Memories of Lymington by Michael Ian Byard
  Memories of Lymington by Michael Ian Byard MA, BA (Hons)
 
 
My memories of Lymington stem from November 1947 when we arrived in the town, my Mother and I sitting in the back of a removals lorry, making our way down the High Street and ultimately around past the railway station onto Walhampton Road. A few yards along here, and before the sluice gates, we turned right onto a small unmetalled track which led past a large scrap metal yard on our right, the river being on our left, and continued on skirting a boat builders lay-up shed. Round a bend in the track we came to an open area in front of two joined concrete buildings which we later found out was the Skylark Garage, the home of some tourist coaches which operated from there. This was our destination because, moored bows on to the bank adjacent to the garage, we saw our new home... ex-MTB (Motor Torpedo Boat) 451, a 71 feet 6 inches long and 20 feet beam hard chine hulled craft which was to become our houseboat.

How had this happened? well my father, Edward Byard, always known as Jack Byard, had been the Chief Storekeeper at the British Power Boat Number 2 yard on Holes Bay, Poole, where he had been engaged working for the company that built MTBs, MGBs (Motor Gun Boats) and HSLs (High Speed Launches) or Air/Sea Rescue Launches as they soon became known. The company, amongst other things, was known as the builder of the HSL class referred to as "Whalebacks" a very distinguishable style and hull with a large sheer. The Number 1 yard was situated on Southampton Water at Hythe, the owner being a man very well known in high speed motor boat racing,
Hubert Scott-Paine. At the conclusion of the war many former Coastal Forces vessels came to Poole to be de-commissioned and put up for sale. With so many houses having been destroyed during the war these boats were rapidly sold to provide good accommodation, when suitably converted. MTB451 (she still had her number on her bows and transom) was one of those to decommission at Poole, though she was built at Hythe in May 1943. My parents, after my father had been made redundant when the yard closed down in 1946, purchased the boat, which had been stripped of all armaments, radio, radar, engines, fuel tanks, propellers and main shafts though the intermediate shafts and V-drives were still in situ, torpedo tubes and mounts and the three rudders. Pretty well everything else was left in.
Memories of Lymington by Michael Ian Byard .....stripped of all armaments, radio, radar, engines, fuel tanks, propellers and main shafts though the intermediate shafts and V-drives were still in situ, torpedo tubes and mounts and the three rudders. Pretty well everything else was left in.
So this was the state of play when we were met by my father who now had the job of Chief Storekeeper with a small boatbuilding yard, the Lymington Slipway Company, where in order to get to work every day had to get a bus to and from Poole. He had already gone on ahead of us. The yard's owner had given permission for us to have free moorings, because my father would also act as a watchman during the time the yard was not open. The boat, was lying at Bolson's Yard in Holes Bay off Poole Harbour. My father and a couple of Lymington Slipway's workmen had taken the Slipway's powerful motor launch round to Poole to collect MTB451 which was then towed out of Poole Harbour and along the coast to Lymington. Even though it was November the weather was kind to them and the tow was uneventful, 451 of course was rudderless so all the steering had to be by careful use of the motor boat.

She duly arrived at Lymington and was towed up to the main arch in the railway bridge. She was to be taken through at low tide so as to get her wheelhouse under the bridge. She got stuck! she was 6 inches too wide and with the tide now on the turn it was feared that she would rise up and her wheelhouse, getting jammed under the bridge, would end up being crushed or pushed through the deck. A quick emergency call to the Slipway ( as the yard was generally known) brought all work there to a stand still, and the entire workforce ran to the bridge and clambered over the side and onto MTB 451. By all standing on one side, their combined weight healed the boat over and with the launch's engine roaring flat out, both boats suddenly shot through like a cork. There was huge relief all round.... not least from my father. The tide was now racing in, as it does as those who live on and around the river know only too well, and soon covered the mud flats and so enabled the boat to be moored bows on to the bank adjacent to the coach garage. My father had also come to an arrangement with the garage which gave us access to fresh water when needed.
Memories of Lymington by Michael Ian Byard She got stuck! she was 6 inches too wide and with the tide now on the turn it was feared that she would rise up and her wheelhouse, getting jammed under the bridge, would end up being crushed or pushed through the deck.
Having arrived at the boat we found that the Slipway had found us a good and very strong brow, or gangplank, which had rails on each side which enabled easy access on and off the boat. Our belongings, from the house in Poole, were loaded aboard or stored for a short while in the coach garage, which was kind of them. And so we began to settle in, my father soon starting to convert the boat into a comfortable home, with my mother and myself helping out where and when required. Our address, at that time, was The Byard Family, MTB 451, Lymington Slipway, Hants. My parents decided on a proper name for the boat and she became Linnette. Her hull was painted white, green antifouling with a red waterline. Her name was cut out of solid sheet brass by my father using a hacksaw, then buffed up. It was my weekly chore to clean the brass. Originally the name was put onto the boat's bows but soon proved difficult to clean, even from a dinghy, so the letters were placed on varnished boards and screwed one on each side of the wheelhouse. Linnette was also turned to lie starboard side on to the bank and an A frame put in by my father to keep her away from the bank in a storm.
Memories of Lymington by Michael Ian Byard Our address, at that time, was The Byard Family, MTB 451, Lymington Slipway, Hants.
As I was only 8 years old I still had to go to school and was enrolled at Lymington C of E School, which was an Infants and Primary school, I remember that the Headmaster was a Mr G. Smith. As there was no transport laid on for children who lived in the town, we all had to make our way up to the top of the town on foot. As I lived on a boat this meant that I would walk from the boat, along the rivers edge on a wooden slatted walkway, the ground being marshy in wet weather, which led to the railway line. There was a notice at the line stating Stop, Look and Listen! The line came from Brockenhurst to Lymington Town Station, then continued over the bridge across the river to Lymington Pier Station. The latter being the ferry port to Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. The wooden walkway continued across the tracks splitting on the other side one leading to the platform, the other to a road which led round a small dock and on to the bottom of Quay Hill which in turn was situated at the bottom of the High Street. So this was the way that I used to have to walk in order to go to and from school, and bearing in mind that there were no meals at the school, the journey was repeated each lunchtime. This meant, of course, that I went to school twice and returned home twice each day!
Memories of Lymington by Michael Ian Byard As I was only 8 years old I still had to go to school and was enrolled at Lymington C of E School, which was an Infants and Primary school, I remember that the Headmaster was a Mr G. Smith.

