1943- Grew up in the Village
Ted Redsull has been part of the village fabric for all of his life. And the village has definitely been a big part of Ted. Many people will have seen him around Rowlands Castle improving or repairing homes, roofs and gardens. However, behind the scenes Ted has been quietly archiving the lives of the people, their workplaces, buildings, schools and societies, which over the decades have created the village we know today. A small snapshot of this can be seen at Ted’s annual display of photographs and records at the summer fair.
The Redsull name originates from Kent and if Ted’s grandfather’s decision to emigrate to Canada had come to fruition in 1910, the family would never have arrived in Rowlands Castle. However, on applying, Ted’s grandfather discovered that initial emigration was only for the man, the family only being allowed to follow at a later date. He wanted to keep his family together and so moved instead to Hollybank Farm, north of Emsworth, to work on a dairy farm and live in a tied cottage.
In 1914, despite technically being too old, he signed up as a special and aided the war effort for two years. This meant losing their tied cottage and the family moved to 12 Redhill Road in Rowlands Castle.
After the war he set up a ‘snobbing’ shop, a name locally used for a boot repairer, in his shed, having learnt cobbling in the army. The local council frowned upon working in an outhouse, so the family moved to 22 Redhill Road, which had a proper shop front. (This shop sold and repaired televisions in the later 1900s). It is interesting to note that originally house numbers were only used on the north side of Redhill Road, the houses on the south having names only. This was changed to the current numbering system in 1953. The Redsull family had four boys and a girl and Fred, Ted Redsull’s father, was born in 1910. He started school in 1916 in the old building, opposite the church at the top of Redhill Road (now a house). This was the school for those living in Redhill, designated part of north Havant at that time. (Children living in Rowlands Castle nearer the green went to the Idsworth school on the triangle at Magpies). He left school in 1923 and joined the gas company as a heating engineer. Ted’s mother was born in the East End of London and spent her holidays in a cottage at Magpies and from there met Fred Redsull. They were married in 1937 and moved into Aldwick, 38 Castle Road. Between 1940 and 1948 they had five children, three boys and two girls and Ted was born in 1943. Post war in 1948 the family moved to 24 Castle Road – a new Airey house. (These were designed by Sir Edwin Airey. They had prefabricated concrete columns reinforced with tubing recycled from old canvas tilt frames from military trucks. They were supposed to last 50 years but are fortunately still standing).
Growing Up and Schooling
Ted’s father tended an allotment (now The Fairway), and Ted got pocket money for helping daily light and look after the gas streetlamps on The Green and the one or two in Links Lane and Bowes Hill. This finished in 1950. In 1948 Ted started at Rowlands Castle school under the watchful eye of his teacher Daisy Baker. Childhood was spent collecting butterflies, bird eggs and often playing football on the fairway of the then 17th hole of the golf course, just behind his house. There was always a new football each Christmas and 25 a side football sometimes took place on the “rec”. The current St. John’s School is on the site of the church’s playing fields and football matches against St. Faiths and St. James were played there. Fishing was popular at the upper pond in Havant thicket and in the ponds of the brickyard. The works siren summoning the boys home, hopefully in time for their mealtimes. An outdoor childhood rarely enjoyed today. In 1954, at the age of 11, Ted started at Warblington school. There was a school bus, but occasionally Ted, and his friends, would “miss” the bus and walk to school by a convoluted route often not arriving until 11 o’clock! There was a lot of sport. Football again featured as well as the hundred-yard sprint.
In 1959, having left school, whilst messing about with a friend in a scrapyard at Finchdean, Ted was asked if he wanted a job. This was part of Phillips Finchdean Ironworks, which also ran a garage, with petrol pumps. (Ted apparently was taken on in preference to his friend because he swept underneath objects while the friend just swept around them). The Ironworks at that time had a contract with Rowlands Castle brickyard to make stillages (mobile racks to move and store bricks). These were fabricated from old bedsteads acquired from Pounds Yard in Portsmouth. (Alongside what is now the M275 ). Ted helped to deliver these stillages to the brickyard, where he discovered his mates were earning three times what he earned. Thus, in 1960 he began his first stint working at the brickyard, although this was suffering financially and beginning to wind down, so Ted joined his father at Portsmouth Corporation in Dunsbury Way where he began to learn his skills. After his father died in 1962 Ted returned to the brickyard in Rowlands Castle, but soon left to join Powell and Lillywhite, where he learnt carpentry and building work and, over the next few years helped to build Tesco’s in Waterlooville and the Boots shops in Petersfield and Waterlooville. Later Percy Powell bought the struggling Whichers Gate Garage and Ted started working on the hot and arduous work of remoulding and retreading tyres.
