Lloyd Webber just about has it right

Portsmouths impressive old General Post Office in Commercial Road.
Portsmouths impressive old General Post Office in Commercial Road.
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To quote Andrew Lloyd Webber: ‘Much more damage was done to our heritage by town planners in Britain in the Fifties and Sixties than Hitler ever did.’

How very true this statement is when putting it in the context of Portsmouth.

Part of the massive Victoria Barracks shot from the top of the Pier Hotel, Southsea, in the 1920s.

Part of the massive Victoria Barracks shot from the top of the Pier Hotel, Southsea, in the 1920s.

Of course we have to have modernisation, but it seems to me much was done for modernisation’s sake when other avenues and options could have been explored.

One such building was the Masonic Hall in Old Portsmouth which was demolished in 1965.

You can imagine the rumpus there would have been had it been proposed today.

So many other buildings have been demolished in the name of modernism.

The former Evening News head office in Stanhope Road, Landport, Portsmouth.

The former Evening News head office in Stanhope Road, Landport, Portsmouth.

What about Victoria Barracks, Southsea?

Should those iconic buildings not have been converted, just like the Royal Marines Barracks at Eastney?

What a fantastic view that would have made.

Then there’s the old General Post Office in Commercial Road, a superb building replaced by a monstrosity 200 yards away in Slindon Street.

I could go further and suggest the former Evening News offices, just around the corner in Stanhope Road, should have been saved. I don’t suppose there are many of you who can remember the interior of those offices, especially the reception area.

Everywhere was teak panelling with the smell of polish and the place just reeked of newspapers.

Not only buildings but entire areas as well.

Take the old Guildhall Square, so beloved by Portsmouth people.

Then, in the 1970s, it was surrounded by modern office blocks and the square pedestrianised.

I am sure the modern square is appreciated by some, but there is a lack of any atmosphere compared to what was there before.