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All is not lost … yet!

May 29, 2012

On Saturday while enjoying a trip to the coast , I was able to add some more knowledge to my memories.

Last time we did the trip we parked in Moody’s Boatyard and walked down river reversing the journey I would have taken each week to do the family shop.  This time we parked in the same place but walked up the river side to Deacon’s and Foulkes’ boatyards at Bursledon.  This was where my parents had lived and worked from 1948 until 1954, when we moved to Crableck.
My father with my mother recently moved to the area from Canvey Island, Essex to build and repair boats. He and a his friend Dicky salvaged old and disused warships, that littered the waters edge.  He , broke them, keeping the wood  and sold the metal to a local scrap dealer to maintain a small income while building up his business.  Meanwhile, he built a home for his wife and their growing family from the salvaged remains. I was born in 1950 and my sister was born 2 years later.  During this time my mother was a school teacher in  the local village school.  When I was big enough I went with her, while my sister was cared for by a neighbour.
Back to point of the exercise – We came to see the area where my father had worked and lived. Bursledon, had always been famous for its shipbuilding industry.  There would have been a vibrant community making a living on the Hamble since Henry VIII’s fleet was built there; remnants of old ships can be seen at low tide.  Also, Daniel Defoe the author of Robinson Crusoe worked in the shipyards in the early 1800s. It is also the setting for Nevil Shute’s Whatever happened to the Corbetts.

The war in 1939 to 1945  bought an influx of residents to the river when nearby Southampton and Portsmouth were badly bombed.  Along the water’s edge were jettys and a makeshift quayside where a house boats were moored. My parents lived here in a converted landing craft much like those that were used in the Dunkirk evacuation.
When the war was over most people returned to the cities.  And over the years since,  the other boat dwellers have found more stable and comfortable homes. The houseboats fell in disrepair. However, some still remain and it was those I visited on Saturday.  Foulkes’ boatyard has remained in the family and and the grandson still lives nearby remembers my dad who remained living and working on the river until 1995.  

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