Hot-footing it to Hoppy for the late racing results at Kingston Cross

North End looking north from Kingston Cross junction, December 1956
North End looking north from Kingston Cross junction, December 1956
A little fuzzy perhaps but here we see Portsdown Hill Road where it meets London Road. The George pub would be on the right behind the soldiers. 'Picture: Barry Cox Collection

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There was quite a response to the publication last month of this picture showing Kingston Cross, Portsmouth, in December 1956.

It evoked happy memories for many, including Portsmouth councillor Alicia Denny (Copnor).

With her parents and sister she moved into a flat above the shop at 246, Kingston Road on the day the Queen reopened the Guildhall in June 1959. The family stood on the pavement to cheer as she passed.

Alicia adds: ‘The photo shows Kingston Cross exactly as I remember it as a child. The white building on the right was the National Provincial Bank with North End library on its first floor and the offices of solicitors Biscoe-Smith and Blagg on the top.

‘At night, “Hoppy”, a disabled newspaper seller, sold copies of the late extra edition of The Evening News for 2d – I had to go out for one so my dad could read the racing results.’

She remembers the red brick building north of the bank was North End police station ‘a real Edwardian relic with a cobbled yard accessed under the archway’.

She says: ‘On the left of the entrance were police houses and on the right the inquiry office with obligatory blue lamp.

‘The trolley bus lines reminded me of the times they would go too fast around the corner and their connecting rods came off bringing the bus to a halt in the middle of the junction. The conductor then jumped out with a long pole to reattach the rods to the electricity supply.’

Alicia adds: ‘North End was quite an up-market area. Shops included haberdashers Will Brown, with its vacuum tube system taking cash from the shop floor to the office upstairs; Bulpitt, which sold Ladybird children’s clothes made in Jack Cockerill’s Portsea factory; Belmont, an exclusive women’s fashion shop; McIlroy’s department store and AW White for furniture.And there were three cinemas – the Essoldo, Gaumont and Odeon.

Her parents, John and Mary Howard, opened Modeltoys and ran it from 1959 to 1969, a shop now incorporated into Victory Trophies.