Railway track was built for Queen Victoria’s travels

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Opening of the new school by the home secretary in October 1927. The headmaster, Canon Barton, is on the lowest step, on the left. Dorothea Barton is possibly there, somewhere. (PGS Archive)

NOSTALGIA: A red bluestocking at Portsmouth Grammar School

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This evocative picture explains for younger readers why there is a berth in Portsmouth naval base called South Railway Jetty.

Taken from a warship’s gun turret, it is looking towards Portsmouth Harbour railway station on the right with The Hard on the left.

The sweep of track bending across the water was built primarily to enable Queen Victoria to have direct access to the royal yacht before her many visits to Osborne House in the Isle of Wight.

The picture is not dated, but was probably taken about the turn of the last century.

What we cannot see in this picture is whether any mudlarks were diving for coppers in the gloop off The Hard. It’s unlikely because it looks as though the tide was in.

However, they most definitely were in this other shot, again undated, but probably taken about 50 years later.

Hordes of spectators had gathered on a sunny afternoon to watch the youngsters’ antics – the crowd would throw coins into the mud and be entertained by the local children as they scrabbled in the mud to find and then keep the cash.

Both photographs come from the collection of John Jenkins, of Eastern Road, Milton, Portsmouth, who, in 1984, published a booklet called A Short History of Portsmouth Royal Dockyard. At the time he had just retired as a training officer at the dockyard’s School of Management.

His final picture today shows the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth entering Portsmouth Harbour in March 1948 to be destored before she was broken up at Dalmuir, Scotland.

She was built in Portsmouth in 1916, displaced 27,500 tons and had 15in guns. She cost £2.5m.