War Time Havant Road, Cosham

A Memory of Cosham.

I was born in 1938 and my maternal grandparents lived in a tiny shop on Havant Road, Cosham. I remember I used to write to them occasionally which is how I remember the address. I can't ,though, recall the number. Their name was Owen. I know that when my mother and I travelled on the No. 31 bus from Fishbourne to visit them my mother always gave the destination as "The Red Lion" and I do recall that the shop was only a short distance from the pub (although I didn't know as a small girl what the Red Lion was!). Whether it was on the same side as the pub or the opposite side I cannot recall, but I THINK it was towards Havant rather than Portsmouth. The shop was, I now realise, a basic 2-up, 2-down terrace house, the front room having been converted to the shop. I was fascinated by it. There was a bead curtain separating the shop from the living area, which was up a few steps from the shop. The shop bell which sounded when one entered intrigued me. It took me a long time to work out that stepping on the doormat at the entrance set it off! There was a doll for sale on a high shelf, a war-time production, but with a proper plaster-type face and wearing a white muslin dress and to me it appeared wonderful. I coveted it - without success! My grandfather, I vaguely knew, was up to something illicit and I now realise he was getting black market sugar during WW2 and was making unrationed sweets on a threatening-looking black iron contraption in the back bedroom upstairs. My mother told me years later that she was terrified her mother (my grandmother) would have a fall and scald herself severely carrying literally boiling sugar in a great iron cauldron up the winding staircase to make the sweets. Incidentally, the sweets were vile! To a child they were scarcely palatable - strong peardrop flavoured boiled sweets in an assortment of lurid colours. I wanted that rare commodity during war-time, chocolate!!

My grandparents sold up and moved in 1951 and I'd love to know if anyone remembers the shop. It must have been an impecunious existence. All daily living took place in the "back" room - my grandmother had her piano there, the dining table jammed hard up against it, a gas cooker and sink against the wall overlooking the rear garden, and an earth closet therein to which one had to go to attend to the needs of nature! I went back to look for the shop many years ago, but of course it had long gone. Does anyone by chance remember it or can provide information?

Added 23 March 2021


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