Portsmouth's history told in pageant beside Southsea Castle - Nostalgia

Robert James, of Milton, sent me the marvellous aerial photograph of the Portsmouth Pageant held on Castle Field, Southsea, in 1923.

By Bob Hind
Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 6:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th June 2019, 12:12 pm
The 1923 Portsmouth Pageant from the air. Picture: Robert James postcard collection.
The 1923 Portsmouth Pageant from the air. Picture: Robert James postcard collection.

It was obviously taken after the First World War as the searchlight and other structures are in place.

Castle Field has been taken over by what looks like a funfair. There is no bandstand on Southsea Common which would date this to about 1923, the year of the Portsmouth Pageant.

It was organised by Portsmouth teachers to raise funds for the mayor’s charity and 1,500 people were involved in its production with the RMA Band providing  the music.

The New Inn, Drayton, Portsmouth, in the 1920s with Drayton Lane on the left. Picture:: Barry Cox postcard collection.

Around the town various Dickens characters were at the Town Hall and Nelson-era characters at the Victory anchor on Clarence Esplanade.

When enlarged, the patch of white dots on the right appears to show camouflage netting covering large stones. Alternatively the photographer blanked it on the negative. 

I have also looked at the white spots and wondered if the photograph was censored for some reason, although if it is 1923 it would be five years since the end of the war and there would seem little point.

Robert also asks if anyone recognises the large building on the left?

Admirals might have been based in Portsmouth but most preferred to own property out of town. This booklet tells of many who did.

• The picture above is a 1920s’ scene at Drayton looking east along the A27 towards Farlington. The New Inn pub is on the corner of Drayton Lane.

There is an ornate lamp standard stand in the middle of an island with what looks like a mile-post stone on the corner.

There is no pavement on the left for the woman to push her pram on but with little traffic she would not have been in much danger. An open top bus with stairs leading from the top deck heads to Farlington and Havant. The road surface is not that good, especially if you were a cyclist. Teas could be had in the shop on the right.

As for the modern picture, I could  have written about the changes along the A27 but apart from the traffic most of the buildings seen in the older photograph remain.

Today the New Inn has become an Indian restaurant.

A new junction has replaced the old island at the junction of Drayton Lane and the mile-post has gone. A pavement has appeared on the left. The tea shop on the right has long gone. Despite the A27 a mile to the south the road remains busy.

• A new booklet by Steve Jones tells of the high-ups in the navy who used to live out of Portsmouth, many who lived in the Havant area.  Many famous names are mentioned, admirals who had streets named after them, James and Fraser to name but two.

For copies ring Steve on (023) 9247 3326 or Ralph Cousins on (023) 9248 4024.