Hill decapitated for horsepower

In tramway days looking north and The George has been built in the cutting caused by lowering of the summit. Picture: Harry Taylor.
In tramway days looking north and The George has been built in the cutting caused by lowering of the summit. Picture: Harry Taylor.
Passchendaele. Picture: Imperial War Museum

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I have been looking for something that depicts this scene for a long time and at last I’ve found one... in The News archive.

Right up until the early 19th century stagecoach horses had a very devil of a job hauling northbound coaches 450 feet over the summit of Portsdown Hill.

The top of the earthworks looking east showing where the London Road once passed over the summit of Portsdown Hill.

The top of the earthworks looking east showing where the London Road once passed over the summit of Portsdown Hill.

In 1810 it was decided that the top of the hill should be lowered by 50ft, but even then it was still a climb. I am sure the horses were glad of a trot down the other side into Widley.

The view over Portsea Island across to the Isle of Wight must have been quite superb. No doubt Nelson and a feast of other celebrities would have known of the vista and had their own thoughts on the scene.

In the drawing we can see just how high the old road was by the earthworks which stood as high as the roof of the later-built George pub.

We are looking east towards Bedhampton and in the new cutting beside The George a horse and buggy are passing through heading north.