I have been asked to get involved in making some DVDs about the history of the Portsmouth area. I am writing and narrating the scenes to be filmed on many aspects of the history of Portsmouth. We will also be filming off the island from Gosport to Fareham and across to Havant and up to Waterlooville.
Subjects discussed for filming will be the gates of the old town, historic pubs and hotels and their former locations, where famous people were born, churches that were destroyed in the blitz and so on. If you know of a subject near you which you think may be of interest please let me know.
One of the old gates, in fact the only one in its original location, is Landport Gate, St George’s Road, Old Portsmouth. It was the gate Horatio Nelson entered by on his last visit to the town before breakfasting in the George Hotel and then leaving to join HMS Victory and later defeating the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar.
The photograph looks across the bridge and through the gate, from what is now HMS Temeraire’s sports ground, into the old town. The soldiers are standing outside what is now the Mary Rose Chinese restaurant, once a pub, in St George’s Road. Either side of the gate can be seen the green ramparts that once protected the old town.
• There has been talk of trying to make the Debenhams store in Osborne Road, Southsea, into a Sherlock Holmes’ museum when it closes. Not a good idea in my opinion.
There might be worldwide interest for a while for fans of the fictional detective who was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Bush House, Portsmouth, but for how long?
I don’t wish to be a cynic but how many Portsmouth people have an interest? Charles Dickens was born in what is now Old Commercial Road, Portsmouth, but just how many city residents have visited the house?
I visited in 1963 but not since. It’s the same as HMS Victory. I know Portsmouth people have have never been on board. They just do not have the interest in naval history. I could go on but to turn a key location in Southsea into a museum really is not a good move.
• Yesterday I asked if anyone recognised the location of the ship with a bell tower in the distance.
Unbelievably, I was looking through John Sadden’s Portsmouth – A Century of Change and found a photograph of the bell tower and what I thought was a crane. In fact it was a mining trials tank all located within HMS Vernon, although before the war. It is now the Vulcan building built in 1811. The clock was destroyed by incendiaries during the war and has since been rebuilt. The ship would have been at the entrance to the Camber.