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—  City and Unitary Authority Area  —
City of Portsmouth

Arms of Portsmouth City Council
Nickname(s): Pompey
Location within England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region South England
Ceremonial county Hampshire
Admin HQ Portsmouth City Centre
 - Type Unitary authority, City
 - Governing body Portsmouth City Council
 - Leadership Leader & Cabinet
 - Total 15.5 sq mi (40.25 km2)
Population (2008 est.)
 - Total 200,000 (Ranked 80th)
 - Ethnicity
(United Kingdom Census 2006 Estimate)[1]
91.4% White
3.6% S.Asian
1.2% Black
1.3% Mixed
2.5% Chinese and other

Portsmouth (pronounced /ˈpɔtsməθ/ ( listen)) is a city located in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is the second largest city in Hampshire and is the United Kingdom's only island city and is located on Portsea Island.[2] The City of Portsmouth and Portsmouth Football Club are both nicknamed Pompey. The administrative unit itself has a population of 197,700, which forms part of the wider Portsmouth conurbation, with an estimated 442,252 residents within the wider urban area,[citation needed] making it the 11th largest urban area in England. At the 2001 census it was the only city in England with a greater population density (4,639 /km2 (12,015/sq mi)) than London as a whole (4,562 /km2 (11,816/sq mi)), although many of London's individual boroughs had a much greater density.

As a significant naval port for centuries, Portsmouth is home to the world's oldest dry dock still in use and also home to some famous ships, including Nelson's flagship HMS Victory and HMS Warrior. Although smaller than in its heyday, the naval base remains a major dockyard and base for the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Commandos whose Headquarters resides there. There is also a thriving commercial ferryport serving destinations on the continent for freight and passenger traffic.

The Spinnaker Tower is a striking recent addition to the city's skyline. It can be found in the redeveloped former HMS Vincent, an area of retail outlets, restaurants, clubs and bars now known as Gunwharf Quays.

The Portsmouth Urban Area covers an area with a population well over twice that of the city of Portsmouth itself, and includes Fareham, Portchester, Gosport, Havant (which includes the large suburbs of Leigh Park), Lee-on-the-Solent, Stubbington and Waterlooville.

The suburbs of Portsmouth arguably form a conurbation stretching from Southampton to Havant on the M27/A27 road along the coast, and north to Clanfield on the A3 road.



There have been settlements in the area since before Roman times, mostly being offshoots of Portchester, which was a Roman base (Portus Adurni) and possible home of the Classis Britannica. Portsmouth is commonly regarded as having been founded in 1180 by John of Gisors (Jean de Gisors).[citation needed] Most early records of Portsmouth are thought to have been destroyed by Norman invaders following the Norman Conquest. The earliest detailed references to Portsmouth can be found in the Southwick Cartularies. However, there are records of "Portesmūða" from the late 9th century, meaning "mouth of the Portus harbour".[3]

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 501 claims that "Portesmuða" was founded by a Saxon warrior called Port, though historians do not accept that origin of the name. The Chronicle states that:

Her cwom Port on Bretene ⁊ his .ii. suna Bieda ⁊ Mægla mid .ii. scipum on þære stowe þe is gecueden Portesmuþa ⁊ ofslogon anne giongne brettiscmonnan, swiþe æþelne monnan. (Here Port and his 2 sons Bieda and Mægla came to Britain with 2 ships to the place which is called Portsmouth and slew a young British man, a very noble man.)

The battle is attested to in early Welsh sources as the Battle of Llongborth. The poem names the Chronicle's "young British man of nobility" as Geraint map Erbin.

In the Domesday Book there is no mention of Portsmouth. However, settlements that were later to form part of Portsmouth are listed. At this time it is estimated the Portsmouth area had a population not greater than two or three hundred. Whereas Portsea had a small church prior to 1166, Portsmouth's first real church came into being in 1181 when a chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket was built by Augustinian monks and run by the monks of Southwick Priory until the Reformation. The modern Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral is built on the original location of the chapel.

In 1194 King Richard The Lionheart returned from being held captive in Austria, and set about summoning a fleet and an army to Portsmouth, which Richard had taken over from John of Gisors. On May 2, 1194 the King gave Portsmouth its first Royal Charter granting permission for the borough to hold a fifteen day annual "Free Market Fair", weekly markets, to set up a local court to deal with minor matters, and exemption from paying the annual tax, with the money instead used for local matters. King Richard later went on to build a number of houses and a hall in Portsmouth. The hall is thought to have been at the current location of the Clarence Barracks (the area was previously known as Kingshall Green). It is believed that the crescent and eight-point star found on the thirteenth century common seal of the borough was derived from the arms of William de Longchamp, Lord Chancellor to Richard I at the time of the granting of the charter.[4] The crescent and star, in gold on a blue shield, were subsequently recorded by the College of Arms as the coat of arms of the borough.[5]

In 1200 King John reaffirmed the rights and privileges awarded by King Richard. King John's desire to invade Normandy resulted in the establishment of Portsmouth as a permanent naval base, and soon afterward construction began on the first docks, and the Hospital of St Nicholas, which performed its duties as an almshouse and hospice. During the thirteenth century Portsmouth was commonly used by Henry III and Edward I as a base for attacks against France.

By the fourteenth century commercial interests had grown considerably. Common imports included wool, grain, wheat, woad, wax and iron, however the port's largest trade was in wine from Bayonne and Bordeaux.

In 1338 a French fleet led by Nicholas Béhuchet raided Portsmouth, destroying much of the town, with only the local church and hospital surviving. Edward III gave the town exemption from national taxes to aid reconstruction. Only ten years after this devastation the town for the first time was struck by the Black Death. In order to prevent the regrowth of Portsmouth as a threat, the French again sacked the city in 1369, 1377 and 1380. Henry V built the first permanent fortifications of Portsmouth. In 1418 he ordered a wooden Round Tower be built at the mouth of the harbour, which was completed in 1426. Henry VIII rebuilt the fortifications with stone, raised a square tower, and assisted Robert Brygandine and Sir Reginald Bray in the construction of the world's first dry dock.[6] In 1527, with some of the money from the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII built Southsea Castle. In 1545, he saw his vice-flagship Mary Rose founder off Southsea Castle, with a loss of about 500 lives, while going into action against the French fleet. Over the years Portsmouth's fortification was increased by numerous monarchs, although most of these have now been converted into tourist attractions.

In 1628 the unpopular favorite of Charles I George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham was stabbed to death in an Old Portsmouth pub by a veteran of Villiers' most recent military folly, John Felton. The murder took place in the "Greyhound" Public House (popularly known as "The Spotted Dog"), High Street; this is now a private building called Buckingham House and it bears a commemorative plaque to mark the event.[7]

During the English Civil War the arsenal at the Square Tower was surrendered by its royalist commander in return for safe passage out of the city for himself and the garrison.[8] The City would become a major base for the Parliamentary Navy during the war. The father of the Royal Navy Robert Blake during the Commonwealth would use Portsmouth as his main base, during both the Anglo Dutch war and the Anglo Spanish war. He died within sight of the city after his final cruise off Cadiz.

On 13 May 1787 11 ships sailed from Portsmouth, to establish the first European colony in Australia; it also marked the beginning of prisoner transports to that continent. It is known today as the First Fleet in Australia.[9]

Portsmouth has a long history of supporting the Royal Navy logistically, leading to its importance in the development of the Industrial Revolution. Marc Isambard Brunel, the father of famed Portsmouth engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, established in 1802 the world's first mass production line at the Portsmouth Block Mills, to mass produce pulley blocks for rigging on the Royal Navy's ships. At its height the Dockyard was the largest industrial site in the world.[10]

Admiral Nelson left Portsmouth for the final time in 1805 to command the fleet that would defeat the larger Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar.[11] The Royal Navy's reliance on Portsmouth led to the city becoming the most fortified in Europe,[10] with a network of forts (a subset of "Palmerston's Follies") encircling the city.[12] From 1808 the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadron, who were tasked to stop the slave trade, operated out of Portsmouth. On December 21, 1872 a major scientific expedition, the Challenger Expedition, was launched from Portsmouth.

