Growing up on a houseboat.
At the end of Crableck Lane where it met the Hamble there was a jetty where a group of boats were moored. Our house boat Miscellany was nearby and was my family home from 1952-1962.
The boats by the jetty were the homes of people who had come before and during the war to escape the bombing raids. Nevil Shute’s 1938 novel What Happened to the Corbetts shows that even threat of war brought a ‘fear’ that city life would be obliterated and those remaining would be at risk not just of bombs but of disease and starvation. Although this didn’t happen, Southampton was badly hit and many homes destroyed. So those with boats used them; there were moorings along the river and the ‘boat-yards,’ such as Deacons,Elephant and Faulkes became populated because there was a water supply and links to the local towns and schools. Most people moved back to their homes immediately after the war but few remained; either attached to this ‘un-named’ out back or simply had nowhere else to go.
My parents came to the area in 1948; my father worked as a boat builder and my mother a teacher for while in a school in Old Burseldon. They lived on other smaller boats until myself my siblings came along and we needed a more stable environment and they converted their last acquisition – a redundant landing craft.
It was on a particularly high tide in spring 1953 that my dad was able to float Miscellany across the marsh and moor her against the bank of the river where she was our happy home for a while.
Although Crableck didn’t have any of the amenities afforded by the other boatyards it was a little more sheltered from the winds and tides and comfortable for a growing family. Also, it was within 2 miles of the local school and shops and near a good bus route. We had milk, bread and mail delivered to a box at the end of the lane. In his spare time my father converted a ship’s life-boat into a sailing yacht which we sailed during the summer weekends to creeks and rivers of the Solent.
This idyllic life style ended in 1962 when we had to move into a house to be near the local senior school. Meanwhile, the other inhabitants on the jetty had re-housed and the boats left to rot or if lucky taken away and restored.
Any other evidence of the little community was washed away with the tide.