"JARGE" - THE OUTSIDE PORTER - ADVANCE VIEWING
by GLYN ROBERTS
Glyn Roberts worked for many years in overseas development, especially in Africa, and founded the volunteer organisation Tools for Self Reliance, but he had always wanted to carve in stone. When he retired, he got together hammer and chisels and started chipping away, first on a Millennium Stone with a message for Island folk in the year 3,000 A.D. Twelve years later, the Isle of Wight has quite a number of his sculptures in public places, all based upon local stories.
History of Jarge the Porter
Until the 1950s most holidaymakers arrived in Shanklin by train. As they came out of the station they might well have encountered a man on the forecourt, with a two-wheeled trolley, who hoped to earn a shilling or two by carrying their bags. This was George Hawksworth, known as "Jarge", and the brass badge fixed to his distinctive brown trilby hat, showed him to be licensed by the Railway Company as an Outside Porter.
He always wore a suit, knee length gaiters and polished boots. His hat sat low on his forehead, perhaps weighed down by the heavy brass badge.
"Carry your bag, Sir"
Spotting a likely customer, he would call out, "Carry your bag, Sir", or even the unorthodox, "Carry your bag, Sir; Got hobnail boots, Sir; But can't I run, direckly minnet, Sir" (!) and if visitors went along with this, Jarge would load his red and green trolley and lead them to their hotel or guest house.
On Saturdays, though, when passengers emerged from a train, "Jarge" often faced competition from local lads whose homemade wooden handcarts trundled along on old pram wheels. They would use tricks to distract him, winding him up unmercifully, and pirate customers behind his back. Poor Jarge could seldom match these quick-witted youngsters and he was often reduced to cursing and threatening retribution.
Longest-serving Outside Porter
In many ways Jarge was a throwback to the former golden era of rail travel. When he finally handed in his badge, a national newspaper reported him as the longest-serving Outside Porter in the entire country.
The Plaque and Stone Carving was commissioned in 2012 by Shanklin Rotary Club (some of whose members were once among the lads who pirated Jarge's customers) on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.