Ready and waiting, the shiny new tracks climbing Portsdown Hill

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This picture of wartime children being helped across Southwick Hill Road above Cosham brought back many memories for Ann Smithers (née Dowd).

The picture originally came from Beryl Searley, of Boston Road, Wymering, who is the tall blonde girl in glasses in the centre of the group. They were on their way home for lunch from Cottage Homes School.

Beryl believes the picture was taken in 1944 when Ann was five.

Ann says: ‘We were bombed out from Southsea in 1940 and moved into the lovely new houses in Wymering with indoor bathrooms and big gardens.

‘My elder brother, Alan Dowd, was first at Wymering School and when the orphans at the Cottage Homes were evacuated and parts of Portsdown School taken over for the troops waiting for D-Day, the younger children were sent to Cottage Homes School, which is where I started school in 1944.’

Ann says she recalls an ‘Edwardian-looking’ woman called Miss Whitehead ringing the bell to start the day.

‘In the winter the schoolroom had a coal fire with a fireguard and we could warm our little bottles of milk by it.

‘We also had slates and chalk to use.

‘In the summer there was a lovely lawn we could play on, but only after taking off our shoes.

‘My brother showed me where the air raid shelters were if needed.’

Ann, of Winstanley Road, Stamshaw, recalls that children who lived closer to Cosham crossed a small bridge close to the then main gate to Queen Alexandra Hospital.

‘This was where the wounded soldiers in their bright blue uniforms used to wait and wave.’

She continues: ‘Later we were taken to Portsdown Infants which had been renovated after the troops left. We loved it, especially the classrooms with side walls that could be folded back when it was hot and verandahs where we could play in the shade.’

Eddie Amey, from Fareham, recognised the name Cecil Bebe from the original picture and recalled he had a brother, Billy.