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Net gain: the dynasty of old city fishmongers

Fishmonger Billy Arnett, dubbed 'the Robin Hood of Petersfield'

Fishmonger Billy Arnett, dubbed 'the Robin Hood of Petersfield'


The recent picture of Frank Arnett’s Cosham fishmongers prompted Eddie Rooke to raid his collection.

The result is a series of photographs today which will doubtless stir many memories for older readers.

Eddie, of Rosemary Way, Horndean, reminds us that the Arnett family ran a chain of fishmongers across the wider Portsmouth area.

His pictures include a shot of the family fish market at Charlotte Street, Portsmouth, where the rear of the Marks & Spencer store is now. Looking at the clothes, it would appear to have been taken soon after the First World War.

It was owned by Peter Arnett who established the store in 1918. He was an ex-boxer who, after serving in the Boer and First World wars, promoted boxing shows in Portsmouth. When he died he left 12 children, six by his first wife and half a dozen by his second.

On the right is Billy Arnett leaning on his stall. A fishmonger at Petersfield market for 56 years, he was dubbed the ‘Robin Hood of Petersfield’ for his penchant for overcharging the rich and undercharging the poor.

Eddie says the family had so many shops they could cut out the middle man.

‘Some supplies were obtained from the wholesalers at the Town station where Matalan is now.

‘However, the bulk came direct from Grimsby and Hull by rail on a daily basis, by ordering by phone at breakfast time each day.’

 

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