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Portsmouth ( ) is a city located in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of Englandmarker. Portsmouth is the United Kingdom's only island city and is located on Portsea Islandmarker. 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, 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 ( ) than London as a whole ( ), although many of London's individual boroughs had a much greater density.

A significant naval port for centuries, Portsmouth is home to the world's oldest dry dock still in use and home to many famous ships, including Nelson's flagship HMS Victorymarker. Portsmouth has declined as a naval base in recent years but remains a major dockyard and basemarker for the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Commandos whose Headquarters resides there. There is also a commercial port serving destinations on the continent for freight and passenger traffic.

The Spinnaker Towermarker is a recent addition to the city's skyline. It can be found in the recently redeveloped area known as Gunwharf Quaysmarker.

The Portsmouth Urban Areamarker covers an area with a population well over twice that of the city of Portsmouth itself, and includes Farehammarker, Portchestermarker, Gosportmarker, Havantmarker (which includes the large suburbs of Leigh Parkmarker), Lee-on-the-Solentmarker, Stubbingtonmarker and Waterloovillemarker.

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


There have been settlements in the area since before Roman times, mostly being offshoots of Portchestermarker, which was a Roman base (Portus Adurnimarker) and possible home of the Classis Britannica. Portsmouth is commonly regarded as having been founded in 1180 by John of Gisors (Jean de Gisors). 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".

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 Cathedralmarker 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. The crescent and star, in gold on a blue shield, were subsequently recorded by the College of Armsmarker as the coat of arms of the borough.

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 Bayonnemarker and Bordeauxmarker.

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 Portsmouthmarker. 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. In 1527, with some of the money from the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII built Southsea Castlemarker. In 1545, he saw his vice-flagship Mary Rosemarker 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 Portsmouthmarker 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.

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. 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.

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.

Admiral Nelson left Portsmouth for the final time in 1805 to command the fleet that would defeat the larger Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgarmarker. The Royal Navy's reliance on Portsmouth led to the city becoming the most fortified in Europe, with a network of forts (a subset of "Palmerston's Folliesmarker") encircling the city. 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.

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

In 1926 Portsmouth was granted city status, 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. 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. 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.
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 Housemarker, 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 Parkmarker. Post-war redevelopment throughout the country was characterised by utilitarian and brutalist architecture, with Portsmouth's Tricorn Centremarker 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 Towermarker.


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. This will create 3000 new jobs in the city.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.
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 Centremarker, with over 100 high street shops between them. Recent redevelopment has created new shopping areas, including the upmarket Gunwharf Quaysmarker, 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.

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 Southmarker and Portsmouth North, represented in the House of Commonsmarker 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. 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
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;) surnames like Doyle and Murphy are extremely common in Portsmouth. Portsmouth is the City with the highest number of emigrants, in the UK, particularly the most skilled. 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.


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 Roomsmarker, The Pyramids and The Guildhallmarker, an imposing neoclassical building designed by William Hill and based on an earlier design used for the town hall in Boltonmarker. 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 Parkmarker. 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, United Services Portsmouth F.C.marker 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 . 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.

Portsmouth in popular culture

In literature, Portsmouth is the chief location for Jonathan Meades' novel Pompey, 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. Wilson novels have Portsmouth as the backdrop.

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 scalemarker 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. 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. 'Minimum rape risk' posed in city, BBC News Online, 23 May 2006. Retrieved 22 June 2007. 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. 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.

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


East facing aerial view of Portsmouth (with Gosport in the foreground)
Most of the city of Portsmouth lies on Portsea Island, located where the Solentmarker joins the English Channelmarker. 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. 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 Harbourmarker lies to the west of the island and the large tidal bay of Langstone Harbourmarker is to the east. Portsdown Hillmarker 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 Wightmarker 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. Being on the south coast Portsmouth also receives more sunshine per annum than most of the UK. Being a seaside city, it is low-lying—the majority of its surface area is 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 Bucklandmarker, Landportmarker and Portseamarker. These were built to replace Victorian terraces destroyed by bombing in World War II. After the war the massive estate of Leigh Parkmarker (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 Councilmarker, but Portsmouth City Council remains the landlord for these properties, thus making it the biggest landowner in Havant Borough. Old Portsmouthmarker which is the oldest part of the city, was also known as Spice Island and was famous for its pubs, that serviced the many sailors calling into the port.Districts of Portsmouth; Widleymarker, Paulsgrovemarker, Wymeringmarker, Coshammarker, Drayton, Farlington, Port Solent, North Harbour, Highbury, Hilseamarker, Anchorage Park, North End, Tipnermarker, Stamshawmarker, Copnormarker, Landportmarker, Buckland, Baffinsmarker, Frattonmarker, City Centre, Portseamarker, Old Portsmouthmarker, Southseamarker, Milton and Eastneymarker.


