Thousands waited silently to hear Pompey’s chimes ring again

The Royal Marines are presented with the Freedom of Portsmouth outside the Guildhall in May 1959
The Royal Marines are presented with the Freedom of Portsmouth outside the Guildhall in May 1959
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Today marks the 64th anniversary of the Guildhall’s famous peal of bells ringing out again over Portsmouth.

A somewhat emotional gathering came together on May 8, 1950, when the celebrated Pompey chimes rang out once again from the ruins of the tower of the Guildhall.

rw square plate''The old Guildhall in 1940, less than a year before it was destroyed during the blitz''Portmouth News image ok for sales

rw square plate''The old Guildhall in 1940, less than a year before it was destroyed during the blitz''Portmouth News image ok for sales

The bells had been silent since the night of January 10/11, 1941, when the Guildhall was gutted by Luftwaffe fire bombs.

The restoration of the bells was described by the lord mayor as ‘comparatively small, but of great significance to the people of Portsmouth’.

Just before 7pm four Royal Marine buglers high up in the tower sounded Reveille before the chimes struck up over the estimated 10,000 people waiting in silence below.

We had to wait a further nine years, until June 8, 1959, before the Guildhall’s rebuilding was finished.

rw ghall june''The west side of the rebuilt Guildhall in June 1957

rw ghall june''The west side of the rebuilt Guildhall in June 1957

The Queen attended the opening ceremony. Her great-grandfather, then the Prince of Wales later King Edward VII, had opened the original building.

The two other pictures here show the Guildhall in 1940 just months before it was bombed in January 1941 and a June 1957 shot of the building’s west side nearing completion.