Southsea smash and grab raider escaped with a television in his arms '“ Nostalgia

I recently published this photograph of a van promoting wireless hire for a company called Good Listening based at Elm Grove, Southsea.

Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 6:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:21 am
Before Radio Rentals you could rent a wireless from Good Listening in Elm Grove, Southsea.

Doug Willis saw the picture and it took him back to his boyhood when he lived opposite the shop.

He says: '˜The company did progress into the TV age as it was from there that my parents hired our TV. My mum and dad, brother Mick and I lived opposite Good Listening at 97a, Elm Grove. Our flat was over the then Pickfords Travel Office and was a company flat as dad worked for Pickfords Removals in Haslemere Road as a chief clerk and estimator. 

'We moved from Croydon in about 1950 and it was my home for about 40 years. The front room had a splendid view of the Elm Grove traffic light crossroads below and shops opposite.

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'One evening, while watching TV, there was a terrible noise of breaking glass and, thinking it was another crash at the then notorious crossroads, dad jumped up to see the cause. 

'˜A man had thrown a large brick through Good Listening's front window and the whole glass frontage had collapsed to the pavement. Dad watched the man, saw him reach in and grab a television and make off up Grove Road North in the direction of the Eye and Ear Hospital with it in his arms.  My brother said: '˜You're a witness to a crime dad.' Being a typical south London lad, dad's reply was: '˜Whoa, not me son. Don't pay to get involved.'

Doug then recalled a Sunday evening, about 7pm, in about 1955. '˜We'd just got a TV and the programme was the Thin Man. As usual reception was poor and father was fiddling with the controls (remember them, vertical hold, horizontal hold, contrast) to get the picture.

'˜My brother suddenly pointed out that smoke was rising from the back of the box. Our parents unplugged it and carried it down to the garden and called the fire brigade, no mean feat as there were five flights of stairs.'

'¢ Earlier this year I mentioned Jean Snowden who worked for The News and married and emigrated to New Zealand.

In turn she was sent an e-mail from another former Portsmouth Evening News employee, David Thorpe. As it might be of interest to the many retired employees I publish it here.

'˜Dear Mrs Snowdon, My sincere apologies for intruding upon your privacy, but I believe we have something in common: The Portsmouth Evening News.

'˜My sister, Miss Hilary Thorpe, who lives at Bedhampton, sent me a cutting about your time with the company, and your subsequent emigration to New Zealand.

'˜I served my apprenticeship as a compositor at The Evening News as it was called then, from May 1943 to May 1950. I was then called up for National Service and served two years in the RAF mainly at Thorney Island.

'˜When I returned to The News in 1952, I met a girl, June Murrell, who worked in the accounts department with Cyril Maule, Jack Grant and Dennis Moore. The manager in those wartime days was a Mr Williams. If I remember rightly his wife also worked at The News.

'˜At the end of 1952, June and I became engaged. June's father was in the Royal Navy and was serving in Portsmouth Dockyard. To cut a long story short, Mr Murrell was offered a short-term overseas posting to NZ  and he and his family left England in January 1953.  I followed in June of that year.

'˜We were married in Devonport, Auckland, in February 1955 and have lived on Auckland's North Shore ever since.  We have three children and six grandchildren and live in a retirement village in Albany. 

'˜My brother Geoffrey also joined The News staff and eventually became general manager of The News Centre at Hilsea.

'˜We have made trips 'back home' but have never regretted the decision to call New Zealand our home.'