Alverbank Hotel

Alver Bank House or Alver House, now the Alverbank Hotel, was built for John Wilson Croker, a politician and writer, MP and a founding member of the Athenaeum Club in London. Croker was a friend of Lord Ashburton, who built and lived in nearby Bay House and who encouraged him build Alver Bank House next door. The house was visited by Robert Peel, the Prime Minister and the Duke of Wellington. After Croker’s death in 1857, Prince Alfred Ernest, the future Duke of Edinburgh (from 1866) stayed at Alverbank from October 1857 to September 1858 whilst he studied under the Rev. Jolly and his tutor, Lieutenant Cowell R.E. The house, rented but not owned by Queen Victoria, was used by her when travelling to and from Osborne House.

In 1859, Lord Dumfermline was reported as living at Alverbank. In January 1863 the trustees of Croker leased the house to Captain John Edmund Commerell VC  for 21 years from 1 November 1862. He was the second son of John Williams Commerell of Strood Park, Horsham and he entered the navy in 1842 and awarded his VC in 1854. As Admiral Sir John Edmund Commerell, RN, VC he was resident with his family at Alverbank for a number of years surrendering the lease in 1869.

In 1907, the house was occupied by Edward Darell and Mrs Darell-Blount and sold in 1912 to Winfred Alured Comyn Platt, (later a Colonel), part of a marriage settlement between Platt and Louisa Maria Atherley. The Platt family built an extension to the house (dated 1912 above the doorway). The Platts did not move from London the house until 1915 to avoid the bombing raids and returned to London in 1917. Their motto can be seen by the front door (parva sed apta – small but fit, convenient or perfect). They then let Alverbank to Lt R Smith-Barry, who used the house as an extension to the officers’ mess from nearby Fort Grange airfield. Here he worked on the famous ‘Gosport Tube’, an apparatus that allowed young pilots to talk to their instructors during training flights.

In 1947 Gosport Borough Council made an offer of £7,500 for Alverbank with the accompanying 7½ acres of park land adjoining Stanley Park. The offer was refused so the Council issued a Compulsory Purchase Order with the house becoming theirs in 1948. Listed Grade II it is now the Alverbank Hotel.

Alverbank Bridge

South of the Alverbank Hotel is a small brick bridge built by the Royal Engineers in 1860 to replace an existing bridge that crossed the River Alver allowing John Wilson Croker, who lived in Alverbank until 1857, to get to the sea.
 
The River Alver  river once flowed from the wildgrounds south of Fareham, seawards, towards Stokes Bay and turned eastward at Gomer Ponds to run the length of Stokes Bay, finally exiting to the sea via a huge ‘Morass’ close to Fort Monckton. But there is no river here now!
 
Beneath the bridge is the overgrown, dried up, river bed, barely recognisable as such. In 1860 the River Alver was diverted into the newly constructed Stokes Bay Moat which ran along the length of Stokes Bay from No1 and No2 Batteries in the west to Fort Gilkicker and Fort Monckton in the east, a distance of 2,700 yards. Known as The Stokes Bay Lines it was completed by 1870 at a cost, calculated to be £75,120. The moat itself was lined with concrete and was 60ft in width and contained water to depth of 9ft at high water of Spring tides.
 
The R.E. bench mark (a broad arrow) on one of the pillars that reads 5.56ft above LMS (Local Mean Sea level). The brick parapets and pillars were recently re-built but happily the bench mark and inscription survived. When over the bridge you can look left and right to see where the Stokes Bay Moat once ran in both directions.
 
There was a second bridge here crossing the moat and this can be seen in old postcards. When the weather is particularly dry you can sometimes see the concrete sides of the moat, which is still there beneath the grass. The moat was not destroyed, this section was merely filled with rubbish after an appeal to Gosport house holders to supply it. The section from No.2 Battery to Alverbank was filled first from October 1954 so that the Stokes Bay Road and promenade could be widened. The section in front of Palmerston Way survived until 1966, at the request of the residents who wanted to keep it. If you look over the sea wall at low tide you can see the Victorian penstock outlet, a large iron pipe, that allowed the Royal Engineers to maintain the depth of water in the moat. The filled-in moat is now piped to this outlet.