Gosport - Taken in 1960

In 1916 the town experienced its first aerial bombardment when a Zeppelin airship bombed it during World War I.[13]

In 1926 Portsmouth was granted city status,[14] following a long campaign by the borough council. The application was made on the grounds that Portsmouth was the "first naval port of the kingdom". Two years later the city received the further honour of a lord mayoralty.[15] In 1929 the city council added the motto "Heaven's Light Our Guide" to the medieval coat of arms. Apart from referring to the celestial objects in the arms, the motto was that of the Star of India. This recalled that troopships bound for the colony left from the port.[5] Further changes were made to the arms in 1970, when the Portsmouth Museums Trust sponsored the grant of crest, supporters and heraldic badge. The crest and supporters are based on those of the royal arms, but altered to show the city's maritime connections: the lions and unicorn have been given fish tails, and a naval crown placed around the latter animal. Around the unicorn is wrapped a representation of "The Mighty Chain of Iron", a Tudor defensive boom across Portsmouth Harbour.[16]

The city was bombed extensively during World War II, destroying many houses and the Guildhall. While most of the city has since been rebuilt, developers still occasionally find unexploded bombs. Southsea beach and Portsmouth Harbour were military embarkation points for the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. Southwick House, just to the north of Portsmouth, had been chosen as the headquarters for the Supreme Allied Commander, US General Dwight D. Eisenhower, during D-Day.

After the war, much of the city's housing stock was damaged and more was cleared in an attempt to improve the quality of housing. Those people affected by this were moved out from the centre of the city to new developments such as Paulsgrove and Leigh Park. Post-war redevelopment throughout the country was characterised by utilitarian and brutalist architecture, with Portsmouth's Tricorn Centre one of the most famous examples. More recently, a new wave of redevelopment has seen Tricorn's demolition, the renewal of derelict industrial sites, and construction of the Spinnaker Tower.

Portsmouth Harbour, taken from Gosport showing Portsdown Hill in the centre and the city of Portsmouth on the right including the home of the Royal Navy, HMNB Portsmouth.
Portsmouth harbour, with HMS Warrior on the left, Portsmouth Harbour railway station in the centre, and construction of the Spinnaker Tower on the right.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Portsmouth at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of pounds.

Year Regional Gross Value Added[4] Agriculture[1] Industry[2] Services[3]
1995 2,024 - 496 1,528
2000 2,750 - 658 2,092
2003 3,362 - 705 2,657
Note 1. includes hunting and forestry
Note 2. includes energy and construction
Note 3. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
Note 4. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding

A tenth of the city's workforce works at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, which is directly linked to the city's biggest industry, defence, with major sites for BAE and VT Group located in the city. VT have been awarded some of the construction work on the two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers, although this involved the merger with BAE ship group.[17][18][19] This will create 3000 new jobs in the city.[20] There is also a major ferry port which deals with both passengers and cargo. The city is also host to the European headquarters of IBM, and the UK headquarters of Zurich Financial Services, and of the Grumman Aerospace Corporation.

The "Semaphore Tower" at HMNB Portsmouth. The Masts of HMS Victory are also visible in this picture

In the last decade the number of shops in Portsmouth has grown dramatically due to both the buoyancy of the local economy and improved transport links. In the city centre, shopping is centred around Commercial Road and the 1980s Cascades Shopping Centre, with over 100 high street shops between them. Recent redevelopment has created new shopping areas, including the upmarket Gunwharf Quays, containing fashion stores, restaurants, and a cinema; and the Historic Dockyard, which aims at the tourist sector and holds regular French markets, and an annual Christmas market. Large shopping areas include Ocean Retail Park, on the north-eastern side of Portsea Island, comprising shops requiring large floor space for selling consumer goods; and the Bridge Centre an 11,043 square metre shopping centre built in 1988, now dominated by the Asda Walmart store. There are also many smaller shopping areas throughout the city.

There is a small fishing fleet based in the city.

Tourism is also a growing sector of the economy.

The housing boom has also spurned economic growth with prices rising at a speed second only to London.

City Centre

The city centre is the main shopping area in Portsmouth, mainly sited around the shopping streets Commercial Road, Edinbrough Road, Arundel Street, Crasswell Street and Charlotte Street. The City Centre is home to the Cascades Shopping Centre and major high street stores including Debenhams, Wilkinson, Primark, H&M and supermarkets Tesco, Sainsburys and Iceland. To the north of the City Centre is the Victory Retail Park. Portsmouth and Southsea railway station (the city's central station) is located to the south of the city centre, close to the Guildhall and the Civic Offices. Just to the south of the Guildhall is Guildhall Walk, a street which is known for its bars and clubs, such as Walkabout, Bar Me & Route 66. Located in Edinbrough Road is the Portsmouth Roman Catholic cathedral and Victoria Park, also to the west of the city centre is the home ground of Portsmouth's second football team United Services Portsmouth Football Club.

Government and politics

The city is administered by Portsmouth City Council, which is currently a unitary authority. Portsmouth was granted its first charter in 1194. In 1904 the boundaries were extended to finally include the whole of Portsea Island. The boundaries were further extended in 1920 and 1932, taking in areas of the mainland. Until April 1, 1997 it was a non-metropolitan district of Hampshire. Portsmouth remains part of the Ceremonial county of Hampshire. The city is divided into two parliamentary constituencies, Portsmouth South and Portsmouth North, represented in the House of Commons by, respectively, a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament, Mike Hancock, and a Labour MP, Sarah McCarthy-Fry.

The city council is made up of 42 councillors. As of October 2009, the Liberal Democrats have overall majority control of the city council, with 23 Liberal Democrat, 17 Conservative and two Labour.[21] Councillors are returned from 14 wards, each ward having three councillors. Councillors have a four year term, only one council seat is up for election in each ward at any one election.


Population change[22]
Year Dwellings Population
1310 740 (est)
1560 1000 (est)
1801 5310 32,160
1851 12,825 72,096
1901 36,368 188,133
1951 233,545
1961 68,618 215,077
1971 197,431
1981 175,382
1991 177,142
2001 186,700

Portsmouth is a mainly white city in terms of race with 90.9% of the population belonging to this ethnic group. Portsmouth's long association with the Royal Navy has meant that it represents one of the most diverse cities in terms of the peoples of the British Isles, with many demobilised sailors staying in the city, in particular, Scots, English from the Industrial North East and Northern Irish. Former Prime Minister James Callaghan's father was a Protestant from Northern Ireland. Similarly, some of the largest and most established non white communities have their roots with the Royal Navy, most notably the large community from Hong Kong. Portsmouth's long industrial history in support of the Royal Navy has seen many people from across the British Isles move to Portsmouth to work in the factories and docks, the largest of these groups being the Irish Catholics (Portsmouth is one of 34 UK towns and cities with a Catholic cathedral;[23]) surnames like Doyle and Murphy are extremely common in Portsmouth.[24][25] Portsmouth is the City with the highest number of emigrants, in the UK, particularly the most skilled.[26] According to 2007 estimates, the ethnic breakdown of Portsmouth's population is as follows: 86.4% White British, 3.8% Other White, 1.7% Chinese, 1.6% Indian, 1.3% Mixed-Race, 1.2% Bangladeshi, 1.0% Other ethnic group, 0.9% Black African, 0.7% White Irish, 0.6% Other South Asian, 0.4% Pakistani, 0.3% Black Caribbean and 0.1% Other Black.[27]


The city has two theatres - both designed by the Victorian/Edwardian architect and entrepreneur Frank Matcham. The New Theatre Royal in Guildhall Walk near to the City Centre, specialises in classical, modern and avant-garde drama and the newly-restored Kings Theatre in Southsea's Albert Road has many amateur musicals as well an increasing number of national tours. Other venues include the Third Floor Arts Venue in the Central Library and the South Parade Pier, as well as the Portsmouth Guildhall itself, which hosts numerous musical events and an extensive annual programme of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and is on the national touring circuit of well known singers and groups [see below].

