Sailors deserted from Portsmouth warship for better life in Canada '“Â Nostalgia
A pre-1936Â view along what was then Park Road with a tram heading for Guildhall Square.
On the left is what was,Â when it opened in 1908, the Municipal College. It opened on September 10 and cost Â£100,000. It later became the College of Technology and in 1969,Â Portsmouth Polytechnic.Â I believe it is now just called the Park Building belonging to the University of Portsmouth.
The Guildhall can be seen as it was until January 10, 1941, when the blitz on the city guttedÂ the building. The cupola on top of the clock tower was whereÂ incendiaryÂ bombs got caught in grating and set fire to the rest of the building. Those along the side of the roof all collapsed into the interior.
The modern view shows the same road which has been renamedÂ King Henry IÂ Street. TheÂ Guildhall cupolas haveÂ been replaced by flat roofs. The modern street lighting, parked cars, yellow lines and hundreds of students who now inhabit theÂ area make it a much-changed scene.
Just to the right of the clock tower can be seen the top of a yellow building going up in Commercial Road near the railway station.
'¢Â In 1908,Â a few months after she was commissioned, the cruiser HMS Indomitable left Portsmouth with the Prince of Wales, laterÂ George V. SheÂ went to QuebecÂ for the 300th anniversary of the city's founding.Â
On July 25 a state ball was held and 3,000Â invitations issued. As it was notÂ necessary to present a card to get inÂ many turned up in a suit and dress, and with plenty of nerve, to gain admission. Â
HMS Indomitable left Canada onÂ July 29, 1908, but not before some of the ship's company disappeared amidÂ Â reports of wholesale desertion. ManyÂ single men found Canada'sÂ living conditions better than those atÂ home.
When Indomitable returned to Portsmouth peopleÂ rowed out to the ship,Â perhaps for a glimpseÂ of the prince who would no doubt boardÂ a train on the jetty. It would then pass over the swing bridge on the right to join the main line at Portsmouth Harbour station.