Bomb wiped out these rows of terraced Portsmouth homes

This marvellous photograph comes from Robert James of Milton.

Saturday, 13th May 2017, 6:00 am
Looking along Unicorn Road towards Unicorn Gate about the turn of the last century.

Unfortunately he has little information about it. I have researched it as much as I can, but if anyone has anything further to add I would be very interested to hear from you.

We are looking from a roooftop south of the Edinburgh Road junction with Unicorn Road, with the Unicorn Gate entrance to the dockyard in the distance.

The former Evening News office in Stanhope Road was built in 1894, so I believe it was taken from the rooftop of that building.

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The level crossing taking the dockyard branch line over Commercial Road (then Union Road).

To the middle-right can be seen the close-knit streets of the area. From this end of the picture we have Stoke Street, Ridge Street, Alfred Road, Duncan Street, Trafalgar Street, Nile Street and Abercrombie Street.

Most of the houses in this area were destroyed when a huge bomb, believed to be aimed at the dockyard, landed in Conway Street on December 23, 1940. This area is now a car park for naval vehicles.

In the bottom right-hand corner is the Royal Standard pub (always known as Ruby’s) on the corner of Spring Street.

To the left of the Royal Standard is a three-storey building with a white three-windowed building next to that. These two buildings were demolished and the Duchess of Albany’s Wesleyan Soldiers and Sailors’ Home built on the site.

The level crossing taking the dockyard branch line over Commercial Road (then Union Road).

The foundation stone for the building was laid by the duchess on November 9, 1907, so we know the photo pre-dates that.

To the left of the trees along Unicorn Road is the dockyard railway branch line, opened in March, 1857. It left the Town Station (now Portsmouth & Southsea) and passed over Union Road, as Commercial Road was then called.

Running in a sharp right-hand curve along the edge of Victoria Park, it then crossed Lion Gate Road (now Edinburgh Road) before a sharp left-hand curve took the line on a long straight across Alfred Road and into the dockyard.

The High Level station opened in 1876 with the branch being raised on to an embankment behind the Evening News office in Stanhope Road, reaching the bottom of the gradient just before Lion Gate Road crossing.

As we can see, the line has been in service for some years as there appear to be sleepers stacked on the left of the line, ready for relaying of the track?

In the top left hand corner are the new naval barracks being built. The barracks, which became known as the Royal Naval Barracks, were opened in September 30, 1903.

So I think we can date the photo between 1902 and 1907.