The city has three established music venues: The Wedgewood Rooms, The Pyramids and The Guildhall, an imposing neoclassical building designed by William Hill and based on an earlier design used for the town hall in Bolton. Since the late 1970s only three acts from the city have made the Top 40 of the UK Singles Chart: the critically acclaimed indie/rock bands The Cranes and Ricky; plus the novelty pop act Same Difference.

For many years a series of symphony concerts has been presented at the Guildhall by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. In 1979, 1982, 1985, 1988 and 1991 the city was host to a major international string quartet competition, whose winners included the Takacs (Hungary), Endellion (UK), Hagen (Austria) and Ysaÿe (France) quartets. (The competition subsequently moved to London.) The Portsmouth Sinfonia (1970–1979) approached classical music from a different angle.

The city is home to FA Premier League football team, Portsmouth F.C., who play their home games at Fratton Park. They have two Football League titles (from 1949 and 1950) to their name. They are also previous holders of the FA Cup, having won the 2008 competition. Their other FA Cup triumph came in 1939. They returned to the top flight of English football (Premier League) in 2003, having previously been relegated in 1988 after just one season following an exile from the top flight that had stretched back some 30 years. Notable current and former players of the club include David James, Jermain Defoe, Sol Campbell, Peter Crouch, Robert Prosinečki, Alan Knight, Paul Walsh, Darren Anderton, Guy Whittingham, Micky Quinn, Mark Hateley and Jimmy Dickinson, who played more than 800 times for his only club and was never booked or sent off, earning him the sobriquet Gentleman Jim.

The City's second team, Moneyfields FC play in the Wessex Premier Division. Their home ground is Dover Road on the corner with Moneyfields Avenue. Their best season was 2008-09 when they finished third. The City's third team, United Services Portsmouth F.C. play in the Wessex League Division One. Portsmouth Rugby Football Club play their home games in the London Division 1 at Rugby Camp, Hilsea. Like many towns on the English south coast, watersports are popular here, particularly sailing and yachting. Locks Sailing Club at Longshore way is the city's premier dinghy sailing club[citation needed]. The city's rowing club is located in Southsea at the seafront near the Hovercraft Terminal.

Portsmouth also runs its own series of concerts encompassing a range of music at the Bandstand in Southsea Common.

The city is also known for its vibrant south Asian community and is where Bollywood starlet Geeta Basra hails from. She was born and raised in the city where her family still live.

The City hosts yearly remembrances of the D-Day landings to which veterans from the Allied nations travel to attend.[28]

Portsmouth in popular culture

In literature, Portsmouth is the chief location for Jonathan Meades' novel Pompey,[29] in which it is inhabited largely by vile, corrupt, flawed freaks. He has subsequently admitted that he had never actually visited the city at that time. Since then he has presented a TV programme about the Victorian architecture in Portsmouth Dockyard.

In Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park, Portsmouth is the hometown of the main character Fanny Price, and is the setting of most of the closing chapters of the book.

In Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby, the hero and Smike make their way to Portsmouth and get involved in a theatrical troupe.

Graham Hurley's D.I. Faraday/D.C. Winter novels are all located in the city and surrounding area.

Portsmouth Point is an overture for orchestra by the English composer William Walton. The work was inspired by Rowlandson's print depicting Portsmouth Point. It was used as an opening for a Proms Concert in the 2007 season.

H.M.S. Pinafore, is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, which is set in Portsmouth Harbour. Using the operetta music of Sullivan (arranged by Charles Mackerras) and The Bumboat Woman's Story by Gilbert, John Cranko's 1951 ballet Pineapple Poll is set at the quayside in Portsmouth.


ITV1 Meridian is the local ITV television franchise. Portsmouth was one of the second-tier of cities in the UK to get a local TV station, MyTV, in 2001. The station later rebranded to PortsmouthTV, but its limited availability in some parts of Portsmouth had restricted its growth, and the station later went off-air as a result of the parent company becoming insolvent.

The local commercial radio station is 107.4 The Quay, while the city also has a non-profit community radio station Express FM on 93.7FM. Other radio stations based outside of Portsmouth, but received there are Heart FM, on 97.5FM, Galaxy South Coast (previously known as Power FM) on 103.2FM, Wave 105 on 105.2FM and BBC Radio Solent on 96.1FM. Original 106 launched on 1 October 2006; based in Southampton, they have a newsroom in the Portsmouth area. They are now under new ownership and on-air as Coast 106. Patients at Portsmouth's primary hospital Queen Alexandra and St Mary's hospital in Milton also have access to local programming from charity station Portsmouth Hospital Broadcasting, which is the oldest hospital radio service in the world commencing broadcasts in 1951.

When the first local commercial radio stations were licenced in the 1970s by the IBA, Radio Victory was the radio service for Portsmouth, however in 1986, due to transmission area changes (to formally include Southampton)by the IBA it was replaced by a new company and service called Ocean Sound, later renamed as Ocean FM. It is now known as Heart. From 1994 (the city's 800th birthday) Victory FM broadcast for three 28 day periods over an 18 month period. This service, relaunched on the channel listings guide and 'cable radio' of the South East Hampshire area's cable television network, was renamed Radio Victory. The station went on to win a Radio Authority small scale licence, launching on the 107.4FM frequency, on 19 September 1999. It was purchased from the founders by TLRC, who, due to poor RAJAR figures, relaunched the service in 2001 as The Quay, with Portsmouth Football Club purchasing a stake in the station during 2007 and selling in 2009. The station was taken over by UKRD in the early summer of 2009.

The city currently has one daily local newspaper known as The News, together with a free weekly newspaper, from the same publisher, called The Journal.


In the British crime survey of 2001, Portsmouth did not have a distinctly different profile from the other cities in its basic command unit profile.[30] However, for that period it did have a large number of sexual assaults and rapes. A BBC News report in May 2006 reported that it was Britain's worst city for sexual assaults and rapes, based on the 2001 British crime survey by the think tank Reform.[30][31] Police officers responded by saying "Police in Portsmouth have worked closely with partner agencies and the city council to develop a climate where victims feel confident to report rape, which is generally an under-reported crime" and that this could be the reason for the increased number of reported sexual assaults.[31] However, in a subsequent government survey, the number of reported sexual assaults and rapes had decreased by 22.8% bringing the rate below most large UK cities.[32]

HMP Kingston, a Category B & C prison is located near central Portsmouth.


East facing aerial view of Portsmouth (with Gosport in the foreground)
View over Portsmouth from Portsdown Hill.

Most of the city of Portsmouth lies on Portsea Island, located where the Solent joins the English Channel. This makes Portsmouth the United Kingdom's only island city and the thirteenth most densely populated place in Europe. It is the second most densely populated place in the UK, after Inner London.[33] The island is separated from the mainland to the north by a narrow creek, bridged in places to make it—in appearance—a peninsula. The sheltered Portsmouth Harbour lies to the west of the island and the large tidal bay of Langstone Harbour is to the east.

Portsdown Hill dominates the skyline to the north, providing a magnificent panoramic view over the city, and to the south are the waters of the Solent with the Isle of Wight beyond. The climate of Portsmouth is much milder than the surrounding areas, with winter frosts being light and short lived and snow being quite rare. Temperatures rarely drop much below freezing due to being surrounded by water and the city being so densely populated. Portsdown Hill also protects the city from the cold northerly winds during the winter months. Summer temperatures can also be higher than some other south coast cities due to the "urban heat effect", a phenomenon which is caused by heat being reflected and retained by buildings. Located on the south coast, Portsmouth also receives more sunshine per annum than most of the UK. Being a seaside city, it is low-lying,with the majority of its surface area only about ten feet above sea level, the highest natural point on Portsea Island being Kingston Cross (21 feet) although the road surface over Fratton raliway bridge reaches 25. There are, therefore, dangers that rising sea levels as a result of global warming could cause serious damage to the city.

