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Memories of the street where boxing champ Freddie Mills grew up
IT was an unassuming terraced row of houses in the centre of Bournemouth with a pub and a general store.
But it was also home to a boy who grew up to be a boxing world champ.
Last year Snapshots of the Past featured Ian Dickins’ photograph of the white cottages opposite the houses in Terrace Road but what of the ‘Coronation Street-style’ houses themselves where Bournemouth’s most famous boxer, Freddie Mills, was born and brought up?
Local historian David Medina wondered if there were any pictures of them… and Dennis Harrison, of Redhill Drive, Bournemouth, came up with the goods.
Dennis’ photograph shows his late grandmother, Mrs Annie Harrison with her dog outside her home at Number 9 Terrace Road. She lived there with her husband and their three children, Albert, Dennis’ father, Ernest, who never married, and Grace.
“I think the picture was taken sometime between 1930-35”, said Dennis.
“Freddie Mills, the boxer, and his family lived next door at number 7”.
Born in 1919, Freddie was the youngest of four children born to Tom and Lottie Mills. He attended St Michael’s School and spent much of his earlier life in the area.
After Freddie was given boxing gloves for his 11th birthday, he took an interest in the sport and began to train in a converted shed in his garden.
At 14 he left school and became a milkman for a Westbourne dairy.
Freddie began boxing professionally at Bournemouth in 1936 and by 1948 he had won the prestigious title of light-heavyweight champion of the world.
Sadly, in 1965 Freddie was found shot dead in his car outside his West End nightclub.
“When I was five or six years old I had to stay for a while at my grandma’s house in Terrace Road”, said Dennis.
“I went to my first school, St Michael’s, up the road. I was very young at the time and don’t have any specific memories of Freddie Mills, but my grandma and her children would have known them”, said Dennis.
“I recall the outside toilet, built into the rear garden wall, being cold and draughty in winter”. Remnants of its junction with the wall can still be seen in the small private car park at the site today.
He also remembers Browns, the general store on the corner of Terrace Road and the original Fox Inn with its ornate tiles on the outside, as part of the terrace of houses, directly opposite his grandma’s house.
Opened in 1830 the Fox Inn was popular and gained a reputation as a theatrical pub long before the Winter Gardens gained a licence.
Among the stars to visit the Fox were Harry Secombe, John Slater, Hughie Green, Jimmy Edwards and Cary Grant, not to mention numerous football and other sporting personalities.
Unfortunately, the pub was seen as too small and outdated in the late 1960s, and was closed shortly after and demolished.
A larger and more modern pub of the same name was built and opened – and later demolished – on the opposite side of the road.
The terrace of ‘Coronation Street’ styled houses had by the late ’60s already been knocked down in readiness for a major redevelopment scheme for the whole area.
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