NOSTALGIA: Telling the time in Old Portsmouth

A delightful look along Pembroke Road, Old Portsmouth, in Edwardian days when all there was on the road was a bakers van and a stray dog.
A delightful look along Pembroke Road, Old Portsmouth, in Edwardian days when all there was on the road was a bakers van and a stray dog.
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Here we see an Edwardian view along Pembroke Road in what is now Old Portsmouth, but back then it was just ‘Portsmouth’, according to the postcard’s caption.

To the immediate right just out of the frame is where you could once have found Trafalgar House.

A modern look along Pembroke Road. Note that one of the cathedral's clock faces has disappeared.

A modern look along Pembroke Road. Note that one of the cathedral's clock faces has disappeared.

That was where Horatio Nelson’s sister, Mrs Catherine Matcham, visited to see him off on his last fatal voyage to Trafalgar.

Sadly the house was destroyed during the blitz on the city in 1941.

The grandiose building on the right just past St Nicholas Street is the Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club which retains its original features both inside and out.

It began life as The Royal Naval Club in the 1860s and merged with the yacht club in 1971 to become the establishment it is today.

One of our own. Robert Stephenson 'Single' No.195 'Portsmouth' - wheel configuration: 2-2-2. Built for the London Brighton & South Coast Railway ' photo taken between 1870-1878

One of our own. Robert Stephenson 'Single' No.195 'Portsmouth' - wheel configuration: 2-2-2. Built for the London Brighton & South Coast Railway ' photo taken between 1870-1878

In the distance is the clock tower of the Anglican cathedral, and pay attention to the two clock faces.

In the modern view along Pembroke Road the Naval and Yacht Club still reigns supreme.

The cathedral was untouched by wartime bombing so we see it as built between 1683 and 1693. The cupola with a large lantern for the use of shipping was added in 1703.

In the Edwardian photograph we can see there are two clock faces but in the modern scene only the south facing one survives.

I am indebted to Mike Nolan, a real old Old Portsmouth boy, who tells me they took the clocks down in 1958 because they were worn out. The reason they never went back was because it would have been too expensive to replace them all so just one was replaced and apertures replaced the original openings.

So any photograph you see of the cathedral can be dated before or after that time.

A Volvo car replaces the stray dog.

• When I look at locomotives like this it amazes me how the engineers of the time designed such a machine from scratch.

All they had was paper, pencil, ruler, T-square and compasses and they came up with this beast. It was these engineers who put the great into Victorian Great Britain. The Stephenson Company also built locomotives for many other countries.

Here we see what could be called our own, Portsmouth. Built circa 1874, she worked the express services on the London Brighton and South Coast Railway until withdrawn in 1909. The picture was taken between 1870 and 1878.

The driver and fireman must have had a tough job in stormy weather on that open footplate.

Thanks to Geoff Burch, the author of The Ramblings of a Railwayman, for the photo.