Back when


I mentioned not getting out much but there’s nothing I like more than an afternoon on the Third Floor of the Library checking the Archives. Today I’ve been looking at Kelly’s Directory of Pompey from 50 years ago.

Among the surprises, I found Verrecchia’s in London Road but not the Guildhall Square – had it gone by then? There was no Birdcage Club under “Ballrooms” but it was the lone entry under “Dancing Halls” – presumably a leftover from its days as the Court School?

I found Shirt King and Smartwear but under boutiques for the girls, only Polly Peck. In Osborne Road was the Green Mask and surprisingly, there were only 10 cinemas but no fewer than 28 taxi firms.

Of particular interest to me was what might be called broadly ‘alternative’ healing. In Chichester Road there was a Mr Reeves who offered acupuncture and massage, in Southsea Mrs Cannings was the one Osteopath and in Osborne Road was the Radiant Health Centre with Delmonico’s coffee bar next door and Minn’s Music next to them. The only other health food shop listed was Rundle Johnson in Arundel Street.

It strikes me that this is one of the biggest changes since the late 1960s. These days there are lots of health food stores, herbalists, vegan stores, acupuncturists and (generally) healing centres and healers who offer an alternative to GPs and the NHS.


Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

7 thoughts on “Back when

  1. How about Whitcombs the cheese specialist in Palmerston Road, now the Co-op ? Brewers the coffee specialist in Marmion Road.
    Do you remember the greengrocers in Osborne, Road, the famous Sir Alec Rose’s family shop? You have to visit the villages in Hampshire for wonderful “craft” food shops, Castle Road appears to be making a start with the “one offs” ??
    Incidently, Verrecchias in Guildhall Square went first, London Road hung on for a few years after.

    • I do remember Whitcombs – always a wonderful smell. Brewers lasted a long time – we used to buy posh tea there for the Sallyport Tearooms well into this century, although they retired before we did (2008)

  2. Verrecchias is listed in Guildhall Square in 1969, but not in 1971. They are listed as ice cream manufacturers.

  3. Whitcombs is now Sainsbury’s, not Co-op. The greengrocers in Osborne Road, (now Ken’s Kebabs) is where the infamous Bistro Club was upstairs around 1971-74. A very seedy dive indeed. Charlie was the owner – a very large man. I don’t know if this was before or after Alec Rose’s wife had the shop downstairs. Verecchia’s, the best ice cream ever back then. I remember the wafers were about 4 inches thick with ice cream! Yummy

  4. Next time you’re checking your Kellys – try this one.
    In 1961 or ’62 there was a shop in Osborne Rd (on the corner by Serpentine Rd) – it was called something like ‘The Unusual Clothes Shop for Men and its window display featured flowered and paisley shirts amongst other items I can’t remember.
    My brother remembers it and says it was owned by a certain Seymour Cottrell, a large, colourful character well known around Southsea who demonstrated playing the organ in local music shops – possibly Courteney and Walker.
    It seems that Pompey could have been one of the first in the country to have its own modern style boutique.

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