NOSTALGIA: They’re getting in a right old pickle about those Pickle Nights

A look down traffic-free Bedhampton Hill, Bedhampton, in the 1920s.  'Picture: Ralph Cousins collection
A look down traffic-free Bedhampton Hill, Bedhampton, in the 1920s. 'Picture: Ralph Cousins collection
Liliana Albulescu from Romania, takes a look at a Romania newspaper with Dr Alan Burnett from Portsmouth Polytechnic

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This a view down Bedhampton Hill, Bedhampton, in the 1920s and traffic free compared to today. Just the one car in the distance.

Local residents get very aggrieved when it is called Bedhampton Hill Road which it never has been.

Members at the HMS Lowestoft reunion re-enact the Sunset ceremony  during their Pickle Night dinner.

Members at the HMS Lowestoft reunion re-enact the Sunset ceremony during their Pickle Night dinner.

The picture comes from a large collection of local history booklets published by The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, Havant.

Go to thespring.co.uk/heritage/local-history-booklets/. There are a total of 77 books on the area, 37 on Havant alone. Most cost just £6.

•I recently published photographs of a Pickle Night celebrating the return of HMS Pickle to our shores bringing news of the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

I published a letter from a reader saying the Pickle Night dinners began in the 1990s.

A marvellous view of the Anglican cathedral in Old Portsmouth in 1958. The chimneys of the power station overlook the scene.                                  Picture: Helen Mabel Smith

A marvellous view of the Anglican cathedral in Old Portsmouth in 1958. The chimneys of the power station overlook the scene. Picture: Helen Mabel Smith

Not so says ex-Chief Petty Officer Alex Macfarlane.

He tells me: ‘I was a member of the CPOs’ mess HMS Nelson in the late ’70s when we were billeted in the old Wrens’ mess in Eastney Barracks while the CPOs’ mess was being refurbished. During that time I attended a Pickle Night so the claim they started in the 1990s is incorrect.

‘The first one was held in 1974 in the WOs’ and CPOs’ mess HMS Nelson. The then president of the mess, a Mr Hetherington, requested the commodore of the barracks that they celebrate Trafalgar Night. The commodore suggested a better night would be to celebrate the arrival in Falmouth of HMS Pickle which brought the news of the victory and of the death of Nelson. This was because it would be difficult to field guest speakers for both events. 1974 was the year HMS Victory became HMS Nelson hence the request.’

There we are, straight from the horse’s mouth.

The parade ground at HMS Victory barracks taken from Queen Street, Portsea, by Helen Mabel Smith in 1960.

The parade ground at HMS Victory barracks taken from Queen Street, Portsea, by Helen Mabel Smith in 1960.

Many of you may remember Alex when he was the landlord of the Golden Lion pub in Bedhampton.

•And is another photograph taken by the late Helen Mabel Smith, this time showing the Anglican cathedral in Old Portsmouth before the west end had the extension added.

To the rear can be seen the chimneys of the power station which were such an outstanding feature of the area.

In High Street tramlines are still in place some 25 years after they were last used. And there’s not a car or van in sight. How different to today.

Before that dreadful blitz night of January 10, 1941, this view would have been impossible to take as buildings stood where all is now green grass.

Another photograph from Helen shows the parade ground at HMS Victory Barracks now HMS Nelson.

The figurehead (still in situ) is that of HMY Victoria and Albert 1899 vintage. She was decommissioned in 1939 and broken up in 1954. Luckily someone had the good sense to save this iconic part of the yacht.

To the far left can be seen barrack blocks some look like they are being demolished although it could be bomb damage from the blitz during the war and waiting demolition. All the buildings to that can be seen have, I believe, been demolished.