NOSTALGIA: Sad end for a D-Day veteran

I wonder how many of you can remember a day out to the Isle of Wight taking the paddle steamer PS Ryde across the Solent?Â

Friday, 16th February 2018, 5:04 pm
Updated Friday, 16th February 2018, 5:08 pm
Rotting: PS Solent in a sorry state.

These two photographs were sent to me by Mike Nolan of Paulsgrove. 

 PS Ryde, launched on St George's Day 1936, was commissioned into service in 1937 for the Southern Railway to replace the paddle steamer Duchess of Norfolk. She took thousands to the Isle of Wight on holiday and for day trips in the days before continental travel became the norm. 

In 1939, along with her sister ship Sandown, she was requisitioned by the navy and proudly called HMS Ryde and used as a minesweeper in the Straits of Dover.

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Happier days: PS Solent as some might remember her.

In 1941 she was converted to an anti-aircraft ship based along the east coast and then, in 1944, she returned to her home port to take part in  Operation Overlord, the D-Day landings. 

At first she was a guardship for the Mulberry Harbours off Omaha Beach. Her captain was told that if he had enough coal he should return to Portsmouth or otherwise beach her.

Return she did and after a thorough overhaul she reverted to her original name and again began ferrying across the Solent and also did some charter work. 

In 1969, after 32 years sterling service, PS Ryde was retired but what would happen next?

Aubrey Morris as Mr Deltoid in A Clockwork Orange.

The usual end for retired ships is for them to be cut up and made into razor blades, but not Ryde.

She was bought by two  businessmen and turned into a night club. Renamed Ryde Queen she was moored on the River Medina near Newport, Isle of Wight.

In 1977 a fire almost destroyed her but she was repaired and refurbished and brought back to life, but only for another couple of years. By 1980 the night club scene had waned and the club closed.

For years she remained rotting at her mooring, deteriorating every year. In 2006 her funnel collapsed on to the bridge and then in 2012 the bridge collapsed into the hull.

Happier days: PS Solent as some might remember her.

There were plans to save her but it would have needed £7m, an almost impossible task.

On February 12 it was reported that this reminder of the D-Day landings was being broken up. Any updates about what is happening to her would be appreciated. 

n  A friend of mine asked if I was going to watch any of the Winter Olympics. I replied: '˜No. Same old thing. A few people skiing down a hill and others on sledges, plus a bit of ice skating. No, it's not for me.'

How wrong I was, for the modern winter sports extravaganza has just about everything.

Aubrey Morris as Mr Deltoid in A Clockwork Orange.

The snowboard event was quite amazing with a 17-year old American taking gold '“ 17 for crying out loud! Those girls and boys skiing down the hill full of bumps was worth seeing but oh, how their knees will suffer in years to come! You mark my words.

It's all so different from years past when it all became quite boring. This is just brilliant.

n  Everyone knows that the comic actor genius that was Peter Sellers was born in Portsmouth, but there are other well-known, if not household names, who had their roots in the city.

One is Southsea luminary Aubrey Morris who was born in Southsea on June 1, 1926. His grandparents were Russian, arriving in London about 1890 and then settling in Portsmouth at the turn on the last century. Aubrey attended Portsmouth Municipal College and then the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. 

He went on to appear at the Old Vic and in several well-known films including Up The Junction, 1968, and Clockwork Orange, 1971. He appeared in many television programmes.

He must have returned to Southsea from time to time as in the early 1960s my cousin Anne used to serve him in a fruit and veg shop in Waverley Road near The Strand.

Aubrey died in Los Angeles, California in 2015 aged 89.

SATURDAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Patricia Routledge, actress, 89; Barry Humphries, alias Dame Edna Everage, 84; Rene Russo, actress, 64; Lou Diamond Phillips, actor, 56; Michael Jordan, retired basketball great, 55; Michael Bay, film director and producer, 53; Dominic Purcell, actor, 48; Denise Richards, actress, 47; Paris Hilton, hotel heiress/TV personality, 37.