Lynne and I have just spent a month in Scotland and during that time travelled down to Hampshire and back up through Wales and Lakes area. Had a great time but the point of part of this trip was to show Lynne where I had been ‘based’ at various times during my Naval career- one of these was HMS Mercury.
I had been made aware that it was closed and portions not there but what a shock we got when we pulled up there.
The old Junior rates accommodation area and some Senior rates accomdation is still there but fenced off behind huge barbed wire fences and quite vicious looking stuff it is too. Most of the places were boarded up, had windows smashed, weeds overgrown everywhere and lots of empty spaces where buildings had been removed and either taken away or pulled down.
As you drive through what I called the ‘middle road’ (on the way to Soberton Towers Towers WRENS qtrs) on the left side at the far end of Mercury, those buildings were still standing and have been taken over by the Department of Sustainability – looked like a bunch of hippies, social dropouts and greenies actually!!!I have no idea what they did and no-one that I asked seemed to have heard of it. The gymnasium is no longer nor is the movie theatre. The Officers Qtrs (the actual Leyden House) has been gutted and made into 4 very upmarket luxurious apartments. We spoke to the owner of one of them and she took us inside the main hall and the only thing remaining is the staircase- thankgod for that. The Parade Ground is now their carpark and away to the left and right as to face the House , several large double storyed mansions have been built and sectioned off and these are all owned by top class managers, ceo’s etc of businesses either in London or other places. The whole entranceway has been landscaped to such a high standard you would have thought you were arriving at Buckingham Palace. While it was nice to see some of the old place still standing, you could not help feeling a sense of loss of such a wonderful establishment and I am sure a lot of ex comms (and existing ones) would agree with me.
Just on another point I also visited the local inn (The George) down at East Meon that a lot will remember and here again whilst the outside was still the same and likewise the whole village, the inside had been gutted by the new owners (chefs from London) who now were catering ” for the posh Yuppie crowd from London who came down on the weekends for a nosh” as one of the locals pointedly said to us.