Those halcyon days when pen and paper just worked!

James Taylor at his desk in his office at 116 High Street, Old Portsmouth.
James Taylor at his desk in his office at 116 High Street, Old Portsmouth.
An aerial view of the Solent airfield. Picture by Shaun Roster

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James Taylor was a man of means and appears to have had his fingers in many pies, but before I go on take a look at his office.

Today of course there would be a computer and printer, not to mention the bane of modern life, a mobile phone.

On the right of his desk there is a phone with the Portsmouth crest attached. This would have been supplied by the Portsmouth Telephone Company as the city at one time had its own exchange.

There is another phone on the desk and both phones are connected via an elaborate wall socket. One of the phones might be a connection to his clerk’s office next door (see Remember When in The News next Monday). To the rear is a safe.

On the wall is a calendar supplied by mapmakers and printers Charpentiers which also had an office in High Street, Old Portsmouth.

He is surrounded by paperwork and books which spill over on to a side table.

James was a very busy man about town.

He was chairman of the Irish Steam Packet Company, manager of Powell & Hough Ship Breakers, Chairman of the Ward Unionist Association, and councillor for ward No1 (St Thomas).

He also had business with the Gosport & Portsea New Steam Launch Company, The Old Steam Launch Company, The Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company and The Portsmouth & Southampton Lighterage Company Ltd.

He lived in rooms above the office with his wife but whether he ever found time to have any children with all his business interests,I do not know.

A few months after the photograph was taken James died, on October 31, 1915 aged 61. The well attended funeral was held at St Thomas’s Church and he is was interred in Highland Road Cemetery.

n No doubt many of you will recall the day in 1954 when Roger Bannister breasted the tape at Iffley Road running track, Oxford, to run the first sub four-minute mile. There’s a famous photograph of Bannister completing the feat and collapsing into the arms of colleagues.

It was taken by press photograph Norman Potter who lived in retirement off Henderson Road, Eastney, Portsmouth. Norman has died leaving a fantastic legacy of photographs.

He was also on the scene of the horrific train crash at Harrow and Wealdstone, north London on October 8, 1952.

You may have seen photographs of the crash. That was Norman again on the scene not long after the 8.20am crash.

I interviewed Norman three years ago. One of the strangest stories he told me was when he took singer Frank Sinatra to the floor in a headlock.

In November 1951 Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner married and honeymooned in London. One evening they were at the Odeon, Leicester Square. Photographer Fred Carroll was there with Norman helping him. When he snatched a picture of the stars Sinatra grabbed Carroll and rammed his head into a pillar shouting ‘I’m gonna sue you for every hair on your body’. On seeing the bullying Sinatra, the fit Norman grabbed him in a headlock and took him to the carpet holding a clenched fist inches from Sinatra’s nose. The two pressmen were thrown out.

n Remember the Victorian Congregational Church that once stood on the corner of Kent Road and Ashburton Road, Southsea? It was built in 1871 and was used until 1956. It was badly damaged during the Blitz and demolished in 1957. In 1962 Ashburton Court was built on the site.

Attached to the church was a hall which was used as a court after the main court in Old Portsmouth had become unusable because of bomb damage. Do you remember the church or the church hall being used as a court? Please contact info@asburtoncourt.co.uk as David Denison and his colleagues are researching churches in Portsmouth.