Hidden Places Around Portsmouth: Fade to Grey

Slipway, Lower Quay [Image © John Callaway 2020]

Local resident and photographer John Callaway gives us a glimpse into Portsmouth’s hidden places with his stunning photography. This week, John takes a trip to Fareham Quays to tell the history of this once important south coast port.

It’s hard to imagine, when looking at an empty aggregates wharf, that for many centuries Fareham was a significant seaport. However, Fareham Borough Council’s website confirms that in Medieval times it was active ‘in shipping Hampshire grain in exchange for French wine and that by the 14th century it was an important south coast port…[bringing imports] of coal, corn, salt, hides and bark to Fareham Quays…[and shipping out goods from Fareham’s industries such as] timber, leather, bricks, pottery and grain.’

Visible signs…? [Image © John Callaway 2020]
The wharf, which is part of Upper Quay, lies on the western shore of a tidal creek known as Fareham Lake. Upper Quay, at the northern end of the lake, is a southward extension of the town of Fareham. This is less obvious today as the Quay and town are separated by a railway viaduct and road.

The white building, adjacent to the wharf, was at one time a residential property. Built in the early part of the 19th Century, Riverside House is a grade II listed building. Currently empty, and no longer commanding the southern end of Quay Street as it used to, the house was last used as offices in connection with an aggregates business. The adjacent corrugated iron shed is a modern(ish) addition which serves to highlight the fact that the house once saw better times…

Riverside House [Image © John Callaway 2020)
Further south is the Lower Quay. Originally a separate settlement, the two quays are now linked by a promenade constructed when the Gosport Road was widened in 1982.

According to a Hampshire County Council Townscape Assessment (2010),  ‘the historic buildings at Lower Quay range in scale from small cottages to large former warehouse and mill buildings. The large nineteenth-century warehouse dominates the waterside at the slipway and is seen for some distance in views towards the quay’. The building is now a chandlery. It seems unlikely that the current signage will have the same longevity as the building itself.

Slipway, Lower Quay [Image © John Callaway 2020]
Looking at the variety of sailing craft moored in and around the area, it is difficult to imagine that this was once an important harbour. In the seventeenth century it had a considerable reputation, as seen from a letter written from Portsmouth in 1630 to Sir John Coke, Principal Secretary of State.

The river leading to Fareham within a mile of the town is an absolute good and safe place to moor ships and in all respects as convenient and safe a harbour as Chatham. £2,000 may be saved to the king in moorings and men. (Cited in British History Online).

Fareham Lake at low tide. [Image © John Callaway 2020]

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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