This film is part of Free

Mild & Bitter: Portsmouth & Plymouth

A polemical film where two men in a pub compare and contrast the post-war resurrection of both Portsmouth and Plymouth after their pummelling by the Luftwaffe.

Amateur film 1963 15 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Wessex Film and Sound Archive


A man from Portsmouth meets a man from Plymouth outside the Mermaid. On entering they order a pint of mild and a pint of bitter and sit at a table. Using visuals the pair compare the post-war development of their respective cities. Plymouth is presented as a fine example of a modern, though rather austere looking city while Portsmouth has retained many of its old buildings, bomb-sites and character. The visual comparisons continue until it's closing time at the bar.

Don Reynolds, who made this film, was an architect working for Portsmouth's City Council. His film criticises the city’s sluggish redevelopment, especially when compared to Plymouth, which had also been devastated by the Luftwaffe. In 1943 Sir Patrick Abercrombie produced a Plan for Plymouth, which the city's council enacted quickly and radically. By 1963 much of the city centre was complete though it looked rather uniform and characterless. Portsmouth's council, by contrast, adopted a much less dynamic approach. Surviving pre-war buildings stood cheek-by-jowl with bombsites awaiting the developers. Portsmouth’s own architectural horrors, like the Tricorn Centre, were only a few years away.