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Leigh Park, Havant, Hants.
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We moved from Swindon to Muccleshell Close at Leigh Park on the 29th December 1960, into a three-bedroom council house, owned by Portsmouth City Council. I was able to walk to work from home to the factory at Plessey, New Lane, as it was only five minutes away. I even went home for lunch.

I still continued to study for my correspondence Art Course in my spare time and did cartoons about my work-mates once I’d got to know them. I did most of my drawings in the kitchen at breakfast time while June and Michael were still in bed. The finished cartoons would hang on a board above my bench at work and earned the title of the “Daily Giggle”. The cartoons were later pasted into a scrap book and kept for later perusal and amusement.

Some time in 1961 or 1962 we arranged a council house exchange into a two-bedroom house at Lockerley Road, on the same estate in Leigh Park. It was still only a short walk for me at work but I took my bike so that I could give Michael a lift back to school after lunch on the crossbar. He was now attending Trosnant Junior School and doing very well.

On 30th January 1962 I was awarded my Diploma for Commercial Art from the London Art College correspondence course. The Principal of the College, Mr A W Brown, recommended that I should continue with my studies and concentrate on cartooning. This I did, with the result that I got my Diploma for Cartoon Drawing in May 1963.

Sometime during 1962, June and I were taking Michael for day trips to Bognor and Littlehampton by train from Havant Station. We also favoured the sandy beaches of Hayling Island, which wasn’t so far to travel.

In the meantime at work, I had been promoted to Supervisor of the Inspectors in my department and was kept extremely busy. Furthermore, the Committee of the Plessey Social and Sports Club (Havant) had invited me to join their ideas sub-Committee and I was subsequently appointed as newsletter Editor. I wrote and edited their first newsletter on 10th November 1962 and continued publishing weekly editions until 25th May 1963, when I handed over to another Editor, Pete Garrard, prior to my department being transferred to another Plessey site at Titchfield. The Social Club Committee at Havant showed their appreciation by presenting me with a briefcase.

Meanwhile, our department was expanding and I was given more responsibilities. The new Plessey Factory at Titchfield, near Fareham, had been a RAF base during the War. The site was large and occupied a lot of open land, and apart from many RAF buildings which still remained, new buildings were also under construction to house different divisions of the Plessey Company. I was now travelling to work by hired coach; in fact most of the employees that were transferred to Titchfield still lived in the Havant area. We were picked up by the coach outside the Havant factory early every morning, and enjoyed a relaxing tour of the Hampshire countryside picking up others from outlying places before we finally arrived at work. This was fine, providing we weren’t late: anyone that missed the coach had to find their own way there and that could take over two hours by public transport and proved to be very expensive.

Derek got married at Kingston Register Office on 17th August 1963, and I went to the wedding on my own as June preferred not to go.

In September 1963 about 30 of us ex-Havant people who were now working at Titchfield, went on a coach trip to Wannock Gardens, near Eastbourne. Also in September 1963 I was elected to the Executive Committee of the Plessey Sports & Social Club at Titchfield and asked to start their first newsletter.

June and I were separated about October or November 1963, and June took Michael with her and they stayed with friends in the Havant area. I remained at Lockerley Road, living on my own.
Mike says: this is not how I remember it, but I was only 10 at the time… My memory is of my mother planning to leave for months, being very conspiratorial and swearing me to secrecy; eventually leaving in June 1964.

The official opening of the Titchfield Plessey Sports & Social Club (PSSC) house was in November 1963, and a dance was held. We had to hire a large marquee to extend the size of the club house, which was once the RAF Sergeant’s Mess. During 1964, I found myself getting more involved in helping to run the Social Club at work, as I was now living on my own and dreading the thought of going home to a empty house. I was having meals in the works canteen or in the Social Club and travelling home very late, by public transport. I still continued to draw cartoons whenever I had the time, but unfortunately not to a commercial standard.

In May 1964 we formed the PSSC (Titchfield) Billiards and Snooker Section and I helped to organise the snooker tournaments; I was later elected as their Chairman and Publicity Secretary. I wasn’t much of a player myself but we had a few laughs in the process… Through the medium of the newsletter I was able to initiate the forming of several other Sections of the Sports and Social Club.

Shortly after this, a crisis meeting of the Club Executive Committee was called to find an urgent replacement for the Club Secretary who had suddenly left the Company at very short notice. I was asked to take over some of his duties, which included looking after the administration of the club house activities. I was called to a meeting with the Personnel Manager and my Chief Inspector when we jointly agreed that I should act as part-time Club Secretary. This was to be a temporary measure to ascertain if there was sufficient work to justify employing a full-time Club Secretary, as up to now the two previous Club Secretaries had always combined the post with their own full-time paid duties. I took on the part-time job feeling somewhat of a guinea pig!

