Missing treasure trove of old pictures locked inside a safe

The photograph Barry Cox scanned from the album that seems to have disappeared.

The photograph Barry Cox scanned from the album that seems to have disappeared.

A layer of thick white fungus and green slime were the culprits behind the broken floor

THIS WEEK IN 1971: Southsea man escaped falling bathroom floor

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Among readers’ possessions must be hundreds if not thousands of photographs of Portsmouth and the surrounding area, put away in lofts or some long-forgotten chests of drawers. Please search them out and send them to me or my colleague Chris Owen.

No doubt you will have seen photographs in the weekday
Remember When pages, many borrowed from Barry Cox’s marvellous collection.

Barry is a Portsmouth postcard and photograph collector par excellence and he is on the trail of a lost album of photographs which he last saw some 30 years ago.

In about 1986/87 Barry saw some photos of Portsmouth trams in the window of a photographer in Lawrence Road, Southsea. This could have been the shop of the late JA Hewes, but he cannot be sure.

On inquiring whether there were any photos of Portsmouth trams for sale he was told no, but there was an album which he could view, but only by appointment.

It was at a photocopying and reprographic shop on the corner on Winter Road and Highland Road, Southsea.

So he made an appointment and was somewhat surprised to find that the album was kept in a safe at the rear of the shop.

When he examined the album he was astonished to find there were somewhere between 60 and 100 previously unseen and unpublished photographs showing Portsmouth trams in roads across the city.

Barry asked if he could buy the album, but was told firmly it was not for sale.

He was, however, told that he could select one, and only one, photo for photocopying.

He selected a photo of a corporation tram at the Clarence Pier terminus which he still has and you see here .

He has not seen any of the photos in this album since and neither has he heard anything about what happened to the album.

It must still be about in someone’s collection.

If any reader can help with this inquiry, please contact me at the e-mail address at the top of the page.

n A few weeks ago I published a photo of St James’s Church in Milton, Portsmouth.

It was not until the present vicar dropped me a line that I realised it was a picture of a church built in 1841 and demolished in 1912, not the present one.

After doing some more research, I found the building in the photo was known as The Runaways’ Church, as lovers from other parishes on Portsea Island were allowed to be married there.

It appears that at one time couples could only be married in the parish in which the bride or groom lived, so going to Milton was a little bit like being married across the anvil at Gretna Green in Scotland.

It must have struck horror into newly-married couples’ Victorian parents when they returned home to tell them the good news.

Can you imagine running away from Portsea to be married in Milton? Whatever next?

The original building was built by public subscription, the land having been given by Admiral Sir Philip Henderson.

It’s only a little church and perhaps even lovelier for its lowliness.

I wonder if anyone has any information about former relatives being married at the now-demolished church?

n One hundred-and-eighty years ago on May 24, 1837 the foundation stone for the new town hall was laid in High Street, Old Portsmouth.

The building was opened the following year on June 28 to mark Queen Victoria’s coronation.

To mark the event a fine portrait of the Queen, painted by George Swandale, was bought by public conscription.

It remained on show until it was destroyed by the blitz of the Second World War.

The town hall was later replaced by the present Guildhall.

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