When Navy Days brought tens of thousands to Portsmouth

Visitors waiting to sample the flight deck of HMS Ark Royal in 1992
Visitors waiting to sample the flight deck of HMS Ark Royal in 1992
Opening of the new school by the home secretary in October 1927. The headmaster, Canon Barton, is on the lowest step, on the left. Dorothea Barton is possibly there, somewhere. (PGS Archive)

NOSTALGIA: A red bluestocking at Portsmouth Grammar School

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It wasn’t so long ago that tens of thousands of people arrived in Portsmouth each August to get a glimpse of life on the Grey Funnel Line.

Before the Second World War queues snaking hundreds of yards were the norm during what was then called Navy Week.

BARRELS A shot of HMS Furious, from another ship, at Navy Days in Portsmouth, probably in 1927

BARRELS A shot of HMS Furious, from another ship, at Navy Days in Portsmouth, probably in 1927

And they were people who would wait patiently to visit just one warship among the dozens open to the public, not for overall entry to the dockyard.

As the decades rolled on and the fleet contracted, the annual week became a weekend and eventually the event alternated between Portsmouth and Plymouth.

As reported in The News, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has launched an attempt to woo back some of those August crowds with a three-day festival celebrating the city’s rich maritime heritage in its Boathouse 4.

It starts on Friday and for more details go to historicdockyard.co.uk.

HORDES Navy Days, August 1935 and the queueing is easy... for those waiting to board HMS Victory

HORDES Navy Days, August 1935 and the queueing is easy... for those waiting to board HMS Victory

Portsmouth Navy Days is packed full of excited people in 1983

Portsmouth Navy Days is packed full of excited people in 1983

HMS Ursula attracted the crowds on August bank holiday Monday, 1994

HMS Ursula attracted the crowds on August bank holiday Monday, 1994