NOSTALGIA: Portsmouth pier through the ages

Clarence Pier pre-1936. ''Another view of Clarence Pier, this time from where the trams terminated at the end of Pier Road, Southsea. 'Picture: Robert James Collection
Clarence Pier pre-1936. ''Another view of Clarence Pier, this time from where the trams terminated at the end of Pier Road, Southsea. 'Picture: Robert James Collection

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Thanks to Barry Cox and Robert James and their fantastic postcard archives I am able to bring you some scenes of the original Clarence Pier, Southsea.

In the lovely view on the facing page we see the pier as it was built in 1871. The lithograph was taken from The Builder magazine.

The original Clarence Pier of 1871 when horse-drawn trams terminated at platforms seen on the left.'      Picture: Robert James Collection

The original Clarence Pier of 1871 when horse-drawn trams terminated at platforms seen on the left.' Picture: Robert James Collection

It was then called Southsea Baths and Assembly Rooms and, as we know, it was all taken from us during the Blitz of the Second World War.

On the left of the pier can be seen two platforms where horse-drawn trams, which ran from the Town railway station (Portsmouth & Southsea today), terminated.

On the pier is the bandstand from which music was played for those who promenaded on Sunday afternoons in the Victorian period.

On the far right can be seen part of the still-existing moat of Portsmouth’s fortifications. It was about this period that the fortifications which surrounded the old town of Portsmouth were demolished. As ever, there is much shipping in the Solent.

Clarence Pier and the Seahorse Bars, as many remember the pier in the 1970s. The Seahorse Bars were owned by Whitbread.

Clarence Pier and the Seahorse Bars, as many remember the pier in the 1970s. The Seahorse Bars were owned by Whitbread.

•The picture of the bandstand was taken about 20 years after the one on the facing page – the last decade of the 19th century.

We are on Clarence Pier with the bandstand seen in the photo on the facing page in the foreground. The tram platforms would have been on the far right.

The ornate lamps and standards would have been a picture at night when seen from a ferry arriving from the Isle of Wight.

The modern day pier fairground is now on this spot.

The bandstand on Clarence Pier'. Picture: Barry Cox Collection.

The bandstand on Clarence Pier'. Picture: Barry Cox Collection.

•In the picture above we are outside the pier when the trams terminated at this end of Pier Road.

After the building was destroyed in the Blitz a pub eventually called the Seahorse Bars was built on the site in 1958 and became a popular venue during the summer.

•In the final picture we take a final look at the pier in the 1970s with a bus and coach on view.

The pub opened in 1958 and was called the Clarence Pier with the name change to the Seahorse Bars coming in 1964.

About 1990 it became Barnum’s which just about says it all.

There was tiered seating in part of the upstairs bar with views through a panoramic window at the front of the building.

Drinkers could look along the Esplanade towards Southsea Castle. The back wall was covered by an aerial view of Old Portsmouth.

In my time the bars were run by Rusty and Marina who later ran a pub on Hayling Island.

Above the bus can just be seen the upper rails of the Wild Mouse funfair ride on the pier itself.