With over 260 photographs in a large, 160 page, A4, landscape format, hard back, ‘coffee table’ book, I will guide you on an aerial tour of the island City of Portsmouth. Flying in a helicopter at an altitude of around 1,000ft, we will see many sites of local and historical interest but I am no historian so this is not, strictly, a history book. What this book is, however, is a visual history: a record to show how Portsmouth has changed, not just over the 30 years that I’ve been flying but combined with Jim’s, over more than 60 years – and the difference is fascinating. Jim Bramble was a school teacher of mine in the 1970’s and flew, with a pilot friend, taking photographs from 1953 until 1973 when Portsmouth Airport closed. Using Jim’s photographs as a basis, I have carefully selected shots from my archive to guide you around the city to see how it used to be and how it is now. I’ve not consciously taken my photographs to match Jim’s earlier photos: in some cases mine are now 30 years old, long before I knew his photographs even existed. Although I do admit there are a few I’ve taken specifically to fill some ‘gaps’ in the tour. What I have done is try and identify the buildings and places in these photographs that have been lost to history, or in some cases preserved, so you can look into them further if you wish. I’m sure you will remember many more places in these photographs that may not appear in local history books. Portsmouth, being an island city, has had to make use of every square inch of land so some redevelopments have been quite ruthless, while in other areas land has been reclaimed from the sea to allow space for expansion.
On this tour we’ll start on the boundary with Portchester and move on to Paulsgrove, Northarbour, Hilsea, Highbury, Cosham, Drayton, Farlington, back across Hilsea and down to Copnor, Milton, Fratton, a brief look at Hayling Island then along the south coast to see Eastney, Southsea and Old Portsmouth. Here we’ll move into the city centre to look at Somerstown, Landport, Buckland and Portsea before going back to the water around Gunwharf Quays, Gosport, The Dockyard and Whale Island, Mile End, then finally Stamshaw, North End and Tipner.
I hope you enjoy the trip.