Edinburgh Road – a home to sailors and a theatre

THEN Edinburgh Road at its junction with Stanhope Road, 1946
THEN Edinburgh Road at its junction with Stanhope Road, 1946
HMS London back in Hong Kong for repairs. Here we see the hits on her port side.

NOSTALGIA WITH BOB HIND: HMS London under attack by Chinese forces

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These two photographs come from my colleague Bob Hind’s new book War-Torn Portsmouth – Then, After and Now.

Many of the photographs come from Smitten City and others from Tony Triggs’s Portsmouth – A Shattered City.

NOW The same view of Edinburgh Road today and although their occupants might have changed many times, the buildings remain largely the same

NOW The same view of Edinburgh Road today and although their occupants might have changed many times, the buildings remain largely the same

Smitten City was the book published by The News immediately after the Second World War which captured the devastation of the blitz. It was recently republished and is still available.

Bob has been all over the city retaking the photographs and bring those scenes of blasted homes and streets up to date.

It will be published in May.

In the old photograph we see a view down Edinburgh Road towards Commercial Road with Stanhope Road on the right.

On the left is Aggie Weston’s home for sailors and just past that The Trafalgar Club.

On the right is the former Colosseum theatre which was demolished to make way for a Sainsbury’s store.

Some of you may remember The Evening News seller by the name of Tom. He had a deformed bottom lip caused by putting coppers in his mouth and he wore a coat tied with string.

He had his ‘stand’ outside ‘Aggies’ and Bob got to know him when he was a lad of nine or 10. Tom would give him sixpence and his mug and in a gravely Dickensian voice say: ‘Get me a tea, boy. Get me a tea.’

He was not allowed into Aggie Weston’s cafe because of his condition.

The shadow in the road is lettering from Finlay’s tobacconist alongside Alfred Road level crossing. It says: ‘Players Please’.

In the modern picture we see that ‘Aggies’ has long gone. The Trafalgar Club is now a Wetherspoons. Sainsbury’s closed and the premises is now a frozen food store.

On the corner of Stanhope Road was Gale & Polden naval stationers.

In the rooms above were, in the 1960s, the naval recruiting offices. It was there, on December 5, 1965, one day after Bob’s 15th birthday, he was interviewed by a Colour Sergeant of the Royal Marines for entry into naval service.