“FORWARD FLEET” – 1977
“Fleet Flashbacks” takes a journey into Fleet’s past and features news articles, clippings and snippets from days and years gone by.
This article came from the “News and Mail” Jubilee Supplement in 1977. It looked back over the period of the Queen’s reign at the time (1952 – 1977) to celebrate the Silver Jubilee.
Many thanks to Lillian Elwyn Bull for sending this newspaper supplement.
The original newspaper article is shown below and it has also been typed out underneath, for ease of reading.
Fleet ’77 can be summed up by an elderly resident, who standing on the pavement during the morning rush hour, perceived a gentleman in a car calmly eating a bowl of cornflakes, while being driven to the station by a lady in curlers and dressing gown!
In 1952 Fleet was vastly different. From a “village” to a sprawling commuter town, from a road of family businesses to the multiples, from a coupe of “village” schools, to some of the best equipped schools in Hampshire. Add the new civic amenities and the sports complexes and Fleet becomes a fully integrated town standing on its own.
The increase in the population can be partly laid at the feet of the N.G.T.E. at Pyestock which brought in hundreds of skilled workers after being taken over by the Government. Developers were quick to see that the district was ideal for people working in factories in nearby towns and for commuters to London and the population burst came, from 9000 to nearly 25000 in 25 years. Fleet holding the national record for one year. Many large houses, short of servants, gave up their gardens for more housing.
Fleet Road has developed from a road lined with little shops, to become a busy shopping centre, two churches, a cinema and some industrial organisations disappearing.
Most of the available land for housing has been used but released W.D. land will cause further expansion in an overcrowded area with houses for over 2000 people, factories, shops, churches and a school on the drawing board.
Many residents think this is highly undesirable in view of the overcrowding, especially the lively Fleet Residents Association formed in 1974 and a very good watchdog.
The two small “village” schools in Albert Road and Gally Hill were adequate 25 years ago but the population burst forced the building of many new schools all over the area, with Courtmoor taking over from Heatherside as the centre of the further education classes where the commuter and his wife can relax.
Below: Original newspaper article.
In 1958, the first factory went up near the station to house a brush company. Now the site offers employment to many workers.
Army activity in Crookham came to a halt in 1964 when the Medicals moved out except for some Terrier activity but soon the Gurkhas arrived to give the area a character of its own, these cheerful little soldiers of the Queen a familiar sight in the town.
In 1973 they presented the then Fleet Council with a ceremonial kukri which hangs over the bar in the Civic centre and in the Gurkha Lounge hangs a painting of L/Cpl. Limbu winning a V.C.
1946 saw the beginning of the popular Fleet Players, started by Dr. Falkland Cary, their productions eagerly looked forward to as part of the cultural life of the area, one things the town is not short of. At the last count there were over 100 societies, organisations, associations and clubs catering for every activity and taste.
Coronation year was celebrated in style with twelve days of events including a sports gymkhana and King and Queen. making. There were two carnival processions, the King starting at the station and the Queen at Crookham, both meeting at the Oatsheaf and then touring the district. It was a never to be forgotten period for the children. Were you there?
Soon there was a need for a public hall and the Chamber of Trade called a meeting. They decided that £10,000 should be raised by holding a carnival every year to raise the money, the first being held in 1955.
Alas, the cost of the building rose yearly and the committee never caught up with inflation so the money went towards the Assembly Halls as they are now, there being a Carnival Hall with a carving by Ted Roe, local historian and much respected Fleet figure, of a Jester taking pride of place. The carnival celebrated a coming of age last year and is a much looked forward to event in the community.
Do you have any clippings, papers or stories to add here? Please get in touch!
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