Sorry end for Portsmouth’s Grand Old Lady of fleet – smashed on Cornish rocks

HMS Warspite being broken up in Mounts Bay, Cornwall, in a picture taken by Ted Saunders father while on holiday. Ted is from Frobisher Grove, Portchester.
HMS Warspite being broken up in Mounts Bay, Cornwall, in a picture taken by Ted Saunders father while on holiday. Ted is from Frobisher Grove, Portchester.
Cargo vessels and a waterside pub - the Camber had all the stand-and-star fascination of a small port

THIS WEEK IN 1970: Camber docks to lose its ‘colour’

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She was known to all who served in her as The Grand Old Lady, but her ignominious end did not match her title or her illustrious career.

Launched during March 1915 as part of the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth class, Portsmouth-based HMS Warspite survived both world wars only to end her days as a rusting hulk alongside St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall.

HMS Warspite at North Corner, Portsmouth Dockyard.

HMS Warspite at North Corner, Portsmouth Dockyard.

Warspite saw action at the Battle of Jutland during the First World War and played an important role in every theatre of operations during the second.

After almost 30 years of service she was decommissioned and consigned to the breaker’s yard for scrap metal.

Before being towed from Portsmouth much of her equipment and guns were removed. In April 1947 she was being towed to the Clyde when she ran into a south-westerly gale and became detached from the towing cable.

For almost a whole day Warspite and the tugs fought the storm but eventually they drifted deeper into Mount’s Bay, Cornwall, and on to rocks.

Douglas Sharp with his 1925 Vauxhall 30/98                                                      

Picture: Paul Jacobs (132005-1) ENGPPP00320130718170021

Douglas Sharp with his 1925 Vauxhall 30/98 Picture: Paul Jacobs (132005-1) ENGPPP00320130718170021

She lay there for five years slowly being taken apart piece by piece for scrap.

•Douglas Sharp, the former managing director of United Services Garages, Portsmouth, died earlier this year, aged 92.

For many years one of the highlights of his summer was organising an annual reunion for former staff at the Robin Hood, Rowlands Castle.

This year’s event will still go ahead, but it will be the last. It’s on Sunday, July 30, from midday and will be hosted by his daughter Amanda. All are welcome. Here we see Douglas in 2013 at home on Hayling Island with his beloved 1925 Vauxhall 30/98.

Here's Dennis again. Was his surname Waters?

Here's Dennis again. Was his surname Waters?

•Yes, it’s ‘Dennis’ again, the bread delivery man for Scott’s Bakery in Devonshire Avenue.

Thanks to all of you (and there were many) who wrote to correct the location of the picture as suggested by one reader. As you all latterly agreed, this was Milton Road at its junction with Meon Road, opposite the Milton Arms.

As for Dennis’ surname... no one seemed to know the answer until an anonymous note turned up in the post saying: ‘I worked in a pharmacy in Winter Road. Mr Waters was a customer. A quiet, gentle man.’

The buntings flapping crazily, several women are wearing coats, yet the stiff breeze off the sea at Southsea has done nothing to deter the youngsters playing in the sandpits on the seafront adjacent to the choppy boating pool. The photo is undated, but studying the cars parked on the common, this might have been the early 1930s.                                        Picture: costen.co.uk

The buntings flapping crazily, several women are wearing coats, yet the stiff breeze off the sea at Southsea has done nothing to deter the youngsters playing in the sandpits on the seafront adjacent to the choppy boating pool. The photo is undated, but studying the cars parked on the common, this might have been the early 1930s. Picture: costen.co.uk