We have recently acquired a very interesting original letter in ink manuscript, dated 8 March 1841, from Joshua Hill, engineer, to the directors of the recently formed Floating Bridge Company. It is written on two sides of company notepaper headed with a superb engraving depicting the floating bridge off the Gosport shoreline.
I beg to inform you I will find timber and keep the sills in good repair at 6/- per week, I will find timber and keep drums in good repair at 8/- per week, oil for engines at 4/- per week, oil and cotton for lamps at 3/6 per week, tallow and wipings for engines at 5/- per week, I keep the bridge free from all filth which comes in by the chains at 3/- per week, I will find oil and cotton for lamps on deck and 1 in each cabin for 2/6 per week.
I am Gentlemen, your obedient servant, Joshua Hill, Engineer
Up until the mid 19th century and the advent of steam propulsion all passengers and goods were transported across the harbour by watermen using wherries. In 1840 a floating bridge arrived on the scene. It was 100 feet long and 60 feet wide with two steam engines driving heavy oak logs which engaged on iron chains laid out across the harbour. It transported carriages, carts, horses and cattle as well as foot passengers, crossing the harbour from the Point at Old Portsmouth to Gosport every 15 minutes for 14 hours a day.
Remarkably the chain ferry remained in operation until 1959 - some 115 years later!
With Christmas rapidly approaching visitors to our site may be interested in a wonderful Edwardian mounted photograph (c.1908) we've recently discovered. It depicts the seasonal offerings at Scard the fishmonger in North Street, Gosport.
There are about 130 turkeys, 50 pheasants and 40 rabbits on display, all beautifully presented, naturally reared and fresh. Note the look of pride in the faces of the staff!
It had become something of a custom during the Victorian and Edwardian periods for such shops to proudly display their Christmas stock for photographing. Indeed, there was considerable rivalry among retailers for maximum impact.
We recently acquired this interesting fishing permit issued to a Mr J. Phillips in 1909 by the Royal Engineers at Gosport and allowing him to fish within the moats of Gosport and Stokes Bay.
The Stokes Bay lines were built in the 1860s as part of the wider fortifications constructed around Gosport and Portsmouth on the recommendations of Lord Palmerston. The lines consisted of a moat with a protective rampart and connected Fort Gomer to Fort Monckton. In 1878 the Royal Engineers altered the flow of the River Alver to run into the moat near to No 2 battery, and this presumably led to the greatly improved fishing prospects!
In the 1950s the moat was filled in, although clues as to its former course can still be seen.
Part of the moat at Stokes Bay with The Crescent beyond, c.1920
Looking east along the moat from No. 2 battery at the western end of Stokes Bay, 1920s
You can now view and buy many pictures and books directly from our new website and we intend adding further items to our online stock over the coming weeks.
Running a busy gallery and bookshop we often acquire items that reveal new and interesting information relating to the rich history of Gosport, Portsmouth and The Solent. We intend sharing some of that with you on this blog!