Langstone '˜railway' cottages which had nothing to do withÂ HaylingÂ line '“Â Nostalgia
Until the fire on December 9 last year when they were burned to the ground, a pair of semi-detached wood andÂ clinkerÂ houses stood alongside the oldÂ Havant to Hayling Island railway line at Langstone.Â
They were always referred to asÂ '˜railway cottages' but they had nothing to do with the railway.
The houses wereÂ thought to have been built in the late 18th century. At one time they were owned by aÂ Mr Longcroft, a solicitorÂ who lived in aÂ large house on the corner of Havant Road and High Street, Langstone.
I Â spoke to Lily Stone whose parents Richard and Hetty O'Shea lived in the left hand cottage, number 59, for many years.
Lily's father joined the railway as a porter at Havant station after the Second World War during which he had drivenÂ lorryloads of munitions from London to south coast ports.Â
While at Havant he wasÂ asked if he wanted to become aÂ crossing keeperÂ at Langstone. Dick, as he was known, took it up immediately.Â At that time he and his wife Hetty lived in Botley Drive, Leigh Park.
DickÂ Â also ran a taxi firm and used to take Mr Longcroft as a fare. Dick heard from him that the cottages at the crossing guarding the Havant to Hayling Island road were coming up forÂ rent. He appliedÂ for one,Â got number 59 and he and Hetty moved thereÂ in 1961.Â Mrs Stone remembers a Mrs Howard lived next door. When sheÂ died a young married soldier and his wife moved in. Â
As aÂ crossing keeper Dick's workplaceÂ was literally outside his front door,Â and that'sÂ how the cottages became known as railway cottages, which they were never intended to be.
In theÂ photograph Dick and Hetty are outside the front door with family dog Sandy who came to a stickyÂ end. He would takeÂ himself for walks by Langstone Mill where swans and ducks lived. One day SandyÂ walked too close to cygnets and was attacked byÂ swans. He fell into the pond where the swans attacked him and sat on him until he drowned. The event was witnessed by a passer-by.
When the new Langstone bridge was being builtÂ Dick became became an occasional nightwatchman. Mrs Stone saysÂ she painted a sign and called the cottage Woodbine Cottage as her father always had a cigarette of that nameÂ hanging from his lips.
The house was lit by gas mantles and when North Sea gas was introduced in theÂ late 1960s it was ordered that they had to remain in use as the cottages had a preservation order on it.
Mrs Stone'sÂ mother died in her home in 1982 and her father in 1992 in a home on Hayling Island. Dick's son Reg then took over the cottage and remained there until 2002.