Portsmouth Harbour would have been changed forever by this scheme – Nostalgia

If plans had come to fruition in 1861 there would have been an extra anchorage for large iron ships. Image: PRDHS.
If plans had come to fruition in 1861 there would have been an extra anchorage for large iron ships. Image: PRDHS.
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Imagine entering Portsmouth Harbour today and being confronted on the west side by a massive concrete battery with basins inside for safe anchorage.

This plan shows what one designer thought was a good idea in 1861.

I believe this picture shows an Evacuation Test, although the real thing took place a short while after.

I believe this picture shows an Evacuation Test, although the real thing took place a short while after.

It involved damming the waters between Forts Blockhouse and Monkton and forming a triangle reaching out to Spit Sands Buoy. The enclosed area would have been 320 acres of anchorage split in two. The walls of the jetties were 200ft wide and wide enough for a railway system.

The plans were discussed in the House of Commons in 1863 but serious doubts were raised about the impact this huge project would have on tides and the rest of the harbour. In the end nothing came of it.

But imagine if it had gone ahead. No doubt today it would be a marina with cafés and nightclubs, not unlike Port Solent perhaps.

Thanks to the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Historical Society for permission to reproduce the plan.

At the junction of Gladys Avenue and Northern Parade, Hilsea, was this turning circle opposite Alexandra Park. Picture: Barry Cox Collection.

At the junction of Gladys Avenue and Northern Parade, Hilsea, was this turning circle opposite Alexandra Park. Picture: Barry Cox Collection.

• In 1935, in case of air raids on Britain’s cities, the government drew up evacuation plans. Top priority was given for getting children out of harm’s way.y from city centres. 

In July 1938 a meeting was held  to discuss ‘Action re children in the event of an air raid’  and in July 1939 Portsmouth Corporation set up evacuation tests to see how long it would take to move children away. Apparently it was successful but no-one knew that within a few months the real evacuation would take place.

I believe this photograph was taken during one of those dry runs as the girls are wearing summer dresses. I love the look on the girl’s face on the left. Perhaps she was looking back to see her mother waving. I wonder if she’s still with us?

• In the days of the trolleybus there was a turning circle at the top of Gladys Avenue at the junction with Northern Parade, Hilsea. This is a typical 1950s’ scene with an overhead turning circle of wires, an overhead lamp which appears quite pointless and those adverts on the buses and walls. The circle has since been built on.

The new HMS Ark Royal arrives to be commissioned in Portsmouth Naval Base 1985. Picture: PRDHS

The new HMS Ark Royal arrives to be commissioned in Portsmouth Naval Base 1985. Picture: PRDHS

• Next year could see the arrival in Portsmouth Harbour of the second of the new super-carriers, HMS Prince of Wales.

But it may amaze you to know that the now de-commissioned HMS Ark Royal made her debut in the city way back on July 1, 1985. She replaced the decommissioned Ark Royal seen in the TV programme Sailor.

The new Ark Royal was to have been named Indomitable but had a name change when the previous carrier went out of service. This Ark Royal was decommissioned in March 2011 and left Portsmouth for Turkey to be scrapped in May 2013.