Cosham shop assistants in 1904 race for the finishing line: RETRO

The amazing photograph, right, was sent to me by Eddy Amey. It was taken at Cosham railway gates way back in 1904 where 60 shop assistants took part in a walking race.

Ready for the start of the mens and boys walking races in July 1904 from Cosham Railway Station.  Photo: Eddy Amey collection.
Ready for the start of the mens and boys walking races in July 1904 from Cosham Railway Station. Photo: Eddy Amey collection.

The race took place on Wednesday, July 13, which must have been half-day closing so the employees were given the time off to take part.

The competitors started off at 4.45pm with separate races for the men and the boys.

It was a distance of 10.5 miles with a winning time of one hour 26 minutes and five seconds.

The hovercraft departs the beach at Eastney. Photo: Phil Waterman.

Apart from the gates, which are now barriers, the scene has changed little. Look at the little boy peeking through the gates.

The double flight of footbridge steps remains exactly the same today. Alas, the semaphore signal went many years ago.

Apart from the two horse and carriages this side of the gates, there appears to be four horse-drawn vehicles on the south side of the gates waiting for a train to pass. 

Before the hovercraft to the Isle of Wight moved to its present location near Clarence Pier, it began its service from Eastney beach in the mid-1960s.

A policeman keeps a watchful eye at Eastney Beach. Photo: Phil Waterman

Phil Waterman sent me a few photographs, below left and right, of the arrival and departure. 

He told me the two former radar towers in the Royal Marine Barracks were used as a guide to show the way across the Solent to the landing point near the former slipway to the Marines’ boathouse.

The hovercraft was refuelled by a long hose which led across the shingle from a petrol tanker lorry parked in the road.

There appeared to be no warning as to people smoking, as many did in those days, in the vicinity. Imagine that today. Note the policeman keeping a sharp eye. 

Another aerial view of Old Portsmouth from Jon Clapham showing many of the now demolished buildings.

After being refuelled and loaded it is seen departing from the beach.

This is an early version of the hovercraft. They had initials SRN which stood for Saunders-Roe Nautical followed by a production number i.e SRN 3. 

On the opposite page is another shot from Jon Clapham’s collection of aerial views of Broad Street, Old Portsmouth in the 1960s.

The witches hat roof of the Seagull pub stands out in the centre. The top right hand corner was once the location of the Artillery Barracks. Almost opposite the Seagull, in East Street, are warehouses which were last used by a bus preservation company before they were kicked out and a block of flats built on the site.

Broad Street used to flood when spring high tide brought water up the street but this came to a halt when tidal gates were built across the end of the street at Point where the old car ferry to the Isle of Wight and the chain ferry to Gosport once departed.