Portsmouth city centre’s heart was torn out by the Luftwaffe and planners

A marvellous period scene in Commercial Road, Portsmouth circa 1935.   Photo: Barry Cox collection.
A marvellous period scene in Commercial Road, Portsmouth circa 1935. Photo: Barry Cox collection.
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The marvellous view, above, is from underneath the railway bridge in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, in 1935.  It was still like this 30 years later when I was a teenager and then, sadly, from the 1970s developers began doing more damage than the Luftwaffe had done a quarter of a century earlier.

On the left we see the General Post Office.

The same view in Commercial Road last week. No atmosphere, few people, somewhat boring and no heart.

The same view in Commercial Road last week. No atmosphere, few people, somewhat boring and no heart.

We then have a confusing sight with a trolleybus held up behind a soon-to-be defunct tramcar.

Overtaking traffic is causing more of a hold-up as the tram coming towards camera cannot get by.

Note the delivery boy with his carrier bike and basket.

Behind him is a horse-drawn waggonet.

In January 1982 a single engine airplane crashed onto the B3354 near Botley.  The passenger was pop singer Gary Numan.

In January 1982 a single engine airplane crashed onto the B3354 near Botley. The passenger was pop singer Gary Numan.

In front of that is a market trader walking his horse and cart towards camera.

Just past the Post Office on the left would be Stanhope Road with the main office for the Portsmouth Evening News.

In the centre, in the distance, is the Central Hotel on the corner of Edinburgh Road, which was completely destroyed in The Blitz of January 10/11, 1941.

On the right is the wall in front of the Town Station car park.

Everyone is wearing an overcoat and hat.

A marvellous scene, now sadly all gone.

Below we see the very same location in Commercial Road in a photo taken last week. There is no atmosphere, few people, and it’s somewhat boring. It feels as though it no longer has heart. 

On January 29, 1982, a single engine aircraft crashed onto the B3354 on the Botley to Horton Heath Road on a final approach to Eastleigh Airport where it force-landed after running out of fuel.

Musician Gary Numan was the passenger in the aircraft, not the pilot as widely reported at the time. 

One explanation for the confusion might be that eye-witnesses would have seen Numan leaving the aircraft from the starboard, or right-hand, door and assumed that this was the pilot position like a driver of a car in Britain.

In aircraft, particularly single-engined light aircraft, the pilot sits at the port, or left, controls.