Paulsgrove Estate

 Created 22-02-2003    Last update 05-05-2012

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Paulsgrove is located at the northern end of Portsmouth Harbour, and occupies a good deal of the southern slopes of Portsdown. It is sometimes said that Paulsgrove got its name because St Paul landed there long ago: Paul's-Grove, but it was in fact named after a Saxon called Palla: Palla's Grove. Due to its favourable location it was probably used as farm land since Man first occupied the area. This was its use, apart from the Paulsgrove Racecourse, until just after World War Two when the owner, George Cooper (see the Cooper Shelter), sold the land to Portsmouth City Council who built a Council Estate on it mainly to accommodate those who had lost their homes during the Portsmouth Blitz. Ironically the main road through the estate - Allaway Avenue named after a former Lord Mayor - was largely built during the last part of WWII by Italian Prisoners Of War who were billeted next to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Hutments.   

The local newspaper "The Evening News" - now imaginatively called "The News" has never done the residents of Paulsgrove any favours. Almost as soon as the Estate was occupied articles appeared referring to 'delinquent youths' causing trouble near the shops. Whilst this may well have been true it also set the tone of reference to Paulsgrove for the next half Century. Although a slating in the press still occasionally occurs things have moved on. By the year 2000 more than half the houses in Paulsgrove were owner occupied so the term 'Council Estate' is now obsolete. I have lived in Paulsgrove since 1988 and there is nowhere else I'd rather be, except perhaps Acapulco. 

To the east of Paulsgrove is a similar (Council) Housing Estate called Wymering. When talking of the area in general I tend to refer to these two locations as the single entity of Paulsgrove since there is no obvious boundary between them.


Aerial photo site location    Google Earth Aerial View




drilling for oil at Paulsgrove

During March 1936 the tranquility of Portsdown was shattered by the installation of an oil drilling rig by the D'Arcy Exploration Company, a subsidiary of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. During the drilling of the test bore a small mining village temporarily sprang up on the hillside. 

Approximate location SU639063

Drilling Rig

The 136 foot derrick drilled to a depth of one mile but oil in commercial quantities was not found. The site was abandoned on February 17, 1938. In the background is the Paulsgrove Racecourse, Portsmouth Harbour, and beyond that Portchester Castle.

Paulsgrove House

Its origins are unclear, but it's possible that Sir Richard Norton built the original house in 1665. The last occupier was George Cooper who owned all the land at Paulsgrove. 

Former location SU633056

Paulsgrove House Gardens

Paulsgrove House, from the east, in its heyday. Compare this to the sad depiction below. Some of the trees in this garden still survive.

Paulsgrove House 1970

Paulsgrove House was demolished in December 1970 (the same year as this photo) to make way for the M27 Motorway. Events leading up the demolition are suspect to say the least. After several failed attempts to get demolition planning permission the house mysteriously burned down. 



Aerial photo of Paulsgrove House

An aerial photo of Paulsgrove House (arrowed). The strip of open land running diagonally at the top left was deliberately left clear during the planning of the estate to allow the M27 Motorway to pass through in later years. The chalk bund at the bottom of the photo marks the beginning of the construction of Port Solent which was built on mudflats in-filled with Portsmouth's refuse. The fact that Port Solent shares a Paulsgrove postcode has always been a source of embarrassment for its residents. 

Paulsgrove estate under construction

This photo was taken from Portsdown looking south, and shows the Paulsgrove Housing Estate nearing completion in the late 1940s. The foundations of houses about to be built can be seen at the foot of the hill. In the background are Horsea and Whale Islands where large arrays of Military aerials can just be made out.

Children playing at Paulsgrove

Two children playing in Deerhurst Crescent around 1949.Work began on the Estate in February 1946. The photo was taken looking northwest, and in the centre background are the slopes of the spoil heap of the UGHQ underneath Fort Southwick.

Nissan Hut shops at Paulsgrove

Because building the Paulsgrove Estate was such a large undertaking people were moving in before the project was complete. Until the permanent shops were ready in 1953 these temporary ones were erected in 1949 to fill the gap. Look closely at the centre left and a Nissan Hut can be seen behind the brick facade.  


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