Community spirit helps Havant cafe hit by flood from river

James Taylor at his desk in his office at 116 High Street, Old Portsmouth.

Those halcyon days when pen and paper just worked!

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THE fighting spirit of the war years has helped a 1940s cafe in Havant get back on it feet after a major flood.

Jacqui Unal and Pauline Smith, who both have children serving in the army, opened the 19 Fourteas cafe in West Street last October and put their heart and soul into creating a nostalgic cafe with wartime memorabilia.

FIGHTING FIT Pauline Smith, left, and Jacqui Unal at the Fourteas team room. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (1476-4)

FIGHTING FIT Pauline Smith, left, and Jacqui Unal at the Fourteas team room. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (1476-4)

But disaster struck over Christmas when the nearby Lavant Stream burst its banks and the cafe was inundated with water.

Antique furniture from the 1940s, ration books, the carpet, a radiogram and suitcases were destroyed, causing thousands of pounds worth of items having to be thrown away.

But with the help of the community, the pair have bounced back.

Locals have been bringing in more memorabilia and providing heaters and cups of tea for Jacqui and Pauline as they cleared up the mess when they had no electrics.

Jacqui, 49, said: ‘It took all our effort to come back here because we felt like everything had been taken away.

‘But straight away the customers were back and got us back up on a high.’

Pauline, 44, said: ‘We wanted to get the community back together.

‘Anyone can come here on their own. That evidenced itself when it flooded in the way everyone rallied round and the support from the community who came to reminisce and share their memories.

‘I always feel we are in danger of losing that and someone needed to keep it alive.’

The cafe is truly unique.

The walls are lined with newspapers from the 1940s and scattered everywhere are wartime relics, such as gas masks and match boxes.

There is even a mannequin dressed as a 1940s soldier, called Jack.

The pair dress up every day as Land Girls as they serve wartime treats such as corn beef hash and Spam sandwiches.

The cafe opened as a one-off last June for Armed Forces Day but was such a success that Jacqui and Pauline decided to set up a business.

They have also helped to raise almost £2,000 for Help for Heroes.

Customer Doreen Britton, 72, from Bedhampton, said: ‘It is wonderful here.

‘I can remember all the stuff during the war and have brought in lots of pictures. It’s an ideal place for people of our age group.’