I am hoping that some of the railway historians and enthusiasts who read these pages can help me here.
In Dave Marden’s book The Hidden Railways of Portsmouth and Gosport it states that in the view above we are looking at the line that once dropped from the harbour station into what was HMS Vernon. But I just cannot see it.
Now I know the harbour station was destroyed by bombing during the blitz but even then the railway line to the left appears to be way too high above the platforms. And I also wonder why there is a platform to the right outer curve? Any views would be appreciated.
• In the second picture we have an aerial view looking over the parade ground of HM Victory Barracks, long since renamed HMS Nelson of course.
Although the photograph is a little faded it is ideal for showing how the parade ground, now mostly a car park, was laid out and how many sailors once paraded on it.
In the background you can see the back gate leading on to Anchorgate Road which was then a public right of way.
Beyond that you can just make out the funnels and masts of ships in the dockyard.
• The third picture shows what, at first glance, appears to be a gigantic wall with a roof on top. Look more closely and you realise it’s a warship.
For this was HMS Nelson, an armoured cruiser launched in 1876 and commissioned in 1881.
She was sent to Australia in 1885 to become flagship, but returned home to Portsmouth in 1889 for a lengthy refit.
She then became the guardship for the port in 1891 and was placed in reserve in November 1894.
In 1901 she became an accommodation ship for trainee stokers. She was sold for scrap in 1910.
It was in 1903 that the Royal Naval Barracks in Queen Street, Portsea, opened, and sailors in the many accommodation ships in the harbour were taken ashore.
Mike Wilson, who supplied the photograph, tells me it was dated 1904 so it might well be that these stokers were going ashore for the last time into the barracks. It was certainly an occasion of some sort because the men are led by pipers and drummers.
• And finally, to the final photo where we are looking north along Fratton Road with the bell tower of St Mary’s Church on the extreme right.
Although undated, the horse-drawn tram tells us it was taken before 1901.
Horse trams continued to be used between Hilsea and Cosham until 1903. The rest of the town had gone electric by then.
In the distance is Fratton Road’s junction with St Mary’s Road.