All posts by Sue Payne

Pubs in Portsmouth

compiled by Sue Payne  (Local History Group 3)

Portsmouth has had a reputation in the past of having more pubs to the square acre than any other place in the country, closely followed by Gosport. The reason of course for this is the presence of the Royal Navy. In 1864 Portsmouth had 277 public houses and 545 beerhouses. This meant there was one drinking establishment for every one hundred residents.

Drinking establishments in earlier times could be placed in three categories. At the top of the scale were the old established coaching inns in which surroundings were usually more palatial and comfortable; the George Inn in the High Street and the Star and Garter in Broad Street being two examples. Next on the list were the better known alehouses and taverns that maintained fairly reasonable standards and service. Thirdly, the poor relations, beerhouses. They could vary considerably, some of them being worthy of development into fully fledged public houses in later years, others were little more than dwelling houses in which the front parlour had been converted into some resemblance of a bar and the concoction that passed as beer was brewed in the yard at the rear of the house. Beerhouses were introduced in 1830, the authorities being under the impression that drinking beer was healthier than the evils of gin and spirits. On the other hand drinking beer or spirits was probably healthier than the water supply at the time. Throughout their history, drinking establishments have adapted to changing social conditions. The splitting up of the bar counter occurred during the industrial era when tradesmen and managers took exception to drinking in the same room as their workers and were quite happy to pay an extra halfpenny on a pint for the privilege of drinking with those of their own class. This brought about the introduction of the saloon bars, private bars, public bars, ladies wine bars and that select inner sanctum known as the snug. Each class appeared to have their own preference for which game they should play. Working men usually went for dominoes or cribbage but their bosses had bagatelle boards in their parlour and sometimes a skittle alley.

It was a common sight to see drunks on the street in the 18th and early 19th centuries, however Temperance campaigners were particularly active in trying to improve the situation. People drank to forget their depressing and appalling living conditions. Drinking dens provided a means of escape for a few short hours and although many beerhouses could not be called places of grandeur, they provided a conviviality that could not be found at home. Authorities did their best to reduce drunkenness by embarking on a programme to cut the excessive number of drinking outlets and the Church was only too happy to support this. As early as 1825 several alehouses were fined £5 each for allowing drinking in their houses during the hours of Divine Service on Sunday. The Town Council, on August 11th 1866, decided to adopt the Public House Act of 1864 requiring the closure of public houses between 1 o’clock and 4 o’clock in the morning. Eight years later this was changed to 11pm instead of 1am. In the 18th century the coaching inns flourished but by the mid 19th century this had changed due to the railways. However in Portsmouth the railway brought passengers for the seaside at Southsea and to use the harbour, so the inns and hotels still enjoyed good trade.

By 1915 Portsmouth had 305 alehouses and 372 beerhouses but the population had increased considerably to support this trade. During the Second World War many pubs and streets were bombed reducing numbers considerably. Portsmouth has lost hundreds in the last century, many have been converted. These may be identified by glazed tiling on the frontage or half timber decoration to upper floors. Today there are less than 150 pubs in Portsmouth and only 8 in Old Portsmouth.

Sources:

  • “Pubs of Portsmouth” by Ron Brown
  • Portsmouth Local History – Stephen Pomeroy
  • History in Portsmouth 1860 project

Hayling Island golf club

by Sue Payne (Local History Group 2)

It was in 1880 that a letter in The Field from Rev. J. Cumming Macdona, a golf “missionary” of the time referred to Mr. Fleetwood Sandeman wanting to establish a golf course on Hayling Island. A meeting took place in 1883 and Fleetwood Sandeman was elected the Club’s first Captain and Rev. Macdona as the first Chairman. The minutes of that meeting are still in existence. A young man, Joseph Lloyd, was hired from Hoylake as the first professional green keeper.

The course of nine holes originally started in front of The Royal Hotel and continued westward on Beach Common. A further nine holes were added in 1884 by leasing land from Sinah Warren. The sand dunes provided the perfect land for a links course and it was in this year that Miss Maud Sandeman founded the Hayling Ladies Section.

In 1894 the leases were transferred to the Club from Fleetwood Sandeman, and thereafter the members controlled the Club. The Club negotiated a long lease for the ground on Sinah Warren in 1897 and a Clubhouse was then built at a cost of £1000.

Famous golfers Harry Vardon and James Braid held an exhibition match in 1902 and in 1905 J.H. Taylor was commissioned, for a fee of £11, to make a “True Links” venue. Not all of Taylor’s suggestions were accepted by the club, but his overall plan went ahead.

In 1912 the Club began negotiating for the freehold of the land from Sinah Warren, but the War delayed the plans until 1924. It was then necessary to redesign the course as the lease ran out on the Beach Common, on which were the first two tees. It was also decided to lease out the land at the Kench, and remove the 13th and 14th holes which were incorporated on the Kench, and which crossed the road. In 1933 the famous course architect Tom Simpson was commissioned and the course was built very much as it is today. Bernard Darwin, a famous golf writer, who after playing the new course, said, “it possesses some of the finest natural seaside golfing country to be found anywhere.”
The clubhouse was enlarged in 1937 to accommodate the growing number of members and an extra floor was added to provide a lounge. This building remained until 2001 when a new clubhouse was built, replacing the old one.

During the Second World War the land to the west of the seventh tee was requisitioned by the Defence Department to erect anti-aircraft gun batteries. Evidence of these batteries and bomb craters can still be seen, despite repairs carried out at the end of the war. The 13th green had been totally buried under sand and was relocated near the ferry clubhouse.
Gravel had been extracted from the course for many years, but in 1938 a member suggested that some of these small extraction areas could be used to form a lake which would solve the Club’s course watering problems. Gravel extraction continued afterwards in a more organised fashion at one end of the lake. It is now a haven for birds and the water is leased to fishermen.

The sea has eroded the course at times; in 1930 high tides washed over the second green and up the third fairway, and in 1980 the southern fencing was washed away. Three new groynes have helped to stop further erosion.

The year 1949 saw a major change in the administrative set-up of the Club. The assets of Hayling Golf Club were sold to the present company, The Hayling Golf Club Ltd., in exchange for shares, which were vested in the Trustees of the Club. This was important, in view of the fact that the land held by the Club is freehold, including the foreshore from the Clubhouse to the Ferry, along with income from shingle and rents hand to be administered.

Hayling golf course forms part of Sinah Common (Site of Special Scientific Interest). The SSSI comprises a diversity of maritime habitats including the most extensive vegetated shingle beach and sand dunes system in Hampshire. The course is sympathetically managed, in an agreement with Natural England, to take into account the needs of golfers and the biodiversity found there.

Sources:

  • Hayling Golf Club – A Natural place for Golf by Neil Blackey and Roger Thompson
  • Hayling Golf Club Centenary Brochure