I can only imagine that the long exposure needed for this glass plate photograph was the cause of its appearance, right. Perhaps snow collected on the lens.
Whatever the reason, it is a marvellous photograph dating from 1881-82 with the Three Tuns pub, in High Street, Old Portsmouth, in the centre.
Robert James, who sent me the photo, told me the Three Tuns was a very ancient house and one of its claims to fame was it was used by the leaders of the seamen involved in the Spithead Mutiny.
They occupied an upper room and kept Lord Howe and his officers waiting on the stairs while they deliberated on the terms of their offer.
It was also used by stage coachmen and guards who slept there during the day and had breakfast at 5pm ahead of their journey.
The pub, which was in front of St Thomas's Church, was later known as The United Services and The Guildhall Tavern. In 1891 the owner gave permission for it to be demolished to provide a better approach to the church.
This picture was reproduced on a postcard after 1926 and on the reverse St Thomas's is referred to as The Cathedral.
The pub was also used by the turnkeys of the London and provincial jails who brought convicts to the hulks in Portsmouth Harbour.
Although Robert tells me the owner allowed demolition, I discovered the pub, then called the Guildhall Tavern, was purchased by Aldermen Joseph Whitcombe and Thomas King to allow the demolition to take place.
The Corporation Records for 1881 state they had a lot of snow in January.
A few days after the picture was taken they had another huge snow storm which piled up five feet and the Corporation expended the large sum of £1,100 for a partial clearance and a further £700 raised by subscription.
All road transport was suspended and the town came to a standstill. Must have been quite a storm.
Below left, we see a lithograph of the pub with the clock tower of St Thomas’s to the rear.
The demolition of the building gave far better access to the church.
Just 50 years later, in January 1941, the whole row of buildings that once stood in front of the church were all but destroyed in the blitz on the city. What remained were later demolished.
A different view of the camber, below right, taken from the top of the Square Tower at the junction of High Street and Broad Street, Old Portsmouth.
The road in front of the white wall is White Hart Road, with a connection to the previously mentioned junction in front of camera.
How industrial this part of the city once was.