Marcus Roberts (2004)

Touring the Area

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Portsmouth has very considerable Jewish interest concentrated in both Portsea and Southsea. A visitor to Portsmouth would be well rewarded by a visit to the synagogue and cemetery alone. However added to this are numerous sites close to the Naval Dock yard which readily present picture of a once prominent and vibrant Jewish community. For those with more time the sites connected with Alderman Emanuel in Southsea are of significance as well as perhaps Jewish associations with Kingstone Prison and Municipal Cemetery. There are also sites in Landport, an area popular with late 19th Century Jewish tailors. The sites as described are presented in an anti-clockwise circuit of Portsmouth starting in the former Jewish area of Portsea. Due to the importance of Portsmouth in the war effort much of the harbour area was bombed by the Nazis, which destroyed many of the buildings of the Jewish area including the synagogue. On researching Portsmouth, I found (as so often) the majority of gaps in the streets filled with modern developments were frequently the local Jewish sites! However there are survivals and enough of the old buildings survive to give the area a distinctive historical character. It is recommended to start a tour of Jewish Portsmouth at the Naval Dockyard Gates, which is in reality where the Jewish history of Portsmouth started. Visitors might want to tour the historic Dockyards and their historic vessels at some point in their visit as they are well preserved and presented and give the Napoleonic background to the economy of the community The old Jewish area is generally contained in an small area bounded by Queen Street, Bishop Street, Kent Street, College Street and the Common Hard, with all the interconnecting street having Jewish associations. There was also a projection along the harbour front into Ordnance Row. Queen Street can be visualised as the "back-bone" of the Jewish quarter, with the old synagogue about half-way along its length. An extension of the Jewish community which flourished in the Napoleonic Wars is a little further south around the old harbour nest to The Point and Broad Street which are accessed from Gun Wharf Road. The most important Jewish streets in Portsmouth were Broad Street and College Street.
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