NOSTALGIA: Doctor’s car crushed by Portsmouth goods train

The doctor's car under the wheels of a five-plank wagon. He escaped with minor injuries.
The doctor's car under the wheels of a five-plank wagon. He escaped with minor injuries.
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Drainage must have been a problem in the 1920s if this photograph is anything to go by.

For here we see a corporation bus making a bow wave through Hilsea as it heads for Copnor. In the background is what was then called Ports Bridge.

Ploughing through flood water at Hilsea in the 1920s, a bus travels south leaving a wake.

Ploughing through flood water at Hilsea in the 1920s, a bus travels south leaving a wake.

• Monday’s photo of the car under goods wagons was seen by Eric Eddles who was 11 at the time.

He says: ‘I joined the Portsmouth Building School in 1948 at the age of 11. It was situated in Cosham Park House at the end of Cosham Park Avenue.

‘Between Cosham High Street and the main A3 lay a disused iron bridge which was once used by the Horndean Light Railway. This was a favourite place for my two chums and me to do our trainspotting.

‘One very memorable day on that red-painted rusty bridge our attention was quickly drawn to our right as we heard a tremendous crashing noise.

A poster from the late 1950s or early 1960s showing an all-star cast on South Parade Pier.' Picture: Pete Cross Collection

A poster from the late 1950s or early 1960s showing an all-star cast on South Parade Pier.' Picture: Pete Cross Collection

‘A goods train had reversed through the closed level crossing gates wrapping them around the signal box. There came a screeching metallic sound and we could see the cause of this terrific noise.

‘A black Rover, typically used by doctors, had at the exact time of the accident been on the railway lines between the gates. The car was now trapped upside-down beneath a wagon and was being dragged along by the reversing train. Just below us the wagon finally derailed and everything came to a halt. How long we stayed there I do not know.’

Eric adds: ‘People rushed along the track to assist the driver, eventually, miraculously, getting him out and proceeded to attempt to lie him on a stretcher. With profanities issuing from his mouth he stomped off towards the level crossing and that was the last we saw of him.

‘The report of this accident appeared and said the driver in fact was – can you believe it? – a doctor.’

You will all have driven along this Portsmouth road but do you recognise it? Obviously the picture was taken long before cars  invaded the earth. ''We are looking east along Velder Avenue, Milton, with the cemetery wall on the left.''There would have been no Eastern Road leading off it farther along either.  How on earth did we ever cope?''The picture was taken in the early years of the last century.

You will all have driven along this Portsmouth road but do you recognise it? Obviously the picture was taken long before cars invaded the earth. ''We are looking east along Velder Avenue, Milton, with the cemetery wall on the left.''There would have been no Eastern Road leading off it farther along either. How on earth did we ever cope?''The picture was taken in the early years of the last century.

Thanks Eric, a spectacular end to what was probably a dull day.

• In the late 1950s and early ’60s when variety was beginning to fade, South Parade Pier, Southsea, still put on fantastic shows. How it paid for it is beyond me.

There were Arthur Askey, Mike and Bernie Winters, Portsmouth’s own Audrey Jeans and The Southlanders – a four-piece harmony group who had a worldwide hit with Alone. It sold more than a million copies. There was a also a comedian and five-piece band. Surely the audiences were not enough to pay for the show? Are there any impresarios out there who can tell me how it was done?