While my washboard gently weeps – over Shotton’s head

Shotton Court, Creek Road, Hayling Islan, where Pete Shotton's supermarket once stood.
Shotton Court, Creek Road, Hayling Islan, where Pete Shotton's supermarket once stood.
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Everyone knows the names of the Beatles and even of the ex-members like Pete Best, the drummer who was fired on the dawn of fame and fortune.

Read any history of the Beatles and the story tells of the many one-time members of the ‘group’, as they were called back then.

Although not a member of the Beatles, Peter (Pete) Shotton was a life-long friend of John Lennon from their youngest days.

The story goes that when Lennon formed his first skiffle group, The Quarrymen, Pete was coerced into playing percussion, ie the washboard.

It was not really Pete’s thing and when he told Lennon he wanted out, Lennon smashed the washboard over his head.

However there was no animosity and the two men remained friends until Lennon’s death in 1981.

When the Beatles became famous, Lennon and George Harrison bought a supermarket on Hayling Island in Creek Road and gave it to Pete to run.

In later years Pete managed an Apple Boutique and became the first managing director of Apple Corps.

In the late 1970s, Pete returned to Hayling to run the supermarket and later launched the restaurant chain Fatty Arbuckles. There was a branch in Osborne Road, Southsea.

Peter Shotton died at his home in Cheshire on March 19.

In latter years the former supermarket was demolished and a block of apartments built on the site. In memory of Pete it was named Shotton Court.

If you worked with Pete Shotton in his shop on Hayling and have any memories of him, please let me know.

• Staff at the the Kings Theatre, Southsea, started their Theatre at War project last year and they have been uncovering some amazing stories from the First World War.

The theatre remained open throughout the four years of war to entertain the troops.

Gill Simmons, from the Kings, dropped me this little gem recently uncovered.

In 1910 Serena Nord gracefully dived into a transparent tank of water stretched across the stage. It weighed 20 tons.

Serena dived from a springboard in almost every conceivable position, cleaving the water with such consummate skill that there was hardly a splash.

She then dived backwards, forwards, sideways and turned somersaults .

The act concluded with a high dive from a platform just under the roof. It had to be accomplished with extraordinary accuracy because of the narrowness of the tank.

It is one of the most interesting acts seen for a long time, and was greatly appreciated by the audience.

• Last week I asked if anyone could remember two redundant steam locomotives berthed in sidings close to Warblington halt east of Havant at the end of steam working on Southern in 1967.

Luckily there was one local man who spotted the engines. Unfortunately his camera was not in top form that day and the shots he took came out dark.

Paul Wilson tells me the two locos were West Country Pacific 34012 Launceston and British Railways Standard Five 73113.

Between 1959 and 1961, Standard-class Fives were given the names of the withdrawn King Arthur class and 73113 was named Lyonnesse.

Our two locomotives were towed to Salisbury and parked among hundreds of withdrawn locos. In the following weeks of the 1967 Summer of Love these unloved, unwanted engines were taken to south Wales breakers’ yards to be cut up.

One metal merchant, Dai Woodham, left his loco stock to last, instead cutting up wagons, of which there were thousands. Many locomotives were saved for preservation. Unfortunately, our two last locomotives from Warblington were not saved from the blowtorch.