My walk from Portslade (aged 5!)

It must have been sometime in 1943, probably around June time as near as I can remember. I had a friend whose name was Foster, who lived in North Street just to the west of George Street (Portslade) where I lived at that time. His parents ran a shop that as I recall made potato crisps which to me were a luxury at that time. We both attended St Peter’s Road Infants School, were both in Miss Conn’s class and walked to and from school together.

Visiting Foster’s Grandma
On this particular day, on the way home from school, he asked me if I would visit his Grandma with him and, being a fairly good lad then, I went home to tell my Mum what we were going to do. However, Mum was out and, as near as I can recall, I couldn’t write at the time so was unable to leave her a message. Young Foster (I can’t remember his first name) assured me that his Grandma didn’t live too far away and so I decided, against my better judgement, to join him on his visit to Grandma.

Meeting a policeman
Well, we were walking along Church Road in Hove, having successfully navigated New Church Road when, at the bottom of George Street, a large policeman stepped out of a doorway of what was then Shaws Stores to question us as to what we were doing out alone. He seemed satisfied with our answers and allowed us to continue on our way. My memories of the rest of that little trip are now somewhat vague but eventually we finished up in a shop at the top of Church Street in Brighton. In fact that shop still remains today – still selling second hand clothes.

Home by bus
Foster’s Grandma gave us the bus fare home and we travelled on the 8a to the bottom of Boundary Road, the fare was just one old penny. On arriving home there was panic stations in my household as you can imagine. My mother was out tramping the streets looking for me and I quickly got undressed and disappeared under the blankets in the Anderson Shelter where we all slept at that time. However I got a good old ticking off in the morning as my poor old Mum had been walking everywhere the night before.

Avoiding a policeman
The thought that she had been to Portslade Police Station had me worried the most and led me taking a modified route to school the following day. Instead of walking down North Street and crossing at the bottom of St Peters Road, I detoured along Albion Street and up St Nicholas Road to avoid Inspector Hunt who in those days did the lollipop job in Church Road.

Could it happen today?
I wonder what the outcome would be today if two children went walkabout as we did that afternoon. I would suppose that every available police officer would be mobilised to look for us. Just thinking back, I was five and young Foster was six years old and I often wonder how he knew the way from North Street Portslade to Church Street Brighton.

Fosters – crisp manufacturers
Does anyone know of or remember the Fosters in North Street who manufactured crisps around 1943?

Comments about this page

  • Does anyone know when the police station in St Andrews Road ceased being a police station?

    By Andrews (11/09/2009)

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