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Last updated: 31 July 2018

 
     
  Archive/Photograph of the Month  
     
 

An early image of Fareham’s bus station taken in October 1944 forms the subject of this month’s feature.  Donated by Society member Fred York as a digital image (ref PS02425-087), it shows the original bus station that served the town from the 1930s to the 1980s.

Designed by Fareham architect, Norman Atkins, the bus station was constructed by G H Ross of Netley using largely local labour for a contract price of £7,518.  Work commenced in November 1930 and one of the early casualties was Thackeray House, situated on the corner of West Street and Portland Street, which had to be demolished to make way for the construction.  Previously a childhood home of William Makepeace Thackeray (author of Vanity Fair), this building later became Fareham’s Reading Room and Library (which had fallen out of use and closed by 1930).  Roof tiles from the house were reputedly retained and re-used on the roof of the bus station’s shelter.

The bus station opened during the Summer of 1931 and, in its original form, was as shown in the photograph.  The west side was used by Hants & Dorset Motor Services whereas the east side was used by Southdown, an arrangement that was to persist for many years.  In addition to the entrance/exit shown in the foreground of the image, there was an entrance from Portland Street between the east side shelter and depot building, barely visible behind the Bristol K5G on the left.  Provincial did not use the bus station, instead making use of separate stops in the local streets.

As early as 1937, the public was calling for the bus station to be extended and improved due to the ‘present and prospective volume of bus traffic’.  In particular, there were requests for the whole yard to be glass-roofed, proper waiting rooms to be provided for passengers, increased lavatory accommodation and a bookstall – quite a list!  In addition, there was the very sensible suggestion that the parcels and inquiry (sic) office should be moved from its ‘island’ position (dangerous for elderly people to reach when buses were constantly arriving and departing) to a better location ‘ashore’.

The intervention of the Second World War meant that the prospective improvements were delayed until the 1950s.  Following approval by the council in 1952, the west side of the bus station was extended considerably (over the site of the Wesleyan Chapel that had been demolished) and a new entrance was constructed to provide access from Hartlands Road, the entrance that many of us will remember.  The work was completed in 1955 and the bus station was to survive in this form until the late 1980s when, sadly, the depot building was demolished, the bus station itself surviving for a few more years until it was replaced by the current structure.

If any members or non-members have similar images that they would like to donate to the Society or allow to be photographed or scanned, I should be grateful if you would contact me – Chris Richardsen – using e-mail address ProvSocArchive@gmail.com.

 
 
 
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