NOSTALGIA: Portsmouth warship which served the nation for 69 years

A transition scene in Portsmouth Harbour with the ship-rigged cruiser HMS Calliope built at Portsmouth and launched in 1884.
A transition scene in Portsmouth Harbour with the ship-rigged cruiser HMS Calliope built at Portsmouth and launched in 1884.
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Taken from the recently published book Parents at War here we see the ship-rigged third class cruiser HMS Calliope in Portsmouth Harbour in 1884 shortly after her launching.

Originally a corvette, she was re-classed as a third class cruiser and survived until 1951. She was scrapped in 1953.

The Portsmouth pageant, possibly from 1905a century after Trafalgar, with 'Nelson' and'Captain Hardy' visiting Victorys anchor. Picture: Barry Cox

The Portsmouth pageant, possibly from 1905a century after Trafalgar, with 'Nelson' and'Captain Hardy' visiting Victorys anchor. Picture: Barry Cox

In 1940, Don Bickerman spent two months training on the ship before service in HMS Mauritius. The 308-page book then tells of his naval service in coastal forces. It is a book of love letters between Don and his soon-to-be wife Linda Russell with many anecdotes of the navy during the Second World War. It’s a touching and personal book well worth buying for the naval history let alone reading other people’s love letters.

Written by their son David the book is available at Nauticalia in the Historic Dockyard; Waterstones in Commercial Road; One Tree Books in Petersfield; New to You Books, High Street, Cosham, and Amazon.

• I’ve published a few photographs of HMS Victory’s anchor in different forms recently but the one below, left, is of the Portsmouth Pageant, possibly in 1905, which celebrated the centenary of Trafalgar, but I think it might be later. On the reverse it says ’Nelson and Captain Hardy visit Victory’s anchor’. Unfortunately there’s no date. The children look a picture dressed in costumes of the period. 

• Dorothy Bone, of the Emsworth Maritime and Historical Trust (Emsworth Museum) tells me that, until September 30, Steve Miller is putting on an exhibition of personal memories, images and memorabilia describing life for a child growing up in the post-war years.

A view up the creek at Emsworth looking towards Queen Street, about 1950.

A view up the creek at Emsworth looking towards Queen Street, about 1950.

With particular emphasis on Emsworth, it covers family life, the town, shops and businesses, schools, entertainment, leisure and pastimes and travel.  Further information from 01243  373780.

• Visit the Isle of Wight today and the chance of seeing more than one vessel tied up at the end of Ryde pier is remote. It was not always like this, as the picture on the facing page shows. At one time there would be perhaps two ferries from Portsmouth arriving or departing plus visiting vessels.

The picture is from The Portsmouth-Ryde Passage by John Mackett and comes from Mike Nolan who says the four vessels are, from the left: Sandown, Shanklin, Brading and Red Funnel ferry Vecta.  

There were also four platforms for steam-hauled trains that ran to all parts of the island. Two trains are waiting to leave platforms on the left. Alongside the pier there was also an electric tram which saved the long walk along the near half-mile pier – 745 yards to be precise.

Ryde Pier in its heyday when the Isle of Wight was THE place to go. Picture: John Mackett

Ryde Pier in its heyday when the Isle of Wight was THE place to go. Picture: John Mackett