A lost relic from the past that is not easy to find in Gosport. However if you know where to look there are a few that remain. Boot scrapers were necessary in the mid to late Victorian period when the number of horses used for transport increased. Gosport’s roads were dry in Summer, needing water carts to dampen the dust, and wet in Winter resulting in mire, mud and worse encrusting boots and shoes. A boot scraper was therefore integrated into the front wall of many late victorian terraced houses, adjacent to the door. Convenient for removing mud and manure from the bottom of your shoe or boot, the scrapers admirably served their purpose for many years until most of Gosport’s residential streets were upgraded with a pavement, keeping traffic separate from pedestrians. The more affluent residents who owned a house with a front garden could also purchase a movable, cast iron boot scraper, which could be put outside when needed and taken in when not to save it cluttering up the garden path.
The military forts of the Gosport Advanced Line, Brockhurst, Grange and Rowner, were used throughout their life as barrack accommodation for troops in transit. Military boots were in need of ‘de-mudding’ before a soldier entered his barrack room so a boot scraper was conveniently placed outside of each and every barrack room. Officer’s quarters were also provided with one.
Terry Rendall, who also has a passion for boot scrapers and other interesting objects from Gosport’s past, has kindly supplied this photograph of a boot scraper which he fitted to the front of his house over forty years ago.
I have a few boot scrapers somewhere in the attic that I have collected over the years. My photo is of one that I purchased and installed outside of my front door some 40 plus years ago, lots of wear on the crossbar. I thought at the time the pattern was unusual, it may be very early. There were loads of boot scrapers around Georgian Gosport when I was a boy, they nearly all ended up in Smith’s scrap yard, mostly via Treloar Demolition. They just pulled them out of the rubble and threw them on the back of the scrap lorry without any thought or feeling, I tried to save some of them among many other things but they wouldn’t listen or give them up, I was just a snotty nose boy. They were bl**dy vandals! 😢