I thought I would take this opportunity to respond to Chandler’s Ford Today’s informal invitation to provide some input that might catch the eye of a few older folk.
Being an environmentally aware person and property man who cut his teeth in a very beautiful part of England I was at an early age drawn to the Potters Heron for a variety of reasons. It is magnificently located for its purpose on a stretch of highway that sweeps majestically in a gentle curve on its way to my favouritecity. Strangely enough, and it may seem totally irrelevant but I had the same feeling when I last swept along the Big Sur stretch of the coastal highway in CA.
Potters Heron: a totally lovely place in the 50s and 60s
The Potters Heron was in the minds of 50s and 60s people like myself a totally lovely place to go and have a drink and never just one more stop on the pub crawls of that era. Presumably family managed. It was also the first place that families in the general Southampton area too would almost automatically have at the head of the list for wedding receptions, twenty-firsts and the like as well as the almost obligatory annual company dinner dance and thereby hangs a shortish anecdote.
All the actors are long gone so I can mention Shell’s annual thing there in the early 1960s where we had all consumed the After Eight Mints and commenced having a go at The Gay Gordon’s, The Belita, a clumsily performed Eightsome Reel and last but not least The Dashing White Sergeant, and were recovering a bit with the standard Cointreau when the regional manager or similar commenced his round of dancing with all the wives.
The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra – The Eightsome Reel
Now this gentleman was a man of considerable girth and he asked my quite heavily pregnant wife (son number three) for a slow foxtrot. During this he thought he was saying the right thing by stating that being a mother and a housewife was a truly noble calling and almost patriotic too. Well my wife who could barely conceal her consternation broke off the dance and plumped herself down next to me. I then uttered a crassly stupid explanation by way of saying that as a good company man’s wife she had to go along with this! What this well intended gentleman did not know was that my wife was an ardent supporter of Germaine Greer, Jane Fonda and regular reader of Cosmopolitan magazine. Oh well!
The following day we received our annual pay rise: GBP 980 to 1010 p.a. I was requested to exchange my Morris Minor (12DOU) for a brand new Hillman Imp (ALH569 ) or similar. Can’t recall any car numbers these days!
Potters Heron was the place choice for many celebrities
This was time of excellent Southern TV establishing itself at the old cinema site close to Northam Bridge. Almost overnight we learned to recognise Cliff Michelmore, Reginald Bosanquet and last but not least the extremely attractive and captivating Meryl O’Keefe. One summer evening myself and my regular gentle boozing friend Rodney just happened to find ourselves in the cocktail bar sitting almost opposite this lady who was obviously waiting to be joined by somebody. Lucky fellow he. I have to admit that I hardly ventured much outside Hampshire let alone seen a movie star or anybody like this beautiful woman. We were both mesmerised. Later we were to discover that the Potters Heron was the place choice for many local celebrities not least Southern TV people. People like Jack Hargreaves and Oliver Kite.
Further up this main road in the direction of Romsey was located the quite famous Two Lakes or Twin Lakes trout fishery, which sadly had to close due to a severe infection of all the fish there which could not easily be eradicated. Anyway during the good times those fishing there would tend to end up in the bar at the Potters Heron and regale each other with the inevitable ‘one that got away ‘ stories.
Potters Heron Hotel – Romsey
On the opposite side of the road and quite close to Ampfield Golf Course there stood an almost classical Keepers Cottage which came on the market in those far off days at an asking price of 4,500-00. I met the agent at the Potters Heron and pulling out all stops made an offer of 4,350-00. I was politely and firmly told not to waste my time or his either.
Last week we saw the movie Goodbye Christoper Robin here in Hong Kong. I must be the only person here to have immediately identified to Christopher Robin’s newly married Nanny (‘Nou’ I think) living in an almost identical Keepers Cottage. They have a distinctly Victorian red brick style of architecture.
Cheeky behaviour of impecunious young men at Potters Heron
Well if readers are still with me I will end with a very short story about the downright brazen and cheeky behaviour of impecunious young men accompanied by generally attractive and well behaved young ladies. On one or two occasions a bunch of us took to quietly invading the weekend tea dances at the Potters Heron. We appeared reasonably respectable but we seemed to have a problem when it came to paying for a ticket! We had several successful ‘getting away with it ‘ afternoons.
We had been rumbled the very first time I was to subsequently discover, I suffered the acute and deserved embarrassment of having my shoulder discreetly tapped by the assistant manager in mid waltz no less and quietly and firmly told to leave the establishment. Always ready to face a challenge the other two guys promptly offered to stump up the cost of a ticket to let me stay on condition they left. What are friends for? Amazingly we resumed dancing. Sangfroid indeed! The girls just giggled. Cost me a lot more in drinks later than the ticket. Makes me shudder just to think about what I used to get up to in those far off days. A truly awful young man in fact.