Monday, 9 May 2016

Pompeywood: Pompey Origins

Contemporaries tend to think that 'Pompey' is synonymous with Portsmouth Football Club rather than a referral to the city of Portsmouth itself.

That Portsmouth is an historical naval city cannot be denied.

This press clipping dated October 10th 1934 from the Portsmouth Evening News may shed some light on my impression that Pompey was, and always has been, a moniker for the city at large.

It reads as follows:


Sir,--The "Daily Telegraph" correspondent you refer to in your paper of the 9th inst., seems to be somewhat adrift in his version of the of the name "Pompey" as applied to Portsmouth. I am sure that many old inhabitants of the City can recall the use of the name, long before the existence of the Portsmouth Football Club. It is possible, I believe, to trace the probable origin of the name back to 1797, at the time of the famous Spithead mutiny. Some of the vessels implicated were: Terrible, Queen Charlotte, Glory, Duke, Defiance, Defence, Ramillies, Mars, Robust, Minotaur, Incendiary, Royal Sovereign, and the Pompee. Of these, the Pompee was the vessel most actively concerned in the whole proceedings. It is probable, therefore, that the entire nation came to think in terms of "Pompee" rather than of "Portsmouth," and sailors with their innate love of nicknames were disinclined to cease the practice. In this way the two names became synonymous. This is, I think, a far more probable explanation than the "les pompiers" or Parisian firemen solution of the "Telegraph" correspondent.--Yours, etc.,
100, Marmion Road, Southsea, Hants.
October 10, 1934.

I think Charles is very likely correct - and I'm sure the sailors liked a bit of footie, too.

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