Southsea beach shocks: tea for a penny and flesh exposed

The postcard of Clarence Beach, Southsea, before the First World War
The postcard of Clarence Beach, Southsea, before the First World War
One of the Portsmouth divers going through decontamination. Picture: Royal Navy

Portsmouth bomb squad recover mustard gas bombs

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Regular Remember When contributor Jackie Baynes picked up these two early views of Southsea beach at a postcard fair in Shoreham.

They take us back more than 100 years – the Clarence Beach card, right, published by Valentine’s was postally used on August 10, 1913. The Southsea Beach card was never sent.

The postcard entitled Southsea Beach in a picture taken from a position similar to the one above

The postcard entitled Southsea Beach in a picture taken from a position similar to the one above

There is a great deal going on in the Clarence Beach card.

Taken on a sunny day we see people sailing, rowing and youngsters paddling. In the far distance by the water’s edge is a row of bathing huts with two large wheels on each side.

I wonder if it was a Sunday as everyone is dressed in suits and smart dresses and wearing hats.

It looks as though what we would call a Sunday Market is going on with at least eight stalls set out in a line along the beach (the tide must have been going out).

A similar position on Southsea beach today

A similar position on Southsea beach today

Various advertising slogans can be read including ‘American Drinks’ on the side of the second stall where someone appears to be making a purchase. A large sign offers tea for 1d on another stall, while the hand-cart (bottom left) has fruit and vegetables for sale. Counting along, the sixth stall has some lettering on the awning but it has proved hard to read. It could be ‘Regal Ices’, a business which began in 1910.

Along the top of the beach are three spaced-out buildings with pointed roofs. The HMS Shannon memorial can be seen. This was put up here in 1860. Between it and the Victory anchor is a cannon. These days the Victory anchor has been moved so it is closer to the Hovercraft terminal, the site of which is approximately from where both photographs were taken.

On the far side of the Esplanade, ranged along the edge of the Common are many horse-drawn carriages with a high-top carriage going east.

I’d like to think everyone was enjoying a warm, sunny day especially the three young girls in hats who have been for a paddle which meant hitching up their long white skirts which shows off their legs!

Just one year on from when this postcard was sent it was a very different story with the country entering war with Germany and the lives of many on the card changed overnight.

Portsmouth City Corporation, as it was then called, did not own the Common at this time, but you can see it stretching away in the distance with possibly the rifle butts at the far end. Otherwise, unlike today, there are few people on the common.

If readers can spot other things I’ve missed please get in touch.

The paler image of Southsea Beach looks to have been taken a few years earlier than the Clarence Beach card. The three buildings with pointed roofs have yet to be built.

On the left-hand egde of the card is a carriage drawn by a grey horse going west with another cart on the road between the HMS Shannon Memorial and the Victory Anchor going east.

Also on this card are two cannon, one in the foreground and a second between the two memorials.

In the bottom right, on the beach, is what appears to be a group of nursemaids with their charges in prams, no doubt all having a good gossip! Or they could be invalid-carriages.

A few stalls can be seen nearby. Boating is again in evidence with a number of small yachts drawn up on the beach, with others anchored offshore.

The beach seems to have less of a slope on it compared to Jackie’s recent photo, above, taken from a similar position. Again, if readers can throw further light on objects in the card on which I’ve not commented, please get in touch.