Tributes to Portsmouth rag and bone man who built a property empire

Frank Marsh, who started as a Portsmouth rag and bone man and ended up with a property empire, pictured when he was an Army lorry driver taking ammunition to the front after D-Day
Frank Marsh, who started as a Portsmouth rag and bone man and ended up with a property empire, pictured when he was an Army lorry driver taking ammunition to the front after D-Day
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TRIBUTES have been paid to a former rag and bone man who became one of Portsmouth’s most successful property magnates.

Frank Marsh, who was born in Portsmouth and lived most of his life in the city, has died aged 89.

Frank’s life touched many others, as he had 14 children and was the landlord for hundreds of properties during his remarkable career.

Daughter Angela Marsh said her father was a hard-working man who made a lot of people happy.

Angela said: ‘He wasn’t a drinker or anything like that – he loved life, children and people. If someone was out of work he did his best to give them jobs to help them out.’

After joining the army at 18, Frank became a lorry driver, bringing ammunition to the front after the D-Day invasion in the Second World War.

When he left the army he married Teresa Pourilli and the couple bought their first house using £300 left to Teresa from an uncle’s inheritance.

Angela said: ‘Their first little house was in Pink Road, in North End, and from there they started doing rag and bone work.’

Once known as ‘calling’ or ‘billing’, the couple would go door to door, letting people know they would buy unwanted goods such as jewellery, clothes or furniture for resale.

The business boomed and before long the Marshes bought a pub in Highfield Street, Landport, and turned it into a bed and breakfast.

A few second-hand shops followed, and the enterprising couple were so successful they could keep buying houses.

They eventually owned hundreds of properties in Portsmouth, London, and Blackpool.

Son Paul Marsh said: ‘There was no end to it, really.

‘At one point they owned a whole road in Portsmouth.’

David Rees, 66, of Farlington, approached Frank for help after he moved to the area from London to find work as a carpenter in 1968.

He said: ‘At first he kept saying “come back tomorrow” and eventually he found me a flat and place to work.’

David said he became good friends with Frank.

‘He was a character, a bit of a wheeler-dealer, and he was quite incredible because he built up a property empire from almost nothing.’

Frank and Teresa spent their final years at Kirby House in Kirby Road, Portsmouth.

Teresa died last December.

The couple had been married for 65 years.

Mr Marsh’s funeral will be at St Mary’s Church in Fratton Road on Wednesday, March 26 at 2pm.