Police directing traffic and sailors in uniform – How Portsmouth city centre has changed since 1961

If you stood in the same place today you would see nothing of what can be seen in this view across Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, in 1961. Picture: Rose Bolton Collection
If you stood in the same place today you would see nothing of what can be seen in this view across Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, in 1961. Picture: Rose Bolton Collection
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Here's a marvellously atmospheric scene looking across Guildhall Square in 1961… if you can remember that far back. Today, if you stood with your back to the Norrish Central Library, Queen Victoria’s statue would be roughly where the blue police telephone is. 

From the left we have Verrechia’s ice cream parlour, much-missed by those who remember it. We all pronounced it Ver-e-sha but I am sure it should be Ver-a-chia. No doubt someone will tell me.

The centre of Portsmouth showing the old Royal Hospital gates and the Tricorn centre car park

The centre of Portsmouth showing the old Royal Hospital gates and the Tricorn centre car park

Peeking over the left hand side of the roof of Portsmouth and Southsea railway station’s high level platform roof is the general post office. In the road underneath a lorry is being unloaded without a care and next we have a policeman in a white coat directing traffic. The light in the sky shone on him when it was dark.

On the right of him is a postman on a bike approaching the camera and then that police telephone. If a police officer was required in those days these phones would flash a blue light. To the right of the phone are the buildings associated with the old goods yard which had transferred to Fratton in 1936. In 1961 they were civil defence offices.

Then we come to the junction with Greetham Street and on the very edge of the photo the Sussex Hotel with a group of sailors in uniform – a rare sight today. Above are trolleybus wires which when wet would arc flashes as the vehicle’s poles passed through junctions. 

The photo was supplied by Rose Bolton whose late father worked locally and took many photographs of the area.

Air display at Portsmouth Airport.

Air display at Portsmouth Airport.

• On the right is a smashing photo looking west across Commercial Road with the gate to the Royal Hospital left of centre. On the right is Fitzherbert Street with the ABC cinema to the right of that. In the top left hand corner is the Tricorn multi-storey car park and to the left is Lake Road roundabout.. Along the bottom is All Saints’ Church, Landport. I think this photograph was taken between 1967 and 1980. 

• Although an historic photo of an air show at Portsmouth Airport before the Second World War, I have included it to show younger readers what the area was once like. Where the wide open spaces are on the right and into the distance is now Anchorage Park. Where the planes are is now Morrisons. In the top left hand corner, a steam-hauled train is chuffing along. 

• In 1977 we had a Fleet review at Spithead for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee but I don’t remember much about it. Were you part of it, either shore-based or on board any of the review ships? I’d like to hear about it and if you have any photographs please let me borrow them for these pages. They will be returned.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Did you take part?

Did you take part?