NOSTALGIA: Thousands turned out for Portsmouth priest's funeral. But why?

A mystery reader who simply calls himself '˜Dave from Copnor' sent me these two pictures of Portsmouth's fire brigade but with no further information.

Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 7:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 3:22 am
Can any church people tell me more about Canon Wilson and why his funeral had such a good turnout?

In the photograph on the facing page is Portsmouth City Fire Brigade in August 1944. All these brave men no doubt did their bit in saving the south-western corner of the city from complete annihilation in the blitz of January 1941.  I am sure our late friend Eddie Wallace would have known many of the faces. Any further help would be appreciated.

At the beginning of the war women were asked to volunteer '˜to release men for more dangerous masculine duties'. So says Daisy Hardesty, a former member of the Women's Auxiliary Fire Service. She joined  in Portsmouth a year after the Second World War started.

She says: '˜We were told we ought to do something  for our country and when I heard they wanted drivers I said ' I'm game'.

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Portsmouth firemen in August 1944.

When the blackouts became the norm drivers had to practice hurtling around the city in the pitch dark to get their bearings.

Once their wartime duties started the women had to sit in cars all night waiting for something to happen. Of course, it was some nine months before things started to warm up. That period before the bombing started was called the phoney war. I do not know if Miss Hardesty is in this photo, but if anyone can put names to faces, please let me know.

'¢ Fratton Road is packed for the funeral of a Canon Wilson in St Mary's Church, which you can just make out in the background.

Thousands of mourners line the route of the horse-drawn cortege. There are also many more behind them and also in the churchyard which is now a recreation ground.

Firemens counterparts, women of the Portsmouth Auxiliary Fire Service.

The photograph was made into a postcard (imagine that today), but I have no relevant information about Canon Wilson or which year we might be talking about. If anyone knows what made Canon Wilson so popular I'd like to know. Unfortunately the postcard has a '˜scar' on the left.

'¢ Although it looks as if the men on the roof are repairing it, this building in Castle Road, Southsea, belonging to Parker Thomas & Co motor engineers is being demolished. The photo dates from the late 1940s.

A new building for Wadhams, the car dealers, was built. It sold makes of Wolseley, Riley, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Daimler.

 The road leading away from the camera is St Edward's Road. On the left is the Clock House in the apex of Castle Road and Great Southsea Street.  On the opposite corner of St Edward's Road is the Barley Mow where the landlady was Beryl Stoneham.

A 1940s' scene at the junction of Castle Road and St Edwards Road, Southsea. Picture: Barry Cox