Up, up and away from Southsea Common

Taking off from Southsea in 1912
Taking off from Southsea in 1912
An especially-adapted train for royalty arriving in the dockyard for the launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906.

Was Edward VII the only royal to use this Portsmouth branch line?

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With a background which is virtually unchanged to the present day, here we see pilot M Salmot taking off from Southsea Common in August 1912. The crowds were no doubt thrilled in these early days of flying.

Meanwhile, long before my time and, I suspect, that of most readers, sunny Southsea was the place to go for a holiday.

The second picture here shows two pages from the Southsea & Portsmouth Guide 1913. Note the title, Southsea ahead of Portsmouth.

A century ago two of the top hotels were the Sandringham, on the corner of Nightingale Road and Osborne Road and the Grosvenor on the corner of Western Parade and Clarence Parade.

The Grosvenor opened in 1888 and was ‘replete with every comfort’ according to the brochure. It catered for the wealthy from London who wished to spend time on the coast. After the Second World War, Agnes Weston’s Royal Sailors’ Rest moved in because of bomb damage to its home in Commercial Road.

The Grosvenor became Agnes Western House or, as it was known to thousands of sailors and residents – Aggies.

From 1975 until 2011 it was used as accommodation for retired workers from the dairy industry. In 2011 it was sold again and there were rumours it was going to be returned to its former glory as an hotel.

In the third picture we are looking towards Greetham Street, Landport, and see trolleybus 302 in Blackfriars Road, Somers Town, in 1963. The photo comes from Portsmouth Trolleybuses by Barry Cox.

It is on the well-known 18 route which would take this bus via Bradford Junction, Fratton Bridge, Goldsmith Avenue and then on to Milton and finally Eastney.

Apart from the building behind the bus, everything else has been demolished and replaced by flats with plenty of green to lighten the landscape. Does anyone remember living here?

And finally, with big boots, a solid leather ball, rolled-up sleeves and long shorts we see Jack Warner leading out the Pompey team at Bristol in 1912.

The strip of white shirt and dark blue shorts were the colours Pompey wore from 1909 until the 1912-13 season.

John ‘Jack’ Warner had played for Southampton and moved to Pompey in 1906. He remained at Portsmouth until the outbreak of the First World War and returned as trainer until after the Second World War.