I wore a suit to work in the mornings; after lunch I changed into a white overall coat hoping to indicate to people which hat I was wearing; but of course it made no difference: the two jobs became intertwined. I managed to cope quite well, but less than a year later I had to report to the Personnel Manager that in my opinion the post of Club Secretary should be a full-time paid position.

After some consideration by company management I was asked to take on the job myself, full-time. I had to decline this offer as I preferred to stay on the Inspection staff. The job of full-time Club Secretary was then advertised and later given to Geoff Brier who had previously been Club Secretary to Havant PSSC and who was ideally suited and very experienced. I handed over my duties to Geoff on 18th March 1965.

In the meantime , while I was still Club Secretary, we held our first Annual Gala Day at Titchfield on 19th September 1964. There was plenty of room on the site for all the proposed activities, most of which had been pre-booked before I took over. As newsletter Editor I helped to publicise the event and wrote some articles for the printed programme, but unfortunately I saw very little of the day’s events myself as I was selling raffle tickets near to the entrance gate so missed most of the fun. An estimated 5,000 people attended the function.

During the Summer of 1964 mum and dad visited me several times at weekends and we made trips in their car around Hampshire and to several coastal resorts.

In the meantime Michael, who was still living with his mother, had changed schools. He was now attending Havant Grammar School. I had legal access to him, so we arranged to go out together on Saturdays, about once a fortnight. Over the next few years we visited museums in London, also the London Planetarium, Madam Tussaud's, London Zoo, Cowes on the Isle of Wight, Southampton Docks and Beaulieu in the New Forest (long before the Motor Museum was completed) amongst other places.

On December 31st 1964 we held our first big New Year’s Dance at the PSSC Club House at Titchfield.

My first air flight was on 16th April 1965, and I went with mum and dad and a large group of friends on a chartered flight to Jersey in the Channel Islands. Their club, the London Vidarians Walking Club, and several other Clubs from the London and Surrey areas were taking part in a Easter Athletics Challenge match against a combined Channel Islands team. We flew out from Hurn Airport, near Bournemouth, and returned on the 19th April to Heathrow.

The 22nd May 1965 saw PSSC Titchfield’s first Grand Easter Ball, held at the Mecca Ballroom in Portsmouth. Over 600 members and friends attended, mum and dad amongst them. Meanwhile, over at Havant, my old factory, the PSSC were planning to have their first Gala Day. This was held on 29th May 1965 and I was invited as their guest of honour.

In the meantime at Titchfield , a regular band was making its name at the PSSC Club at least once a week. Mum and dad were visiting me at weekends and often brought other family members to enjoy an evening at the Club. The Band, known as the “Clem Laurie Combo” became very popular with all of our members and visitors to the Club.

On 26th June 1965, several hundred employees from the various Plessey sites in Hampshire boarded a special train at Havant Railway Station and headed for Beeston in Nottinghamshire to attend the Plessey Group Sports Day. There were 18 coaches to the train and by special arrangement with British Rail we made no stops on the journey. The train sped through all the small stations on the route, but slowed down considerably at the larger stations so we were able to hear the station Announcer give us greetings and tell the public why this rather long train was making the journey from Hampshire. It made us feel rather important.

The Titchfield site had its second Annual Gala Day on 10th July 1965. This time I played a more active part in running it, including taking a turn on duty in the public address caravan. Mum and dad arrived from London, with Valerie and John and their three children. Amongst the entertainment in the main arena was the band of the Royal Marines, Portsmouth Division.

I enjoyed a holiday in Great Yarmouth, with mum and dad on 1st to 7th August 1965. Dad drove us up by car and we toured the area around the Norfolk Broads. Shortly after that I had more visitors, as Derek, Sheila and their children stayed with me at Leigh Park, from 11th to 15th August 1965. We collected Michael on Saturday 13th and enjoyed a day in the New Forest.

On the 15th September 1965 the PSSC Committee presented me with an engraved Pewter Pot to mark the 100th edition of the weekly newsletter at Titchfield. We held an Art Exhibition in the Club House from 12th to 18th October and discovered there were quite a few unsung artists amongst us. From this we formulated the idea of forming an Art Section of the Social Club, but that was to come later.

The 5th November 1965 was our barbecue and fireworks night at the Titchfield Club. The fun actually started at about 8 o’clock in the morning when the fire was lit for the barbecue outside the Clubhouse. A whole lamb was being roasted on a spit: all day we could smell it cooking from inside the factory… but not very successfully, because at about 7 o’clock at night, when the celebrations were underway, we started to carve it and found the meat undercooked. We had to cut it into small portions and finish it off in the oven in the clubhouse kitchen before dishing out the portions to the starving customers.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Text by Alf Allen 1999. Edited and spell-checked by Mike Allen 2003.
Most photos taken by Alf and most illustrations drawn by him; scanned from his albums, etc., now in my possession and digitally edited 2003-2005.
Yes, yes, the photos and layout need updating - the website was first designed in "dial-up days", before any sort of broadband, and everything had to be small so it uploaded and downloaded fast. Work to do, I know.

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