No. 49 High Street

No. 49 High Street
From the Charpentier panorama

This building may not be as well known as some around it, but it is nevertheless one of the most interesting from an architectural point of view. We can see by comparing the 1842 Charpentier drawing with the late 19th century photograph (probably from around 1885) below that the building remained essentially unaltered during that period. The photograph is of exceptional quality, allowing detailed scrutiny of the facade, but what is perhaps most exciting is that the shop window is made of cast iron with large plate glass panes and as these were in place in 1842, this shop must have been amongst the very earliest to display this technology. It also allows us to use large windows wherever it seems appropriate without fear of being anachronistic.
The whole building is more ornate than most of the others nearby on High Street. In particular, we see architraves around the windows on the first and second floors which also have more complex window sills, whilst the first floor windows also have canopies.

 No. 49 High Street
No. 49 High Street

The balcony is rather curious in that it extends only about one foot from the front wall along the central section and cannot possibly have been used as a viewing platform, especially as there seem to be no doors giving access to it. In other words it's presence is pure ornament. The balcony railing is an exhuberant display of what at the time must have been an adventurous design, but, good though the photograph may be, it is difficult to make out the details. With such elegant features the building must have been a highly fashionable emporium.
Documentary Evidence
Hunt's (1852) Directory lists John Charles Selby, under Outfitting Warehouse at No. 49 High Street and also as a tailor at 85 High Street.
The Post Office (1859) Directory lists Jane Selby (Miss), Tailor and Outfitter at No. 49 High Street.
Kelly's (1859) Directory lists Jane Selby under Tailors at No. 49
Simpson's (1863) Directory shows that the business had been taken over by Guy and Eames who are listed as Naval Outfitters.
The 1861 Census, under Schedule 36 lists Jane Selby (64, Outfitter), a visitor Mary Richardson (39, Gentlewoman), with Albert Ran(d)all (19, Oufitters Assistant) and servants Anne Sew (25) and Ellen Randall (16).
In St Judes Church in Southsea there is a memorial to John Charles Selby which states that he died in his 60th year in 1854. He was living in a large house in a fashionable area of Southsea. The tablet was erected by his "disconsolate" sister. It would therefore appear that Jane carried on the business after her brother's death but probably due to her age retired between 1861 and 1863. According to "The Naval Officers Sword" by Captain Henry T.A.Bosanquet, Guy and Eames were Royal Naval Outfitters operating between 1863 and 1875 from 49 High Street. There was a Guy listed as a tailor in St. Thomas Street in 1859 who may have been the founder of the company.

As mentioned above, some of the decorative detail is unclear, particularly on the architrave and the balcony, though some aspects can be readily understood. The model will therefore have to employ some guesswork. Fortunately the image of the shop is sufficently clear to obtain a depiction that is probably 90% accurate. The one aspect that is not shown is the door though it must be quite deeply recessed.
Similarly the doors on either side of the shop are set back too far to model accurately, though the strong rectangular columns either side of the entrances appear to be made of marble with some recessed decoration on the front face. There are panels containing motifs in the centre of the stall risers on each side of the shop doorway, but the photograph shows them at such an oblique angle that any guess would be at best tentative. They could be a form of stylised "S" for Selby.
As the design for the balcony railings cannot be determined in detail a simplified design will be applied for the time being.

Snapshots from the Model (No. 49 High Street)

All images are copyright © Tim Backhouse. Click on the thumbnails for full size versions.

Old Portsmouth Model Images