Landmark for Royal Navy sailors on their way to Portsmouth pubs | Nostalgia

The photograph of the ornate archway entrance onto HMS Excellent, Whale Island, published on December 27, was seen by Eric Eddles who tells me the arch is still standing, although in a somewhat truncated state.

Saturday, 4th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 4th January 2020, 6:00 am
The original entrance archway onto HMS Excellent, Whale Island. Picture: Eric Eddles

Eric was born in Stanley Road and he passed through the archway countless times. He was a naval cadet in his early teens and also a choirboy in St Barbara's church.

On one of the open days in 2008, he took the photo, right, of the entrance now on the approach to the quarter deck and the church. The pedestrian side gates have been removed, as have the lamp brackets and lamps.

Another who passed through the arch was Bob Thompson of Mayles Road, Milton.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The arch in its original position at Whale Island.

He also reminded me of some of the pubs the sailors used when going ashore.

‘I was a naval cadet at HMS Excellent 1951-1955’, said Bob, ‘so remember the gates and archway very well. We met in the drill hall every Tuesday and Friday at 7.30pm, best boys’ club ever.

'I joined on the Friday just after my 10th birthday and my dad paid 2/6d for me to go the next day, by coach, to Earls Court with the cadets to see the Royal Tournament.

‘The next four years as a member was one long adventure.’

‘The pubs used by Whale Island sailors on a run ashore were the Twyford Arms in Twyford Avenue, on the corner of Stanley Road.

‘Almost opposite was the Northsea Arms and the Beresford Arms, both also in Twyford Avenue. The Mediterranean Arms – always known as the Med – was located a little further away in Stamshaw Road.’

• More stories of Lake Road keep emerging.

Rosemary Stevens tells me of a newsagents about 10ft square with a counter covered in newspapers and magazines.

The choice was somewhat limited as Siamese cats used to lay all over them and the owner, an old lady with pince‑nez glasses, refused to move them.

On another note, in 1966 Rosemary was learning to drive and the instructor used side roads on the west side of Kingston Road.

‘We were blocked in by a tractor and wagon outside what looked like a Victorian barn.

‘The doors opened and men, wearing what looked like gas masks, were pulling out the contents of the barn which was crammed with bedding, mattresses and clothing from floor to roof. Rats were everywhere and the smell was overpowering.’

It appears the contents of the barn were salvaged belongings from homes that were blitzed during the war. After the war the barn was sealed and forgotten about. It was being emptied ready for redevelopment.

Can anyone remember this?

• Richard Newman of East Cosham has written to me about recent photographs I have published.

The Cosham compound trolleybus scene was dated about 1937. The Corporation experimented with concrete traction poles to hold up the overhead wires in the compound. Everywhere else they were made of steel.

As to the Drayton shops, Richard believes the cafe and barbers shop was of the same ownership. Maison Drayton ladies hairdressing has only changed ownership in the last year or so.

The shop at the end of the parade was Robinson’s toy and pram shop before becoming Campion’s bakers, then a gents outfitters, then a greengrocer, and most recently a cafe.

• I was initially trained as a referee in 1977 by a former FA Cup official in Surrey, where I lived at the time.

I officiated in more than 700 games of football sometimes three and four games over a weekend with, at times, another midweek.

He made a point of telling me to run the diagonal from corner flag to corner flag. At corners to be on the byline looking into the players, and also to make sure the ball crossed the line and to see any holding.

I was also facing the opposite linesman to watch for him flagging as well. I was watching football matches from the 1960s and 70s on YouTube recently and all the referees did this.

Today’s referees run from one semi-circle to the other and never appear to be up with play. The amount of obstruction and holding missed by modern referees when a corner is taken is quite amazing. Is this the way they are trained these days?

• I’d like to wish you all a belated happy new year.

Thank you for all the correspondence and some amazing photographs over the past 12 months.

I often think there can’t be any new ‘old' photographs of Portsmouth left to publish – that is until I receive emails and mail from you all with something I have never seen before.

Keep them coming.