FIRST PICTURE:The building of the Woolworth’s store in Commercial Road in the 1950
A look down Commercial Road, Portsmouth again in the 1950’s this time the late 50’s and the new Woolworth’s store can easily be seen on the right.
Most of us are of a funny age!! I know getting old! We are too young to remember the war but are old enough to remember the aftermath of it, ie bomb sites, gun emplacements, rationing and the austerity of the time.
What we did not realise as we grew up was that after the war the most pressing need was in Portsmouth was for new housing. During the War 930 people were killed in Portsmouth by bombing, also 6,625 houses were destroyed (which was nearly 10% of the total) and a further 6,549 were severely damaged. At first the council erected prefabs which were supplied throughout the country from a central depot somewhere. Some of the prefabs were erected on bomb sites. Others were erected on the slopes of Portsdown hill, on the left hand side as you travelled up the A3 above Cosham. But some where put up in King George V’s playing fields where the Income Tax office of Lynx House is today. Some went to a site at the end of the Highbury estate, I understand that Griff lived here for a time. In fact more than 700 prefab houses were built in 1945-47.
In February 1946 the council began to build more permanent houses, most of them were built off of Portsea Island. A new estate was built at Paulsgrove and the first houses being built in 1946. The estate was complete by 1953. The population of Paulsgrove now stands well in excess of 15,000.
Another estate was built at Leigh Park. The first houses here were ready in 1949 but building went on until 1974. By then the population of Leigh Park had risen to 40,000 and West Leigh had not even been thought of then.
Apart from wartime bombing another reason for building new houses on Portsea Island was slum clearance. In 1955 a Council survey showed that over 7,000 houses in Portsmouth were classed as being unfit for human habitation. In the 1960's and early 1970's the whole section of central Portsmouth was rebuilt including areas such as Landport, Somerstown and Buckland. As well as demolishing slums the council gave people grants to improve their homes if they were of a reasonable basic standard.
Several new council estates were built in the early 1970's. The worst of these being Portsdown Park, a mixture of flats and houses built on Portsdown Hill above Cosham. But Portsdown Park soon began to suffer terribly from the ingestion of damp. Efforts to cure the damp failed and in 1987 the estate was demolished. It was replaced by private housing. Other council houses were built some miles north of the city at Crookhorn and Wecock Farm.
From the late 1970's many new private houses were built in Portsmouth. An estate was built at Gatcombe Park in Hilsea ( we had our wedding reception here in 1967 Gatcombe House which was the official home of the Commanding Officer who was a friend of my father in law). In the 1980's a another estate was built at Anchorage Park on the North East corner of Portsea Island. In the 1990's a new estate and marina was built at Port Solent North West of Portsea Island. In the 1980's shopping malls were built, the Bridge Centre in Fratton and the Cascades Centre in Commercial Road which meant the loss of Charlotte Street market after centuries of trading.
In the early 20th century the main employer in Portsmouth was the dockyard. It employed 8,000 men in 1900. During the First World War the number rose to 23,000 but it fell to 9,000 when the war ended. From the 1930's the threat of another war led to an expansion of the dockyard workforce. Meanwhile other industries like brewing and corset making prospered. A new employer was the Airspeed factory, which made parts for aircraft. It opened in the North East of Portsea Island on the airfield.
After World War II the city council tried to diversify industry in Portsmouth. An industrial estate was built in Fratton in 1946-48. Other industrial estates were built in the 1950's at Paulsgrove and Farlington. In the 1960's a new industrial estate began at Hilsea north of Burrfields Road. In the 1980's new industrial estates were built at Cosham and at Hilsea. The pattern of employment in Portsmouth changed rapidly. In 1951 46% of the manufacturing jobs in the city were in shipbuilding. By 1966 this had fallen to only 14%. The dockyard workforce was drastically reduced.
Traditional industries like brewing and corset making vanished but electrical and electronic engineering became a major employer. There was also a large increase in the number of jobs in service industries. In 1968 Zurich insurance moved their headquarters to Portsmouth. In 1979 IBM UK moved their headquarters to the city. Both have since moved again!
Tourism also became a major industry. The Mary Rose was raised from the seabed in 1982 and became a museum and compliments HMS Victory. The D Day museum opened in 1984 and in 1987 HMS Warrior, Britain’s first iron warship, was moved to Portsmouth.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg as to what has happened in Portsmouth during our life times!!!
On the subject of washing up could it be Sunlight soap? I remember my inlaws had an Anderson shelter in their back garden. It was still in use in 1985 as a garden shed, and in perfect condition. I wonder if it`s still there, in Shirley Avenue, Milton.
News and Views:
It has been released that David Essex was secretly married under his real name of David Cook Monday on September 20th at a church in Bangor, North Wales. He met his bride when they appeared in the West End stage musical production of "All The Fun Of The Fair" two years ago and were engaged at Christmas. It's David's third marriage. He's 63. She's 37.
On this day 17th October 1960-1965
On 17/10/1960 the number one single was Tell Laura I Love Her - Ricky Valance and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 17/10/1961 the number one single was Michael - The Highwaymen and the number one album was The Shadows - Shadows. The top rated TV show was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 17/10/1962 the number one single was Telstar - The Tornadoes and the number one album was Best of Ball Barber & Bilk. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Hyde Park Underpass opens.
On 17/10/1963 the number one single was Do You Love Me? - Brian Poole & the Tremoloes and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Macmillan resigns as Prime Minister.
On 17/10/1964 the number one single was Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Brezhnev replaces Krushchev.
On 17/10/1965 the number one single was Tears - Ken Dodd and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Lesley Ann Downey's body found on Pennines.