Bid to raise £18,000 to buy historic picture of stagecoach journey

VALUABLE The Fly by Thomas Rowlandson
VALUABLE The Fly by Thomas Rowlandson
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IT WAS a boneshaking journey of more than nine hours, so you can only imagine the joy of these passengers as they crested the top of Portsdown Hill to see Portsmouth spread beneath them.

The Fly was the name of one of the stagecoaches on the London-Portsmouth run in the late 18th century.

And it was captured in this historic watercolour by English artist and caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson in the 1790s.

Now Portsmouth City Museum has a rare opportunity to buy this picture, called Portsmouth Fly, which is being sold by a private collector.

But the museums service needs to raise the cash before it can buy the £18,000 picture.

It is applying for grants and if successful it will join five other works by Rowlandson in the museum’s collection.

Rosalinda Hardiman, the collections manager for Portsmouth Museums said: ‘This is an exciting opportunity which we don’t want to miss.’

The drawing is important to Portsmouth because it shows the surrounding area in the late 18th century.

The work depicts the Fly racing down the hill towards Portsmouth, with Portsea Island, Southsea Castle and Portchester Castle visible in the background.

Ms Hardiman added: ‘It’s a lovely painting and Rowlandson has managed to include a tremendous amount of local and human interest which we’d love to share with a wider audience.

‘Budgets are tight everywhere which is why we’re applying for funding, but any donation will be greatly appreciated. Every pound will bring it a step closer to Portsmouth, and back where it belongs.’

To donate, make cheques payable to Portsmouth Museums and Records Society and send to Dr R Newberry, Treasurer, Portsmouth Museums and Records Society, 12 The Crest, Widley, Waterlooville PO7 5DG.

SPEED RECORD

It wasn’t until 1839 that Andrew Nance, of Baffins Farm, Portsmouth, broke the record for the fastest stagecoach service to London from Portsmouth.

His coach, called The Tantivy, left the Fountain Hotel, High Street, at midday, and arrived in the capital five hours and 42 minutes later.

He was racing against The Dart, a coach owned by rival Dick Faulkner, who completed the trip six minutes later.

The condition of the shaken and stirred passengers is not recorded.

Nance died on December 24, 1877 at the age of 67.