Spooky beginnings

The new trackbed for the Horndean Light Railway looking south across the bridge over Southwick Hill Road, Cosham, about 1903.

NOSTALGIA: Ready and waiting, the shiny new tracks climbing Portsdown Hill

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On this day in 1942 the playwright Howard Brenton was born prematurely in Portsmouth.

His parents were visiting the city and he was delivered by his aunt.

Brought up in Bognor Regis and a pupil at Chichester High School for Boys, he picked up the theatrical bug from his father and concentrated on theatre at Cambridge in preference to academic study.

His play Romans in Britain at the National Theatre notoriously depicted a scene of a Roman soldier raping a Celt.

Similarly, the 1985 play Pravda, co-written with David Hare, depicted an ogreish press baron attempting to take over the British media.

Brenton has written more than 40 plays and scripted 14 episodes of the BBC spy drama Spooks – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.