National Geographic : 1952 Apr
531 Sailing Enthusiasts Trim Their Model Yachts Before a Race on Canoe Lake Miniature sailboats race here each week in summer. Their owners, members of the Portsmouth Model Yacht Club, include many retired seamen. These models are scale replicas of six-meter sloops. In 1066 Harold, last of the Saxon kings, made the mistake no English ruler has dared to repeat. His ships of war gathered near the Wight to repel the threatened invasion by William of Normandy; but as the sum mer passed, Harold failed to keep his fleet "in being." Result: England fell for the last time to a foreign invader. It was the Conqueror's violent heirs who, in the 12th century, began building Port chester Castle within the walls of the old Roman fortress. From one corner of the square the Keep lifts its flint-hard and eight feet-thick masonry walls a hundred and ten feet. The view of Portsmouth Harbour from its lead-sheathed roof is almost the equal of the panoramic crow's-nest view from higher Ports Down. Crusader Richard the Lionheart sailed up this very harbor in 1189 to proclaim himself King of England. Twenty-three years later Richard's brother, the John of Magna Carta,* enclosed with walls the beach "docks" of Portsmouth village, where mud and wattle dams, hastily raised at dead low water around grounded vessels, allowed hull repairs to be made in the "dry." As the size and draught of the King's ships continued to increase, and the upper harbor silted up, the center of gravity of Britain's naval strength gradually moved from Port chester Castle at the inner end of the harbor to the deeper water and dry docks of the growing village at the harbor mouth. * See "The British Way," by Sir Evelyn Wrench, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, April, 1949.