Some of the most famous people in history have visited HMS Victory and in 1941 Labour politician Ernest Bevin joined their ranks. He was the minister of labour in the coalition government of the Second World War and one of the founders of the powerful Transport and General Workers Union. He was in Portsmouth dockyard to address workers.
He was also the man who diverted thousands of conscripts into the coal industry, an army of miners nicknamed Bevin Boys.
Here he’s looking down at the plaque marking the spot in Victory where Nelson fell at Trafalgar. He’s with the commander-in-chief Portsmouth and a hero of mine, Admiral Sir William James.
In his 1946 book The Portsmouth Letters Admiral James wrote: ‘Mr Bevin came to see me on September 27, 1941. He was a very forceful person and a good strong face and has very decided views.’
• Yesterday I published a photograph of Woolworth’s in the Greywell precinct off Park Parade, Leigh Park. Here we see the precinct in August 1966 soon after the official opening by Carry On comedian Sid James. On the right is a Victor Value store, later a Tesco. Next door is Woolworth’s which had moved around the corner from Park Parade. To the left is Webb’s furniture store.
• It was not only in Portsmouth that coronation street parties took place in 1953. Here we see the happy faces of children who lived in and around Battens Way, Havant, although I think previously it would have been in rural Stockheath. Unfortunately the photograph has become jaded over the years but if you recognise yourself or anyone else please let me know.
• I was invited to Portsmouth Museum this week for the release of a new Portsmouth Paper. Written by Sarah Quail it has been illustrated beautifully by Yvonne Hunt.
The introduction says: ‘It tells of that day on May 2, 1194, when the people of Portsmouth were given their first royal charter. They may have even received it from King Richard I himself as he was in the town at the time with his army and great fleet. The fleet of some100 ships was waiting to cross the Channel to Normandy.’
A preamble to the charter told all the top people, archbishops, bishops, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs and bailiffs and ‘all faithful people' in his realm that the king had retained in his own hands ‘our borough of Portsmouth with all its appurtenances' and henceforth Portsmouth would develop as a royal town.
The paper is well worth obtaining from the museum especially the information about how much of western France was part of the English empire in 1194.