Waterloo celebration

A little fuzzy perhaps but here we see Portsdown Hill Road where it meets London Road. The George pub would be on the right behind the soldiers. 'Picture: Barry Cox Collection

NOSTALGIA: PoWs forced to cut height of Portsdown Hill

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On this day in 1850, the 35th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, a grand celebration took place on Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, which attracted an estimated 50,000 spectators.

Among them was Queen Victoria who watched events from the royal yacht.

The highlight was the unveiling of two statues representing the naval and military heritage of Portsmouth.

The 12ft-tall statues of Nelson and the Duke of Wellington were described as ‘beautiful’ by the Hampshire Telegraph and were donated by Lord Fitzclarence, the Lieutenant-Governor who had been instrumental in building the promenade.

After the unveiling, troops fired a feu de joie and a grand ball was held.

The statues, however, appear to have been unpopular, were ‘of questionable taste’ and made of inferior material.

The faces were blackened with tar by a vandal and soon afterwards disappeared.

Rumour had it that they were pulled down by sailors from a ship at Spithead and given a burial at sea – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.