Wartime bike thefts in Portsmouth were so high you had to register them | Nostalgia

Ian Heath has recently had the task of sorting through his late mother’s possessions in which he found her identity and cycle registration cards.

By Bob Hind
Sunday, 8th March 2020, 8:00 pm
So many bikes were stolen during the Second World War that a cycle registration card was introduced.  Picture: Ian Heath
So many bikes were stolen during the Second World War that a cycle registration card was introduced. Picture: Ian Heath

Ian says: ‘The first is a National Registration ID card and the second is a Portsmouth City Police Cycle Registration Card.

‘The date of cycle registration is June 4, 1943, when my mother was 18, being born on November 9, 1924. Note that the card is signed by AC West.’

Ian adds: 'Arthur Charles West was chief constable of Portsmouth from 1940 until 1958.

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Really? Just £2 to see Yes and Quo for half that!

‘The previous chief constable was Thomas Davies, who had been in the position since 1907.

‘I was told by old-time coppers that he would have hung on in office, but as soon as the bombs started dropping he didn't want to know. My own cynical view is that he had probably been well past it for some years and the city needed a new chief.

'I do think it is puzzling that Mr West signed the card himself. I would have thought it would be delegated to a superintendent in wartime, when he must have had plenty to do.

‘However, the Identity cards persisted, I think, until 1949 when they were abolished. 'I have to say that, without a photograph, I don't think they were much use. As long as you stole a card from someone of the same sex and a similar age, you could use it very effectively.

Do you recognise this chap in Grant Road, Farlington? Picture: Mick Cooper collection.

'Of course hardly anyone had a car in wartime; and they were beyond the means of ordinary working people anyway. This meant that bicycles were valuable and often stolen, hence the registration scheme.’

• It seems amazing today how much it cost to see top rock bands back in the day.

To see Status Quo at Portsmouth Guildhall in 1973 cost just £1, equivalent to £13.50 today with Yes at double the price. I wonder how much it would cost to see these bands today?

I should think sitting anywhere near the front, even in those days when amplifiers were not on the scale they have today. would have been a deafening experience. The Quo were one of the loudest bands ever, I am told.

I wonder whether Rick Wakeman was playing with Yes at the time. The band was formed in 1968 and over the years had no less than 19 different members.

If you attended any of these concerts can you let me know more please?

• Does anyone recognise the man cleaning his car in Grant Road, Farlington, perhaps in the 1960s?

Grant Road runs east and west between Farlington Avenue and Gillman Road, running parallel with the old A27 Havant Road now the A2030.

And the car…?