SUMMER 1961 WEST STREET, FAREHAM
It was the year that Eric Carlsson and John Brown won the RAC Rally, and the Tufty Club came into being
Readers from the Solent area will have no difficulty in recognising Fareham’s West Street some 14 years before the shopping centre was built. The weather looks tip-top and there’s time to visit P&S Cripps Fishmongers or, for the future classic enthusiast, spend five weeks’ pocket money on a Spot On Ford Zodiac at Bunce’s model shop before a nice cup of tea at Forte’s. There are no double yellow lines to contend with for those arriving by car for the weekly shopping, although the amount of traffic would have been unthinkable even ten years earlier.
The first car to catch the eye is the Austin A40 Farina in the foreground, with a bootlid that denotes the saloon as opposed to the Countryman hatchback. This example also lacks rear overriders, a chrome windshield surround and opening side windows, so could it be that the owner saved £28 10s by purchasing the now very rare non-De Luxe model? Next to the Austin is the unmistakable profile of the Ford Zephyr MkII with the ‘Lowline roof’ and the ‘rally-proven six-cylinder engine for a fine performance’.
To the left of the Zephyr is a fellow Dagenham product that seems to hail from a remote world of austerity and ration books, despite production having ceased only eight years previously. By this time, the E493A series Prefect would have been a 200-guinea bargain for quite a few young motorists. The station wagon by the Prefect is a Standard Companion which would have only just been replaced by the Triumph Herald estate 56 years ago. One of the Standard’s major selling points was its five-door coachwork – unique for a British-built small estate of its era. It’s resting alongside one of its closest rivals, the Ford 100E, here in its more expensive Squire form.
Further along the row is a postwar Austin 10 and the nose of a late 1940s Standard Eight – could this be the first car of a student of Fareham Technical College? The gas livery on the Austin Half Ton Van would have been very familiar in the early 1960s; it’s probably waiting to drive down the A27 to the Northam gas holders.
Meanwhile, waiting on the left of the frame is another of Ford’s MkII ‘Three Graces’ range, a Thames 300E van fitted with larger back windows (passenger windscreen wiper an optional extra), and a handsome Jaguar Mk2; we are happy to wager that the last named is primed to take its owner to gins and tonic on the banks of the River Hamble. Further along, there is a prime example of the ‘Audax’ series Hillman Minx in what looks like Series II guise, judging by the square back numberplate.
‘The MoT test in 1960 already seems to have decimated the 1930s and 1940s cars’ THEY SURVIVED THE WAR, BUT...
Indeed, the cars here are so splendid that it would be so tempting to visit this scene, if only for a day, to experience the Triumph Heralds and Volkswagen Beetles (the only foreign car seen here). Heading away from the photographer is a motorcycle sidecar combination – it is often forgotten how common these were in the Britain of Harold Macmillan and John Leyton records – and a Morris Minor 1000, while further down the central row of parked vehicles can be glimpsed a Rover P5 3-Litre, a Humber Hawk and the ‘ bomb crater’ grille of a Standard Eight. That famous Coventry marque was still a very familiar sight, although by this time it only had two more years to live; another Companion makes its way towards the camera while near the rear of the shot is a two-tone Vanguard Vignale passing the old Embassy Cinema. The Teds and Ton Up Boys who frequented the Maytree Café would probably have queued to see Helen Shapiro and Craig Douglas in It’s Trad, Dad with The Never Never Murder as the second feaster. Alas, the venue was demolished in 1983; the site is now a McDonald’s restaurant.
There is so much here that resonates – those shop awnings, an apparent dearth of Minis and the modern street lights that anticipate a grey concrete future while the introduction of the MoT test in 1960 already seems to have decimated the 1930s and 1940s cars. As for my favourite part, it is the dark-coloured Rover P4 left in defiance of the No Parking signs. Surely it cannot be about to take part in an early Sixties B-film style raid on the Fareham branch of the National Provincial Bank, with its driver constantly listening for the gong on a Hampshire Constabulary Wolseley 6/99?