Edgar Evans building demolished on Whale Island

With a creak and a crash, the beams of a Portsmouth landmark fell to the ground.

Work has begun on the demolition of the Edgar Evans building on Whale Island, which has dominated the harbour skyline for more than 45 years.

Cranes moved in yesterday to remove the upper levels of the accommodation block, which can be seen by motorists heading south into the city on the M275.

The highest structure in the HMS Excellent centre had housed the Senior Non-Commissioned Officers until last spring.

The old block was made redundant by a replacement building with modern facilities, which was unveiled in May by Princess Anne.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Excellent, Commander Simon Howell, said: 'The demolition of the old 1960s mess will create space for a much-needed new single-storey medical centre and will also significantly improve the skyline for those arriving in Portsmouth on the M275.

'The new mess incorporates en-suite accommodation and state-of-the-art facilities which are appropriate for today's modern tri-Service SNCOs.

'They work on Whale Island in the Navy Command headquarters and other units within HMS Excellent.

'Many have been deployed, or will be preparing to deploy, on frontline operations and the new mess reflects the high regard with which SNCOs are held in by the MoD.'

The old block was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1964, and was an important part of the navy's social history - it was the first to be named after a petty officer rather than a famous admiral.

Edgar Evans was a member of Captain Scott's doomed Antarctic expedition team who died on his way back from the South Pole in February 1912 at the age of 36.

But his legacy will live on. At the May ceremony with the Princess Royal descendants of Edgar Evans visited the new accommodation block and saw the Edgar Evans Ski Memorial.

It is a wooden plaque bearing his name and the original skis he used in the expedition nearly a century ago.

His grandson John Evans said in May: 'He would have been very proud to know his name is honoured in this way.

'It is very moving to see the ski memorial and photos in the new building.'

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