Some Memories of Miss Vera Patterson
The busy town of Waterlooville today is very different from the small quiet village of pre-war days. Very few of the present congregation of St George's were living here before 1939. But one such is Miss Vera Patterson, born here in 1913 and the third generation of her family to be associated with the town.
First was her maternal grandfather Charles Olding. He joined the Hants Constabulary in 1865 and served 23 years until 1888 when ill health forced his retirement on a pension of £36.9s.10d.a year. For much of the 1870's and 1880's he was the sole policeman in the Waterlooville, Purbrook and Cowplain area and lived in Whitings Cottage, a police house close to where the Fire Station stands today.
On one famous occasion he clashed with Squire Hulbert. The squire in the 1880's privately funded and built a new road - Hulbert Road - to shorten the journey to Havant. When finished he forbade anyone to use it before the official opening. But P.C.Olding having taken a prisoner to Havant by the old route via Crookhorn and Bedhampton decided to take a short cut home via the new road. Unluckily for him he was spotted by the Squire who angrily said "You, Olding, you of all people". He then went home and wrote a letter of complaint to the Chief Constable. The following week P.C.Olding was summoned to Police Headquarters in Winchester and severely reprimanded. Such was the power of the Squirearchy in Victorian times.
On retiring from the police in 1888 Mr Olding became a game keeper at the Hurst, a wooded estate between Highfield Avenue and Hulbert Road. Here shooting parties were often held and Mr Olding had to soak raisins in brandy to entice pheasants from the neighbouring woods. Not many pheasants left in Waterlooville today.
Also around the 1880's a Southsea fish merchant, Mr Patterson, was advised by his doctor to 'live in the country'. So he came to the village of Waterlooville and opened a fish shop on the corner of Stakes Hill Road and London Road. At first he travelled daily from Southsea in pony and trap before buying a house in Jubilee Road. His five year old son Jack attended Stakes Hill Primary School where he was to meet Emily Olding, daughter of P.C.Olding.
On leaving school Jack was apprenticed as a shipwright in the dockyards. A keen sportsman, he was one of the founders of Waterlooville Football Club soon after 1900. Known as the Pinks because of their salmon pink shirts they first played in a field in Stakes Hill Road owned by a farmer George Webb. They could only use it between October and March as Mr Webb needed it in the spring and summer for hay and grazing his cows. Later they played in another field in Warfield Avenue and finally at a field behind the Fox and Hounds pub in Stakes. Fixtures were hard to find in the early days as travel for visiting teams was not easy, at least until the Cosham-Horndean tram service was opened up in 1910.
In October 1907 Jack and Emily were married by the Rev. A Wright in St George's Church. Jack left the dockyards and took over the fish shop which he was to run for the next 40 years. Fish rounds were made to the surrounding villages of Purbrook, Denmead, Horndean and Catherington and it was very important to 'keep in with' the cooks of the big houses in the area. In 1908 when his father stood for the council young Jack helped address the election envelopes. There were only 81 electors in the whole of Waterlooville.
The only child of the marriage, Vera, was born in 1913 and was christened in St George's by the Rev A Suffrin in water which had been brought by the vicar from the River Jordan.
Vera first attended a private school 'Pendean' run by a Miss Mabel and then went on to Purbrook Secondary School. She can recall many of the tradesmen of the 1920's. There was a blacksmith Mr Kilne who shoed horses in Chapel Lane opposite the Wellington public house, Mr Pink who ran a grocery cum bakery, Mr Wadham and his outfitters shop and the only chemist, an old white haired man named 'Daddy' Spencer. He also acted as an unofficial vet besides dispensing pills to all and sundry. There was one doctor, Dr Rigg, but many people didn't want to pay his fees so made use of 'Daddy' Spencer.
The grand social event of the year was the two day Flower Show and Fun Fair held every August. The Industrial School Band played and 'Bowling for a Pig' was always a popular attraction. The young Vera served on the football club committee and recalls Waterlooville and District matches as being keenly fought 'blood baths'. No red cards in those days perhaps? Transport was still somewhat rudimentary and they travelled to away matches in an old furniture van which tended to break down on steep hills like Butser and Portsdown whereupon the players would have to get out and push. They also had to wait outside the Bricklayers Arms for two players who liked a few beers before setting off.
When Vera left school she trained at the Underwood Commercial School and learnt shorthand typing and book keeping. Around 1930 she joined the firm of Sparshatts at the princely wage of 5/- a week. By 1938 she was earning £2.10s. a week as the private secretary of the 'boss' Mr Sparshatt. Just before the war she left to work in the Record Office of the R.A.O.C. barracks in Hilsea. In 1940 they were bombed out and the office was transferred to Leicester. Vera did not settle there and resigned a year or so later, came home and enlisted in the Wrens in Portsmouth Dockyard where she trained as a driver.
She recalls bombs falling in Waterlooville in the Convent Field and Padnell Road whilst a German plane crashed in Park Lane in 1941 and the pilot was taken prisoner. There was an anti-aircraft battery at Crookhorn and many troops in the area especially during the run up to D Day in 1944. Her father served as a Special Constable throughout the war and once had to go to Petersfield to defuse 'butterfly' bombs dropped by German aircraft.
In 1947 Mr Patterson retired and bought a bungalow in Elmwood Avenue where his daughter still lives. Her parents lived on to celebrate their Diamond Wedding and Mr Patterson only died in 1977 at the ripe old age of 93 having lived to see the old Waterlooville change out of all recognition. Miss Patterson is now a spritely 89 year old still living in the same bungalow and I would like to thank her for supplying me with all these interesting memories of her family and the old village of Waterlooville.
page last updated 31 MARCH 2002