Water, water everywhere but not a lion in sight

One of the 'Portsmouth Water Company cages on the south side of Portscreek.

One of the 'Portsmouth Water Company cages on the south side of Portscreek.

A picture believed to show the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Denis Daly, visiting Marchants Hill, 1940

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Last week I published a photo sent in by Edwin Amey, of Fareham, of a cage on the bank of Portscreek at Portsbridge, Portsmouth.

At the time of writing I had had two replies.

The original picture with the cage arrowed.

The original picture with the cage arrowed.

Jim Kellaway tells me the cage covered pipework and valves and belonged to Portsmouth Water Company.

Local author Jane Smith then contacted me and told me the picture also appears in her publication The Book of Hilsea.

Another reader suggested lions were once kept in the cages, but the truth is more mundane, as it always is.

There were two of these giant frames situated either side of Portscreek as part of Portsmouth’s water supply. They were known as Hilsea Tunnel South Shaft and Hilsea Tunnel North Shaft. Their purpose was to protect the access to the large shafts which led to the tunnel running under Portscreek. This tunnel contained the four 36in pipes which supplied Portsmouth with water.

They were there for many years after the war but eventually removed. However, the two concrete bases can still be seen today.

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