HMS Victory all at sea and captured on film – now look again...
At first glance you might think this is HMS Victory in full sail. Well, it is and isn’t…Of course, it would have been impossible to take this picture because photography had not been invented at the time Victory was in service.
However, take a closer look and you will see men standing on the quarterdeck. Yes this is a 1/6th scale model of the ship which was built by Portsmouth Dockyard apprentices in 1937.
The whole ship is an exact replica of the original. She even has stun’sail yards attached to her main and topsail yardarms.
I believe the model was built around a motorised boat of some kind and I would like to know if anyone has a little more information about this model and what happened to her.
• Most of us know the story of how Horatio Nelson spent the last few hours of his life ashore in Portsmouth while he had breakfast at The George Hotel in High Street, Old Portsmouth.
Word soon spread that the great man, adored by Portsmouth people and the nation in general, was staying at the hotel and large crowds gathered.
Nelson had to get away to the seafront to be taken out to HMS Victory which was anchored at Spithead. He made his escape through a back window of the hotel and through the archway pictured , along Penny Street and then through King William Gate and out to where Clarence Pier is now.
But his ‘escape’ was spotted and he was followed by hundreds of fans who saw him off never to return to Portsmouth again.
Sadly the hotel was bombed on January 10, 1941, and this archway, which retained a unique atmosphere, was lost forever.
Can anyone remember just how much damage was done to the hotel? Was it completely destroyed or could it have been rebuilt from what remained?
• I will leave it to my vintage vehicle buffs to identify the cars and motorcycles, complete with sidecars, seen here waiting to board the Isle of Wight ferry at Point at the end of Broad Street, Old Portsmouth. The ferry is unloading vehicles in the top left hand corner of the photograph.
Vehicles for the ferry queued on the right side of Broad Street and traffic for the chain ferry to Gosport queued on the left. Even in the days before modern traffic it must have been bedlam at this end of the street, especially in summer.
The Star and Garter hotel on the right dated from the 16th century. It was apparently an ‘upmarket’ place and records tell me that many famous admirals including Nelson stayed there. Charles Dickens and the exiled French King Louise Philippe were also guests.