Bird’s eye view of Portsmouth Harbour when Victory was still afloat

Lieutenant Commander James Thake, a former Royal Navy diving instructor crossed the bar last week, aged 87. Well known in naval diving circles he was in charge of the Long Diving Course and was a hard taskmaster.

By Bob Hind
Monday, 28th October 2019, 4:35 pm
A superb aerial view of Gosport looking across Portsmouth Harbour to Portsea. Picture: Mick Cooper postcard collection.
A superb aerial view of Gosport looking across Portsmouth Harbour to Portsea. Picture: Mick Cooper postcard collection.

He commanded the minesweeper HMS Wilton and was in the line-up at the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review in 1977. 

James is in this picture of the ship’s company of HMS Comus in the 1950s when he was a leading seaman.

I will be writing a fuller obituary and giving the funeral service date next Wednesday. I am sure many former divers who trained under Lt-Cdr Thake will want to attend.

The ship's company of the C-Class destroyer HMS Comus in the early 1950s. Picture: Karen Thake collection.

Here we see the ship’s company of the C-class destroyer HMS Comus. She was only in service from July 1946 until November 1958 when she was scrapped.

• Farlington Youth Choir was formed in 1968 and in 1972 had 40 members.

However, only 12 of them were boys and a call went out for any boy aged between nine and 16 to come forward to join the choir. 

The organiser of the choir, Mrs RM Ryan also wanted more girls aged over 10.

Farlington Youth Choir in the early 1970s. Picture: The News archive/Mick Cooper collection

At the time this photograph was taken, in the early 1970s, the choir performed a dozen concerts a year. They visited old peoples’ homes and clubs and helped charities.

The choir rehearsed in Drayton Methodist Church hall, the choristers coming from as far as Chichester  and Horndean.

Are you among the children in the picture?

•  Also below is a bird’s eye view of the statue of Queen Victoria from the bombed out and burnt bell tower of the Portsmouth Guildhall.

A bird's eye view of Guildhall Square taken from the bombed ruin of the Guildhall. Picture: The News/Mick Cooper collection

The Evening News photographer must have taken his life into his hands climbing the tower when it was in such a precarious state.

In the top left hand corner can be seen bomb sites.

To the uninitiated today, the statue is the only clue to where this picture was taken.

•  My final picture today is a superb view across Portsmouth Harbour with Gosport in the foreground and Portsea in the distance.

I can date this to before 1922 as that was the year when HMS Victory, in the centre of photograph, was taken into dry dock to be preserved.

The swing bridge of the railway viaduct, which ran from the Harbour station into the dockyard, has been swung open to allow a vessel to pass through.

At the top of the picture the Guildhall (then simply called the town hall) can be seen in all its splendour before being burnt out in the blitz of January 1941.

On the left a cruiser is moored alongside the South Railway Jetty.