Somers Town as you've never seen it before | Nostalgia

In this 1910 view we are looking along Fraser Road, Southsea, in the area of the city now called Somers Town.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 11:24 am
Fraser Road, Southsea, 1910. Picture: Barry Cox collection
Fraser Road, Southsea, 1910. Picture: Barry Cox collection

In the distance you can see the Kimberley public house on the corner of Somers Road and River Street. The pub is no more and is now used as a hostel. Can you imagine a little girl with her doll’s pram standing in the middle of the road today?

I asked Captain Gordon Walwyn RN Rtd, why the officer was wearing a frock coat.

He says the coat does not appear to have any rings on the sleeve so he might be a foreign sailor.

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Then again, he could be an actor making his way to a theatre. Gordon adds: ‘It was not what naval officers wore at the time, it just appears different.’

The man on the cycle appears to be carrying something over his left shoulder as he is holding the handlebar with just his right hand.

Apart from cars parked in the road the appearance of Fraser Road today has changed very little.

Eggs, everywhere eggs

I was talking to some pals recently and for some bizarre reason the subject of eggs came up.

We wondered just how many eggs were laid and it took me back 55 years when I joined the Royal Navy at HMS Ganges at Shotley Gate near Ipswich.

At that time there were 2,000 boys in training at any one time.

As I remember, everyone had a full English breakfast which included at least one egg.

There were also a minimum of 500 officers and ship’s company plus a Royal Marine band.

Eggs were also used by the cooks for general cooking purposes of course.

We can therefore say that at least 2,500 to 3,000 eggs were used on a daily basis. That equates to 17,500 to 21,000 eggs used every week in Ganges alone. There were also many other naval, air force and army establishments across the country not to mention the civilian population.

So, where on earth did all those eggs come from? (‘chickens’ is not an acceptable answer).

According to Wikipedia, 11 billion eggs are laid in the UK each year. Yes, 11 billion. But what about 50 years ago before intensive farming?

Looking back, It just seems unbelievable to me.

Chasing subs

Does anyone know anything about vessels called submarine chaser motor launches.

I had never heard of the term until Suzanne Taylor contacted me. The ML286, which is now a hulk in a boatyard alongside the Thames, was also a Dunkirk Little Ship but archive information regarding this is quite limited.

If anyone has any knowledge please let me know and I will pass it on. Thank you.

Don’t have nightmares...

Paul Newell has published another of his books based on Victorian myths and ghostly goings-on.

The 149-page book is not something to read in bed before sleeping. Although not every story in the book comes from Portsmouth many are.

A Victorian Portrayal of Ghosts and the Unexplained is well researched and Paul has gone through many newspapers including the Hampshire Telegraph, The Isle of Wight Times, The Illustrated Police News as well as the national newspapers of the time.

This is Paul’s fourth book following Shocking Tales from Victorian Portsmouth, Volumes I and II and Letters from Victorian Portsmouth.

Another new book that is of interest to Portsmouth readers is Ziggy’s Fantastic Voyage by Martin A Kerr.

Set in Portsmouth during the lockdown this sci-fi story is for those who are not of a nervous disposition. Well worth reading if you like this genre.

You can purchase copies from New To You Bookshop, High Street, Cosham.

Owen was Irish

Thomas Owen was the architect responsible for many of the fine mid-Victorian homes still remaining today in Southsea

But how many know he was born in Ireland? His father Jacob moved with his family from Dublin to Portsmouth in 1820 when Thomas was 16.

When Thomas Ellis Owen was ready to start training as an architect he was sent to London and later Italy. When he arrived back in Portsmouth he obtained the position of architect and surveyor of the Portsmouth General Cemetery Company.

In 1837 he went into business with his son and son’s father-in-law, James White Higgins to buy 10 acres of land in Kent Road, Southsea, for £7,000. The landed went from Sussex Road to Grove Road South. In depth the land stretched from Kent Road to Elm Grove.

Owen laid out Queen’s Crescent in the second year of Queen Victoria’s reign. From there he built many fine houses in what became the very popular part of Southsea which remains to this day.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron. You can subscribe here for unlimited access to our online coverage, including Pompey, for 27p a day.