NOSTALGIA: ‘I bought heap of scrap – a car – from Portsmouth bombsite’

An area of Portsmouth, south of the Guildhall, several years after the Second World War yet still covered with bomb sites where unscrupulous car salesmen would dispose of their wrecks. Picture: Anthony Triggs.
An area of Portsmouth, south of the Guildhall, several years after the Second World War yet still covered with bomb sites where unscrupulous car salesmen would dispose of their wrecks. Picture: Anthony Triggs.
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Today, artists exhibit their talents in the now-enclosed arches along Broad Street, Old Portsmouth, but in days gone by they could show their work in the open air on the walkway above. 

Passers-by could not fail to see the work on show, whereas today people have to make an effort to view paintings and other art works by going inside their workshops down below.

Edwin Ameys Flying Standard 7 from 1937 on Southsea Common in 1956.

Edwin Ameys Flying Standard 7 from 1937 on Southsea Common in 1956.

This is a scene from 1955 when, in fine weather, many artists put their works out hoping to sell a picture to finance their next piece. Perhaps the open air gallery idea could be reintroduced?

• My article on old cars sent Edwin Amey back to the early fifties when he learnt to drive in an Austin 12/4 Ascot, number plate COT 4. It belonged to a Southdown bus driver who let him borrow it for 10 shillings an hour so his father could teach him. He says he can still recall the smell of leather and oil.

Edwin bought a 1937 Standard Flying 9 in 1956. Being ignorant of cars he took a mechanic with him for technical advice. Believe it or not Edwin purchased the car from a bomb site dealer in St Paul’s Road, Southsea, for £115. 

Edwin says: ‘I then had many misadventures with this heap of scrap during my term of ownership. On one occasion I was driving along Copnor Road in the rain when the wiper stopped working. I could operate it by hand because the motor was on the inside of the windscreen.

Do any artists remember exhibiting their pictures on the walkway above Sally Port, Old Portsmouth?

Do any artists remember exhibiting their pictures on the walkway above Sally Port, Old Portsmouth?

‘While leaning forward to do this, the driving seat broke loose and fell backwards leaving me hanging on and trying to stop the car from a squat position.

‘On inspection I found the floor was wood on a metal chassis and completely rotten. The seat had been attached with wood screws which had pulled out. When I pulled the back seat squab forward to access the internal luggage space I found myself looking at the road and back axle, the floor was gone.

‘Dual filament bulbs hadn’t been invented so dipped beam lights were achieved by a solenoid tilting the whole lamp. Again, this usually stopped working as soon as it got wet.’

A classic case of ‘would you buy a second hand car from this man?’ I think Edwin, especially on a bomb site!

Looking along the old A27 through Drayton, Portsmouth, long before the advent of motorways. Picture: Dave Tomlin

Looking along the old A27 through Drayton, Portsmouth, long before the advent of motorways. Picture: Dave Tomlin

• Thanks to Dave Tomlin of Havant for sending me the scene in Drayton looking east towards Farlington, perhaps in the 1940s. The New Inn, on the left in the distance, did a good trade until about 10 years ago when it closed and is now a restaurant.

The car in the foreground, turning left out of Lower Drayton Lane, looks like it will hit the van about to turn right down the lane. The buses heading west are much narrower than today’s vehicles.