NOSTALGIA: Murder, drug barons and the SAS, a new novel set in Portsmouth

One of the Shipp fruit and veg shops at 10 and 12 Meadow Street, Landport, in 1986.
One of the Shipp fruit and veg shops at 10 and 12 Meadow Street, Landport, in 1986.
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Last Monday I published a photograph of the Shipp family at their fruit and veg stall in Charlotte Street. I said one of the women in that picture was Pansy Shipp the daughter of the founder of the company.

Not so says Edward Peckham. Edward tells me Pansy was married to Ron Shipp who was the son of the owner.

New novel Pegasus II by Christopher Wills with the ketch in the story passing The Spinnaker Tower.

New novel Pegasus II by Christopher Wills with the ketch in the story passing The Spinnaker Tower.

Edward says he sometimes went to Covent Garden, the London wholesale market, with Peter Shipp who was also in the photograph.

One day, when close to Bow Street magistrates court, their lorry was stopped by the police.

Suddenly an escort of police motorbike outriders and police cars surrounding a police van appeared. Inside were Ronnie and Reggie Kray being taken to court.

In this photograph, loaned to me by Bob Thompson, we see one of the Shipp’s shops in 1986, this one in Meadow Street, Landport.

The Portsmouth-based lighter Bat  that crossed the Channel twice to help with the evacuation of Dunkirk.

The Portsmouth-based lighter Bat that crossed the Channel twice to help with the evacuation of Dunkirk.

But time was running out for it as within three years it was compulsorily purchased by the city council for the building of the Cascades shopping mall.

• I’m not one for reading novels, a page or two and then I give up. But on reading Pegasus II by Christopher Wills, I could not put it down. A marvellous read.

It begins and ends in Portsmouth when three local men buy a 44ft ketch.

The story takes in Amsterdam and Cornwall and involves murder, intrigue, drug barons, smuggling, ex-SAS men, not to mention Pompey and Fratton Park of course.

But for the fact that Christ Church, on the right of this Edwardian photograph, has since been demolished and the lamp standards have been updated from gas, the view along Kent Road, Southsea, is much the same. Oh, all except the horse manure lying in the road of course.

But for the fact that Christ Church, on the right of this Edwardian photograph, has since been demolished and the lamp standards have been updated from gas, the view along Kent Road, Southsea, is much the same. Oh, all except the horse manure lying in the road of course.

All the locations are real and have been visited by the author.

It’s a superb and very readable tale containing many recognisable locations around the city.

This is Christopher’s first novel and should not be his last.

It’s available from New to You Books, in High Street, Cosham, at £8.50 or from the author + p&p on 01722 502659 or at spireplumbing@gmail.com.

• Remember the little ships that crossed the Channel to save the British Army stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940? A superbly researched book, The Ships That Saved An Army by Russell Plumber, tells of all the vessels that went to the rescue.

One of my favourites is the Portsmouth-based lighter Bat skippered by James Butcher. He and his crew of three kept going for 92 hours without sleep.

They crossed the Channel twice to save as many as they could.

On his return to Portsmouth James recorded: ‘Back again and glad of it, but we are ready again for another job of the same kind if we are wanted.’