On Thursday I had a job interview at Havant
, and most people haven’t an idea where Havant is. It is slightly East and North of Portsmouth, and is on the rail line to Brighton and Gatwick airport (in a roundabout way). Getting there wasn’t too complicated, a direct train to Fareham, and then a change to a train going to Brighton, stopping at Havant. Fortunately my rail woes seemed to be over and I did the train trip reasonably painlessly.
My interview was close by and I did not bring my camera with (which I regret), in fact I was not really intending to take any pics but just get everything over and done with. Unfortunately my mapping app had been upgraded and was now incomprehensible. I have no idea why these apps need permission for 90% of the things that they do, it is a very worrying scenario, and while I block as much as I can there is still way too many things out there that are a cause for concern.
My first jolt happened two blocks from the station when I walked slap-bang into the war memorial. Situated on a busy corner it was a very difficult one to photograph given the angle of the sun and railings and traffic. It was probably one of the more frustrating War Memorials I have photographed in ages. I used my phone for these images but the sun was just in the wrong place, and each time I wanted to shoot the pic a car/pedestrian/van/dog and everything inbetween would come between me an my lens.
St Faith’s Church
The memorial is placed in front of St Faith’s Church, which was a really pretty building with an outstanding graveyard and I was beginning to regret not bringing my camera. My phone has quite a good camera on it, but I find it difficult to use in certain light conditions, and in certain orientations. Unlike my camera; landscape or portrait does not matter, social media will display it how I place the image. With the phone social media decides how it will display my image irrespective of how I rotate it. I therefore try to only take landscape orientated shots.
The memorial has plaques for both World Wars on it, and I do have images of them. Because Portsmouth and Gosport are “Naval Towns” there is a predominance of naval casualties to be found in places like Havant which is not too far from the two cities.
My interview went well, and I will be going to a further one on Tuesday, and now that it was over I could look around a bit more. I was tempted to spend some time here, but the return trip to Basingstoke was a bit more complicated. I had to catch a local to Fratton, and from Fratton catch the Portsmouth train to Basingstoke. The timing was a problem though, there were not too many locals. Still, I had to get to the station first.
Actually, parts of it remind me a lot of Salisbury, there were lots of these really old buildings hiding in odd places.
Once at the station my local train came in reasonably quickly. The train was a class 313 Coastways branded local
and it was quite an interesting set, dating back to the mid-70’s.
It was a quick run to Fratton
, and I had been past it before, in fact, when I had first done the navigation for the Mendi Graves at Milton Cemetery
I had considered going to the cemetery via Fratton, but that had not happened as I had gotten a lift instead.
Fratton is close to two major cemeteries in Portsmouth: Milton
, and both are in walking distance of the station. I weighed the odds, and decided that seeing as I had some time to spare I would head off to the closest of the two, which you could see from the train. It was not a very long walk, the road runs parallel to the railway line, although you do need to make a bit of a detour to get to the road first. The area was residential, lined with a row of terrace houses, curving away into the distance on either side of the street.
Fratton had also been a large railway depot, so many years back these houses and area would have been the homes of blue collar workers, and the air pollution would have been formidable. Today the air is probably much cleaner, although now there are cars lining the street. This area also had a lot of men from the Royal Navy living here with their families. The cemetery was easily reached, and the entrance I went in has a very nice gate and lodge, and my intention was to photograph those on my way out again.
Almost immediately I spotted the two chapels, and they were in a wonderful condition. It is always nice to see intact chapels, far too many of them have been demolished over the years.
My intention was to photograph as many graves as I could and go as far into the cemetery as was feasible in roughly an hour. I had no idea how many CWGC graves there were because I had not intended gravehunting the cemetery in the first place. but I was going to try get at least 100 in the short time that I had. The standard of graves was varied, although a lot in the area where I was had old stones, and many of them were of poor legibility. I was not too interested in photographing headstones though, only the CWGC graves and they were scattered all through the cemetery
The cemetery was laid out reasonably easily in that there were pathways and that made things easier because I could work my way through an area and did not have to remember if I had been there before or not.