The west of the city is mainly council estates such as Buckland, Landport and Portsea. These were built to replace Victorian terraces destroyed by bombing in World War II. After the war the massive estate of Leigh Park (one of the largest housing developments of its kind in Europe) was built to solve the chronic housing shortage during the post-war reconstruction. Since the early 2000s the estate has been entirely under the jurisdiction of Havant Borough Council, but Portsmouth City Council remains the landlord for these properties, thus making it the biggest landowner in Havant Borough.

Part of Old Portsmouth ,the oldest part of the city, was known as Spice Island. Literally outside of the law once the city gates were closed, it was (in)famous for its pubs and other establishments that attracted sailors on their "runs ashore".

Districts of Portsmouth

(from north to south) Widley, Paulsgrove, Wymering, Cosham, East Cosham, Drayton, Farlington, Port Solent, North Harbour, Highbury, Hilsea, Anchorage Park, North End, Kingston, Mile End, Tipner, Stamshaw, Copnor, Landport, Burfields, Buckland, Baffins, Moneyfields (northern Part of Baffins home to Ocean Retail Park and Moneyfields FC), Fratton, City Centre, Guildhall, Portsea, Old Portsmouth, Gunwharf (area around Gunwharf Quays), North Gunwharf (area around The Hard Interchange up the Royal Maritime Club), Southsea, Somerstown, Milton, Eastney and Langstone.

The areas of Bedhampton, Portchester, Purbrook and Waterlooville are infrequently referred to as being North Portsmouth however these areas are not within the city boundary.


The city's post-1992 university, the University of Portsmouth, previously known as Portsmouth Polytechnic, has notable achievements in mathematics and biological sciences. Several local colleges also have the power to award HNDs, including Highbury College, the largest, which specializes in vocational education; and Portsmouth College, which offers a mixture of academic and vocational courses in the city. Additionally there are several colleges in the surrounding area, all of which offer a varying range of academic and vocational courses. Post-16 education in Portsmouth, unlike many areas, is carried at these colleges rather than at secondary schools.

In 2007 for the first time in over a decade, no school in Portsmouth was below the government's minimum standards and thus none of them was in special measures; nevertheless many still counted among the worst performing schools in the country. Charter Academy C of E VA Secondary School is, in terms of performance, one of the worst schools in the country though it has improved in recent years. Charter Academy is one of the few religious schools in the country that operates its intake policy as a standard comprehensive taking from its catchment area rather than being selective on religious background. This is the opposite of its nearby rival St Edmund's RC school. The rivalry between St Edmund's Catholic School and Charter Academy Church of England school has often become violent. This has its roots in the Catholic-Protestant conflict of Northern Ireland as the city has both large communities of Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants, who settled in the city because of the Royal Navy.[34] Both Admiral Lord Nelson School and Miltoncross School were built recently to meet the demand of a growing school age population.[citation needed]

Portsmouth's secondary schools are to undergo a major redevelopment in the next few years with three being totally demolished and rebuilt, (St Edmund's, City Boys and King Richard's) and the remainder receiving major renovation work.

There is also a cohort of independent schools within the city - the oldest, founded in 1732, is The Portsmouth Grammar School which has been rated as one of the top public schools in the country. There is also the Portsmouth High School, a member of the Girls Day School Trust, as well as Mayville College and St. John's College.

Tourist attractions

HMS Victory in dry dock.

Most of Portsmouth's tourist attractions are related to its naval history. In the last decade Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard has been given a much needed face-lift. Among the attractions are the D-Day museum (which holds the Overlord embroidery)[35] and, in the dockyard, HMS Victory, the remains of Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose (raised from the seabed in 1982), HMS Warrior (Britain's first iron-clad steamship) and the Royal Naval Museum.

Many of the city's former defences now host museums or events. Several of the Victorian era forts on Portsdown Hill are now tourist attractions. Fort Nelson is now home to the Royal Armouries museum,[36] Forts Purbrook and Widley are activities centres.[37] The Tudor era Southsea Castle has a small museum, and much of the seafront defences up to the Round Tower are open to the public. The southern part of the once large Royal Marines Eastney Barracks is now the Royal Marine Museum.[38] There are also many buildings in the city that occasionally host open days particularly those on the D-Day walk which are seen on signs around the city which note sites of particular importance in the city to Operation Overlord.

Portsmouth's long association with the armed forces means it has a large number of war memorials around the city, including several at the Royal Marines Museum, at the dockyards and in Victoria Park. In the city centre, the Guildhall Square Cenotaph displays the names of the fallen, and is guarded by stone sculptures of machine gunners carved by the sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger.[39] The memorial is inscribed:


—West face

The millennium project to build the Spinnaker Tower at Gunwharf Quays was completed in 2005. The tower is 552 ft tall and features viewing decks at sea level, 325 ft, 341 ft and 357 ft.

Other tourist attractions include the birthplace of Charles Dickens, the Blue Reef Aquarium (formerly the Sea Life Centre), Cumberland House (a natural history museum), The Royal Marines Museum and Southsea Castle. Southsea's seafront is also home to Clarence Pier Amusement Park.

Portsmouth is also home to the Genesis Expo, the UK's first (and to date only) creationist museum.

English Heritage and the Ministry of Defence are in the process of turning the Portsmouth Block Mills into a museum.

Places of worship

St John's Cathedral

Portsmouth is among only a few British cities that have two cathedrals; the Anglican cathedral of St Thomas, in Old Portsmouth and the Roman Catholic cathedral of St John the Evangelist, in Edinburgh Road, Portsea.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth was founded in 1882 by Pope Leo XIII. Vatican policy in England at the time was to found sees in locations other than those used for Anglican cathedrals and the Ecclesiastical Titles Act forbade a Roman Catholic bishop from bearing the same title as one in the established church. Accordingly, Portsmouth was chosen in preference to Winchester.[40]

In 1927 the Church of England diocese of Winchester was divided and St Thomas's Church became the cathedral for the newly created Diocese of Portsmouth.[41] When St Mary's Church, Portsea, was rebuilt in Victorian times, it had been envisaged that it might be the cathedral if Portsmouth became the seat of a bishop, but St Thomas's was given the honour because of its historic status.

Another historic old Portsmouth church, the Garrison Church, was bombed during World War II with the nave kept roofless as a memorial. Of more modern buildings, St Philip's Cosham is cited as a fine example of Ninian Comper's work. There are numerous other active churches and places of worship throughout the city. There are some mosques, a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery in the city.

The city also has three Salvation Army churches: Portsmouth Citadel, Portsmouth North and Southsea.

Transport and communications

Bus services

Local bus services are provided by First Hampshire & Dorset and Stagecoach serving the city of Portsmouth and the surroundings of Havant, Leigh Park, Waterlooville, Fareham, Petersfield and long distance service 700 to Chichester, Worthing and Brighton. Hovertravel and Stagecoach run the Hoverbus from the City Centre to Southsea Hovercraft Terminal and The Hard Interchange. Countryliner run a Saturday service to Midhurst. National Express services from Portsmouth run mainly from The Hard Interchange to London, Cornwall, Bradford, Birkenhead and Eastbourne. Many bus services also stop at The Hard Interchange. Other bus services run from the City Centre, from Commercial Road North or Commercial Road South other bus stops are on Station Street, Isambard Brunell Road and Edinbrough road. A new bus station has been proposed next to Portsmouth & Southsea Station replacing Commercial Road South bus stops and new bus stops and taxi ranks on Andrew Bell Street are to replace the Commercial Road North bus stops when the Northern Quarter Development is built.