In 1963 Ted’s friends had started a band and after six months Ted joined them, having acquired a Vox Continental keyboard (as used by The Tornados!). The band then known as ‘Chris Cody’s Rave-Ons’, had a rhythm, lead, keyboard, drums and singer line up and initially played church halls and weddings. A young admirer from Leigh Park called Marion came to see the band and rather liked the keyboard player!
The singer, Chris Jeffries, acquired a throat infection which nearly put paid to the band. Booked to play at a wedding, the band members went to apologise to the groom explaining that they would not be able to perform. However, the groom could sing and not only performed at his own wedding, but joined the band. They progressed to club bookings, starting late and playing well after midnight, prompting a change of name to the ‘Midnight Shift’. Their influences were the Dave Clark Five and the Animals and they played gigs at South Parade Pier (on the same night as The Ted Heath Band), Portsmouth Guildhall and various Brighton clubs. From there they would get home at 5am and the day job started at 7! Their last gig was at Stockbridge, but sadly virtually no-one turned up because chart band ‘The Troggs’ were performing down the road. It was decided to call it a day, especially as for Ted marriage to Marion was pending! Ted and Marion married in 1968 in St. John’s Church, Rowlands Castle. They had their four boys, Mark, Matthew, Emerson and Greg and they finally outgrew their houses in Castle Road and Durrants Road and moved to a larger house in Bedhampton. Sadly, Marion died in 2014 after a long illness.
Ted, having learnt his skills in the building trade, decided to go self-employed in the late 1970s much to the benefit of the residents of the village, who quickly discovered his boundless abilities, repairing and rebuilding their properties in his unique way. (Even going with them to work on projects in Brighton, London, Devon and even further afield to Ireland and France).
Motorbikes have always featured heavily in Ted’s life. The first and simplest was a Raleigh moped acquired to get to work in Finchdean. Other lads had motorcycles and scooters and childhood memories watching bike burn ups six abreast down the Havant /Horndean road fired a desire for something more exciting. Ted persuaded his dad, who had had a motorbike and sidecar, to give him a loan to buy an SS80 250cc bike from Percy Kiln’s motorbike shop in Southsea. He soon progressed to a Rocket Goldstar 650 twin. Ted learnt maintenance at home from his friends and still enjoys maintaining and riding 1960s bikes today. He still visits the Isle of Man each year with his family, taking a bike to explore the roads of the TT.
Ted’s interest in local pictures began after a visit to Mr. Adam’s old post office. There he saw four old photographs of Rowlands Castle available as post cards. The collection had started! Percy Powell’s Blendworth office had 1930’s photographs around the walls. Ted copied these at Boots and when Barrett’s garage in Redhill Road was demolished, he discovered more old photos in the skip outside. Whilst working for the older residents in the village Ted unearthed old pictures and anecdotes from the past. Much research in the Portsmouth Museum archives and a lot of photocopying has resulted in the amazing collection of school photographs and class records, together with all aspects of village life, the fairs and the shops and the buildings. All are archived, annotated and gradually names are being put to all the people in the pictures. Ted started his fascinating Village Fair displays eighteen years ago. These understandably attract a large enthusiastic crowd and importantly allow people to find out about the recent history of their village and enable old friends and relatives to be tracked down and old memories to be rekindled.
Ted Redsull is a much-loved link to a time in Rowlands Castle few of us know. We are all much richer from his contribution to the village.
(Editorial: This article was drafted by Malcolm Smith, a long-term friend of Ted’s, based on a series of discussion between them. It was first entered on to the website in September 2019)