NOSTALGIA: Dunkirk veteran still working in Portsmouth Harbour
I wonder how many of you knew that a former Hayling Island ferry was requisitioned in 1940 to help evacuate troops from Dunkirk?
I was lent a marvellous book, The Ships That Saved An Army by Russell Plumber, which is well worth finding in bookshops.
The 50ft passenger launch was launched in 1928 and put to service under the name Folkestone Belle running between Eastney and Hayling Island.
When the call came in that first full year of the war she was not crewed by civilians but handed to the navy and sailed to Dover and on to Dunkirk.
After sterling service she was returned to ferrying duties until sold to M Pearce, of Eastney, and renamed Southsea Belle.
The original name was restored in 1989 and she is still used to take trippers around Portsmouth Harbour. She has again been renamed Portsmouth Belle and is an active member of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships and proudly flies the Dunkirk flag.
•Before Leigh Park was planned at the end of the Second World War the estate was covered in small farms after which many of the roads were named.
One is Middle Park Way named after Middle Park Farm which was off what is now Woolston Road. All trace of the farm vanished many years ago.
At one time a lane passed to the side of it. This was Park Lane parts of which survive at the Bedhampton end and at Cowplain.
At the side of the house was a large pond. The last owner was George Whitbread until the farm’s closure in the early 1960s.
A fuller story of the farms can be found in the booklet compiled by Ralph Cousins The History of Leigh Park .
In the picture below we see life after the farms. The junction you see in the late 1950s was not always so. At the front is Purbrook Way and the road forming the junction is Botley Drive.
When the estate was planned the houses on the right formed part of the southern edge. Purbrook Way was called Botley Drive and swept around the bend in front of the white houses, where the Ford Anglia is parked. When the road was extended to the Hermitage stream the part of Botley Drive from the Park Parade end became Purbrook Way and a junction was made.
The houses on the right were once 60,62,64,68 and so on to Middle Park Way. When the junction was formed they became 2,4,6,8 Botley Drive. Purbrook Way now extends to Hulbert Road and is the busiest road through the estate.