My father’s real name was Alfred Thomas Green. He was born in 1915 in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. The Green side of the family were the undertakers and antique dealers in his home town, and his mother’s side, the Currins, were the confectioners.
The Currin family owned a big piece of land called Pringle Fields, which I now believe is a park. I have a picture of my great grandparents posing, Victorian style, outside their house, which was called the Priory.
About Peter Green
My father left school when he was 15 and got a job in a department store. When the war came he signed up for the RAF and was stationed in Hampshire awaiting transportation to South Africa, where he trained as a navigator.
Before he left England he met my mother, Norah, at a dance in Southampton’s Guildhall.
My mother was born in Tewkesbury, but grew up in Sheffield. Her father, who was born in India was an engineer, designed merry-go-rounds, and later railway carriages for the Rajas of India. Her mother was a telephonist from Dublin. The family moved to Highfield, Southampton just before the war, because her father took a job at the Eastleigh Railway Works, and her brother attended Southampton University.
My father and my grandmother got along very well, but sadly she did not make it through the war, and died at home from a condition that was loosely described as ‘dropsy’. When my father returned from South Africa he flew reconnaissance missions over France, and this is where he earned the nickname Peter, ‘Peter, the Rock’, because his flights always returned with the plane and crew intact.
After the war my parents planned to marry, but when the time came her father was opposed to the marriage, because he felt she should stay and look after him and her brother, so my mother, who was then a doctor’s secretary, and my father eloped to Weybridge.
My mother’s Aunty Grace helped them marry in secret. Times were tough and my father made a living the only way he knew how, and that was by selling things. He loaded up his old Studebaker with pots and pans, and drove around the countywide selling them to village stores.
Despite the hardships my parents had a lot of fun during these months, and afterwards often told the story of the time that they had a hole in the car’s radiator, and although they were very hungry they emptied their only food they had, a can of tomato soup, into the radiator to stop the leak. It worked, and they arrived home safely, albeit salivating at the smell of the soup emanating from under the bonnet of the car. Shortly after this my father took a job as a commercial traveller and travelled the South Coast.
When I was born they lived in a top floor flat in Stag Gates on the corner that intersects with the Avenue. The building they lived in was owned by the car dealership that my mother worked for (also situated on that corner). My mother always told me how she worked with a Mr. Brown, Mr. Pink a Mr. White and a Mr. Painter, which was funny because by then she was Mrs. Green!
When I arrived my father decided to stop travelling and to start a business. I was one year old in 1956 when he took over the premises at 43 Leigh Road, in Eastleigh, (where the Kentucky Fried Chicken now stands). He opened the Sleep Shop which at first only sold beds, but this would soon change but I don’t think for one moment that he would ever have imagined that in 8 short years his business would be the biggest furniture and carpeting store in the whole of Hampshire.
To be continued…
About Peter Green
Peter Green was a well known character in Eastleigh. His furniture and carpet store on the corner of Southampton Road and Factory Road (where the Swan Centre now stands) was one of the biggest businesses in the town in the 1960s and 1970s. Peter Green was well liked and did many charitable works to help other members of the community.
This article is written by his daughter, Wendy Martin, who now runs her father’s business (relocated to Chandler’s Ford) alongside the other families who have worked at and contributed to Peter Green for several generations.
Post Series: Memory of Peter Green, by Wendy Martin: