NOSTALGIA: One of the best views in the UK – and it was in Portsmouth

Looking up to the summit of Portsdown Hill. The Belle-Vue tea rooms would have been a popular spot on a summer's day.
Looking up to the summit of Portsdown Hill. The Belle-Vue tea rooms would have been a popular spot on a summer's day.
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Passengers on the open top deck of these trams would have enjoyed one of the best views in the UK as they crossed the summit of Portsdown Hill.

It stretched over Portsea Island and across the Solent to Ryde. To the west they would have seen Southampton Water and on a good day The Needles lighthouse at the far west of the Isle of Wight. To the east was Chichester Cathedral’s spire more than 10 miles away.

NOW: With the Belle-Vue long gone, today the site is overgrown with shrubbery and trees.

NOW: With the Belle-Vue long gone, today the site is overgrown with shrubbery and trees.

As I’ve mentioned before, the summit of Portsdown Hill was once as high as the rooftop of the house on the far right. No doubt the Belle-Vue tearooms did a good summer trade and I wonder who Ken the bootmaker was?

Everything changed in 1968 when the new road was built to the east of The Georgepub  in a cutting which wrecked that view across the Solent in an instant.

The old road has been made into slip roads on and off Portsdown Hill Road. The tops of the trees on the left mark the height of the old summit before French prisoners of war were set to work reducing it in 1813.

•I am sure many of you remember when the magnificent Guildhall Square was the hub of the city centre and a much-loved location for most of the population of Portsmouth.

Where traffic once crossed the magnificent Guildhall Square, builders cars were parked in the 1970s as the civic offices were built.

Where traffic once crossed the magnificent Guildhall Square, builders cars were parked in the 1970s as the civic offices were built.

In this scene taken from the top of the steps of the Guildhall, workmen’s cars are parked and the foundations of the civic offices are being dug. 

The Sussex pub stood opposite with Greetham Street going into the distance away from the photographer.

I am sure many of you car enthusiasts will recognise some of the cars. I can see a Ford Cortina and an Austin 1100. The ever-present Mini is in view as well.

Much as the modern square is enjoyed by many, especially with the large television screen, I know which I prefer...