One Day in Fratton: Reece Stewart

Earlier this year, our Editor in Chief Sarah Cheverton judged entries to the Fratton Big Local writing competition, One Day in Fratton. Over the next 3 weeks, we will be publishing the winners and runners up. One of this week’s two stories is a re-imagining of life in Fratton – or Froddington as it was known then – by Reece Stewart, aged 11 years, from Newbridge Junior School.

Runner up, 9 – 11 years category

A Day in Froddington, 1843 by Reece Stewart

I live near the Froddington Canal that was built in 1840. Today I am on holiday from school and Mum has let me walk down to Froddington Bridge to see my dad’s barge sail underneath.

I have brought Bob, a good friend, with me. We reach Froddington Bridge at midday and all we can hear is the shouting of men loading cargo onto the canal barges below us. There are thirty wagons being pulled up alongside the canal.

I tell Bob, ‘It’s been a long walk for us from Buckland!’

Our feet hurt because we are wearing wooden clogs. Mum has given us a slice of bread and a carrot each for our lunch. If we are thirsty, we will drink from a horse’s feeding bucket.

It’s a really hot day here waiting for Dad to arrive. He said he will be here by midday. We take a bite out of our carrots, but still Dad is not in sight.

A horse comes trotting by. It’s Dad!

Dad says, ‘Let’s have some fun!’ We hop onto the horse’s saddle and go over to the canal. We help the other men lifting cargo onto the boats. Bob and me are excited about seeing London for the first time.

We go to London through Milton Locks and out to sea, going past Chichester Harbour. The sea starts to get very rough and Bob is feeling seasick. In the distance we can see Arundel Castle.

Dad shouts, ‘Turn to port!’ and I ask ‘Why Dad?’ but then we are sailing up the river Arun to London. When we arrive, Dad offloads the cargo.

We sail back the way we came and it is getting very late when we arrive back in Froddington.

Suddenly, I feel someone shaking me.

‘Wake up! Wake up!’ shouts Bob.

I have fallen asleep and now I have missed my Dad’s barge. I’m still sitting with Bob on Froddington Bridge.

It’s late afternoon and we should be getting back to Mum for tea! Luckily, before we leave a man gives us an apple each, saying ‘You better be on your way home!’

What a long day. Time for bed.

Judge’s comment, by Editor in Chief, Sarah Cheverton

Reece recreated life in Fratton as it would have been for a working family in 1840 and made it as vivid as life in the present day.

One Day in Fratton is an annual writing competition run by Fratton Big Local for residents of all ages. S&C will be publishing the winners across three categories: 9-11 years, 12-16 years and 17 years and over, and you will be able to read all winners here as they’re published.