Thirty years and the whole of my adult life separates the two images above.
In 1984 I left home to go to Portsmouth University (actually back then it was Portsmouth Polytechnic but it amounts to the same thing). Unfortunately they didn’t have enough accommodation for all the first year students so some were farmed out to local guest houses. I was one of those.
I spent my first year at The Woodville Hotel, Florence Road, Southsea with 20 other lads (it was single sex) where we received bed, breakfast and an evening meal. It was a typical, tired, guest house catering for pensioners in the summer and students at other times.
Initially I had to share with the Mahler loving Christopher but he soon fell in love with a local girl and moved out within weeks. They never did replace him so I had the room to myself for pretty much they whole time.
Having left in the summer of 1985 I hadn’t given the place much thought until Helen and I decided to spend a night in Portsmouth for her birthday. Checking online I found that the Woodville was now called Strattons and had become a boutique hotel – not a word that could have been used to describe the Woodville during my time there – so we booked in.
Going back there after 30 years was an odd experience and brought back a flood of memories as we climbed the steps to the reception. The structure of the building is pretty much as it was all those years ago save for a few walls that have been removed but it was much brighter than I remember it ever being.
Another welcome improvement was the addition of en-suite facilities in every room rather than the shared bath available during my day. This makes the rooms smaller as you can see from the images below showing my room from 1984 and the same room today, tidier and with less ZX Spectrum!
I suspect that the present owners would balk at opening their doors to students but I guess thirty years ago needs must and the income I’m sure would have been welcome over the winter months.