My mother grew up on The Hard – her grandmother ran her own pub there – now sadly gone, destroyed in WWII. She told me about the poor of Portsea and I seem to remember her telling me stories about the Mudlarks.
She didn’t consider them “the poor” – she considered them her kith and kin and never saw anything wrong with her neighbours begging in this way. Her fellow children would encourage rail passengers walking over the bridge to the harbour station and Gosport Ferry to throw coins down at them in the harbour mud – and they would perform all kinds of gymnastics to retrieve them artistically. The money gleaned helped their families so small change was a big deal.
Many disapproved of these antics and the police considered it begging. When the new bus terminus was built in 1976 – 7, the end was nigh for the mudlarks. I seem to remember my mother being a little sad in their passing.
The Mudlarks Memorial was paid by private subscription and the names of all those who contributed are inscribed on the plaques supporting the statue.
Contributor & photographer: Sue Lowry
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