Fleet pride: three aircraft carriers together in Portsmouth – Nostalgia

Seen in Portsmouth Harbour in February 1989 are HM Ships Invincible, Ark Royal  and Illustrious.  Picture: Terry Pearson Collection.
Seen in Portsmouth Harbour in February 1989 are HM Ships Invincible, Ark Royal and Illustrious. Picture: Terry Pearson Collection.
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Thanks to Terry Pearson for sending this 1989 photograph of the three Invincible-class aircraft carriers together in Portsmouth.

From the left is HMS Invincible, outboard is HMS Ark Royal and on the right HMS Illustrious. Invincible was in commission from 1980 to 2005, Illustrious from 1982 to 2014, and Ark Royal from 1985 to 2011.

Foudroyants  main deck. Can anyone name the distant aircraft carrier? Picture: Barry Cox Collection.

Foudroyants main deck. Can anyone name the distant aircraft carrier? Picture: Barry Cox Collection.

• Many might remember Foudroyant when she was berthed in Portsmouth Harbour or took part in a youth training scheme on board.

Many think she was part of Nelson’s fleet. However, she was not launched until 1817, as a frigate in Bombay. She was called HMS Trincomalee and before seeing any action the Napoleonic War ended and she was surplus to requirements. She was towed to Portsmouth where she stayed until 1847. For the next 50 years she was part of the fleet. In 1897 she was sold for breaking.

Nelson’s Foudroyant was later used as a training ship and wrecked off Blackpool. Trincomalee was bought from the breakers as a replacement, renamed, and for the next 90 years was a youth training ship. In 1987 she was taken to Hartlepool where a £5m restoration began renaming her HMS Trincomalee. The result is the marvellous ship on display in Hartlepool today. 

• There is an internet site called Reel Streets in which stills from hundreds of films are retaken in modern times. One set I want to take is from the film made locally in 1955 called The Cockleshell Heroes. One I want to retake is this street scene where Captain Thompson (Trevor Howard) takes Marine Ruddock (David Lodge) to Ruddock's home where he catches his wife with another man and a fight begins. Anyone recognise it?

A scene from The Cockleshell Heroes but where? This is believed to be a street in Portsmouth. Anyone recognise it?

A scene from The Cockleshell Heroes but where? This is believed to be a street in Portsmouth. Anyone recognise it?

• As we know, behind every successful man is a woman, and the woman behind the scenes of the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review was Margaret Paffett.

Captain Gordon Walwyn, who organised the event, had his wife Wendy to support him throughout his naval career but for the review he needed a great secretary. He says: ‘I was in need of secretarial support from day one. The dockyard secretariat came to my rescue and seconded a young shorthand typist, Margaret Paffett. I was told she could stay for three weeks. 

'Margaret  immediately adapted to her unique post. She was the best PA anyone could wish for. Her shorthand was perfect and her typing faultless and she appeared to love the position. I soon asked, or rather pleaded, with the authorities, to let her stay for the entire review, which they did. My planning team was small but Margaret was a key member.'

Margaret, now Margaret Jefferies,  lives at The Lane, Southsea.

Margaret Paffett, Capt Gordon Walwyns PA, without whom the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review would never have happened.

Margaret Paffett, Capt Gordon Walwyns PA, without whom the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review would never have happened.