Spot the differences: relax and recall the Portsmouth that was

Can you date this street map?
Can you date this street map?

THIS WEEK IN 1993: Royal Navy brings in drugs booty

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If, like me, you are a fascinated lover of maps, here is something to ease you into the weekend. So, sit back with a Friday night glass of something fortifying and start poring over this one.

It was given to me by colleague Steve Daniels who, like me, wonders if readers can put a firm date on it.

There is no imprint on the original and after studying it he and I reckon it might have been published in the early 1960s.

It folded to pocket-size and was produced by the AA.

Presumably it was aimed at visitors because on the reverse is a diagram displaying mileages from Southsea (not Portsmouth) to various places from Nottingham to the north and Bath to the west.

Another graphic highlighted ‘pleasant steamer excursions’ from Southsea either around the Isle of Wight or down the Solent to Bournemouth.

So, what can we deduce from the map?

One of the first things you notice is the absence of Winston Churchill Avenue which would later cut an east-west swathe through Hyde Park Road and Somers Road North before joining Victoria Road North.

Guildhall Walk does not exist. Commercial Road continued across the old ‘square’ in front of the Guildhall. And while we are in that street, can anyone explain what the ‘Royal Arena’ was? It is marked roughly in the position of the Theatre Royal. Another name for that wonderful old playhouse and cinema perhaps?

Towards the left of the map the naval establishment HMS Vernon takes up the large chunk of land now occupied by Gunwharf Quays. Who could have imagined then that it would become the shopping and leisure playground it would morph into at the dawn of the 21st century?

There is a little drawing of Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory inside what was still then proudly called the ‘Royal Dockyard’.

Move up Queen Street and you will see the Royal Naval Barracks before they became HMS Nelson and immediately to the right of Victoria Park is a heavier black line denoting the branch railway line from the ‘Town’ station into the Dockyard at Unicorn Gate having crossed Edinburgh Road.

The General Post Office on the corner of Stanhope Road and Commercial Road stands out, but there is no sign of Market Way and the Tricorn Centre which would eventually stand alongside it. That monument to 1960s’ architecture opened in 1966 so we know the map pre-dates that structure.

Moving east, three enormous empty white spaces stick out – Fratton goods yard and the land surrounding St Mary’s Hospital, Milton; the enormous St James’s Hospital plot, and the equally-large segment of land surrounding the home of the Royal Marines, Eastney Barracks.

No Portsmouth resident could have imagined just how many new homes and trading estates would be built on these sites within 50-odd years.

Certainly the disappearance of the goods yard and its cat’s cradle of sidings was unimaginable.

You will notice one smaller empty white area at the junction of Milton and St Mary’s roads. Obviously Kingston prison was not considered worthy of mention.