The Portsmouth shops on death row | Nostalgia

Once prosperous Lake Road was all but finished by the late 1960s when this road of shops was demolished. Picture:: Mick Cooper collection
Once prosperous Lake Road was all but finished by the late 1960s when this road of shops was demolished. Picture:: Mick Cooper collection
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Lake Road between Commercial Road and the junction of Fratton Road and Kingston Road was once a thriving shopping centre although not one of the regular high street shopping centres.

It was said that if lads on a night out started drinking at one end of the street they would not be able to sup a pint in all the pubs before they passed out, there were so many drinking establishments.

In this photograph we are looking at some of the shops there which were about to be demolished. They were on the north side of the street.

Does anyone remember the businesses? Let me refresh memories...

First on the left at 149 was Walker’s fishmongers, then Butler the bakers. Stacey the fruitier was next and the shop with the sky blue frontage was Turnbull’s leather merchants.

Next to him was yet another fruitier, Mrs Thomas, and the butcher Turner’s was followed by Express radio. Next to it was a Mrs Pook who dealt in second hand books.

Where today would you find such a selection of shopkeepers I wonder?

• On October 5, I wrote about the explosion at the armaments depot at Bedenham, Gosport, on July 14, 1950.

Mervyn Watts-Plumkin writes: 'I remember that event very well.

‘I was 15 and was inside the Shaftesbury cinema in Kingston Road, Portsmouth, when suddenly a huge shock-wave blew the inside swing doors open.

‘I don't remember any panic, but people vacated their seats.

‘When outside and walking towards North End to get a bus back to Paulsgrove, I saw many shops had their windows blown out and glass was strewn on the pavement.

‘At that point the cause of the damage was unknown. However, on reaching Allaway Avenue where I was living at the time, the talk was of a huge explosion in the Portsmouth Harbour area.

‘The following day me and my friends found a clip of live .303 ammunition in the garden of 62 Allaway Avenue, where my friend Sammy Barber lived. There was only one place I thought it could have come from.'

•  Deryck Swetnham used to cross the Iron Curtain as I did. Mind you his adventures were more scary than mine.

He says: 'Your article about East Germany bought back memories (not pleasant ones). I visited East Germany four times, 1975, 1977, 1982 and 1984, all on railway bashes.

‘The 1982 one was a one-way trip as we were returning from Hungary via Czechoslovakia.

‘The worst shaking down we got was surprisingly enough crossing from Czechoslovakia into East Germany.

‘We had to catch a train at Alexanderplatz in East Germany and it was just as you said.

‘A cordon of armed guards on the platform prevented us from boarding the train until all passports had been checked.

‘Dogs were sent under the train and two more armed guards were on the catwalk at the base of the train shed roof.’

Deryck adds: ‘The 1977 exit had a humorous episode.

‘We left via Marienborn, which involved getting a local train from Magdeburg to Marienborn, getting off the train at the local station and walking beside the track for about a quarter of a mile to the international station. 

‘There we had a long wait for our train but also there were no customs officials available.

‘She turned up about 1am, a real Rosa Klebb lookalike (the Smersh agent in From Russia With Love).

‘The first person she came to was me. All my luggage was in a large rucksack.

‘She pointed at it and said something in German which I did not understand.

‘I opened the flap and there was a pair of shoes on the top. She repeated whatever it was she said, so I took the shoes off the top.

‘She repeated the phrase, so I upended the rucksack and there, humming away, was a fortnight's worth of dirty laundry. She gave a disgusted grimace and nobody else had their baggage searched.

‘I do have a large collection of pictures of East German steam locomotives though, so they can't take that away from me.’

•  The photograph of a seaman being transferred from ship to ship by bosun’s chair was seen by former Lt-Cdr Doug Barlow, from Emsworth.

He says: 'When I was serving at Seamanship School Flathouse we received a signal from flag officer sea training at Portland which said: "I must be the most senior officer to be transferred ship-to-ship frequently, and slung across in that chair terrifies me”.

Doug adds: ‘If a helicopter strop can lift people out of the sea, then it can carry personnel from ship to ship. It has been doing this ever since the sixties!’