Forget sleeping policemen in Old Portsmouth – simply build a town hall

TRAFFIC CALMING Snapes depiction of High Street, Old Portsmouth, 1739
TRAFFIC CALMING Snapes depiction of High Street, Old Portsmouth, 1739
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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Now here’s an idea which might find favour with the residents of Old Portsmouth.

It would be the perfect traffic calming solution in High Street.

HIGH The caption on this Snape drawing says: Old House, St Thomass Street, Portsmouth. One of the few remaining 16th century houses. Supposed to be of the type known as garrison houses which were not allowed to exceed a certain height, lest they should overtop the fortifcations.

HIGH The caption on this Snape drawing says: Old House, St Thomass Street, Portsmouth. One of the few remaining 16th century houses. Supposed to be of the type known as garrison houses which were not allowed to exceed a certain height, lest they should overtop the fortifcations.

Why not build a town hall on top of a covered market area – in the middle of the road?

What? I hear you cry, it’s been tried before? How clever.

And what happened? They pulled it down in 1837 because... it got in the way of the traffic, albeit horse-drawn.

The illustration on the right is Gosport artist Martin Snape’s take on what High Street would have looked like on a market day in 1739.

LINK Oyster Street, Old Portsmouth  one of the old streets of the town leading to the Camber

LINK Oyster Street, Old Portsmouth  one of the old streets of the town leading to the Camber

He lived from 1852 until 1930 so could only guess what it would have been like, but I suspect he captured the atmosphere and the architecture fairly accurately.

You can see the Dolphin Tavern on the right of the market house/town hall so you can get your bearings. As now, it was opposite the cathedral.