Light rapid transit and monorail

There is an ongoing debate on the development of public transport structure, with monorails and light rail both being considered. A light rail link to Gosport has been authorised but is unlikely to go ahead following the refusal of funding by the Department for Transport in November 2005.[42] The monorail scheme is unlikely to proceed following the withdrawal of official support for the proposal by Portsmouth City Council, after the development's promoters failed to progress the scheme to agreed timetables.[43]


There are three road links to the mainland, signposted as "Out of City" from the City Centre. These are the M275, A3 (London Road) and A2030 (Eastern Road). The M27 has a junction connecting to the M275 into Portsmouth. The A27 has a westbound exit onto the A3 (London Road) and a junction onto the A2030 (Eastern Road). The A3(M) is a short section of motorway which runs from Bedhampton north to Horndean.

The A3 links Portsmouth with London, though much traffic uses the M27 and M3 to avoid traffic jams at Hindhead. The M27, M3 and A34 provide the other major routes to the Midlands and the North of England.


The city is connected to Route 2 of the National Cycle Network.


The city has several mainline railway stations, on two different direct South West Trains routes to London Waterloo, via Guildford and via Basingstoke. There is also a South West Trains stopping service to Southampton Central (providing connections to Crosscountry services to Birmingham and Manchester), and a service by First Great Western to Cardiff Central via Southampton, Salisbury, Bath and Bristol. Southern also offer services to Brighton and London Victoria.

Portsmouth's stations are (in order, out of the city): Portsmouth Harbour, Portsmouth and Southsea, Fratton, Hilsea and Cosham (the last being on the mainland).


Portsmouth Harbour has passenger ferry links to Gosport and the Isle of Wight. A car ferry service to the Isle of Wight operated by Wightlink is nearby. Britain's longest-standing commercial hovercraft service, begun in the 1960s, still runs (for foot passengers) from near Clarence Pier to Ryde, Isle of Wight, operated by Hovertravel.

Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port has links to Caen, Cherbourg-Octeville, St Malo and Le Havre in France, Bilbao and Santander, Cantabria, in Spain and the Channel Islands. Ferry services from the port are operated by Brittany Ferries, P&O Ferries, Condor Ferries and LD Lines. On 18 May 2006 Acciona Trasmediterranea started a service to Bilbao in competition with P&O's existing service. This service got off to a bad start when the ferry Fortuny was detained in Portsmouth by the MCA for numerous safety breaches. The faults were quickly corrected by Acciona and the service took its first passengers from Portsmouth on the 25 May 2006. During 2007 AT Ferries withdrew the Bilbao service at short notice, citing the need to deploy the Fortuny elsewhere. The port is the second busiest ferry port in the UK after Dover, handling around three million passengers a year and has direct access to the M275.


The nearest airport is Southampton which is approximately 20–30 minutes away by motorway, with an indirect South West Trains rail connection requiring a change at Southampton Central or Eastleigh.

Heathrow and Gatwick are both about 60–90 minutes away by motorway. Gatwick is directly linked by Southern services to London Victoria, while Heathrow is linked by coach to Woking, which is on both rail lines to London Waterloo, or by tube to either Victoria or Waterloo. Heathrow is directly linked to Portsmouth by National Express coaches.

Portsmouth had an airport with grass runway from 1932 to 1973; after its closure, housing, industrial sites, retail areas and a school were built on the site.


Currently the telephone area code for Portsmouth is 023[44] followed by an eight digit number (usually beginning with 92, although in recent times Portsmouth has used 93). Previously it was (01705), before that (0705).

Future developments

Number One Tower, Gunwharf Quays.

Portsmouth will help build and be the home port of the two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers ordered in 2008, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. This has secured the base future for the next 40 years and will revitalise shipbuilding in the city.[45]

Development at Gunwharf Quays continued until 2007 with the completion of the 29-storey Number One Tower (formally East Side Plaza Tower and nicknamed Lipstick Tower). The development of the former Whitbread Brewery site has included the construction of a 22-storey tower known as the Admiralty Quarter Tower.[46] Also announced at the end of October 2008, a new 25-storey tower named 'Number One Portsmouth', which has been proposed at a height of 100 m (330 ft)and will stand opposite Portsmouth & Southsea Station on Surrey Street. As a result it will be 5 m (16.40 ft) taller than Number One Tower (Lipstick), therefore becoming Portsmouth's second tallest structure after the Spinnaker Tower. As of August 2009, internal demolition has started on the building that currently occupies the site.[47][48]

Portsmouth Northern Quarter redevelopment

Portsmouth's regeneration is being continued in the city centre with the demolition of the Tricorn Centre, a car park and shopping centre and housing development and a prominent but unpopular example of Brutalist architecture. The site is due to be transformed by 2010 to include shops, cafés and restaurants, a four-star 150-bed hotel, 200 residential apartments, and a 2,300-space car park.[49] However after numerous delays and having not begun construction at the time originally proposed, it will likely see a completion date after 2010.[50]

Portsmouth is in the midst of a continuing housing boom[citation needed] with many former commercial, industrial and military sites being converted into residential properties particularly large blocks of flats, leading to an increasing population. If demand upon services such as water and transport infrastructure continues to increase at the current rate demand will surpass maximum capacity in under 5 years.[51]

Portsmouth F.C. Stadium plans

In April 2007 Portsmouth F.C. announced plans to move away from Fratton Park, their home for 109 years, to a new stadium situated on a piece of reclaimed land on The Hard beside the Historic Dockyard. The £600m mixed use development, designed by world-renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron, would also include 1,500 harbourside apartments as well as shops and offices. The scheme has attracted considerable criticism due to its huge size and location.[52][53] It also involves moving HMS Warrior from her current permanent mooring. The HMS Warrior trust is refusing to move[citation needed]. In Autumn 2007 Portsmouth's local paper 'The News' published that the plans had been turned down as the supercarriers to be situated in Portsmouth dockyard sight lines would be blocked[citation needed].

In answer to the Navy's objections regarding the supercarriers, Portsmouth FC have planned a similar stadium in Horsea Island near Port Solent. This plan will involve building a 36,000 seat stadium and around 1,500 apartments as single standing structures, not around the stadium as had been previously proposed. Yet the new plan also involves improving and saving land for the Royal Navy's diver training centre by the proposed site and buying a fair amount of land from the UK Ministry of Defence[citation needed]. A new £7m railway station is to be built at Paulsgrove in Racecourse Lane near the site where there was originally a station[citation needed]. Along with these new roads towards the stadium, it has been proposed to build a new bridge from Tipner alongside the motorway[citation needed]. This will be for people walking to the stadium and for a park and ride scheme that will also be introduced. There are also plans to capitalise on the proposed development for the local tip which will be neighbouring the new stadium[citation needed].

If the new proposals are accepted, the stadium is predicted to be finished for the 2011/12 season. As part of the plans, the club's previous stadium site at Fratton Park would also be redeveloped once the new stadium is completed. Make Architects has been commissioned to draw up designs for 750 new apartments on the site[citation needed].

Notable residents

International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

Portsmouth is twinned with two European cities, and has sister and friendship links with a number of other places around the world.[54] Many of the schools in the local area conduct visits to the cities in order to educate its residents on foreign languages and culture.

