Mayor’s fears for city silver after Guildhall bombing

Portsmouth's wartime lord mayor Sir Denis Daley and his wife Lady Margaret Daley on the steps of the Royal Beach Hotel, Southsea, on mayor-making day November 9, 1944.  Their successors, Alderman Allaway and Mrs Allaway, are on the extreme right and left respectively
Portsmouth's wartime lord mayor Sir Denis Daley and his wife Lady Margaret Daley on the steps of the Royal Beach Hotel, Southsea, on mayor-making day November 9, 1944. Their successors, Alderman Allaway and Mrs Allaway, are on the extreme right and left respectively

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Marj Bryant asked recently if readers could confirm the date of two civic wartime ceremonies on the steps of the bomb-damaged Guildhall.

They came from her grandfather, Herbert Thomas Clifton, who was a Portsmouth councillor for Cosham in the 1930s and 1940s.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, tour the ruins of the Guildhall, Portsmouth, in February 1941, a month after it was destroyed by German incendiary bombs

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, tour the ruins of the Guildhall, Portsmouth, in February 1941, a month after it was destroyed by German incendiary bombs

She wondered whether he had mis-dated one of the photographs which purported to have been taken on VE Day 1945 because the Guildhall, bombed in January 1941, looked so intact.

Patrick Daley got in touch to say that, yes, Councillor Clifton’s caption was correct.

Patrick, of Stakes Hill Road, Waterlooville, is the son of Portsmouth’s famous wartime lord mayor and lady mayoress, Sir Denis and Lady Margaret Daley.

He says the lord mayor and lady mayoress in both original wartime pictures were Alderman and Mrs Allaway who took office on November 9, 1944.

‘They followed my parents who had held the post for the previous four wartime years.’

Patrick has sent a picture taken on the steps of the Royal Beach Hotel, Southsea – which was a temporary home for the city council after the Guildhall was destroyed.

It was that mayor-making day in November 1944 and Patrick’s parents are still wearing their mayoral chains before handing them over Alderman and Mrs Allaway who are on the extreme left and right.

His second photo shows Lady Daley handing the chain of office to Mrs Allaway, who, says Patrick, ‘could even be wearing the same hat as she did in the VE Day picture – clothes rationing!’

He continues: ‘While the Guildhall was completely destroyed on January 11, 1941, there was initially rather more than the outer shell remaining as you can see from the picture of the King and Queen’s visit in February of the same year.

‘I remember my father telling of his apprehension when the strong room was finally opened to see if the city’s silver was still intact.’