Portsmouth streets so narrow it was barely possible to breathe

Wimpole Sreet, Landport, and not a car in sight
Wimpole Sreet, Landport, and not a car in sight
Looking down London Road circa 1903. The Horndean Light Railway tracks are on the right.  Picture: Barry Cox Collection

NOSTALGIA: Tramlines await the first cars to climb to top of Portsdown Hill

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In 1885 The Housing of the Working Classes Act was fuelled by a string of dismaying reports into squalid housing.

The act laid out acceptable standards of housing and gave local authorities the power to clear slums and rebuild.

Rear of Finsbury St, Buckland. Barrington house flats (Sultan Rd) can be seen in the background. PPP-141007-104200001

Rear of Finsbury St, Buckland. Barrington house flats (Sultan Rd) can be seen in the background. PPP-141007-104200001

But it would be many decades and two world wars later before much was done to pull down Portsmouth’s slums.

The occupants of these houses were generally dockyard workers, coal heavers, ordinary seamen, horse and cart drivers, signpainters, blacksmiths and former soldiers.

In 1909 Dr Mearns Fraser, Portsmouth’s medical officer of health, recommended that slum clearance should begin because the slums of Portsea were ‘...old and dilapidated, and the streets so narrow that it is impossible for a sufficient circulation of fresh air to take place’.

But by the 1960s many of those replacement homes built in the early 20th century were themselves in such a poor condition that there was no choice but to pull them down.

Tenement style flat's in Portsea. PPP-141007-104222001

Tenement style flat's in Portsea. PPP-141007-104222001

Many were replaced by tower blocks and tenements.

The four pictures here were taken in the early 1960s and were sent to me by Calum Kennedy.

Once family homes, they were all cleared in the name of progress.

/I believe this photo is of the back of Queen St, taken from military Row. (Ref 39). PPP-141007-104237001

/I believe this photo is of the back of Queen St, taken from military Row. (Ref 39). PPP-141007-104237001