Sister links

Friendship links

See also


  1. ^ "Neighbourhood Statistics". 
  2. ^ Fox, Kieran (2008-05-13). "England | Hampshire | Pompey buck unfashionable trend". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  3. ^ Oxford Dictionary of Place names
  4. ^ "The liberty of Portsmouth and Portsea Island: Introduction". A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. 1908. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  5. ^ a b Portsmouth City Council, (, accessed February 25, 2008
  6. ^
  7. ^ Backhouse, Tim. "Old Portsmouth—Duke of Buckingham". Memorials and Monuments in Portsmouth. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  8. ^ memorial plaque in the square tower
  9. ^ Monument to the founding of Australia, Old Portsmouth, along the hotwalls between the Square and the Round Tower
  11. ^ "Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson 1758 - 1805". Portsmouth City Council's Economy, Culture and Community Safety. Retrieved 2007-04-02. 
  12. ^ "GALLERY: Defences that were never tested". Official website of Portsmouth. 2007-08-01. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  13. ^ "The Dockyard at War". Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Retrieved 2007-04-02. 
  14. ^ London Gazette: no. 33154, pp. 2776–2777, April 23, 1926. Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
  15. ^ J. V. Beckett, City Status in the British Isles, 1830-2002, London, 2005
  16. ^ Portsmouth's Coat of Arms, Portsmouth City Council, accessed February 25, 2008
  17. ^ "Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier Project Information". MoD. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  18. ^ "MoD confirms £3.8bn carrier order". BBC News. 25 July 2007. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  19. ^ "Details on the merger of VT Group and BAE's ship building divisions". VT Group. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  20. ^ BBC South Today and local newspaper The News
  21. ^ "Councillors by area (ward)". Portsmouth City Council. Retrieved 24 October 2009. 
  22. ^ See History of Portsmouth for a list of references for this table.
  23. ^ "Cathedrals". Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  24. ^ Office of National Statistics
  25. ^ Portsmouth City Council
  26. ^ BBC South Today 11/4/08
  27. ^
  28. ^ "The pride and tears of D-Day". The News. 2006-10-12. Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  29. ^ 1993, ISBN 0-09-930821-5
  30. ^ a b British Crime Survey
  31. ^ a b 'Minimum rape risk' posed in city, BBC News Online, 23 May 2006. Retrieved 22 June 2007.
  32. ^ Government Report on Crime in England and Wales
  33. ^ England planning overhaul urged, BBC News Online, 5 December 2006. Retrieved 5 December 2006.
  34. ^ Portsmouth City Council Report, School Violence 1999
  35. ^ "Bot generated title ->". D-Day Museum<!. 1944-06-06. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  36. ^ Royal Armouries: Fort Nelson
  37. ^ "Learning is Fun !". Peter Ashley Activity Centres. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  38. ^ "Welcome to the Royal Marines Museum". Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  39. ^ Tim Backhouse. "The Guildhall Square Cenotaph". Memorials & Monuments In Portsmouth. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  40. ^ Diocese of Portsmouth, Catholic Encyclopedia, accessed February 17, 2008
  41. ^ Order in Council founding the Bishopric of Portsmouth (S.I. 1927/358), in effect May 1, 1927
  42. ^ Hampshire County Council (2005-11-29). "PROMOTER SLAMS GOVERNMENT FOR TRAM SCHEME `NO'". Hantsweb Press Release 2489. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  43. ^ "End of the line for monorail plan". The News. 2006-10-12. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  44. ^ The National Telephone Numbering Plan - Published by Ofcom - 27 February 2009
  45. ^ Portsmouth News, 6/7/07.
  46. ^ "Admiralty Quarter, Portsmouth, Hampshire - Crest Nicholson, Crest Nicholson Regeneration". Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  47. ^ Hotel bid ready to reach for the skies
  48. ^ "Number One Portsmouth Planning Information". Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  49. ^ "Northern Quarter Portsmouth City Centre Regeneration". 2008-07-18. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  50. ^ "Portsmouth Today - Northern Quarter". 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  51. ^ SEEDA Report on Population Growth
  52. ^ Emily Pykett and Victoria Taylor, Pie-in-the-sky or a real winner for our city?, Portsmouth News, 26 April 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  53. ^ Majority say it's a threat to harbour, Portsmouth News, 4 May 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  54. ^ Portsmouth City Council. Twinning. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
  55. ^ "Cities Twinned with Duisburg". Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  56. ^ "List of Twin Towns in the Ruhr Destrict". © 2009 Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  57. ^ a b "Twin Towns in Hampshire". Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  58. ^ "Twin City acitivities". Haifa Municipality. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 

External links

Coordinates: 50°49′N 1°05′W / 50.817°N 1.083°W / 50.817; -1.083

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

HMS Warrior & Spinnaker Tower
HMS Warrior & Spinnaker Tower
For other places with the same name, see Portsmouth (disambiguation).

Portsmouth [1] (pronounced "ports-muth", and nick-named "Pompey") is a city that is well worth a visit for those interested in British Naval history or British history in general. It is on the south coast of England, close to Southampton and The Isle of Wight.


The majority of the city of Portsmouth lies on Portsea island (though it is separated from the mainland only by a roughly 30-metre-wide stretch of sea water so is perhaps more accurately thought of as a peninsula) on the southern coast of England.

Historically, Portsmouth has always been an important naval port and builds on its rich heritage with memorials, museums, trails and the fascinating Historic Dockyard. Portsmouth has four miles of seafront (including pebbled beaches) and the distinctive Spinnaker Tower.

Portsmouth is also a university city, and so has a large student population.

Portsmouth has an approximate population of 190,200 people and is the most densely populated city in the UK, outside of certain parts of London.

Get in

Portsmouth can be reached by train from London, by motorway from anywhere in England and by ferry from France and Spain.

By plane

The nearest airport is Southampton Airport [2], located around 20 miles from Portsmouth in Eastleigh. Over 47 European destinations are served from here. There is a regular train service from Southampton airport train station (Parkway) to Portsmouth.

By train

Portsmouth is on the National Rail network. Direct trains from London take about 90 minutes from London Waterloo, a cheap day single is about £21. Other major services include Brighton (1 hour 40 minutes), Cardiff (3 hours 10 minutes) via Bath and Bristol; and Southampton (1 hour).

Alight at Portsmouth Harbour for the Historic Dockyard, Gunwharf Quays, the Spinnaker Tower and Ferries to the Isle of Wight. Alight at Portsmouth & Southsea for Portsmouth City Centre shopping, Portsmouth Guildhall and a short walk to the seafront. Alight at Fratton for Fratton Park football stadium. Portsmouth is flat and very easy to get around, so taking public transport is recommended.

For those wishing to depart via train those unfamiliar with Portsmouth's train stations will find it is easy to miss them even when only a few feet away. Portsmouth Harbour is behind the bus station at The Hard. Portsmouth & Southsea is easily found at the bottom of Commercial Road if you look out for the railway bridge just south of the building. Fratton can be found to the east of the road bridge at the bottom of Fratton Road and north of the roundabout between Victoria Road North and Goldsmith Avenue. The lesser frequented Hilsea Station is underneath the road bridge at Norway Road and Cosham station is on the Cosham High Street.

By car

Portsmouth is easily accessible by car via the M275 motorway with joins the M27 and A27. From London take the A3 or M3 south. As Portsmouth is an island city, routes in and out are limited and therefore congestion can be a problem, especially during rush hour.

Parking is plentiful both on street (about £1/hr) and in pay-and-display car parks. The city centre and Gunwharf Quays both have multi-storey car parks, and Southsea has on-street parking.

If you stroll a little away from the city centre and tourist hot spots (sometimes just around the corner in Southsea), parking can be found for free or in time-limited bays.

Motorcycles can park without a residents permit and within the marked bays. Gunwharf Quays also has a dedicated motorcycle bay in the underground car park.

If you're visiting the University, you can obtain day car passes from University House. However, the car parks are very busy during term-time.

By bus

Local bus routes stretch as far afield as Havant and Southampton. Day passes can be bought for £3.70 which allow you unlimited travel in the Portsmouth City area or £4.80 for the whole of Hampshire.

National Express travels into the Hard (few hundred yards from harbour and historic dockyard) with links to many of the country's major cities.

By boat

There are ferry services from four ports in France as well as Bilbao in Spain.

