Blitzed! Centre of Portsmouth dominated by shells of bombed ruins

In this circa 1948 photograph you can see some of the damage done to the centre of Portsmouth during the 1941 blitz.  Photograph: Southern Railway.
In this circa 1948 photograph you can see some of the damage done to the centre of Portsmouth during the 1941 blitz. Photograph: Southern Railway.
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I know from your e-mails how much many of you enjoy the aerial photographs I have been putting in this page in recent months, so here is another… this time looking down on the city centre north of the Guildhall a few years after the end of the Second World War.

In the centre of the picture, taken about 1948, is the junction of Commercial Road and Edinburgh Road and just to the right of it the wrecked Central Hotel.

A troop train at Portsmouth Town station taking Hampshire Regiment soldiers to summer camp.

A troop train at Portsmouth Town station taking Hampshire Regiment soldiers to summer camp.

On the left hand side is the junction of Commercial Road and Arundel Street and on the corner the remains of the LDB store. Top right is the Town railway station with the General Post Office opposite.

In Stanhope Road is the dominant edifice of the Connaught Drill Hall and across the road the old Evening News offices.

On the right is the Dockyard branch line that left the main line at the High Level station and passed behind the Evening News offices to cross Edinburgh Road where I have placed a large X. Edinburgh Road continues out of the bottom of the picture.

• Seen at the low level platforms of Portsmouth Town station, as Portsmouth & Southsea was once called, is a troop train waiting to leave. It is taking Hampshire Regiment soldiers to summer camp, perhaps one in the Aldershot area. 

Portsmouth and Southsea railway station concourse in 1967. Picture: David Robbins.

Portsmouth and Southsea railway station concourse in 1967. Picture: David Robbins.

The locomotive belongs to the London South Western Railway which was in business until 1922 becoming part of Southern Railway in 1923.

It is possible then that these soldiers took part in the First World War and might, within a few years, be called on to serve in France at the outbreak of the Second World War.

• I recently dropped a line to the letters page of The News complaining about the distance passengers have to walk to pick up a taxi at Portsmouth Harbour station.

Meanwhile, at Portsmouth & Southsea station it is now impossible to buy a newspaper, magazine or cigarettes on that station’s concourse.

Not all at sea: sailors and Wrens working deep under Fort Southwick shortly before D-Day.

Not all at sea: sailors and Wrens working deep under Fort Southwick shortly before D-Day.

Quite ludicrous really, but it was not always like that of course.

At one time, at the Town station, Finlay’s was on the site seen here occupied by WH Smith & Son. There was also a left luggage office, another long-gone facility at railway stations. 

• I wonder what the feeling was about sailors who were not at sea during the war? Did they feel happy that they could almost guarantee seeing their future whereas those at sea stood a relatively high chance of being killed?

Here we see sailors and Wrens deep down in the tunnels of Fort Southwick under Portsdown Hill. This photo is thought to have been taken in the run-up to D-Day when hundreds of naval signals had to be decoded.