Like many of you I can still recall and remain fascinated by the mass exodus of dockyard workers on their bikes each evening.
I never tire of looking at pictures such as those here of an event which seemed to capture the essence of Portsmouth.
So, for some Friday light relief here is the poem written by RL Seagar, of Francis Avenue, Southsea – a verse to outmusters when about 25,000 men were employed in the ’yard.
The Dockyard Light Horse
A wonder to many journalists
In the days when Britain was great
Was the number of Dockyard cyclists
Coming out of Unicorn Gate.
This highly irregular force
Of cycles and men were so large
It was nicknamed The Dockyard Light Horse,
For it looked like a cavalry charge.
There were cycles of every hue
And many of various makes;
Some had a mudguard of two
A few of them even had brakes.
Pedestrians took headlong dives,
But drivers would blanch;
Strong men ran for their lives
From this human avalanche.
Tourists came from miles around
To see this awesome sight –
Massed Dockyard wheelers homeward bound at noon and also at night.
Mothers gathered their offspring
And took them to safety for
They knew the sound of the hooter would bring
This ravening horde past their door.
A Dockyard cyclist was able
Or so old wives would recount
To get to his dining room table
Without having to dismount.
His wife would open the door
And then stand well to one side
And without his feet touching the floor
Straight up the passage he’d ride.
You could do to him what you thought fit,
You could curse him all you like;
But the worse crime you could commit
Was to kick a dockey’s old bike.
The work force has dwindled of course,
The Empire is now no more,
The ranks of The Dockyard Light Horse
Has been thinned to just a few score.
Now only memories remain
And they fill me with remorse
For never will I see again
The Charge of the Dockyard Light Horse.