Shirley Recreation Ground

Mrs Rita Judd’s family lived in Church Street, Shirley, where the Shirley Telephone Exchange now stands. From her earliest memories she remembers that many of her weekday afternoons in her early childhood were spent in St.James’ Park – then known as Shirley Recreation Ground – which was always considered a safe and very pleasant park.

Mrs Judd says:

“I was always accompanied by my mother and never went to the Park on my own when young. In those days there was a park keeper who ensured that the Park was kept in good condition. Every evening the gates to the Park were locked at dusk and re-opened in the morning.”

As a teenager, although living elsewhere, Mrs Judd remembers playing tennis on the courts in the Park, where there was an attendant to whom you had to pay a fee to use the courts for a set time.

“I think there were four grass tennis courts in those days, but I cannot be absolutely sure. The two that are there at present and two more – closer to Church Street. I think there were some toilets in the Park at road level at the corner of Winchester Road/St.James’ Road. They were removed many years ago.”

“I also think there were also a few items of play equipment in an area down the slope at the Church Street entrance to the right. They were outside of the inner railed area of the Park which contained seating, grass and flower-beds. The large grass area at the Winchester Road end of the Park was always used for football and according to Mr. Budd, a friend of mine who is in his eighties, he remembers every other Saturday – League Football being played there by the Shirley Workingmen’s Club.”

“The Park was a favourite place for mothers and children in the 1930s, where mothers could chat and children play. It was nowhere as busy in those days as it is today. A favourite pastime of children was climbing the banks up to the railings and running down the slopes.”

Mrs Rita Judd – telephone conversation, 18th May 2007


Memories from 1930

“In the early 1930s when I lived in Church Street, I can remember going out to the milk cart with my mother where she took out a large milk jug which was filled by ladle by the milkman from the milk churn. In later years the milk was brought round in glass bottles with round cardboard tops which if washed and holes carefully cut out of two, you could place these together and wind wool round through the hole until it was completely filled up – you cut the wool round the outside edge all round and then tied wool tightly round the middle before making a cut through the cardboard then squeezing it out – you then had made a round fluffy ball.”

Mrs Rita Judd – telephone conversation, 18th May 2007

Hicks Dairy’s delivery truck from the Shirley Carnival, at the Park, c.1930
Shirley Carnival, c.1930
Left to right: Tom Hicks (Mrs Crates’s father), Fred Hicks (Mrs Crates’s uncle), Hazel aged about 6 years old in fancy dress, an unknown lady, Mrs Dorothy Hicks (Mrs Crates’s mother), an unknown lady, and Aunt Beatrice (Fred Hicks’s Wife).

Shirley Carnival, 1930s

At the FoSJP First Birthday Party event in May 2007, Mrs Hazel Crates kindly brought along some interesting photographs from about 1930 of her grandfather’s dairy delivery truck, featured in the Shirley Carnival and pictured in the Park.

“I have fond memories of my Grandfather’s Dairy, Hicks Dairy of Shirley, and my Grandmother’s Dairy Shop on Shirley High Street. My Father, Tom, worked for my Grandfather and I remember as a child going out with my father, to local farms, by horse and cart to collect the milk. My Grandmother, Sarah, would make butter and sell milky drinks. My Grandmother would always have a chocolate finger biscuit waiting for me.”

“A special memory was when my Grandfather’s Dairy Float won first prize in the Shirley Carnival. After parading in the streets of Shirley, the carnival would finish in St.James’ Park, known then as Shirley Rec.”

“My father, Tom, continued to work as a driver at the dairy even when my grandfather sold the dairy to one of either the Brown or Harrison Dairies. I always forget which one he sold it to, as they later merged to form the Brown and Harrison Dairy. My father eventually left Brown and Harrison to open a grocer’s shop in Hamble.

Mrs Hazel Crates (née Hicks), June 2007

Seven years on from Mrs Crates’s contribution above, Kerri Humby‑Gibbings sent us this photo:

“We have recently had to re‑turf our garden, and upon digging over the soil my Dad came across this milk bottle…still intact with the name Brown and Harrison’s on it. My Mum said this was the milk bottles they used to have at school – she’s in her late 60s now.

I put the name into Google and the article came up on your website about how Mrs Crates’s grandfather owned this dairy in Shirley. I happen to work in Church Street, Shirley, so I know the Park well. So I thought she might be interested in this find.”

Kerri Humby‑Gibbings, October 2014


The Dustcart Horses and Street Cleaners that cleaned the streets around the Park

“Other memories of horses in the area are the dustcart horses which were stabled in Villiers Road. The horses pulled the carts along the streets whilst the street cleaners cleaned pavements and gutters with brooms and shovels, and placed the offending dirt into the carts. Everyone loved to see these horses around the Shirley area. On carnival day these horses were groomed to a high standard with fetlocks washed. Polished horse brasses were hung on their halters and I think they wore special coloured covers on their ears. They would all walk in procession driven by their drivers. A wonderful sight. Everyone was sad to see them replaced by mechanised versions of street cleaning.”

Mrs Rita Judd, 18th May 2007


The Children’s Hospital, Shirley

“The Children’s Hospital was situated opposite St.James’ Park on the far side of Winchester Road almost opposite Wordsworth Road, where there are now flats. I can remember the annual Flag Day which raised funds for the hospital before the NHS came into existence. There was a dental department also at the hospital in the 1930s and probably beyond, where children had to go to have their teeth extracted. I can remember having to have ten teeth out in one go; something which would not be done today. My friend remembers a similar experience.”

Mrs Rita Judd, July 2007