Floating bridges

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This is the retired Cowes chain ferry taking a break in Gosport (Pompey’s Spinnaker Tower behind it). This is just a few metres from the site from where a steam-powered floating bridge clanked across the Harbour to Old Portsmouth from 1840 through to 1959. A vital memory of the incredible noise it made exists on vinyl – The Sounds of Bygone Transport, Argo TR 139. “An asthmatic whistle is first heard, followed by the sound of the auxiliary engine as a background to an interview with the engineer. The telegraph bell gives the order to start and the noise in the engine room becomes deafening as the chains pass over the driving wheels. At either side of the vessel the chains enter and leave the hull between rollers just above water level. Returning to the engine room as the bridge approaches Gosport the telegraph is heard to say ‘Slow’ and finally ‘Stop’.” The bridge recorded in 1951 was called Alexandra which had entered service in 1882.

Seal sighting near Portchester

It was cheering to encounter a seal in Portsmouth harbour on Sunday. I was paddling the kayak down from Portchester Castle heading across the shallows towards Bombketch Lake and Hardway when the animal’s head bobbed up, looked around and disappeared. I turned in its direction and it came up again a couple of metres ahead facing me. As it looked so doglike I spoke to it and it seemed to listen before rolling over and slipping away below.

How to Drive a Motor Cycle – Chas S Lake

In the early days of bikes how-to manuals quickly appeared. This one authored by by Chas S Lake under his pen name Phoenix dates around 1915 and cost a mere sixpence. The advice sounds quaint – “The rider, having effected a successful start, must now set the levers in such manner as to cause the machine to travel at the speed he desires, and under conditions which are favourable to the proper working of the engine.”

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Hulk scuttled

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She started life in the French navy as the Duguay Trouin built in Rochefort 1796-1800. She fought at Trafalgar but was later captured by the British on 3 November 1805, and commissioned as HMS Implacable. Eventually she became a hulk in Portsmouth Harbour as part of Foudroyant’s training accommodation. Offered for disposal after WW2 and sufficient money not being raised to save her, she was ceremoniously and scandalously scuttled by the Royal Navy in St Catherine’s Deep off the Isle of Wight on 2 December 1949. Part of the decking floated back to the coast of France.

Raphael Tuck’s “PATRIOTIC” Series

Raphael Tuck’s “PATRIOTIC” Series (No. 8853) included an illustrated mythology of the Royal Navy on the verge of the Great War c1912 entitled Rule Britannia. It was aimed at young people, generously sized at 27.5×22 cm and carried several full chromolithographic plates. Here’s a sampling of the recruiting text:

The British sailor of to-day is just as great, brave, and clever a man as the heroes of Drake’s and Nelson’s times, and as long as we have such men, so long shall we be able to sing, “Rule Britannia! Britannia rules the waves!”

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A fairing for Sarah

Victorian small china ornaments bought or given as prizes at fairs were often modelled on popular tableaux from the theatre and in some cases taken from stereocards like those produced by Michael Burr. Sarah’s Young Man was a one-act play by William Suter 1856 that was very well known judging from a 1905 postcard. Back in the 1860s Burr set up the scene for his photographic series and a German company then made a fairing to match. See them all here:

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