Wednesday, 18 February 2009

A youngster in Weymouth - part 1.

Waking up in what I was later told was an "Anderson Shelter" is the earliest memory I think I really had. It must have been toward the end of the Second World War as I was born in 1942. Apparently we took it in turns to be in the shelter as there was only room for four of us and we were a family of five. Even my baby sister had to take her turn in another bedroom. But we all survived.

Dad was away somewhere and my mother and two sisters and I lived with my Grandfather in Derby Street just near to the railway station. I also have a memory of the street party and sitting on a table looking at all the activity. Whether this is a real memory or something I have constructed from the things we talked about, I am not really sure. But I claim it as real anyway.

Weymouth was a great place for a youngster like me. I would wander off on my own, and had some favorite places. The Harbor wall was always exciting. There was a ledge about two feet wide along the side nearest the town, and this was where I liked to walk. I could look down into the water, and with a net on a bamboo pole, catch shrimps that were hiding in the seaweed. I am sure I was usually with a friend, but do not really remember.

Further down the harbor toward the bridge that opened like the London Tower bridge, was the dock where the Paddle Steamers used to be tied up. And of course there were boats of all sorts moored in the harbor too. My father had a boat when the war ended and sometimes I recall sitting on it at anchor and fishing for plaice. We caught some too.

On the beach front of Weymouth near to what was referred to as the "new pier" there were a number of sets of rowing boats and canoes. My dad had one of these, so as I got a little older, a friend and I would take the lightest rowing boat with two sets of oars, and race (so we thought) across the bay. It was exhilarating and we though we were heroes.

But Weymouth Bay at that time had its hazards. As a port and with its proximity to Portland Harbor it was bombed quite a lot during the war. In the shallow waters of the bay where the bathers swam, you could see red flags floating on buoys. These marked places where there were deep holes in the sandy bottom of the bay. One of my cousins accidentally stepped into one and though she was going to drown. I rescued her and become, for a while, her hero!

One of the great attractions for holiday makers in those days was to take a boat trip from Weymouth to Portland Harbor to see the War ships. There were aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines and all manner of smaller vessels to see. In the summer I often went with one of these boats (which seated about twenty passengers), and while the captain collected the fares, I took over the helm. As I was about eight or nine years old at the time, and had my captains hat, I was a bit of a novelty for the vistors.

1 comment:

  1. I relly enjoyed your meanderings about Weymouth, obviously very close to your heart.