When a Post Office van overturned in a Portsmouth street | Nostalgia

Back in the early 1950s many crashes happened in Portsmouth but few involved fatalities because of the slow speeds at the time and the lack of cars parked anywhere.

Does anyone recognise this Portsmouth street with the Post Office van on its side? Picture: Colin Hull collection.
Does anyone recognise this Portsmouth street with the Post Office van on its side? Picture: Colin Hull collection.

Colin Hull worked for the police as a civilian and has lent me a collection of photographs of crashes, some serious others not so.

Look at the main picture here. Imagine it happening today with cars parked on both sides of the street – possibly with double parking too.

I am sure some of you will recognise the street. You might be one of the many children seen gawping at the scene. The vehicle on its side is a Post Office van that perhaps had to swerve to avoid a bicycle or child.

The great Portsmouth dockyard out-muster a century ago.

Looking at the coats everyone wore in those days when it was cold it must be a winter’s day. Of course, all the men are wearing caps or hats.

• Hazel Oliver has been handed some postcards which belonged to her grandmother.

Always called the Charge of the Dockyard Light Horse, here we see dockyard men awaiting the out-muster signal.

If you are too young to remember it or just never saw it, you missed something special.

A caption on this postcard says it was bought in the shop Fancy & Fair on the left. Picture: Hazel Oliver postcard collection.

In later years one of the best places to see this event was at the junction of Edinburgh Road and Commercial Road when it was controlled by a policeman on point duty or, later still, when traffic lights were installed.

When the lights were at red the dockyard workers came to a crowded standstill. When the lights changed, off they went, a mass of human energy pedalling every type of bicycle imaginable... and not a hard hat in sight.

This happened twice a day until cuts in the dockyard and better pay meant many workers bought cars.

Also, whereas many men lived locally and cycled home for their ‘dinner’ (lunch), perhaps just 15 minutes from work, in later years many moved out of the city so had to eat at work. The same event happened at the end of the working day, of course.

• The sender of this Edwardian postcard has written that it was bought from the fancy goods shop on the left, Fancy & Fair.

We are in Osborne Road, Southsea, one of the up-market shopping streets of the time. Although Palmerston Road in the distance was decimated in the blitz, Osborne Road survived the worst of the raids. Most of what you see here survives to this day.

The approaching tram is just coming off the interlaced track which was peculiar to the Portsmouth system. It allowed cars to travel down a narrow street without the need for points. Many ornate lamp standards can be seen adding character to the street.