Hidden Places Around Portsmouth: Exit Stage Left

Local resident and photographer John Callaway, gives us a glimpse into the little known history of Portsmouth and the surrounding area, alongside some of his stunning photography. In this essay, John heads from Langstone to Warblington and finds a strange part of post-medieval history.

Exit stage right. Image by John Callaway 2020

Sometimes imagination has a way of imposing itself upon reality. Walking along the foreshore from Langstone towards Warblington, these slowly decaying timbers appear to take on characteristics that suggest a living form. Perhaps it’s the light, or maybe the form that they’ve taken after many years of being shaped and carved by the elements….

Passing by a couple of weeks ago, I’m almost certain that they were making towards the shore, led by the ‘character’ on the far right, intent on making landfall. It’s definitely not the beer, as the two nearest pubs, The Royal Oak and The Ship, are both closed during the lockdown.

I struggled to find much information about what these timbers might be. However, an archaeological survey conducted in 2007, entitled ‘Archaeological Discoveries in Chichester Harbour AONB‘ suggests that it was:

a large post-medieval wharf at Warblington that consisted of three possibly associated features. The wharf was built of square timber piles, some with bracing timbers and iron bolts, a compacted surface – probably a slipway – and the timber posts of a coastal defence revetment…

Bear in mind that post-medieval covers the period 1485-1900!

There’s also a brief mention on the Chichester Harbour Trust Website indicating that it is the remains of an Oyster Quay.

However, it’s my guess that these spectral shapes might be able to tell us a whole lot more, if they were minded too.


This article was originally published on John Callaway’s website, Ideas & images from Portsmouth and beyond. You can read more of John’s writing on his website and also see his live music photography.

Images by John Callaway.

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