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Notes from our March meeting: The Archivist as Detective


John Sadden, archivist at Portsmouth Grammar School, led an enthralling and profusely- illustrated journey through time to some of the lesser-known periods in the school’s history. The very first school opened in Penny Street in 1753 next to the barracks, but was not a success and closed in 1871. The Victorian grammar school opened in 1879 in the detached building on the north side of Cambridge roundabout and gained a solid reputation, with the city’s high military occupancy during WW1 boosting pupil numbers considerably. Cambridge barracks became surplus to requirements after the war, the site being taken for the expanding school in 1926 with the main yellow-brick barrack building of course still in use today, and the inner precincts always redeveloping to keep the school successful. Pre-dating the barracks however, was the old Theatre Royal, with its Dickensian connections, and before that a prison. Some of the pictures John used can be found on the PGS website; many of his books on the broader history of Portsmouth are still in print, and all can be found in the local libraries.