Gilbert’s - Confectioners, Eastney Road
This shop at 5, Milton Market was opened
in 1906, by Alfred Hostler, who as a boy
of 8, sold sweets outside the Portsmouth
Earlier he had opened shops in Lake Road,
and Commercial Road, selling sweets that
were made on the premises. He progressed
to having a sweet factory in Mile End,
Portsmouth, becoming the oldest and best
known sweet maker in the area.
His sister Ethel took over the shop from
him in Milton Market, which later became
Ethel married George Z Gilbert, a foreman
bricklayer in 1909, they changed the name
of the shop.
She continued to run the shop while George
worked at his trade. He did service as a
tank driver in the first world war.
In 1912 they had a son, George A Gilbert,
who subsequently followed his parents into
whe sweet trade.
During this period, ice cream was made on
the premises, and sold from a refrigerator
on the pavement outside the shop.
The business continued to expand, selling
not only Hostlers boiled sweets, but many
other forms of confectionary etc.
In 1935, George A Gilbert married Evelyn
the daughter of the family who ran a
nearby fish and chip shop.
In 1936 they had a son, Brian Gilbert, who
was to become the the current owner of
the shop at 181, Eastney Road, Southsea.
During the second world war, Evelyn tried
to keep the shop going, with very little to
During a time of heavy bombing, a landmine
fell in the area of Dunbar and Kingsley Roads,
killing many people, and wrecking the shop.
A shop at 185, Eastney Road was leased while
the bomb damaged shop was repaired,
redecorated and refitted. The business was then
moved back to 181, Eastney Road.
Sweet rationing continued for quite some time
after the war, but an ice cream parlour and
factory on the premises helped, as well as
supplying cinemas, theatres, and other traders
with choc ices, tubs, and ice lollies, then
toffee apples were added.
George Gilbert is pictured, running the business.
Brian Gilbert started working in the shop at the
age of twelve, and still at school. He left school
in 1951, and worked at the shop until National
Service in 1954
On his return, business was much better as
rationing had been lifted. His future wife
Margaret joined the staff. Marriage brought them
three children, all of whom take some some part
in the business.
They now have four Grandchildren.
The shop has remained much as it was in the
1950s, with many jars of boiled sweets still on
display, that Alfred Hostler would have been
pleased to see.
The picture of the family group was taken in 2009
to celebrate 100 years of trading at 181, Eastney
Brian Gilbert is at the extreme right of the picture.