As I walked the lines I realised that an hour would not even get me close to the 567 CWGC graves in the cem, in fact this was a major expedition type cemetery rather than a quick photography session. I was taking two shots of each grave just in case my focusing skills were bad, I had found that my camera occasionally struggled to focus on the more rough standard white headstones so I always tried to get two shots of each stone and then choose which was the better image. And like Southampton, Portsmouth had lost a lot of its property and citizens during the wartime bombing of the city. A memorial commemorates those who lost their lives in the bombing.
It is quite sobering to look back on this period in England and the effect that the bombing had on the country. Southampton and Portsmouth were big targets for the Luftwaffe and Portsmouth is home to the Naval Dockyard and it was a major target, unfortunately bombs often ended up hitting civilian targets and that is why memorials such as this exist.
There is also a Polish War Memorial in the Cemetery and at first I thought it was related to the Second World War, but some reading soon changed that thought.
The English portion of the right hand plaque is reproduced below.
I wonder how many of the current Polish population in the UK are even aware of the rich heritage that the Poles created in the UK before the fall of Communism and the advent of the EU that allowed them to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
The photography was going well, although time was marching and I really needed to start heading back to the station, and this is where it gets difficult. The quandary is that often you may never come this way again, and those remaining graves may never be photographed. Yet realistically the odds of grabbing them all in such a haphazard way was very small. Ideally you need a list and to work your way through the cemetery, ticking off as you go. Private memorials would always be problematic though, and they would need extra time. As it is I did manage to find two pm’s that were not on the list, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t many more. Portsmouth was a naval town, and Haslar Military Hospital and Cemetery
was not too far away, there were a lot of sailors living in this town.
At some point I reached an area where the flowers were blooming in the first throes of spring, and it was very pretty. I spotted two lines of graves and headed towards it, deciding that there would be the last I would take before heading home. I grabbed my pics, said my farewells and headed to the entrance. I was not even halfway through the cemetery, but I had to call it quits. I had a train to catch. As I walked to the gate I snapped pics, grabbing some interesting memorials to look at later, it was actually quite a pleasant cemetery, and one that I would have liked to see completely, but maybe I shall get to do that if my job interview was successful.
It was also getting chilly, and my shoes were in danger of falling apart too. I would have to make a plan in that regard when I got home.
When I crossed the street I took one last pic of the gate and headed towards the station. There was a nice looking church in the distance but I did not really have time to go see it.
And that is when I realised there was a problem. A warning message was flashing on my screen, complaining about running out of storage. By my reckoning I had taken roughly 200 images, and I had a lot of space on the memory card. I would have to check this when I was on the train. By default my images are saved to the sd card and not the internal storage of the phone, but there was ample space on the card, even my camera has not been able to fill up the 8GB card it has. Upon investigation it turns out the the camera was disregarding the setting and doing its own thing, filling up the internal storage instead of the external as it was set up to do. This could be disastrous. When I got home I pulled all the images off the phone and discovered that not too many images had been lost, although the last two graves of the row of 20 had not come out and anything after that was missing. I had managed to get over 80 of the graves anyway, which is far short of the 567 in the cemetery. I do not know why the camera had not used the sd card like it was set up to do. Surprisingly enough the images had come out very well, and if it wasn’t for this possibility of loosing the images I would use the phone again, although the camera is easier in the long run.
In 2018, Keith Roberts kindly photographed the Cross of Sacrifice and the gate at the far end of the Cemetery that I had not been able to reach in 2015. I just wish I had had such beautiful weather when I was there.
It had been a great visit though, and I am determined that at some point I must try to return to Portsmouth to grab more graves. The city has a lot of casualties listed on memorials, the Naval Memorial at Southsea
has 24598 names on it, and there is still the war memorial
as well as three cemeteries in the city.
Portsmouth Naval Memorial viewed from the Solent
I have always wanted to explore the city more, but never did, apart from my occasional visits to the dockyard. I had been to Milton and Highland Road Cemetery
too, and the latter was a great experience because it had a lot of very historic headstones in it, that alone makes it an attractive destination. Maybe one day? The job? nope, did not get it.
DRW. © 2015-2021. Created 14/03/2015. Images migrated 27/04/2016, more images added 13/05/2018. Images of Cross of Sacrifice and main gate by Keith Roberts. Replaced 2 images and added more WM pics 19/01/2021