Just a penny for a cornet on Southsea prom | Nostalgia

I recently went to buy an ice cream from a street vendor and was staggered at the price of a cornet. Heaven forbid what a 99 with a chocolate Flake would have cost.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 5:59 pm
Ice creams for less than a shilling. There was a time when a cornet cost 1d and a wafer 2d. Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, before the Second World War.
Ice creams for less than a shilling. There was a time when a cornet cost 1d and a wafer 2d. Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, before the Second World War.

Here we see a pre-Second World War scene along Clarence Esplanade, Southsea with cornets for just a penny. That is one twelfth of a shilling and a shilling today is 5p. That equates to less than half a new penny, as decimal money was once called.

The ‘superior ices’ went up in price to reach the great sum of 8d. What must that have looked like?

I did notice that the kiosk selling the ices is placed directly on the esplanade with very little passing space either side for pedestrians.

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A Portsmouth street, but which one? Picture: Roger Taylor collection.

I spy a rack of postcards for sale on the right and I wonder what prices they would fetch today.

• Reader Roger Taylor sent me this photograph of a very narrow Portsmouth street but he doesn’t know where it might be. Do you? Perhaps you lived in one of the houses.

The building at the end of the street looks like it could be a fire station and the block of flats could be those in the Wingfield Street area so the railway line would be between the two.

Roger tells me the picture was taken in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Admiralty House in Portsmouth naval base. Picture: Peter Barge collection.

Wherever it is you can be sure it has since been demolished.

• The late Peter Barge, stalwart of the Westbourne Society, loaned me some photographs from his collection which, to be honest, I had completely forgotten about. I will include some in the coming days.

In the first we see Admiralty House in the dockyard.

The house was designed by Samuel Wyatt and built between 1784 and 1786 on a site known as Commissioner’s Mead, possibly where horses were kept.

The total bill for the house was £8,662. Stonemasons’ work cost £3,000, carpenters £2,360 and a water closet to the design of Joseph Bramah cost £25 and 19 shillings.

In 1832, the Navy Board was abolished and the Admiralty Commissioner, who lived in the dockyard, became the Admiral Superintendent.

Many kings and queens have visited the house from George III onwards.

The Emperor Alexander of Russia stayed there when Prince Regent. In 1817 the Grand Duke Nicholas who became Emperor in 1838 also stayed in the house.

During the Second World War the house was bombed during the blitz on the city destroying a main staircase and part of the Victorian ballroom.

The then C-in-C Portsmouth, Admiral James, transferred his office to HMS Victory. For the remainder of his time as C-in-C he ran everything from that ship.

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