On Tuesday 15th May 1934 the girls of Form 2A and 2B, Highland Road Senior Girls School were taken by their schoolteachers, Miss Merrett and Miss Galton, for a trip to Old Portsmouth. One of the girls, or more probably one of their teachers, took a camera on which was recorded images of the places they saw. Of course they could not know it at the time but quite probably those photographs were amongst the very last taken of some buildings which would, within a decade, lie in ruins.
Two weeks after their journey the girls were asked to write of their experiences and five of their essays along with the photographs taken that day were combined into a scrapbook which was held by Florence Galton, one of the teachers on the visit, until her death in 1969. It was later passed to Florence's great niece, Jenny Ward who passed it on to History.InPortsmouth in May 2013.
Extracts From The Scrapbook
"One of the most interesting buildings that we saw was the Museum. It was at one time the Guildhall; afterwards it became a fish-shop and still later it was converted into what it now is by the very generous gift of three thousand pounds presented by Miss Bashford....[upstairs they saw] a link of an ancient harbour chain which had recently been removed from the beach at the foot of the Round Tower and presented to the Museum by the Admiral Superintendent in 1930.....I enjoyed looking at...the Royal Seals which belonged to Edgar in 959, Richard I in 1194, John in 1200, Edward VI in 1461 and Henry VII in 1511. The case next to that contained....relics of the Royal George, two of which were a bottle and some butter....downstairs there was a beautiful painting by....Vicat Cole"
"There are very historical and interesting buildings in Old Portsmouth... Most of these places are in High Street...In this street is the George Hotel where Lord Nelson spent his last days (sic) in England...Near here is the house where the Duke of Buckingham, John (sic) Villiers, was assasssinated by John Felton who was afterwards tried and hanged. On the other side of the road is the place where Admiral Anson lived. He was one of the few men of his day to go round the world. Next door is where George Meredith, the poet and novelist was born and lived to his thirteenth year.
Also in the High Street are the City Museum and the Bashford Picture Gallery.....where many old and beautiful paintings are on view. Upstairs is the Museum. Here there are models of ships, churches and aeroplanes and one of John Pounds house. There is also a collection of boxes beautifully carved out of bone by the French prisoners....
One of the interesting things in the Cathedral is an urn which is believed to hold the heart of the Duke of Buckingham....The house where John Pounds lived is also important....[it] has two small rooms and is just being redecorated.
Although Old Portsmouth is very old and rather shabby it has a number of interesting spots of which Portsmouth people are very proud."
"[We] visited the house and monument of John Pounds who was born in Highbury Street in 1766. He was very active; at the age of twelve he started his apprenticeship as a shipbuilder in the dockyard....when he was fifteen he fell from the top to the bottom of the dry dock. When the workmen ran to him they picked him up, a heap of broken bones. He recovered however and started life as a cobbler....
John Pounds was very sympathetic towards any cripples like himself and adopted his brother's little son. He made him a pair of boots with wedges in them as the child's feet turned in so much....after this the child could walk and many people brought their children to him and he did his best for all.
John was a devout Christian....his frugality enabled him to buy some 'Sunday-best suits' for the poor children whom he took to church and taught to read and write. On New Years Day in 1839 John took a small child to the doctor...as he stepped on the doormat he fell dead 'like a bird'. In his memory a monument was put up."
"... King James's Gate was the first place we visited and the second the Landport Gate...The next part of our journey took us to John Pounds House....to get inside we had to go into another lady's house and out through the back door and into the living room of the founder of the Ragged Schools....the rooms are about five feet wide and twelve feet long. It's stairs are slightly twisted. The house itself is nearly collapsing.
We next went to the Cathedral....In the porch....there are eight old clappers belonging to the eight bells.
Leaving the cathedral we went to...two historical houses, one of which is in ruins. The other one is a cobblers shop and the shopkeeper also sells salt."
"When we first entered St. Thomas's Cathedral I noticed that the graveyard was very well kept, with many bright flowers on the graves, and very green grass.
We went round the Cathedral to the west entrance. Over the door were queer carvings, such as cross bones and a skull...on a window in the south of the church is a picture of John de Gisors, who presented to the monks of Southwick the acre of land on which to build the cathedral....
I think that all Portsmouth people should take a pride in the Cathedral which contains so much history. I enjoyed my visit very much and gathered much information for which we are very grateful to Canon Masters for giving up his afternoon for our benefit."