The following (edited) article by Sue Allen was first published by the Friends of Old Portsmouth Association in their Newsletter No. 4 in 1989. We are indebted to FOOPA for permission to re-publish on this site.
Our house is only two years old and is probably the first dwelling to be built on this site. Unusually for Old Portsmouth, no cellars were found during the excavations for the footings and the somewhat incomplete records available have made it difficult to confirm exactly what was here in years gone by. However, my quest for information revealed a fascinating picture of the immediate area.
The earliest maps show the line of Warblington Street running through fields of crop and pasture. In 1469 it was known as Hoggyseeres Lane but 120 years later the name was changed to Hoggyn Market, then to Hogmarket Street, since this was where the pigs were bought and sold. And what problems pigs caused! They were described as a "common nuisance", due to great numbers running around the streets, digging and spoiling the ground. It was decreed that all swine should be ringed, but this appears to have had little effect!
Hogmarket Street was always a poor area and in 1693 the rent for a tenement was just one penny a year. However, by then, new houses were being built using stone from the remains of Warblington Castle (near Emsworth), demolished during the Civil War. Thus, in the early eighteenth century, the name was changed to Warblington Street.
The Colewort Barracks had now been built and the Taverns began to appear. The folk of Warblington Street concentrated on accommodating the soldiers' needs and it seems that, at times, they did rather too well! In 1701 a Mrs. Thompson was found to be keeping a house which was "very disorderly and ought to be suppressed, for that it tends to the debauching age as well as youth". The number of poor people became a problem in the town generally and in 1725 the Parish Poorhouse was constructed on part of the site now occupied by the Southern Electricity building next to our house. It seems that the inmates were well looked after since, in the eight months ending April 1735, they consumed 54¼ lbs. of tobacco and 65 quarts of brandy! In 1778 it was ordered that a well should be sunk in Warblington Street and this must have eased living conditions generally.
During the mid 1800's, the Colewort Barracks were enlarged as the result of complaints from the townspeople who were "grievously overburdened" by the numbers of soldiers quartered on them. It seems that residents in this area were still providing too many attractions for the soldiers since, in 1866, the right of way into the Barracks opposite Nobbs Lane was abolished because it was "the cause of great immorality and interfered with the discipline of the troops". During this enlargement, the site of our house was incorporated into the Barracks Coalyard. For incomprehensible reasons, the bedding store was right next to the coalyard on one side and on the other was the Albion Tavern. This was a large establishment with stables and dancing rooms whose landlord in 1866 met an untimely end due to "excessive drinking of spirits". It was here that a disagreement between a soldier and one of the local ladies resulted in her being kicked insensible and pulled round the room by her hair!
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the bedding store was sensibly moved and replaced by the Wheelwrights Shop with the Smithy, Farriers Shop and Shoeing Shed adjacent. Nearby were the Harness Room and the Troop Stables, which explains the number of horseshoes found in local gardens.
By 1900, the street was still inhabited mainly by tradespeople and shopkeepers but with little prosperity since, in 1902, the Warblington Street Mission and Institute for Poor Boys and Girls was built. However as the century progressed the buildings fell into disrepair, then came the War and by 1951 only three residents are listed. The S.E.B. Switchgear Building replaced the Farriers Shop, etc. and the street gradually developed into what we know today.
Sadly, none of the old buildings in Warblington Street remain but sometimes I look out the window with half closed eyes and imagine it as it once was. Then my thoughts are interrupted by the sounds of City life - or could it be those pigs?
Sue Allen