NOSTALGIA: Hazards of rent collecting in Leigh Park

This marvellous building once housed Landport Drapery Bazaar (LDB) on the corner of Commercial Road and Arundel Street, Portsmouth. Picture: Barry Cox
This marvellous building once housed Landport Drapery Bazaar (LDB) on the corner of Commercial Road and Arundel Street, Portsmouth. Picture: Barry Cox
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Last Saturday’s aerial map of Leigh Park reminded Alan Smith of his parents’ rent card which he still has in his possession.  

The first book in the collection is for 1956/57 when the rent was £1 13s 7d a week ( £1.68 today), but there was a 10s (50p) rebate, making it £1 3s 7d a week (£1.18). This included general rates of £10 18s 10d ( £10.94) for the half-year. 

Railway carriage on bombed railway viaduct? A fascinating photograph believed to show a railway carriage on part of the viaduct to the South Railway Jetty after bombing. Picture: Barry Cox

Railway carriage on bombed railway viaduct? A fascinating photograph believed to show a railway carriage on part of the viaduct to the South Railway Jetty after bombing. Picture: Barry Cox

There was no rent office so it was collected weekly by a door-to-door collector who wore a leather satchel for the cash and his collection book, into which the rent card was placed in such a way that the entry in the collection book was duplicated into the rent book.

Alan remembers the rent man was called  'Boo Boo' because he always had sweets in his satchel and ‘he used to give us a sweet or two, when he called’.

Alan's mother recalls a time when one of the rent men was invited into a neighbour’s house for a glass of home-made rhubarb wine and he may have had more than one glass as he was unable to finish his round. 

By the time they moved out of their house in June 1964, the rent had increased to £2 16s 9d (£2.84) inclusive of 11s 10d (59p) rates per week.  

Stokers from 68 Mess, HMS Duke of York, 1947. Dave Aldous is fifth from the left.

Stokers from 68 Mess, HMS Duke of York, 1947. Dave Aldous is fifth from the left.

By then the rent office in Dunsbury Way had opened and tenants had to go there to pay. This might have been because of the amounts those men and women were walking around with in their money bags. The office’s opening hours were 8.45am-12.45pm and 2.15-4pm. An hour-and-a-half for lunch? Unheard of today.

• All smiles from these sailors serving in the battleship HMS Duke of York in 1947. Dave Aldous sent the picture in which he is fifth from the left. How many of these mostly young men had been in the navy in the war and seen action? If you recognise yourself please let me know.

• This fascinating photograph, above, comes from Barry Cox who believes it shows a railway carriage on part of the old viaduct that ran from Portsmouth Harbour station across the water to South Railway Jetty. It was subjected to heavy bombing during the war.

The swing bridge was  destroyed and no doubt part of the viaduct as well. Barry believes this picture is of a railway carriage still on part of the viaduct. I think that on the right of the carriage there appear to be buffers and the carriage is on a floating platform waiting to be offloaded.

A rent card for a council house in Leigh Park in 1956 -  1 3s 7d a week.

A rent card for a council house in Leigh Park in 1956 - 1 3s 7d a week.

• Older readers might remember shopping in Landport Drapery Bazaar (LDB) on the junction of Commercial Road and Arundel Street as it looked before it was bombed on January 10, 1941. Who/what was J Parkhouse, as seen above the corner window?