Fairy tale world of Southsea rock garden at night: RETRO

The wonderful Rock Gardens fountain, Southsea, lit up at night.
The wonderful Rock Gardens fountain, Southsea, lit up at night.
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When I was a child the fountain in the Rock Gardens, Southsea, was a complete delight to me when it was lit up after dark, above. Doesn’t it look like a fairy land? 

At that time the fountain was hidden from the road by shrubbery and unless anyone knew it was there it could easily be missed.

A very busy street scene along Commercial Road, Portsmouth. Photo: Robert James postcard collection

A very busy street scene along Commercial Road, Portsmouth. Photo: Robert James postcard collection

I have not been to that part of Southsea for some time in the evening. Perhaps someone could let me know if it is still lit up at night?

The scene along Commercial Road, below, is causing some confusion.

Most of what you see on the right was demolished so Commercial Road could be widened as far as, but just short of, Lake Road junction in the early 1950s. I think the junction with Arundel Street is on the right. There is a business there starting with the letters RO.

I have been through my 1948 Kelly’s but have had little success. There is another store further along with the initial ‘C’, possibly with a naval costumier underneath.

Sailors from the Russian destroyer Obraztsovy enjoying a knees-up at the Metal Box factory in Dundas Lane. Photo: Roy West The News archive.

Sailors from the Russian destroyer Obraztsovy enjoying a knees-up at the Metal Box factory in Dundas Lane. Photo: Roy West The News archive.

If I am correct, then all of this part of the road was made into a precinct in the early 1970s. On the left is Samuel the jewellers. 

The date is pre-1936 as we can see a tramcar trundling through the narrow roadway. The dress of the day also gives it away – all the men in suits and the girls in summer dresses.

n Back in the days of the Cold War it was rare for Russian sailors to get off their ships when visiting a foreign country, but at times orders were overlooked.

In May 1976 the Russian destroyer Obraztsovy visited Portsmouth and some of the crew were invited to the Metal Box factory.

Looking east along West Street, Havant in 1950s.  Photo: Ralph Cousins collection.

Looking east along West Street, Havant in 1950s. Photo: Ralph Cousins collection.

Below, right, we see them enjoying a knees-up with some employees. Does anyone recognise themselves?

Below, we see a relatively unchanged view along West Street, Havant looking towards the crossroads. St Faith’s Church is on the right.

West Street was on the old A27 coastal road long before motorways and bypasses had even been thought of. I do find it strange that there is little traffic, though.

In the distance a green livery Southdown bus can be seen heading for Emsworth. It has stopped outside Street’s ironmongers. Sadly this closed when B&Q opened in Bedhampton.

We can date this photograph by the dress of the day and the old fashioned pushchair. The bus shelter was later replaced with a telephone box. The bench on the corner of Homewell is still in situ. On the left is Davies the chemist. 

I am putting together a book of then and now photographs of Havant and the surrounding area – do get in touch with your memories.