Portsmouth car ferry high but not quite dry - Nostalgia

Steady the buffs! Here we see the Isle of Wight car ferry Hilsea almost on her beam ends. The photo was loaned by Katy Ball although it originated from the Evening News.

The caption says the picture was taken in April 1947 but I’ve been through all the April editions of The News for that year and found nothing about the incident, so if you know please tell me. 

There was only one person to ask about the incident and that was Mike Nolan who began his working career on the ferries in 1959 and lived at Point, Old Portsmouth, until he was 20.

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He says there were not old tyres to act as fenders along the side of the vessel but a rubbing strip was attached. This strip stood proud of the hull.

Alongside The Camber old railway lines were fixed at a certain height to act as a buffer to stop carts and lorries falling over the side. They were called cam sheds.

Mike thinks Hilsea went alongside at high tide and the stern rubbing strip went over the buffer without anyone noticing. The tide fell and before anyone could do anything she was at a tilt and had to wait for the tide to rise before escaping.

I asked Mike what the ferry might be doing in The Camber and he suggests she had recently filled up with fuel from the pumping station at Point.

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As only two of the three ferries in service operated at one time Hilsea might have gone to The Camber to berth and give the crew a break.

Mike says the man wearing the black hat with his back to the camera would be the skipper, possibly Bert Thomas. Two other skippers of the car ferries were George Bunn and Jim Tingley. He also says the small boat approaching in the middle was one of Butcher’s Blue Boats. He is sure it was called Doug.

• I mentioned yesterday it was the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace which brought an official end to the First World War.

Although a time of great rejoicing in general, part of the price of peace was paid for by Portsmouth with large numbers of men laid off from the dockyard. This was inevitable although the Admiralty reduced the strain by spreading discharges over a long period.

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Although short of cash Portsmouth people pulled together when it was suggested by the Evening News that a fund should be set up to provide Christmas dinner for the men back from the war and their families.

When the editor launched his appeal he was expecting to raise £500. But within a few weeks the total reached £7,500. This enabled the committee to administer relief to scores of families in dire need in the winter.

• Whatever happened to Sunday afternoons? Last Sunday at 2.30pm I ran out of tonic water. I drove to Asda at Bedhampton and found the car park quite full and the store busy. I wondered if it was still Sunday or whether I’d missed a day, which it’s easy to do when you’re retired and don’t have to get up at a certain time.

I thought back to the days before Sunday trading was legalised. About 12.30pm in our house lunch was served. Afterwards, if wet, everyone watched the Sunday matinee, a black and white film from the 1940s and where my love affair with Deanna Durbin began.

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Later it was tea time, or in our house high tea if we had guests. This was accompanied by the Cliff Adams Singers on the radio with Sing Something Simple and Jack Emblow on accordion. Sundays have certainly changed.