The second Town Hall was built between 1886 and 1890, in white Portland stone. In 1926 it became the Guildhall, when Portsmouth became a city.
The Guildhall was ruined in the great fire blitz on Friday January 10th 1941. Three showers of incendiary bombs fell on the hall. The third set the building alight, and then a high explosive bomb hit the roof, which fell in. All next day flames could be seen coming out of the 200ft high tower. The raid that night extensively bombed the shopping centres in Palmerston Rd, Kings Rd, and Commercial Road. Six churches were destroyed. Two hospitals damaged. Clarence Pier, The Hippodrome, and three cinemas were also destroyed. That night saw a total 2,314 fires, 3,000 persons homeless, 171 killed, and 430 injured. The author of this website was being hurriedly carried across the Guildhall Square the night the Guildhall got hit, we were on our way to take cover in Verrechia's shop, near the railway bridge. I was only 5 years old, but I remember it vividly.
When World War 2 ended, the Guildhall stood abandoned for quite some time, while tests were carried out on the outer walls to see if they would support a rebuilt interior.
When work commenced on rebuilding of the Guildhall, it was not completed until
1959 at which time it was re-