The old Guildhall Square in Portsmouth - picture special | Nostalgia

Today we return to pictures which take as their theme Portsmouth’s town hall and Town Hall Square beside it. This was the building which became the Guildhall when Portsmouth was made a city in 1926.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 7:53 pm
The Portsmouth Territorials at a church parade in Town Hall Square during the Frist World War. Undated.
The Portsmouth Territorials at a church parade in Town Hall Square during the Frist World War. Undated.

It was at 11pm on the evening of Saturday, August 4, 1914, that word was received from the Foreign Office.

It said: ‘Owing to the summary rejection by the German government of the request made by his majesty’s government for the assurance the neutrality of Belgium would be respected, his majesty’s ambassadorin Berlin has received his passports and his majesty’s government has declared to the German government that a state of war exists between Great Britain and Germany as from 11pm on August 4th.’For the residents of Portsmouth the summer was over and for the next four there would be little to smile about.

Four momentous years of strife and heartache were about to be cast upon families all over the Portsmouth area and, of course, Europe.

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The old Guildhall when it was known as the town hall. Undated.

Two days after the declaration it was a bank holiday Monday and in the streets of Portsmouth could be seenthousands of sailors who had poured into the town from all parts of the country.

The call for ‘All Hands’ had been heard and answered as it had ever been in the Royal Navy.Within a week every ship was fully manned and naval establishments overflowed with men wanting to do their bit and be on call when the time came.For three months it was not deemed necessary to recruit a single man for the navy.

No doubt many of these brave men were to perish in the coming battles on the high seas.We have no date for the first picture here, but we think it was a church parade offering prayers for thesoldiers of Portsmouth’s Territorial Army.The crowded Town Hall Square is holding up trams in Greetham Street and the square itself.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

A view (about 1911) from the town hall, later the Guildhall, looking towards Portsmouth and Southsea (Town) railway station.

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Easter Sunday morning service 1910 on the town Hall steps. The Salvation Army Band is accompanying the hymns.