Pub’s fate shows just how much city has changed

Frank Holt's 1969 picture of the front of the Admiral Drake
Frank Holt's 1969 picture of the front of the Admiral Drake

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For anyone who did not know Portsmouth before the mid-1970s these photographs are confusing.

But they are a perfect example of how much the city has changed in the past 40-odd years.

Frank Holt's 1969 view looking south towards Commercial Road with the Admiral Drake just beyond Portsmouth Community Centre

Frank Holt's 1969 view looking south towards Commercial Road with the Admiral Drake just beyond Portsmouth Community Centre

Each picture shows the Admiral Drake pub, now isolated on an island in the shadow of the Rudmore flyover of the M275 and at the junction of Kingston Crescent.

When I published the two ‘then and now’ photos the other week they prompted Frank Holt to get in touch again.

Frank, of Aldridge Close, Clanfield, was featured recently when he submitted pictures of his parents, Babs and Francis, when they ran the Wheelbarrow pub, Southsea, in 1960.

But they had also run the 1936-built Admiral Drake in Twyford Avenue, Stamshaw, which then marked the end of Old Commercial Road before everything was pulled down to make way for the motorway.

He took these two pictures of the pub in 1969 and adds: ‘Fancy the old Drake isolated on its own now in the middle of an island.’

He recalls that before rationing ended in the 1950s ‘when dad ran out of beer and spirits he stayed open to sell lemonade.’

Frank and his sister June remember the community centre to the left of the pub from the war. He adds: ‘My sister June and I also went there and enjoyed a waitress-served dinner on Fridays while the others had to queue at the cafeteria side of the building. On the other side there was a huge water tank in case the Germans bombed the water supply.’