NOSTALGIA: Southsea Rock Gardens twinkling in the night

A moonlit sonata over Southsea.
A moonlit sonata over Southsea.
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In recent months I’ve published several pictures of The Rock Gardens, Southsea, in their prime. They were an attraction in themselves drawing visitors to the resort especially to view them.

Many came at night when the gardens were lit both naturally by the moon and artificially by an assortment of twinkling lights and a spectacular coloured fountain.

The newly-installed illuminated and coloured fountain at The Rock Gardens, Southsea, in the 1930s.

The newly-installed illuminated and coloured fountain at The Rock Gardens, Southsea, in the 1930s.

What a sight it must have been as dusk fell on a summer’s evening.

Rose Craven admired those recent pictures and then, by coincidence, found these three postcards showing the gardens at night.

She says: ‘I don’t remember seeing these before in The News. Two are dated as being sent in 1935, the last in 1938.’

Author, historian and avid horticulturist Jackie Baynes was so inspired by the old gardens and their story that she published The Story of Southsea Rock Gardens and the Rock Garden Pavilion.

South Parade Pier and The Rock Gardens, Southsea, in the 1930s.

South Parade Pier and The Rock Gardens, Southsea, in the 1930s.

It was subtitled An Earthly Fairyland and these cards showing the sparkling lights, spectacular fountain and moody skies, demonstrate why she chose that tag.

It was 1928 when the council decided to provide £3,500 to lay out a triangular plot of land east of Southsea Castle as a ‘rockery garden’.

•SOUTHSEA STREET A CENTURY ON Remember When devotee Simon Hart wonders if any reader can lay their hands on a picture of Hyde Street, near Elm Grove, Southsea, so he can add to his family history.

His grandmother was born a century ago this year and he says: ‘Apart from the street name, nothing exists of the street she was born in. Could readers please help me find Hyde Street pictured 100 years ago, whether in a book or a picture of their own to mark this centenary?’

What remains of Hyde Street, Southsea, today.

What remains of Hyde Street, Southsea, today.