NOSTALGIA: What would we have done without National Rat Week?

Horne's dining rooms about 1910, believed to be in Russell Street, Portsmouth.
Horne's dining rooms about 1910, believed to be in Russell Street, Portsmouth.
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Recent mention here of Horne’s dining rooms in Portsmouth delighted Canadian reader Susan Smith (née Horne).

She tells me the founder, John Scotter James Horne, was her great-grandfather on her father’s side.

Brunel House on The Hard, Portsea, dwarfing the former bank building which was once the home of Mary Gilbert.

Brunel House on The Hard, Portsea, dwarfing the former bank building which was once the home of Mary Gilbert.

Susan says: ‘I never met him, but I did meet his wife, Ellen Brockway, my great grandmother.

‘She lived in Gosport with my Auntie Nell and Uncle Tom. Nell was their only daughter. They had three sons Roland, Harold Victor Leonard my grandfather, and Martin.’

Susan asks if we have a picture of Horne’s in Commercial Road. All I could find is this one which I believe was in long-gone Russell Street. However, the archive caption is vague and it might be the Commercial Road branch. Can anyone help?

•Reports that there are plans to transform the eyesore on The Hard, Portsmouth, that is Brunel House, evoked memories of the building that once stood to its left for Mary Gilbert, of Gosport (see below).

Rat man - the pub sign of The Lord Arthur Lee in West Street, Fareham.

Rat man - the pub sign of The Lord Arthur Lee in West Street, Fareham.

She says: ‘The taxi office as it is now, used to be a sub-branch of the main branch of Lloyds Bank Commercial Road.

‘Upstairs was a two-bedroomed flat I rented from Lloyds in the late ’70s/early ’80s.

‘Access to the flat was by a side wooden gate with a small courtyard; a black wrought iron fire escape staircase lead to the front door.

‘The flat comprised a bathroom, lounge and kitchen. The two upstairs windows, to the left of the building, were the lounge. The upstairs window which appears to have the curtains drawn was my bedroom.’

•My piece on one-time Fareham MP Lord Arthur Lee prompted a response from author Jacky Percival, of Gosport, who researched him while writing Elbow Grease, How Our Grandmothers and Great- Grandmothers Kept House. She discovered he was influential in the unlikely field of rat extermination.

Jacky says: ‘Rat infestations were a huge problem in the early 20th century, so much so that there was an annual official Rat Week and a Rats and Mice (Destruction) Act of 1919.

‘Sir Arthur Lee, then Lord Arthur Lee of Fareham, was President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries. He was instrumental in clarifying obscure clauses in the Act so local authorities knew what powers they had at their disposal, including the levying of fines and ensuring landowners took responsibility for their rat populations.’