INNS AROUND THE ISLAND
Drawn and written by A W R Caws
The Battery Hotel, Springvale
IT'S NOT EVERY DAY one can walk into a pub that owes its existence to an admiral. This happened recently when, looking around for an inn with a sea view, we found ourselves in Springvale.
Passing through Seaview, admiring en route that attractive little area of old world charm called Salterns, we followed the road which runs parallel with and but a few yards from the sea towards Puckpool. This is, we believe, the last remaining toll road which still functions on the Island. Passing a row of substantial looking houses we came to the inn, standing on a corner, commanding a fine view of Spithead with its constantly changing panorama of sailing boats and shipping, the buildings of Portsmouth and Southsea forming a cubist-like pattern of shapes in the distance. The inn, standing across the road from what used to be one of the series of coastal batteries built to protect the entrance to Portsmouth harbour, is aptly named 'The Battery Hotel'
Entering the lounge, we received a cheerful welcome and heard a little about the history of the place. It appears that an admiral, who lived on a large estate a short distance inland, opened the premises as a pub to provide jobs for some of his old retainers. The building was at that time quite small, consisting of little more than that part which is now the public bar and was connected by way of the cellar to the admiral's residence by an underground passageway; traces of this still remain.
Additions to the premises have been made over the years in a rather piecemeal fashion resulting in a somewhat incoherent conglomeration of shapes.On the other side of the road, the erstwhile battery has been converted into an attractive complex of pleasure gardens, holiday chalets, shops etc, known as Puckpool Park. Nearby is a large holiday camp which attracts thousands of visitors during the holiday season. Skirting this wall is a sea along which a most picturesque walk can be made, passing Appley Tower and gardens, to Ryde. The inn has, in addition to the lounge, a public bar which houses an unusual feature, what is called an upside down roulette, suspended just above eye level in front of the bar counter. We understand it was used as a form of gambling, bets being placed on the numerals hidden on the upper surface.
Outside in the yard on the seaward side of the building there are tables and chairs available for use in fine weather. The hotel offers bed and breakfast accommodation and there are hot and cold snacks such as freshly cut sandwiches, ploughman's lunches and tasty toasted sandwiches available in the bars. The inn has been run for almost eight years by two sisters, Mrs Stoneman and Mrs Wakeford, who came originally from Reigate, Surrey and, prior to taking over here, ran a private hotel in Bembridge for a number of years.
This is their first venture as inn keepers and their friendly manner has contributed to the increasing popularity of 'The Battery'.
They have built up a clientele consisting of people from many parts of the Island, and this band of regulars is extended tremendously during the season by vast numbers of visitors from the holiday camp and people making this a pleasant halfway house on the popular walk along the seafront between Sea View and Ryde.