The area at the bottom of Hursley Road, where the Central Precinct is now, was somewhat different then.
Chandler’s Ford fun fair
Every summer the fun fair used to arrive, much to the delight of most younger people.
Dodgem Cars, and similar attractions drew our attention, together with the music that was being played at the various attractions.
For some reason, I always remember the old pop song Last Train to Sanfernando and it is linked in my mind to days/evenings at the fun fair in Chandler’s Ford.
I think most of us lads, and of course the older teenagers around, gathered at the fun fair, as it was a change from the limited options available, and it meant Fun!
Prices for rides were cheap, by comparison with today, and with a few shillings (1 shilling = 5p) in your pocket, you were OK.
Cycle speedway track
Another site of interest near-by in that area was the cycle speedway track.
This was sited between Hursley Road and Mead Road, and a store for the speedway bikes ( Bicycles not motor-bikes) stood at the side of Hursley Road, not far from its junction with Winchester Road. (The roundabout came much later, it was a T-junction then).
The track was at a lower level than Hursley Road, and race meetings were held, I think, weekly.
I was not actually involved in the activity myself, but saw some of the races and practising.
One activity most of us who by then had obtained bicycles indulged in, especially in school holidays, were bike rides.
Get mum to make you a couple of sandwiches, a bottle of drink, often shared between several of us, and off we would go!
I remember riding with a group of us as far as Bishop’s Waltham once, and lesser rides to Romsey, Baddesley and other places were fairly frequent in good weather holiday weeks. Our bikes were our only real means of transport and independence.
Buses cost money, better spent on sweets etc, and many of our parents had yet to obtain a car.
The Bonfire Night
The Autumn brought the joyful prospect of Bonfire Night!
The real fun was finding a shopkeeper prepared to sell us fireworks, when we were still quite young, and I remember ‘Mac’ the newsagent sending round to Mrs Rich, who ran a sweet shop on Hursley Road, opposite the entrance to the flats and railway station today.
Mrs Rich asked me, “Who told you I had fireworks for sale / I bet it was that old Mr MacMahon!” We of course denied that, but it was true!
Mrs Rich did sell us some fireworks, but mostly the “pretty ones”, not the bangers we wanted!
Bonfire night, until I reached the age of about 12, was strictly a family affair.
After dinner (high tea), mum, dad and I trooped out into our garden and let off our collection of fireworks, bought over the preceding couple of weeks, as pocket money allowed.
Dad would buy some more to top up the collection. Our neighbours were doing likewise, and the large, organised displays were not something we knew about then.
In later years, as teenagers, several of us indulged in antics involving fireworks.
One memorable “prank”
I remember one of our numbers, who lived in the Shaftsbury Avenue area, took us to the back garden of an older lady he knew.
Just inside her back gate, and it was a long back garden, was an outside cupboard. In there the lady stored Kilner Jars used for bottling fruit and jams.
The person involved (No, not me!) crept into the garden, opened the cupboard and took out a jar. Someone lit a couple of bangers, they were put in the jar, the top quickly screwed on, and jar placed back in the cupboard.
We hardly had time to get away before an explosion took place!
A wary look back into the cupboard showed a smoking mess of broken glass etc.
All great fun at the time, but I often wondered about how that lady felt when discovering the results of our “prank” !
We were probably what would now be classed as vandals, but these ‘happenings’ were not something done regularly.
It was boyish high spirits, and we seemed to like destroying things.
Maybe it was a throwback to seeing the remains of the war, bomb-sites etc.
No excuse of course, but that was just how we lads seemed to be, at that time.
What’s next: My memories of North End School
Note: Don’t miss Martin Napier’s article series: Part 4, on Monday 6th July 2015.
- Hazel Bateman: An Interactive Local History Talk by Martin Napier
Article Series by Martin Napier
- Part 1: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s
- Part 2: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Paper Boy; North End School
- Part 3: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s Bonfire Night
- Part 4: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: North End School
- Part 5: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Bicycle, Bicycle!
- Part 6: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: A Summer of Hope and Sorrow
- Part 7: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: The Big Freeze in 1963
- Part 8: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Breaking Free from North End School
- Part 9: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: My Passions with Bikes and Boats
- Part 10: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Bikes, Boats, and Adventures
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