The Origins of the 1860 Project
The 1860 (Old Portsmouth) Project arose out of discussions held by a group of local amateur historians at the Garrison Church in 2007. The group met on a regular basis to exchange photographs, drawings, maps and ideas relating to the history of Portsmouth. A common lament was that though Old Portsmouth has a rich and colourful heritage there is relatively little of it to see on the ground, due mostly to the attentions of the Luftwaffe and unsympathetic planners. Gradually the idea of creating something to fill the gap emerged.
One way to visualise the past would be to build a model of Old Portsmouth and the ideal way of doing that would be to use digital 3D technology. An important factor in choosing this route was that layers could be incorporated within the model to represent the major phases of architectural development. Another advantage is that whenever new evidence is presented, the model could be changed with relative ease - and this would apply for evermore.
The first issue to be addressed was the starting point - the initial target date for the model. It didn't take long to decide upon 1860. This ensured that Cambridge Barracks (later Portsmouth Grammar School), which was completed in 1857, and the fortifications which were demolished after 1870 could both be included. In practice, narrowing the project to a single year would prove unrealistic and so the target became a window, roughly between 1860 and 1864.
As the project was likely to take many years, if not for ever, it seemed appropriate to report on the progress via the History in Portsmouth website and the rest of this section of the site does just that. Each building, or group of buildings, in Old Portsmouth would have a separate page on which the accumulated research would be recorded and this would culminate in a section showing snapshots as the model progressed. The first part of the project looked at the east side of the High Street beginning at the Grammar School/Cambridge Barracks, that stage being completed in late 2008. The following year has seen Grand Parade, Battery Row, and the southern flank of the fortifications added before work was started on the west side of the street.
The ongoing expansion of the project has generated pleas from correpondents, who may not be familiar with the layout of Old Portsmouth, for a comprehensive navigation system which includes maps. A new page has therefore been introduced to assist in the navigation of the project. All pages may now be accessed from the Project Navigation Page.
As a further aid to understanding how the model has been built a page on the principle sources for research has now been included.
Thanks go to Cynthia Sherwood, Peter Rogers, Patricia Lovell, Sue Pike, Catherine Smith, Stephen Pomeroy, Alan Dale, John Stedman and the staff of the City Museum and Record Office, the Central Library and the Frewen Library for their help and advice during the development of this project and to Alan East and Ken Devine for their help with the computer stuff. Thanks also go to the many correspondents, too numerous to name, who have contributed vital nuggets of information.