World War One
During World War One, the park, as the town centre’s principal open space, came to be used for military drills and fundraising events alongside its more usual recreational uses. In June 1916 the park hosted the Battle of Jutland memorial service, commemorating the sea battle in which the German Fleet tried to break the North Sea blockade. This battle saw the single biggest loss of British servicemen in a naval battle, 14 ships were sunk and 6,094 lives lost, many hundreds of them from Portsmouth. During the war the park also housed a TB dispensary for the distribution of advice and medicines to treat the disease.
The southern-most corner of the park under the railway bridge was given over after the First World War to the Portsmouth War Memorial, also referred to as the Cenotaph. This was funded by public subscription and commemorated those Portsmouth citizens who had lost their lives in World War One, it was unveiled in 1921.
Between the world wars
Portsmouth became city in 1926 and the council finally purchased Victoria Park from the War Department in 1932. Thankfully despite much pressure to redevelop the land the park was maintained. Only the area south of the railway line was lost for a technical college.
By 1933, a new entrance from Anglesea Road into the park had been added and a playground constructed. The aviary had been significantly expanded, with further buildings and pens added. At the extreme north eastern tip of the park, a further curvilinear path had been installed. Electricity infrastructure had been installed in the north-eastern corner of the park in the form of a substation which still exists at this location. Some effort was made to blend this structure in to the park and it is designed in a diluted Arts and Crafts style.
By 1939 the bandstand had been removed and the new swimming baths had been built. Plans for further building in the park in the form of a School of Art were shelved with the outbreak of the Second World War.