NOSTALGIA: Book chronicles fascinating history of Portsmouth Point

Portsmouth Point has had a colourful history.

Thursday, 30th November 2017, 7:30 pm
Another photograph from Gower Lloyd book showing Fraser & Whites cranes at work.

Numerous characters, organisations and businesses have left their mark over the years.

Gower Lloyd’s newly-published second book about The Point, Portsmouth Point – A Commercial & Cultural History gives an insight into some of its past, below left.

One company that existed on The Point many people will remember was Fraser & White, initially founded in 1846.

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The popular and well known Royal Arthur sailing boat, used by the Portsmouth Sea Scouts.

They were in existence for more than 100 years and imported coal into the Camber Docks from south Wales and the north east in colliers, discharging the coal using their overhead gantries and storing it in the enormous concrete bunker that was built adjacent to the Inner Camber.

The mechanised unloading facilities they introduced in the early 20th century were revolutionary, allowing 100 tons of coal to be unloaded in a tide and their bunker could store 15,000 tons for distribution locally.

Pickfords were another company in existence on The Point for more than 100 years, based in Bath Square where they operated from their wharf transporting goods to and from the Isle of Wight in their fleet of ships.

Other company histories in the book include those of W G Lucas and Son, sailmakers in Broad Street.

The popular and well known Royal Arthur sailing boat, used by the Portsmouth Sea Scouts.

And many will remember Grogan’s – the cafe/restaurant in Broad Street which was demolished in 1960 to allow for the construction of the new Isle of Wight car ferry terminal and car park.

The 1st Portsmouth Sea Scouts, formed around 1907, have always been based in the area, initially formed under the leadership of W L Wyllie, the famous marine artist who lived in Tower House on The Point.

Throughout their history they were fortunate in being gifted some wonderful boats in which they cruised extensively.

One famous boat in their fleet, the Royal Arthur, pictured right, was their flagship, and was spotted in the Solent for many years.

Portsmouth Sea Scouts learned the ropes and the finer points of sailing on her.

Currently based in Bath Square, one of their past scoutmasters, Jack Ashdown, was in the troop for more than 60 years and had an enviable reputation for his high standards of seamanship.

Residents of The Point wanted their children to join up and many of those who did went on to have long seafaring careers, some commanding ships in the Royal Navy or on commercial ships.

A superbly researched book with dozens of photographs, it is a must for anyone who lives or lived in the area, or on Portsea Island itself.

The book outlines the history of these organisations and local personalities associated with Portsmouth Point.

Anyone interested in purchasing a copy of the book can find Gower at Southsea Market, in Palmerston Road, on December 2 and 15.

Alternatively, call 07975 978177 or visit

• How many of you can remember the scene from this angle, bottom right.

I know I can’t.

Cantilever cranes unloading coal at The Camber.

An unbelievably busy scene at the once very active Camber before yachts took over the scene.

• On the opposite page is another scene from the book, and little known by many Portsmouth people, let alone those from The Point.

It is at Point Wharf and a British Road Services vessel from Cowes is unloading whatever it was transporting.

Gower Lloyd tells all in his book.