Raise a glass to the many licensed premises of old

The front cover of the document
The front cover of the document
THEN: Herding sheep along Goldsmith Avenue, Fratton. Picture: Robert James

NOSTALGIA: Where sheep may gently gaze: collie halts flock for picture

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I happened to be passing a secondhand shop, Neil’s Yard in Clive Road at its junction with Fratton Road in Portsmouth last week and came across this little gem. It is a list of licensed houses in Portsea in 1934, plus applications for new licences.

So many pubs both on and off Portsea Island are closing down these days, but this publication shows that there used to be no fewer than 643 pubs and beer houses in the city – plus another 174 outlets such as off-licences and restaurants.

Some of the pubs, landlords and brewers  in the southern end of Commercial Road listed in the document

Some of the pubs, landlords and brewers in the southern end of Commercial Road listed in the document

All these outlets were able to serve beers and spirits – and they worry about today’s alcohol consumption!

Also shown are the many brewers who once produced the ale. They included Brickwood’s, Gale & Co, Portsmouth & Brighton United Breweries, George Peters & Co, Long & Co, JJ Young & Son, Henty & Constable (Brewers) Ltd.

As we know, there are a few clubs and pubs within Guildhall Walk, which was once part of Commercial Road.

In 1934, from one end of Commercial Road in Southsea to the Hearts of Oak where Rudmore roundabout is now, there were 28 proper pubs.

I cannot list them all here of course, but they started with the Golden Fleece which occupied 37,39 and 41 Commercial Road and finished with the Hearts of Oak. The Air Balloon, which still stands, has been converted to flats.

There was a pub called Ye Olde Inne in Copnor Road. There also seem to have been many royals in the pub name game, including Royal Artillery Arms, Royal Swan, Royal Engineers, Royal Oak Hotel, Royal Standard and Royal Naval Arms.

Then there were the Royal Pier Hotel and the Royal Beach Hotel.

Animals also played their part in the naming of pubs. Included are the Lamb & Flag, Black Dog, White Swan, Pelican, Swan, Golden Eagle, Royal Stag, Antelope and George and Dragon.

Portsmouth must have been one of the biggest tax collection points for any government at the time. They used to say ‘Portsmouth – there’s a pub on every corner.’ Quite.

Another item I picked up from the Yard was this photograph. Unfortunately it was too big to scan it all in. It is part of a manhole cover located in a Portsmouth street. It has the coat of arms of the city moulded into the drain lid.

How proud the council must have been in past days to have the arms of the city on drain covers, lamp posts and tram and trolley bus standards.

About time we revived this practice, I think.

This page is called Remember When and I wonder how many times we use that phrase without thinking.

Last Tuesday I had to bury my second brother in 10 years. Arthur was so ill and it was, as they say, a happy release for him. An amazing 400 people turned up for his funeral at Bedhampton Church.

What worries me now they have both gone is whether I’ll ever be able to use the ‘remember when’ phrase again.

No doubt you all have brothers and sisters and when you talk about old times the first thing said is ‘remember when dad...’ or ‘remember when mum...’. It is only you and your siblings who can speak about certain things as you were there.

I can no longer say to Arthur or Peter: ‘Remember when I dropped dad’s false teeth and he went barmy?’

Then we’d fall about laughing.

My sisters were a bit too young at the time, so they don’t have the same recollections.

So please, while you are still able, do talk with your brothers and sisters about your shared past.