An early picture of the school, now the St Barbe Museum
It was while I was at this school that, because of my then strong accent - a mixture of Dorset and newly acquired Hampshire, I was picked to appear on a children's programme called "Walks in the West Country", presented by Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald from the BBC Studios in Bristol. It was recorded on the Town Quay outside The Ship Inn and was to be broadcast on 20th May 1951 at 6pm. I duly received the princely sum of ten shillings and sixpence, and did hear myself when it was broadcast.
 
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Memories of Lymington by Michael Ian Byard
Above: Michael riding his mother's bike
Memories of Lymington by Michael Ian Byard
 
Some of the shops I remember in the High Street are Mrs Dymocks, newspaper and sweet shop, Doman and Son, Drapers (I used to go to school with Roger Doman), Elliotts at the top of the High Street and Kings the Bookshop.
Memories of Lymington by Michael Ian Byard Some of the shops I remember in the High Street
I remained at this school until, like many others, I failed my Eleven Plus exams and so went to Brockenhurst Secondary Modern School which was some five miles or so from Lymington.

Not to worry we had our own school train which was laid on. This consisted of about ten or so carriages and took children for the secondary modern school as well as Brockenhurst Grammar School. There was segregation though.... the grammar school pupils had to occupy the last two or three coaches. Lymington was used as the hub for a catchment area that included all the surrounding villages and towns for the Brockenhurst schools. Our train left at 8.15am each school day and took us to Brockenhurst station and brought us back at 4.15pm. If anyone missed this train the next train was the normal two or three coach local train at 5pm.

I think the school had 900 pupils and many of our teachers were ex-servicemen and I remember some of them: The Headmaster was Mr Webb who, I heard later (when in Australia), had committed suicide. Mr Sherwood, tall ex RAF whose brother was an RAF pilot on the same station. He was killed and I heard that it was his brother who was first on the scene at the crashed spitfire! We had an ex-service PT instructor, Mr Spackman, our Science master was Mr Edwards, who had a rather large nose and was, of course - behind his back - called Beaky Edwards! Mr Visic who was our technical drawing teacher and a Sherlock Holmes expert. Our lessons on a Friday afternoon usually finished with a Sherlock Holmes story... he was good. If a pupil was bad and ignored his warning to behave he would apply his "Doctor Visic"... which resulted in him getting hold of a pinch of a boys hair, usually sideburns, twisting and lifting! It always worked. Finally there was our woodwork master Mr Hoare, nicknamed Honky because when he blew his nose it honked! He was good and had an unerring aim with a piece of chalk which he would throw at talkative pupils.

In 1950 The Borough of Lymington celebrated 800 years as a Borough and there were a series of events planned throughout the year. An "Official Souvenir Brochure" was produced titled Borough of Lymington (1150-1950) which gave a potted history of Lymington. The Borough, at that time. included New Milton, Milford-on-Sea, Hordle and Pennington. In 2003, I re-set and re-printed the whole brochure in A4 size, using Adobe PageMaker on my computer, in order to send a copy to Lymington in Tasmania which was named after Hampshire's Lymington.
Memories of Lymington by Michael Ian Byard An "Official Souvenir Brochure" was produced......send a copy to Lymington in Tasmania which was named after Hampshire's Lymington.

Picture courtesy of Geoffrey Parker
 
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[All pictures unless otherwise marked are copyright Michael Ian Byard and were taken in the late 1940s to the early 1950s]