When the lights came on again and our beaches were opened

Looking down on Kings Road with Green Road  (top) and Castle Road, Southsea.

Looking down on Kings Road with Green Road (top) and Castle Road, Southsea.

Fast Launch Isinglass bound for Wales in the early 1970s.

Portsmouth’s speedy ‘grey ghosts’ which were the army’s navy

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Next weekend I will be writing about the 70th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe) which was on May 8, 1945.

It was, of course, a time of great rejoicing in the Royal Navy’s premier port.

Devastation and homelessness brought to residents of streets off Kings Road, Southsea. 'From Anthony Triggs's Portsmouth ' A Shattered City.

Devastation and homelessness brought to residents of streets off Kings Road, Southsea. 'From Anthony Triggs's Portsmouth ' A Shattered City.

Having said that, when the end of the war was finally declared on September 2, 1945, Portsmouth went wild for three days and nights. More on that in August.

But with the end of the war in sight in May, normal life, which had vanished for six long years, started to return to the Portsmouth area.

The Wymering tunnel shelters built into Portsdown Hill closed at 9am on February 19, 1945.

A relaxation of pleasure events along the coast was also announced.

Portsmouth Command extended from Newhaven in the east to Lyme Regis in the west and nowhere along that stretch of coast was open for recreation in the latter war years.

From April 4, 1945, amateur fishing and pleasure boating was once more allowed on Southsea seafront.

Large areas of the Solent, Southampton Water and the waters around the Isle of Wight were also opened once again after six years of closure to non-military personnel.

One of the biggest problems then as today, was housing.

Portsmouth Corporation estimated 10,000 houses would be needed for bombed-out residents and returning military personnel.

Land at Leigh Park had been bought close to the end of the war for a new housing estate and on February 13 land was acquired at Paulsgrove for more housing.

Of course, it was some years before they were built and at Bedhampton, Nissen huts at the former naval camp of HMS Daedalus III were used for accommodation until the houses were built.

Not everyone wanted to move out to the ‘countryside’ as Leigh Park and Paulsgrove were then perceived to be.

The council pushed on with building on bomb sites and the once fashionable shopping street that was Kings Road was rebuilt in the early 1950s with much-needed flats.

Education was another problem with several schools destroyed in the blitz and secondary pupils evacuated to Winchester, Salisbury and as far as Brockenhurst in the New Forest. On January 29 the secondary schools that had not been destroyed were opened once again.

If you have memories of VE or VJ (Victory in Japan) Days and celebrations at the end of the war, please drop me a line.

Lily Rump tells of the occasion Royal Marines lit a bonfire at the junction of Eastney and Bransbury roads, Eastney. If you have memories like this do get in touch.

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