I’ve lived in Basingstoke, on and off, for over 30 years. So I’ve seen a LOT of changes.
Recently I’ve met a lot of people who have only just moved to the area and it’s weird to think that they haven’t seen the town change, like I have.
I went to Winklebury Infants and Juniors school and Fort Hill school. When I was at Fort Hill we used to do cross country from the school down to “Westfield Lido”, which is now the Aquadrome. The rest of that area was all fields. In Winter we used to sledge down the hill where Milestones is now. I remember when the dual carriageway there was single carriageway.
I watched the Warner Brothers cinema being built and saw it open in September 1990. My Mum and I were the only ones who went to the cinema on the day that the first Iraq war started. Anywhere that had links with America was derelict for the weeks after the start of the war as there was a lot or paranoia.
I grew up in Winklebury, on the “posh” bit, the Clarke Estate. I remember when Rooksdown was all fields. Every weekend we used to walk the dogs over there and walk all the way past the ambulance station, when the field behind used to be a golf course. I built camps in the waste land between the ring road and the hospital fields. I used to go to gigs at the Cricket Club/Tennis Club there when I was at college.
I learnt to drive on Gander Drive, Rooksdown, when it wasn’t Gander Drive, when it was just a derelict tarmac road. I used to be part of dance shows that were at Park Prewett Hospital. I had my QMC 6th form end of year ball in that AMAZING hall. I remember it being huge and having gorgeous chandaliers. I was very sad when they knocked it down.
I also remember Rooksdown House/Hospital itself. The building was a huge listed building but was derelict for many years. After school we used to try to explore the building but it was VERY spooky and often had homeless people sleeping in it. I do remember seeing some of the paintings on the ground floor, that apparently previous patients had painted. My understanding is that the hospital was very important during and after the 2nd world war for it’s work on facially disfigured servicemen and civilians. I think my Mum even has a picture of me with the dogs on the front steps, probably taken in about 1987.
I remember when you didn’t have to pay to park at the hospital!!!!
I remember the old town as it was, before Festival Place was built. When the “posh” part of town was the top of town. I remember the old cinema that was destroyed in 1991. You used to have to queue outside, round the side of the building. I went to see the film “ET” with my Mum’s friend and her children and vividly remember her telling someone off who was smoking in the wrong section. Yup, those were the days when you were allowed to smoke in half of the cinema!
I remember the old bus station, with the chip shop on the corner. I spent MANY years waiting in that bus station as I didn’t have my first car until I was 24. I used the bus service a LOT or walked home.
I spent a LOT of time in Martines, on Monday nights when it was “Alternative Night”. I went pretty much every single Monday. It used to REALLY annoy me when people sat down on the floor every time they played James’ “Sit Down”. But you had to get up pretty quick if Nirvana was played straight afterward as it could be a bit of a blood bath! Haha. We always sat upstairs and the carpets were disgustingly sticky. We’d get there early and sit outside the light shop and if we had enough money we’d nip into Wimpey to get a milkshake on the way. Oh and the ghastly car park, with the bridge that you had to cross. Scary!!!
I remember when the food hall was opened and that part of town was refurbished, where Sports Direct is now. It was very popular when it first opened and just like American food halls.
My first job after Uni was working in Chineham Business Park, in what is now the Regus Building. I used to get the bus from Winklebury into town and then from town out to Chineham Business Park. Four nights a week I also worked at the Anvil as an usherette. I would finish work and get the bus into town and then walk home after the performance had finished because the buses would have finished running at 10pm.
I remember when the business park was built! We used to walk the dogs in Carpenters Down/Basing Wood when it was National Trust land. They used to have the best blackberries on the hill. It’s pretty weird to walk through there now as I LITERALLY remember when some of the trees were planted, trees that look much older than they are. Or maybe I’m just older than I realise? LOL.
I remember when the Hatch Warren estate was built. When I was at QMC 6th form I got a job working at Hatch Warren Sainsbury’s. I remember when the store was MUCH smaller. I used to get the bus into town on a Saturday morning, grab a spicy bean burger (I was veggie then) from Burger King when it used to be where M&S in town is now, and then get the bus out to Hatch Warren. When I finished my shift at 8pm I would either get the bus down to Ziggy’s (now the Academy Basingstoke) or walk. It would take about 1.5 hours to walk.
I went to the first “Novelty Island” when it was the Altis Leisure centre and before they refurbished the place into Ziggy’s. I may also have accidentally thrown up on one of the snooker tables one night, when they used to let the clubbers wonder into the snooker area. The stopped allowing people to do that after that night! Oops! Sorry!!! Hahahaha.
I was also the “Entertainments Officer” when I was in my 2nd year at QMC and I organised at least two student nights at Ziggy’s that were VERY successful. I think I even have a copy of the tickets in the loft somewhere! Haha.
Should I keep going with my reminiscing or is it all very boring? lol.
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