  • Saint-Malo
    • Brittany Ferries/up to 2 daily/9 hrs [3]
  • Cherbourg
    • Condor Ferries/1 Sunday service/5 hrs [4]
    • Brittany Ferries/up to 2 daily/3hrs (March - November only)
  • Caen
    • Brittany Ferries/3 daily/5.45hrs (Year-round service)
    • Brittany Ferries/1 daily/3.5hrs (Summer-only fast service on Fri/Sat/Sun)

There are also services to the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey.

  • Guernsey
    • Condor Ferries/1 daily/6hrs30min
  • Jersey
    • Condor Ferries/1 daily/10hrs30min

The Isle of Wight is a under an hour's journey by ferry or a few minutes by hovercraft.

  • Fishbourne
    • Wightlink/half-hourly during day/35 mins [6]
  • Ryde
    • Wightlink/half-hourly during day/15 mins
    • Or catch the hovercraft every 15 minutes from Southsea seafront, operated by Hovertravel [7].

The ferry to Gosport (for Submarine and Explosion museums) runs every 7 minutes at peak times and every 15 minutes at other times until midnight. Cost is £2.20 return.

Other Routes are present within the UK

Get around

Several bus companies operate within Portsmouth and the surrounding areas. A day travel ticket can be bought for £3.60 (£2.40 concessions). It is also possible to travel between the harbour and the city centre using the train. It is a compact, flat city however, and nowhere is a very long walk.

At night, if you can find an elevated position you can navigate via the chain of blue lights along the sea-front, to the south.

Here are some of the local names for the areas which may be useful for people visiting

  • The Hard is the area around Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Gunwharf Quays and Portsmouth Harbour Train and Bus Stations.
  • Old Portsmouth/Sallyport/Spice Island, the area around the Anglican Cathedral Square and Round Tower, Camber Dock and along the sea walls.
  • Southsea, the area next to the sea at the Southern end of the island and it stretches further north to include Southsea Town Centre (Palmerston, Elm, Marmion and Albert Roads).
  • Commercial Road, the city centre, and the main shopping and market street, home of Cascades shopping mall.
  • Fratton, the area north of Southsea and east of Commercial Road (really useful only if you are attending a football match at Fratton Park or changing trains at Fratton Station)
Spinnaker Tower & tall ships
Spinnaker Tower & tall ships
  • Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, [8]. Located in the naval base, the Historic Dockyard has a number of historic ships including the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior 1860. In the Historic Dockyard there is also Royal Naval Museum and Action Stations - an interactive look at the navy of today. There is a great old pub outside of Dockyard called the Ship Anson, worth a try. Portsmouth Visitor Information Centre can be found adjacent to the visitor entrance of the Dockyard.
  • The Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays, Telephone: +44 (0)23 9285 7520, [9]. Open every day from 10AM-6PM (until 10PM on Saturdays and every day during Jul and Aug). This striking and highly-visible £21 million landmark tower rises some 170 m above the redeveloping harbour of Portsmouth, symbolising the wind filling a spinnaker sail... Visitors can use the tower to view from 3 levels: at 100m, 105m and 115m. A high speed internal lift takes you to the top. Admission adult £7.00, child £5.50, concessions £6.20.
  • Southsea Castle, [10]. Built in 1544, the Castle was part of a series of fortifications constructed by Henry VIII around England's coasts to protect the country from invaders.
  • Southsea Seafront - 4 miles of seafront promenade backed by gorgeous green spaces and gardens.
  • Royal Marines Museum, Southsea, Tel: 023 9281 9385 (Fax: 023 9283 8420 E-mail:, [11]. Open every day (except Dec. 23-25 and Boxing day) 10AM-5PM. Discover the exciting story of the Royal Marines brought to life with dramatic and interactive displays. The Museum is in what was one of the most stately Officers' Messes in England, built in the 1860s with beautiful ceilings, huge paintings and a grand staircase.
Spitbank Fort in the Solent
Spitbank Fort in the Solent
  • Portsmouth's Cathedrals Portsmouth is home to two cathedrals, St Thomas' in Old Portsmouth (Anglican) and St John's in the City Centre (Catholic).
  • D-Day Museum, [12]. Open every day (except 24-26 Dec.) Apr-Oct 10AM-5.30PM; Nov-Mar 10AM-5PM. A fitting tribute to the sacrifice of the men & women who took part in the D-Day landings.
  • Blue Reef Aquarium, Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, Tel 023 92875222, [13]. Open every day except Christmas 10AM-5PM (Nov-Feb until 4PM). Take an undersea safari at the aquarium on the seafront.
  • Southsea model village (seafront)
  • Southsea Rose garden
  • Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, 393 Old Commercial Road, [14]. Open every day from mid Apr-Dec 10AM-5:30PM. The famous writer Charles Dickens was born in this modest house in Portsmouth, England in 1812.
  • Cumberland House Natural History Museum
  • City Museum & Records Office, [15]. Home of the new Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes exhibition "A Study in Sherlock".
  • Spitbank Fort, [16]. Located in the middle of the Solent is this man-made fort, built to defend Portsmouth in the 1800's. Take a trip out for a party night or Sunday dinner.
  • Royal Garrison Church, a roofless English Heritage property.
  • Relax on Southsea Common with a picnic.
  • Follow the Renaissance Trail around the Millennium Promenade - a self guided walk with information along the way, just look out for the chain in the pavement.
  • Clarence Pier - A small fairground close to the Hoverport with rides and amusement arcades.
  • Listen to live music at The Bandstand every Sunday in the summer.
  • Watch Premier League football at Fratton Park

If you like a bit of night life there are four parts of town you should visit;

  • Gunwharf Quays is a great place to eat and drink (over 20 bars & restaurants, many with waterfront views) but can be a little pricey
  • Albert Road is has a fair few student pubs, wine bars and cafe-bars, not to mention the numerous Indian restaurants.
  • The lesser known but nicer area of Southsea is Palmerston Road - some bars and good restaurants.
  • Guildhall Walk, where you will find bars such as Walkabout, Yates and Wetherspoons, and clubs Route 66 and Babylon.
  • Liquid & Envy is Portsmouth's newest multi-million pound clubbing experience, close to the Guildhall (just across from Portsmouth & Southsea station).


The University of Portsmouth [17] is a modern university with a population of about 20,000 students.

  • Portsmouth City Centre (Commercial Road & Cascades) - Usual high street names, but with Miss Selfridge, Topshop, H&M, New Look and Primark literally right next to one another, it is a shopping paradise.
  • Gunwharf Quays - Outlet centre, with shops like M&S, Cadburys, Claire's, GAP. Some of the prices are cheaper than the high streets, but likewise some are similar or more expensive so shopping around is a good idea.
  • Southsea Town Centre - A variety of small specialist shops, boutiques, art shops, delis, home furnishings. Also Debenhams and Knight & Lee.
  • Albert Road - A good bet for smaller (independent) shops, second-hand goods and antiques.


Portsmouth has literally hundreds of restaurants catering to all tastes. Further out of the city towards Fareham, the marina Port Solent offers a variety of restaurants in a pleasant environment with a multiplex movie theatre nearby, and ample (free) on site parking.

