There was so much happening in and around Portsmouth during the 19th century that it's almost impossible to know where to start and what order to deal with things - a straight chronological order somehow just doesn't seem to work, because of the various connections and threads, although we will be adding a basic timeline section in the future.
In Part 2 of this section we dealt with certain aspects of the attempts made to improve communications locally, and we're now coming up to the age of the train; however, before the railway eventually arrived in Portsmouth, there were developments of a much more local nature.
For centuries, unless someone fancied the long ride around to Gosport by road, the only way to reach the other side of the harbour was by "wherries", double-ended rowing boats operated by Gosport based watermen, who had held a monopoly of this form of transport since 1603.
These rights were jealously guarded and passed on within families, which led to enormous overcharging at times; eventually, in 1809, an act of parliament regulated charges, although it took until 1835 to set up a fixed fare table.
The "wherry" monopoly was finally broken in 1840, when a floating bridge, powered by steam and guided by chains, was introduced. When the first railway came to the area in Gosport, in 1841, it provided a huge boost in trade for the Floating Bridge and when the railway in Portsmouth was eventually extended to the Harbour Station, both vessels ran continuously for hours on end.
In 1875, the watermen set up their own ferry company, the Gosport & Portsea Watermen's Steam Launch Company and the Floating Bridge operators responded by running their own passenger ferries, but you will be able to find more about the history of the ferries elsewhere in this site.
One of the major changes to the skyline - and the seascape - during the nineteenth century came when construction started on the Palmerston Forts - Palmerston's Follies, as they came to be known later.
We tend to think of the forts as being peculiar to Portsmouth and The Solent, but in truth the ones we know so well were only part of a massive defence programme, designed to protect against invasion by the French - forts were built from Alderney to Scotland, and took their name from the British Prime Minister at the time, Lord Palmerston, who was a dedicated Francophobe.
They were the most extensive and costly system of defences ever undertaken in peacetime, but even by the time they were completed, the threat of invasion, if it had ever existed since Trafalgar, had passed, following the Franco-Prussian war, when, not to put to fine a point on it, the French had six bells of assorted rubbish kicked out of them, with what was left of one of their main armies surrendering to and being disarmed by the neutral Swiss.
So, not only did any potential invasion threat melt away like Swiss chocolate under a tropical sun, but between 1860, when the forts programme was instigated and 1870, when the French were humiliated, artillery technology had taken a massive leap forward and the forts' walls would almost certainly have proved inadequate against any siege cannons that might have been used against them.
If the Palmerston Forts quickly became all but obsolete, when construction of them started, they themselves rendered the Hilsea Lines, the ramparts and gateways that protected the access across the bridge onto Portsea Island, all but superfluous and further construction on those fortifications, which had been a feature of the late 1850s, quickly ceased.
However, the newly reinforced ramparts, much stronger and more extensive than the original earthworks built in the mid-eighteenth century, were not abandoned; more than 150 32-pounder cannon were installed, presenting an awesome prospect to any potential land force that managed to get past the outer ring of palmerston defences.
During the 1890s, these 32-pounders were augmented by 8 40-pounder rifled cannon, but these were still muzzle-loaders, with a slower rate of fire than their breech-loading counterparts.
All these improved defences had rendered the original town walls superfluous, too and, as the 1860s progressed, they were gradually demolished.
Even back in 1860, when the first bricks for the new forts were still being fired in the kilns of newly established local brickworks, the signs of things to come were appearing, with the launch of HMS Warrior, built, not in Portsmouth, as so many people still believe, but in London, by the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company.
(Also, HMS Warrior is frequently described as the first British "ironclad" warship, whereas she was and is an "iron hulled" warship - "ironclads" were wooden hulled ships, which then had iron plates hung along their sides, to protect against cannon fire.)
HMS Warrior's appearance signalled a new naval shipbuilding race around the world and she herself would be obsolete in quick time; but for a few years, she reigned supreme, so much better armed and armoured than anything else afloat that she never had to fire a shot in anger, principally because the seas of the world were going through a rare peaceful period, but also because no sane captain of a wooden hulled ship-of-the-line was ever likely to have sailed within range of her guns!
Ashore, the people of Portsmouth continued with their daily lives of work and recreation, the latter provided mostly by "public houses" and "beer houses" that had sprung up to draw tradeaway from the traditional inns that had been the main sources of alcohol and entertainment for so long.
Various fairs, sideshows and "theatrical" performances visited the town, many of them performing in the pubs - in 1877, a police report showed that there were 333 public houses and 528 beerhouses in Portsmouth!
In 1842, the last mail coaches visited Portsmouth and the first horse omnibus service started. In 1845, the last duel ever fought in England took place in Gosport from a challenge issued in Portsmouth – and the loser died from his wounds later, in Old Portsmouth.
In the 1840s and 1850s, the railway arrived in Portsmouth - first in Gosport and then, a little later, on the other side of the water and eventually extending to the Harbour Station, in 1876, but in the 1850s there was a dispute between two rival railway companies as to the rights to use certain stretches of track, which included barricades being erected and fighting between employees of both sides. It took a legal resolution in 1859, before trains could actually run freely from London to Portsmouth directly.
In 1874, a horse-drawn tram service opened between Old Portsmouth and North End, an improvement on the tram service that ran simply along Kingston Road in the late 1850s, which contributed to rapid growth that then started in North End, which was thanksalso, in part to the huge reclaimation projects that had been taking place there for the past two decades.
In 1881, the tram lines were extended, via Hilsea, to Cosham, which until then had been a tiny village, whose inhabitants largely considered themselves as completely apart from anything happening in Portsmouth - that, however, would soon begin to change.
Portsmouth had its first water supply as early as 1811, but in 1858 the council purchased the Water Company and set about improving the supply and building new sewers; In 1875, a new by-law stated that any house within 100 feet of a main sewer must be connected to it.
Despite these improvements, 514 people died in a smallpox epidemic in 1872 and conditions in large areas of Portsmouth, especially among the older, more crowded houses, left a great deal to be desired.
The first modern hospital opened in 1849,; initially called the Royal Portsmouth, Portsea and Gosport Hospital, it shortened its title to Portsmouth Royal Hospital in 1866; it was eventually closed in 1979, when the new extension project at Queen Alexandra Hospital was opened, and demolished to make way for a retail complex and car park.
1879 St James' Hospital opened near the village of Milton, which was still fairly isolated from the rest of the island community and in 1884, an infectious diseases hospital opened, with St Mary's adding to the medical facilities when it began operating in 1898.
The Portsmouth Infectious Diseases Hospital, or Milton Hospital, as it was often known, changed its name to Priorsdean Hospital in 1934, but in 1960 was absorbed by the growing St Mary's Hospital and effectively became its East Wing.
The Portsmouth and Southern Counties Eye and Ear Infirmary, which as the Portsmouth and Southern Counties Eye and Ear Hospital had opened in St George's Square, Portsea in 1821 and moved about subsequently, even to Wenham Holt, Liss, between 1941 and 1945, moved to Grove Road North in 1884, where it operated until its final closure in 1971.
One bonus for the people of Portsmouth from the clearance of the old town walls was that a space became available that was turned into the town's first public park - and Victoria park was opened in 1878.
As the nineteenth century drew to its close and the inevitable end of the Victorian era followed, the Portsmouth of 1900 was a far larger place than the Portsmouth of 1800, and local residents could have been forgiven for thinking that they had lived through the age of greatest change that could ever be possible.
However, as the twentieth century opened, little could they have expected that everything they and their parents and grandparents had seen would be as nothing, compared with what would follow through the next hundred years ...