NOSTALGIA: Oi Bert '“ turn that light out or I'll shoot it out!

  My feature about Bert's Café on Southampton Road, just about where Portsmouth merges with Portchester, produced a bumper postbag of your memories, so many that they have spilled over into a second week. So here, as promised, are more of your recollections.

Saturday, 2nd June 2018, 3:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 2:26 pm
The coronation street party in Moulin Avenue, Southsea, 1953.

David Passels says: 'Living in Portchester and attending school in Portsmouth I used to pass Bert's Café regularly.

'I can confirm that it was the former paddle steamer Solent which was berthed behind the café.

'She was used throughout the Second World War on the Lymington to Yarmouth service and was built for the London and South Western Railway by Mordey Carney Ltd of Southampton in 1902. She was withdrawn from service in 1948.'

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Colin Comben tells me he remembers Bert's Café with affection: '˜I spent a lot of summer evenings there. It was where I had my first taste of Coca Cola and I used to time the ton-up boys haring along Southampton Road.

'It was possible to peer through a gap in the fence along Hamilton Road to Pounds'  scrapyard where there was a First World War tank.

'I used to finish off the evening with a dip in the sea. How we never came out glowing green from all the fluids and pollution in the water I'll never know. Happy days though.'

Christine Bibby and her husband Alan have a great interested in the café and the ship.

Christine says: 'Alan was born in 1944 and lived in Paulsgrove so has often mentioned the café.

'He rode a motorbike and remembers how they would put a record on the juke box and see who could ride up to the Johnson & Johnson roundabout and back before the record finished! Obviously looking back he realises how stupid it was.

She adds: '˜Alan does remember losing some friends through accidents they had. However, it never seemed to stop them.

'As for the boat, there was a type of covered way from the cafe to the ship to give some protection from the weather when boarding.'

George Milliner says: 'My late father, William Milli ner,  told me of the time during the war when he was temporarily posted to one of the forts on Portsdown Hill while awaiting a sea draft. It appears that despite repeated requests Bert's landlord refused to douse a light in the blackout.

'Subsequently my father ventured down to Portchester and shot out the offending light! I wonder if anyone can verify this story?'

The beached submarine that I mentioned last week was one of a class of six S-class boats handed over by the United States Navy under the Lend-Lease Agreement. They were never named, but her pennant number was P556 and she was abandoned at Portchester in 1949. 

A final thought from Mike Creed: 'I have not been living in Portchester long enough to remember Bert's Café, but I do know that Smith's Crisps was across the road from where Mother Kelly's is now. It was a plumbing supplies business 40 years ago when I came to the area.'

Correspondence about  the cafe has now closed but thank you for your memories.

I have received a request from John Waterman about the Rootes group garage, EMA Ltd,  in Grove Road South, Southsea. If anyone has any literature or photographs please could you contact him on 07857 226 534. Thank you.

HMS Affray, an Amphion-class submarine, was the last Royal Navy submarine to be lost at sea. She went down in the English Channel in April 1951 with the loss of 75 hands.

Former submariner and leading darts player Ray Tucknott won the Affray Cup some time between 1973 and 1975 in his navy days, a darts trophy he believes was named after that submarine. He is trying to discover what happened to the cup and the competition itself. Does anyone know?


In 1953 it was not so much a street party as a garden party for the Queen's coronation held in the courtyard/garden of Moulin Avenue off Wisborough Road, Southsea.

In the centre of the courtyard was a fenced-off garden in which an air raid shelter was built during the war.

However, by the time of the coronation it had been demolished and the garden reinstated.

The party was held around the fencing.

In the photograph we see some of the children from Moulin Avenue and Wisborough Road.

Some of those in the front are: Mike Lawrence, Naomi Watts, Ann Saunders, Barry Sutton, Steven Hogarth, Jeff Smith,Tony Lord, and Susan Scrimshaw.

Those in the background include Kathleen Brown and Barry Brown. If you are in the photograph please let me know.