Purbrook then and now '“Â Nostalgia
My latest book,Â writtenÂ with Barry Cox, shouldÂ be in the shops in time for Christmas.Â You might think the title, The Portsdown & Horndean Light Railway Then and Now, is a book of tram pictures.
Fear not, it isn't, for itÂ includes many wide-angled scenes along the route from Cosham to Horndean before 1935 when the service ended. Most of the photos areÂ from Barry'sÂ collection andÂ I'veÂ takenÂ all the modern ones.
In coming weeks I'll give you aÂ tasteÂ of the book and beginÂ with oneÂ of London Road looking north through the Purbrook village. The only thing to worry the children in the road was an approaching tram on the single track. From here the route took it up to the George Inn on Portsdown Hill with passing loops and then on a reserved track west of London Road down to Cosham.
Today the A3M takes most London-bound traffic away from Purbrook but it is still a busy road. I had toÂ takeÂ this photograph at 7am on aÂ Sunday to get a traffic-free picture.
OnÂ the left,Â the wall surroundsÂ St John's Church and where the children once playedÂ a bus stop lay-by has been added.
'¢Onion Johnnies, as these men were called, imported and sold their pink onions throughoutÂ most of the UKÂ from as early as the 1920s.
Most came from the area around Roskoff in Brittany and although they could have sold their wares in Paris it seems the roads were soÂ bad it was easier to cross the Channel.
The onions were imported in July and stored in hired barns. TheÂ Johnnies all came over together and stayedÂ until December or early January.Â
At one time there were more than 1,400 of these cycling sellers, butÂ after the pound was devalued in the 1930s and byÂ the end of thatÂ decade, only 400 remained.
By the end of the 20th century there were just 20 left.Â