NOSTALGIA: Last rum tots on royal yacht

The last official tot on board the royal yacht Britannia on July 31, 1971.
The last official tot on board the royal yacht Britannia on July 31, 1971.

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The photograph I published a couple of weeks ago of HMS Ark Royal sailors taking their last tot of rum on the carrier reminded John Stockham of his last tot when it was poured in the royal yacht Britannia on July 31, 1971.

John reminded me that although this was the official last day of this hugely-popular naval tradition, the Queen ruled every time the yacht was commissioned then the order to splice the mainbrace was to be given.

The days when pantomime ran into February. Tommy Trinder at the Kings in 1966.

The days when pantomime ran into February. Tommy Trinder at the Kings in 1966.

The photo was taken in the stokers’ mess and John is fourth from the left with a pen in his hand.

He is clutching it because he was a Ticker which meant he checked that the sailors only had one tot of rum.

This did not include him though. One of the perks of being a Ticker was that he could have a sneaky sip before the rest arrived.

This was also the day John decided to hand in his notice to leave the navy. As a yachtsman he could leave the navy at almost any time provided he gave notice.

Comedian Tommy Trinder must have had an affection for Portsmouth. Here he is again appearing  at the Kings Theatre in an earlier  decade.

Comedian Tommy Trinder must have had an affection for Portsmouth. Here he is again appearing at the Kings Theatre in an earlier decade.

He had done seven years in the yacht and was coming up for his 12 years’ service. He realised times were changing and with the loss of the tot he decided not to extend his service.

Also in the photograph are Fred Flitcroft – rum bosun; Noddy Larner front right; Taff Gobby Jones; Wobbly Jelley; Baldy Jones; Mick Howarth; John Shardlow; Jock Wightman; Simmo; Mike Barnett; Mick McConville; Bert Fassoms and Kirky Kirkham.

• Some will remember Tommy Trinder and his catchphrase You Lucky People.

Born in Streatham, he came to prominence in 1937 but during the Second World War, through film and stage appearances all over the UK, he became a household name. He died in 1980. Trinder appears to have had a love for Southsea and I was sent this poster for his appearance at The Kings Theatre in 1966 by Bill Marshall. Trinder was appearing in the pantomime Cinderella along with Craig Douglas who came from the Isle of Wight.

Time was when a day trip to Horndean was a real treat. Picture: Barry Cox Collection

Time was when a day trip to Horndean was a real treat. Picture: Barry Cox Collection

Note how long the pantomime ran in those days, Christmas Eve through to February 4.

In the second picture is an advertising hoarding outside the Kings for another Tommy Trinder appearance a decade or so earlier. The co-star was Anne Shelton and they really used to know how to advertise a show in those days.

• There was a time when a day out was a treat for the residents of Portsmouth. Here is a tram heading for Horndean with many sitting in the sunshine on an open-top car approaching Cosham.