Looking up in Havant

One of the side effects of the Covid Pandemic has been that none of us has been able to sit inside our favourite coffee shops.

For some of us this has meant having our takeaway on a public bench or somewhere in the open.

In central Havant the benches outside St Faiths church in West Street are augmented by the low wall at just the right height to sit and sup, so with reduced traffic, including pedestrians, we have been left with the buildings opposite to examine with more than a passing glance. There is a surprising amount of interest to be gained by ignoring the shop windows and looking up!

The tallest of the frontages are the bank at 2-4 West Street, surmounted by attic windows with slightly decorative window surrounds, but these are eclipsed by the ornate gable ends of No. 6 – currently occupied by a charity shop. The curves and loops of the scroll work provide occasional perches for birds, but also a few weeds – inevitable in the circumstances, but clearly cleared regularly and the paint work kept fresh.

At first floor level, above the coffee shop and Estate agents (Nos. 8 and 10) the window openings have been picked out with yellow brickwork in a symmetrical pattern – narrow arch top ( hidden in this photo by the adjoining building), Square, wide arch top, a bay window which obviously replaced another square surround, and finally another narrow arch-top (over-painted white). Above roof level the chimneys include several examples of clay chimney pots decorated with cream coloured bands. These are Fareham chimneys – still made today, but early photographs from the 1920s show them as originals in place about 100 years ago.

Next we have the Pharmacists and here the top of the wall, just below the gutter is nicely picked out with alternate projecting bricks to make a decorative pattern.

This line of bricks seems to sag in the middle, but again, old photographs show that it has been stable like that for a very long time. I wonder whether the building was originally two houses, or shops, with smaller windows and the dividing wall was removed to make a larger shop. Any loss of support must have been corrected because the windows above are straight, as is the roof above. The window surrounds seem to have been deliberately reconstructed to echo the attic windows on the bank at No.4.

This attractive row of individual buildings combine to form a terrace reflecting the many changes over the last 100 years, and possibly more, and the different styles of fashion, usage, and possibly wealth, because the gable ends of No. 6 would certainly not have been cheap to build.

What a wealth of interest, just above eye level in just a short stretch of buildings.

I am not competent to talk in detail about the architecture or history of each building, but perhaps our readers, better qualified, would care to submit interesting details.

Meanwhile, in Havant, it pays to LOOK UP

Mike Skiffins
Posted on Wed, 20/01/2021 - 15:05