Hundreds enjoy heritage open day at Royal Clarence Yard in Gosport

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GOSPORT’S illustrious history came to life as a former Royal Navy yard opened its doors to the public.

Hundreds of people lapped up the September sunshine as Royal Clarence Yard marked Heritage Open Days, which sees historic buildings across the country showcasing themselves to the public.

There was something for everybody.

Young and old were captivated by the vintage buses, provided by Gosport-based charity The Provincial Society.

The yard’s old slaughterhouse – where cows were brought from distant lands for many decades – opened for the first time in 10 years.

It was bustling with people as a craft and vintage boutique fair was held.

151512-121_VINTAGE_12/09/2015''(l-r) Margaret Randall, Christine Newnham, Wendy Mailey and Pat Arnold from Festival Players dressed in period clothes. ''Gosport Heritage Open Day at Royal Clarence Yard, Gosport. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151512-121) PPP-151209-204920006

151512-121_VINTAGE_12/09/2015''(l-r) Margaret Randall, Christine Newnham, Wendy Mailey and Pat Arnold from Festival Players dressed in period clothes. ''Gosport Heritage Open Day at Royal Clarence Yard, Gosport. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151512-121) PPP-151209-204920006

There was the excitement of cannon firing from Hearts of Oak re-enactment company.

Sue Wells, from Lee-on-the-Solent, who set up a jewellery stall in the slaughterhouse, said: ‘It’s a wonderful building.

‘We have got these great places in Gosport and they should be used more.

‘They have great potential.’

Many people simply enjoyed wandering round the beautiful setting and finding out more about its history.

It was at Royal Clarence Yard that meat, cheese, butter, dried fish, rum, chocolate and tobacco were produced and packed for the nation’s sailors. Clothing and footwear were also packed and distributed to the ships.

The yard continued its victualling role until 1991, when the Ministry of Defence sold the site to developers.

Some people signed a petition, which called for a new ferry between Portsmouth and the yard to help encourage visitors.

John Sherwin, chairman of the Provincial Society, enjoyed showing off his buses, one of which dated back to the 1940s.

The double-decker took people on short trips.

‘People have commented and said they remember going to school on these,’ he said.

‘It’s all about heritage.

‘People get interested – even the young ones.

‘We have had them saying “look, a proper bus”.’

Helen Moore, 27, who came along with her one-year-old son Seth and mum Frances Lovett, said: ‘I wanted to see what was on offer.

‘Sometimes you don’t realise what’s on your own doorstep.’

Angela Batten-Reed, 49, and Kim Cranmer, 25, got into the spirit of things by dressing up in war-time attire.

Angela, who owns Unit 10 Hair Design at the yard, said: ‘It’s good publicity. It’s quite a hidden secret here.

‘It’s good to show the heritage of the area and help the businesses too.’