NOSTALGIA: Queen Elizabeth v Invincible '“ now you can see the scale

Remember when the first Invincible class aircraft carrier arrived in Portsmouth, some time about 1980/1981?

By The Newsroom
Monday, 23rd July 2018, 1:43 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd July 2018, 2:54 pm
You might have thought the Invincible class carriers were big, but HMS illustrious is dwarfed alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture: Mike Nolan Collection.
You might have thought the Invincible class carriers were big, but HMS illustrious is dwarfed alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture: Mike Nolan Collection.

I think it was HMS Invincible which was tied up at South Railway Jetty in the naval base and the first ever landing on an aircraft carrier while in harbour took place. I remember watching it from The Hard, Portsea.

We all thought how impressive those new carriers were until HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived. She is certainly a massive vessel.

To get a comparison I was sent this photograph from Mike Nolan.

The Camber, Old Portsmouth. Two motor torpedo boats ready for fitting having just been built by Vospers. Picture: Mike Nolan.

It show HMS Illustrious dwarfed by the new carrier. The difference between the two ships:  Invincible first, QE in brackets: 686ft long (932); 118ft beam (128), and displacing 22,000 tonnes (65,000). Quite remarkable. 

'¢The second picture is another from Mike Nolan's collection.

It's 1939 and two MTBs (motor torpedo boats) have recently been launched and are ready for fitting out.

They were constructed by Vospers in the Camber, Old Portsmouth. The slipway is still in place.

When ladies and gentlemen dressed to go for a stroll. A summer's day at Ladies Mile, Southsea Common. Picture: Ellis Norrell Collection

I couldn't make head nor tail of the direction but, being  born and raised around Point, Mike tells me that Broad Street would be behind the cameraman. Not being one to argue, I should think the former American Bar, now called the A Bar, is somewhere in the background.

Is there anyone around who used to work for Vospers in the Camber?

Perhaps you featured in the 1950s' Ealing film The Ship That Died of Shame?  It tells a darker story about Britain in the post-war years, is based around the ups and downs of a motor gun boat and many of the scenes were shot in Portsmouth.

'¢I wonder what it must have been like to never have seen anyone looking scruffy?  In this scene looking along Ladies' Mile on Southsea Common all the women appear to be wearing crinoline dresses, the men are in suits and most have headwear, predominantly straw boaters. That would have suited me down to the ground.

After my July 19 picture of St Mary's Hospital chapel I received much more information. This will appear in my column in Weekend magazine this Saturday.

 Many of the women have parasols to keep off the sun. Funny how they have not came back into fashion after the past eight weeks of sun and soaring temperatures. I wonder if there was another name for the deckchairs with fold-over shades ?

'¢On July 19, I published a photograph with the caption: The church inside St Mary's Hospital. I had several replies telling me it was a chapel not a church and I have mentioned the content of those responses in my column in this Saturday's Weekend magazine. Meanwhile, here's another view inside the chapel sent by former organist Maurice Paffett.