A look at Old Portsmouth High Street – now and then

High Street some time after the blitz of January 10 1941
High Street some time after the blitz of January 10 1941
The Crystal Lounge once occupied this South Parade, Southsea, site before it became Joanna's

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These two photographs of High Street, Old Portsmouth, show how the area has changed since the rebuilding of this part of our city.

I believe the old photograph was taken from the roof of what is now the Sallyport Hotel. Closed for several years, it has just had its facade painted.

As it is now, with many alterations

As it is now, with many alterations

To the extreme right is the facade of the former city museum. Just past that is the Dolphin pub and then a bomb site on the corner of Pembroke Road.

Further along, the vacant space this side of the white wall was where the most famous hotel in Portsmouth was located. For this is the bomb site of the George Hotel where, on September 14, 1805, Lord Nelson had his last breakfast on English soil.

Isn’t it a great shame that the war destroyed so many great buildings in the city?

On the left, in the foreground, are the gates to the cathedral.

A Portsmouth Directory of the times tells us that the first building past the gates was that of Arthur Freeman, a hairdresser, and next door were Miss McGinnes’ tearooms. Next to them was Knight’s the butcher, then Maxwell Lindhurst.

On the corner of Lombard Street was Mrs R Garcia, a greengrocer. On this corner, and where the three pedestrians have just crossed, Lombard Street is where the memorial to residents killed in the war was placed back in January this year.

The makeshift wooden railings can been seen around the bomb site. To the right is the junction with Pembroke Road again. At least 24 trolleybus standards can be seen, as can the tramlines, now Tarmaced over and not used since 1936, when trams stopped running in the city.

On the skyline can be seen the burnt-out clock and bell tower of the Guildhall.

All the buildings on the left foreground, including the gates, were demolished after the war and the cathedral green laid out.

For the up-to-date photograph I must thank a resident of High Street who allowed me onto his roof – level with the Sallyport Hotel – to take this photograph.

As can be seen, all the old buildings on the left have long gone and the green with lovely trees is in their place. To the right a motorbike is coming out of Pembroke Road.

The roof of the former white-walled building can be recognised by the chimney pots, but on the site of the George Hotel is now the George Court, an apartment block opened in 1955 and named after the hotel of course.

The trolley standards have long gone, but we have much traffic furniture in their place.