The nearby statue commemorates the generations of Portsea children who enjoyed mudlarking here – entertaining travellers by retrieving coins they threw into the mud below the bridge to the harbour station and Gosport ferry.
Boys and girls would scramble to find the money tossed down, sometimes diving into the mud, performing handstands or dipping their heads in it. Many Portsea families lived in poverty, so the small change was welcomed.
Usually, what the children did not spend on sweets or pie and chips was given to mum to help out the family finances.
Most parents disapproved of their children’s activities, while the police regarded mudlarking as begging and tried to stop it. Mudlarking supplemented other ways of earning a few shillings, such as carrying passenger’s bags or finding drivers’ parking spaces. The building of the new bus terminal in 1976-7 put an end to mudlarking.