Southsea’s floral timepiece bloomed to honour bravery in wartime

The first floral clock  on the seafront.
The first floral clock on the seafront.

Day out on the buses of old

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Another postcard find, showing the original floral clock at Southsea that once displayed a marvellous selection of colour and flora. In the background is the former Castle restaurant and cafe.

I wanted to know more and as there is only one man to ask I phoned our own gardening expert Brian Kidd and, of course, he knew everything.

The clock was presented to the citizens of Portsmouth for their bravery during the Second World War and was constructed between during 1949 and1950.

The clock mechanism was electric and was presented to the city by Smiths, the well-known clock company. The city paid for its construction.

In flowers around the outside were inscribed the words Southsea For The Best of Times.

In 1963 the restoration of Southsea castle had begun with a walkway from the main road to the castle. The designers were the director of parks, one EW Studley, always known as John, and the city architect Bill Werdon. Between them they decided to enlarge the clock and move it to make an outstanding entrance to the new driveway to the castle. That drive is now called Brian Kidd Way.

Brian said: ‘I worked on the scheme with Don Reynolds of the City Architects Department. Don was in charge of special projects and a very clever man.

‘It was the first design I worked on after passing out of college. John Studley was my boss.’

Brian also said his father Len was in charge of restoration of the castle stonework at the same time as Brian was working on the landscaping.

They used to say that Southsea Castle was built by Henry VIII and rebuilt by Len Kidd.