Flat caps galore in twice-daily Tour de Portsmouth stampede | Nostalgia

Some weeks ago I mentioned out-muster from the dockyard and how many dockyard men on cycles used to leave en masse at lunchtime and at the end of the day’s work.

By Bob Hind
Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 9:23 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 1:08 pm
Dockyard workers at out-muster for a lunchtime break in 1939 turn from Edinburgh Road into Commercial Road, Portsmouth. Picture: Getty Images
Dockyard workers at out-muster for a lunchtime break in 1939 turn from Edinburgh Road into Commercial Road, Portsmouth. Picture: Getty Images

This photograph is of these men turning right from Edinburgh Road into Commercial Road, Portsmouth, at dinnertime (lunchtime today) on August 14, 1939.

Unfortunately they are turning into shade so some faces are obscured.

A policeman on point duty on the left is holding up traffic to give the bikes the right of way.

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Fire at Hayling Island. I'm hoping Hayling residents can tell me which road this is. The post office is a big clue! Picture: Tony New

The assorted handlebars on the cycles are of note. What is more odd for the time is that there are several riders without caps or hats and definitely no crash helmets.

Looking down Edinburgh Road we can see the popular Swiss Cafe and further down across on the corner of The Arcade is the ladies and gentleman’s outfitters J Levy & Co. Further down still is the Wheelwrights pub, now a burger bar.

At 95 and 97 Commercial Road is Barclays Bank. This bank survives, although strangely, today the address is 107 Commercial Road.

• With the closure of Debenhams, Southsea, last Sunday along with Knight & Lee some weeks ago, we see perhaps the final nail in the coffin for Southsea as a shopping centre of any importance.

With the closure of the former Handleys store last Saturday roads no longer lead to the Southsea shop.

At one time, when the store was run by the Handley family, it was one of the top stores in the region.

The original store was blitzed on January 10, 1941. It was rebuilt and opened in the early 1950s.

As the advert from a 1971 Portsmouth Kelly’s states: ‘All roads lead to Handleys of Southsea’ where just about everything could be purchased from the store.

When I was a kid I am sure the store had half-day closing on a Saturday although in 1971 it shut on Sundays and Mondays.

The toy department always had a massive railway laid out at Christmas and I think that is where my love of railways began. I used to stand for an age watching the layout at work knowing full well my parents could not afford anything like it.

What will become of such a large empty building remains in the lap of the gods but as a store I think it is finished.

• This Merryweather fire engine is at a fire opposite a post office on Hayling Island. It’s open to the weather and firemen would stand on the footplates, hanging on for dear life I should think. I wonder who got to ring the bell?

If anyone can let me know more or can tell me the location, please get in touch.

The fire engine seems to be attracting more attention than what is going on opposite. Then again, fire engines were always a boys’ thing.