  • The American Bar, 58 White Hart Rd, Old Portsmouth, 023 9281 1585. Modern European cuisine. Also great but you can drop a lot of money in this place. Does have great service!
  • Bangkok, 64 Albert Road, 023 9242 9922. A nice Thai place where you can take your own drink
  • Kitsch N d'Or, 37 Eldon Street, Southsea, 023 9286 1519. French style bistro food. Great for the once a month food-and-wine nights. Details are displayed outside the venue.
  • Mozzarella Joes, Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, 023 9229 5004. A relatively new restaurant right on the pebbles, with the most amazing views of the Solent. Great for a cold glass of wine, stonebaked pizza and pasta.
  • Regal House, 88 Albert Road, 023 9282 8382. Chinese Takeaway.
  • Nemrut, 94 Albert Road, 023 9275 6777. Exceptional value & quality Turkish/Kurdish cuisine. The friendly owner & staff make the place one of the best places to eat out in Portsmouth. Runner Up in "The News" Best Restaurant 2006 for Portsmouth area.
  • No. 8 Kings Road. A destination restaurant with a Michelin Star Chef. Fabulous food and a whole banking vault of wine to choose from and entertainment every Friday night!
  • Rosie's Vineyard, 87 Elm Grove, Southsea, 023 9275 5944, [18]. French/Modern European. Wonderful wine selection food and atmosphere.
  • Sur La Mer, 69 Palmerston Road, 023 9287 6678. French.
  • Strada, Gunwharf Quays, 0239 281 7278, [19]. Italian.
  • The Tenth Hole Tea Room, (next to mini-golf course), 02392 830 009. Great for light lunch but the highlight is the amazing home-made cakes.

Best places for curry: Portsmouth offers a variety of Indian restaurants the best places are Albert road where the curry are cheap as there is a restaurant literally every couple of shop, Palmaston road, where you pay for quality so take your pick.

Best Indian takeaway:

  • The Indian Ocean Takeaway, 234 Fratton Road, 023 92824720. Probably the longest serving curry outlet in Portsmouth, established in the early 1980's by the current owner/Chef Mr Uddin. The quality of the food is of the highest quality and their curries are also priced very reasonably.


As to be expected from an historic port-town, and a current university city, there is an abundance of drinking establishments in Portsmouth, from traditional pubs to chic and trendy waterfront bars. The bars and clubs along Guildhall Walk are a popular spot but despite heavy police presence, a certain degree of vigilance is advised to ensure you have a fun and safe night out.

  • The Bombay Brasserrie, Albert Road, 023 9282 1661. Very Popular Curry house that offers very good value for money and that lets you bring your own drinks. Arrive early.  edit
  • The Wine Vaults, Albert Road. Good cask ales and great atmosphere arrive early if you want a seat.
  • Hole in the Wall, on or near Castle Road, off Elm Grove. Small pub with a 'traditional' feel, and real ales.
  • Slug & Lettuce. Friendly and well priced contemporary bar on Palmerston Road.
  • The Honest Politician, Elm Grove. A pub with pool tables and a relaxed atmosphere.
  • The White Horse A pub with a relaxed atmosphere along Southsea Terrace.
  • The Registry. A student pub near the Student Union with fairly cheap beer and food. Not a place for a quiet drink.
  • The Old Customs House is a traditional pub in a historic building, within a modern setting. Great ales and food.
  • Tiger Tiger is the ultimate place for a big night out - with 8 different bars, a club and restaurant in the same building!
  • The Still & West, Bath Square. A pub with a good view of harbour entrance and restaurant upstairs
  • The Spice Island Inn also has amazing views of the harbour in action and a good restaurant.


Accommodation in Portsmouth can be browsed online via the official VisitPortsmouth website [20] and the Visitor Info Centre can make bookings/check availability on your behalf: +44 2392 826722.

  • Bed and Breakfast at No3, 3 Bellevue Terrace, Tel: 023 92349929. Located within walking distance of local attractions.
  • Florence House Hotel and Somerset House Hotel, 2 Malvern Road, Tel: 023 9275 1666, [21]. The city's only boutique accommodation. Located just back from the seafront, these upmarket hotels are in easy reach of everything.
  • Ibis Portsmouth Centre, Winston Churchill Avenue, Tel: +44 (0) 23 9264 0000, [22]. Also good, near the Portsmouth & Southsea train station.
  • Pembroke Park Hotel, 1 Bellevue Terrace, Southsea, Tel: 023 9229 6817. Located only minutes from the old town and the seafront, both Portsmouth & Southsea are within easy walking distance.
  • Queen's Hotel, [23], Tel: +44 (0)23 9282 2466, A must for Mr. Bean fans - this was where the episode Mr. Bean in Room 426 was set. (Whatever you do, don't eat tainted oysters or lock yourself out of your room!)
  • Sandringham Hotel, Tel: +44 (0)23 92876156,(email:, [24]. With views over the seafront common the excellent location offers great views at cheap rates. If you're on a budget and need a clean and comfortable room, look no further.
  • Southsea Backpackers, 4 Florence Rd, in Southsea, Tel: +44 (0)23 92832495, (email:, [25]. Not easy to get to but is cheap and friendly.
  • Spitbank Fort, [26]. The lighthouse has been refurbished and has accommodation.
  • Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel & Waterfront Conference Center, 425 Water Street, Portsmouth, Virginia 23704, 1-757-673-3000, [27]. Each waterfront accommodation in Portsmouth has views of the skyline or shipyard.   edit

Stay safe

As with most other large English cities, there can be a problem with violence around the city-centre at weekends, around pub and club closing times (i.e., around 11PM and 2AM), although with a little common sense the risk is minor.

The main place to avoid is Somerstown, the high-rise council estate near the city centre, especially after dark.

Nothing should be left on display in vehicles and it's sensible to park your car in a Park Marque scheme facility (ask at the Visitor Info Centre +44 2392 826722).

Due to football rivalry, wearing a Southampton football top may cause some problems in the city. In fact, anything with red and white vertical stripes (Southampton's colours) is probably a bad idea.

Portchester Castle Keep
Portchester Castle Keep
  • Portchester Castle [28] - About 5 miles from Portsmouth is one of the best preserved Roman fortifications in Northern Europe. The castle's keep was built in Norman times (largely from recycled Roman brick) and extensive late Roman structures remain although ruinous. The original church is still in use and is popular in summer for weddings. The castle is well sign posted, and served by regular buses, Portchester Train Station is only a ten minute walk north. The Cormorant Pub on picturesque Castle Street is a nice place to have a drink in a Traditional English pub.
  • Portsdown Hill offers amazing views across Portsmouth and the South Downs. Situated just to the rear (north) of Portsmouth, it's a world away with countryside walks and traditional pubs.
  • The Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson sits just on Portsdown Hill and is free of charge to visit.
  • Gosport shares the harbour with Portsmouth and can be reached by a short ferry ride from by Portsmouth Harbour station. Home of Explosion, Museum of Naval Firepower and the Royal Naval Submarine Museum.
  • Winchester, the former English capital is a beautiful city worth a visit. Excellent restaurants, interesting shops and of course the famous cathedral.
  • Chichester housing a lovely city centre and impressive cathedral
  • Emsworth this small fishing town is a nice retreat year round, but the food festival in the first week of September is a real treat, not to be missed if you are in the area.
  • New Forest just the other side of Southampton is one of the nicest rural get aways in England!
  • Southampton can provide much more varied and excellent shopping and is regarded as the "Shopping capital of the south" , Southampton also has excellent nightlife.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

There is more than one meaning of Portsmouth discussed in the 1911 Encyclopedia. We are planning to let all links go to the correct meaning directly, but for now you will have to search it out from the list below by yourself. If you want to change the link that led you here yourself, it would be appreciated.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:



  1. A city in southern England

Derived terms

  • Portsmouth yardstick



Simple English

City of Portsmouth
StatusUnitary, City (1926)
RegionSouth East England
Ceremonial CountyHampshire
- Total
Ranked 319th
40.25 km²

Portsmouth is a city in the south of England, in the county of Hampshire. About 186,000 people live there. It is a port and is the home of the British Royal Navy (the navy is the army of the sea). It is one of the most the most densest cities in Europe.[1]

Situated on Portsea Island and narrowly separated from the mainland by a creek, the city is most famous for the HMS Victory and the HMS Warrior, which are ships. People also visit Portsmouth to see the old ship Mary Rose. This was Henry VIII of England's ship, and it was under the water for a long time, from 1545 to 1982. Tourists also go to see Cumberland House, the birth place of Charles Dickens, a British author (writer).

Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, all British authors, are famous people who lived in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth has one university, the University of Portsmouth.

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