Anyone Remember The F Reg Pub


Lantern Swinger
Bert and the F-Reg Pub

During the eighties at Blockhouse reunions you would have thought the bars in the CPO’s Mess or the Atlantis Club would have been the most obvious places on the base for obtaining any required liquid libation and during their opening hours this was certainly the case. But what to do in those in-between hours of bar closures if you found yourself desperately in need of a hair of the dog that bit you? Or if during the wee hours of the morning you awoke to find you could willingly kill for a ‘livener’; just where would you find one?

The answer was located on the car park to the rear of the blocks in the shape of a white 1968 Commer Caravanette motor camper known affectionately to every submariner attending the reunions as the ‘F-Reg Pub’. This wonderful innovation was the brain child of Bert Onslow, one of our Merseyside members who lived in Kidderminster. Each year Bert, and his trusty oppo, Bill Devereaux, would stock up this old aluminium bodied vehicle with huge amounts of cases of beer and spirits and set off for Gosport to have some fun. Bert was the perfect mine host and had thought of everything from the provision of bags of potato crisps, pork scratching’s, peanuts and even napkins for his guests. There were glittering rows of optics screwed to the inner starboard bulkhead to hold the numerous bottles of rum, gin and scotch etc for dispensing exotic concoctions of whatever the heart desired. Bill would ensure these bottles were replaced on the optics as rapidly as they were depleted over the weekend period and he kept those cold cans of beer coming like there was no tomorrow.

Because of space limitations it could get pretty crowded inside the F-Reg Pub with everyone packed in like sardines (just to make us all feel at home). But Bert in his infinite wisdom had taken the weight factor into his calculations and had the floor of the caravan reinforced with chequered stainless steel plate (courtesy of Dorman & Long) and three heavy duty stabilising jacks fitted to the after chassis. Because of the total payload the power /weight ratio was a slight problem which prevented the Caravanette with its 1600cc engine from doing much more than 30 mph on the outward bound trip down the motorway and that with a following wind. The journey homeward bound did not present the same speed problem as they were by then a lightened ship so to speak.

Never a penny changed hands in the F-Reg Pub at any time and everyone was made welcome. The price of admission was either the spinning of a good dit or the singing of a bawdy song. If you couldn’t come up with either then you could join in the general sing-songs that frequently went on. Bert was often requested for and obliged with his rendition of ‘Gunga Din’ to much enthusiastic table thumping. Many a serving sailor or Wren returning from shore leave were only to happy to stop by and have a nightcap or two as the F-Reg Pub never closed. They never came empty handed but always with big bags of fish and chips and kebabs bought from ashore for all hands. This was Bert and Bill’s annual gift to their fellow submariners, old and young, and their kindness and 24/7 hospitality became a regular feature of our reunions for a number of years. Both those magical characters have now gone on to far greater glory but I shan’t be surprised when I finally cross the bar to find that they have the F-Reg Pub parked firmly outside the Pearly Gates. Ha! Ha! Ha! I’m counting on it.

Red Sailor


I remember it being parked there on the reunions and one or two of our older members, WWII vets, would just disappear to the' camper in the carpark' when the bars shut. One of the members who seemed to know everyone was the now crossed the bar, 'Curly' Cleworth, apparantly a founder member of the Manchester and Liverpool Branches. Curley was an ex small ships boxing champion when he was in the RN and was still remembered by Ruby in the Royal Standard on probably his last reunion about '92.
We young ex submariners didnt feel worthy to join him and his oppos in the van, but could hear them all singing and spinning dits. We thought it was invitation only so would venture across the water till night time.
Proper reunions then!!!