A Royal show at the King’s Coronation Naval Review

The Viking ship on display at Pegwell Bay July 1964 with its mast. It sailed along the coast in 1950.     Picture from Sydney Higgs.
The Viking ship on display at Pegwell Bay July 1964 with its mast. It sailed along the coast in 1950. Picture from Sydney Higgs.
Opening of the new school by the home secretary in October 1927. The headmaster, Canon Barton, is on the lowest step, on the left. Dorothea Barton is possibly there, somewhere. (PGS Archive)

NOSTALGIA: A red bluestocking at Portsmouth Grammar School

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I know that everyone talks about our disappearing navy and how few ships there are compared to the days when we had the British Empire, but I sometimes wonder if we have just too few ships to go around.

A century ago on June 24, 1911, there was the Coronation Naval Review at Spithead and on show there were – wait for it – 165 vessels.

They included 32 battleships, 25 armoured cruisers, a dozen other cruisers, 67 destroyers and eight submarines.

In addition, there were 18 foreign warships.

This did not, of course, include ships that were serving in other parts of the world like the Atlantic, Mediterranean and the Far East. What a Royal Navy we once had!

When King George V and his Queen arrived at the Harbour Station there were 50,000 people there to greet them.

The royal party made their way to South Railway Jetty (formerly Farewell Jetty) in the dockyard to board the Royal Yacht, Victoria and Albert.

King George was a naval man through and through and much loved by the navy. He had served as a lieutenant in HMS Canada a Third Class cruiser and later was Captain in HMS Crescent a First Class cruiser.

The weather was glorious and Southsea beach, along with Stokes Bay in Gosport, were jam-packed with visitors.

At night, the fleet was brilliantly illuminated and many did not leave the beaches until the early hours of the morning.

Mind you, Portsmouth has always known how to throw a party and two days earlier on June 22, 45,000 school children were entertained and given a souvenir beaker.

Garden parties were also laid-on for officers and men of British and foreign fleets.

Of course, all those who were there at the time have passed away but perhaps you have a beaker that was given to your grand-parents who would have just been children at the time.

Perhaps you could send me a photograph of it?

Three weeks ago I asked if anyone saw the Viking longship which visited Stokes Bay sometime in 1950.

A J Owen dropped me a line to say that the ship is now at Pegwell Bay, Ramsgate, where it is displayed as a memorial.

Jennifer Stringer, of Waterlooville, tells me that she visited the ship when it was moored off Cowes in the summer of 1949.

It was all to do with the anniversary of the landing in Kent of Hengist and Horsa in AD 449.

Sydney Higgs tells me he saw the ship in the Solent and it was being rowed by teams along the south coast to Pegwell Bay, where the Vikings are supposed to have landed.

It remains on display to this day although the mast has since disappeared.

Meanwhile I had quite a response from The Honeys story in last week’s column.

I received a letter from Mrs Doreen Gallagher, of Velder Avenue, Milton, who was married in April 1953.

She tells me that her late brother-in-law, John, was a bar man at the Landport Liberal Club, in Lake Road, and as such got talking to the Liddel sisters, as The Honeys were then.

He arranged a surprise for Doreen and her new husband Ken to attend the club and they were given front row seats for an appearance by these singing sisters.

They were on stage for almost an hour and what a lovely show they put on.

Some years later, in 1963, the couple saw them again at a theatre in Rhyl, Wales. By now they had become The Honeys.

Doreen tells me that both her husband Ken and John have since passed away but what lovely memories she has of the girls.

If you saw The Honeys at any time do let me know. Thank you.