What is now known as the Old Customs House in Gunwharf Quays once housed the establishment’s administrative offices.
It was built in 1790 and is now the oldest remaining part of what is now the 31-acre shopping, leisure and restaurant complex.
Outside the entrance are several field guns, purely for decorative purposes. The pediment, the triangular section above the central door, comprises plain brickwork. In the modern photograph the crest of HMS Vernon has been added. Whether this was placed there in Vernon’s time or since I would like to know.
Outside the modernised building can be seen historical artefacts such as a torpedo and red telephone box. There is also the figurehead of Admiral Vernon, always know as Old Grog.
In the foreground is what was called Vernon Creek. It was once lined with wood but since closure it has been modernised with concrete. It is now used as children’s boating pool. Modern safety railings surround it.
The oldest building is now surrounded by new ones and I wonder if they will last 200 years.
• Stephen Payne sent me the Sparshatts photograph but doesn’t know when it was taken. I would say pre-1963 as there are trolleybus wires overhead. Unfortunatel, you can’t see the breakdown truck’s number plate.
On the right are two Leyland lorries perhaps waiting to be brought into service as they have no number plates at all.
Sparshatt JH & Sons was in London Road, Hilsea and was listed as a motor vehicle agent in 1947. By 1962 it also had premises in Highbury House, 59, Palmerston Road, Southsea. It had also become dealers for Mercedes-Benz.
Today the firm covers the south of England with all aspects of vehicle sales and servicing.