Portsmouth cathedral was beacon of hope amid the destruction

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Many of you of a certain age lived through the blitz on Portsmouth, especially the awful night of January 10/11, 1941.

It was on that night that most of the damage seen here occurred.

The blitzed area at the junction ofLombard Street and High Street, Old Portsmouth

The blitzed area at the junction ofLombard Street and High Street, Old Portsmouth

There was once a line of Victorian and Edwardian shops standing along High Street, Old Portsmouth and they were destroyed that night.

Whereas St Thomas’s, the Anglican cathedral, was once hidden from public view, overnight it was exposed and became the feature of High Street we know today.

To this day slots can be seen in the kerb outside the cathedral showing where the shop’s sun blinds were once supported.

After the war the remaining buildings were demolished and the front landscaped into what we see today.

One thing I have never noticed before, the clock face on the east side of the bell tower has been taken away and replaced with brickwork.

The shops on the corner of Lombard Street have been replaced with apartments making the whole scene a far happier-looking place.

During that January raid, 300 German planes dropped 25,000 incendiary and high explosive bombs on Portsmouth.

At one time 28 major fires were burning and there was no effective water supply to check them.

The main shopping centres in Palmerston Road, King’s Road and Commercial Road were wrecked.

Other buildings destroyed included six churches, the Eye and Ear Hospital, part of the Royal Hospital, Clarence Pier, the Hippodrome and three cinemas, the Dockyard School, Connaught Drill Hall, Central Hotel, and Royal Sailors’ Rest.

Firemen from near and far, police, servicemen and countless civilians battled through that terrible night to save the city.

In all there were 2,314 fires, 3,000 people were left homeless, 171 killed and 430 injured.