NOSTALGIA: Phew, what a scorcher! Let’s go to the beach wearing suits

Dressed for summer. Gentlemen taking their girls dressed in white for a row alongside Clarence Pier, Southsea.
Dressed for summer. Gentlemen taking their girls dressed in white for a row alongside Clarence Pier, Southsea.

THIS WEEK IN 1994: ‘Dramatic’ rise in unmarried mothers

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My recent  photographs of Fratton Road and the Wesley Hall prompted Mick Cooper, who knows more about old music venues than anybody, to send me this photograph of Harold Wilson on the campaign trail at the hall in 1970. 

Many top politicians appeared at the hall in one guise or another over the years Mick tells me.

A special arrival at the South Railway Jetty in Portsmouth Dockyard.  I have no information about this photograph. Can anyone help. Picture: Barry Cox Collection

A special arrival at the South Railway Jetty in Portsmouth Dockyard. I have no information about this photograph. Can anyone help. Picture: Barry Cox Collection

Mr Wilson, the Labour prime minister, received a standing ovation when he spoke there in 1970 but Enoch Powell had to be led out the back door in the days he was making controversial speeches about immigration. Michael Foot and Anthony Wedgwood Benn also spoke there. 

•The  picture, below right, is depicting what looks like a very special day on South Railway Jetty in Portsmouth Dockyard but can anyone enlighten me about what is happening and why?

The royal train is parked at the rear and the Royal Marines are out in force to greet whoever is arriving.

I like the dockyardmen also fell in in the bottom left hand corner in their best w hite overalls.

Harold Wilson campaigning in the Wesley Hall, Fratton Road, 1970.

Harold Wilson campaigning in the Wesley Hall, Fratton Road, 1970.

I know the  jetty is not used for such occasions today but if they were would there be an arrival reception to equal anything like this? I doubt it very much.

•Two weeks ago there was a special unveiling outside the gates of St James’s Hospital, Milton, Portsmouth, to remember 460 American serviceman who died at the hospital in 1918. The whole event was organised by Dr Caroline Scott, but because of space restrictions I was unable to publish her photograph. To put the record straight here is Dr Scott on the day.

•During the present heatwave we see many walking around with very little on trying to keep cool. It was not always like this of course.

A century ago women would have been condemned in polite society for displaying even the tiniest amount of flesh and a suntan would be the last thing girls would have wanted on their lily-white skin.

Dr Caroline Scott.

Dr Caroline Scott.

Perhaps it was a good thing, bearing in mind the warnings we now receive about the damage sunburn can do to our bodies.

In this scene at Clarence Pier, Southsea, we see rowing boats galore for hire. The girls are all dressed in white and the men in suits. They must have been sweltering. Surely some of them must have desperately wanted to strip off and plunge in, casting their Victorian mores, and their stays, to the sea breeze.

A boatman on the right is turning up his shirt sleeve on what appears to be a hot day.

This scene would be impossible to recreate today because the hovercraft now arrives at this very spot. The magnificent Clarence Pier in the background was destroyed in the Blitz.