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 HND, 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. Both Admiral Lord Nelson School and Miltoncross School were built recently to meet the demand of a growing school age population.

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 Schoolmarker 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

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 museummarker (which holds the Overlord embroidery) and, in the dockyardmarker, HMS Victorymarker, the remains of Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rosemarker (raised from the seabed in 1982), (Britain's first iron-clad steamship) and the Royal Naval Museummarker.

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, Forts Purbrook and Widley are activities centres.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. 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 Museummarker, 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. The memorial is inscribed:

The millennium project to build the Spinnaker Towermarker at Gunwharf Quaysmarker 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 Museummarker and Southsea Castlemarker. Southsea's seafront is also home to Clarence Piermarker 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

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

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouthmarker was founded in 1882 by Pope Leo XIII. Vatican policy in Englandmarker 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.

In 1927 the Church of England diocese of Winchestermarker was divided and St Thomas's Church became the cathedral for the newly created Diocese of Portsmouthmarker. 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 Churchmarker, was bombed during World War II with the nave kept roofless as a memorial. Of more modern buildings, St Philip's Coshammarker 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 several 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 Havantmarker, Leigh Parkmarker, Waterloovillemarker, Farehammarker, Petersfieldmarker and long distance service 700 to Chichestermarker, Worthingmarker and Brightonmarker. Hovertravel also run a service from the City Centre to Southsea Hovercraft Terminal and The Hard Interchangemarker. Countryliner run a Saturday service to Midhurstmarker. National Express services from Portsmouth run mainly from The Hard Interchangemarker to London, Cornwall, Bradford, Birkenhead and Eastbourne. Many bus services also stop at The Hard Interchange. Other bus services run from Commercial Road North, Commercial Road South and Isambard Brunel Road. A new bus station has been proposed next to Portsmouth & Southsea Stationmarker 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 Transportmarker in November 2005. 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.


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 is a short section of motorway which runs from Bedhampton north to Horndeanmarker.

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 Waterloomarker, via Guildfordmarker and via Basingstokemarker. There is also a South West Trains stopping service to Southampton Centralmarker (providing connections to Crosscountry services to Birminghammarker and Manchestermarker), and a service by First Great Western to Cardiff Central via Southampton, Salisburymarker, Bath and Bristol. Southern also offer services to Brightonmarker and London Victoriamarker.

Portsmouth's stations are (in order, out of the city): Portsmouth Harbourmarker, Portsmouth and Southseamarker, Frattonmarker, Hilseamarker and Coshammarker (the last being on the mainland).


Portsmouth Harbourmarker has passenger ferry links to Gosportmarker and the Isle of Wightmarker. A car ferry service to the Isle of Wightmarker 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 Rydemarker, Isle of Wightmarker, operated by Hovertravel.

Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port has links to Caenmarker, Cherbourg-Octevillemarker, St Malomarker and Le Havremarker in France, Bilbaomarker 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 Bilbaomarker 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 Dovermarker, handling around three million passengers a year and has direct access to the M275.


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

Heathrowmarker and Gatwickmarker are both about 60–90 minutes away by motorway. Gatwick is directly linked by Southern services to London Victoriamarker, while Heathrow is linked by coach to Wokingmarker, which is on both rail lines to London Waterloomarker, 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 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

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.

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. 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 5m 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.

Portsmouth Northern Quarter redevelopment

Portsmouth's regeneration is being continued in the city centre with the demolition of the Tricorn Centremarker, 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. However after numerous delays and having not begun construction at the time originally proposed, it will likely see a completion date after 2010.

Portsmouth is in the midst of a continuing housing boom 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.

Portsmouth F.C. Stadium plans

In April 2007 Portsmouth F.C. announced plans to move away from Fratton Parkmarker, 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. It also involves moving HMS Warriormarker from her current permanent mooring. The HMS Warrior trust is refusing to move . 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 .

In answer to the Navy's objections regarding the supercarriers, Portsmouth FC have planned a similar stadium in Horsea Island near Port Solentmarker. 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 . A new £7m railway station is to be built at Paulsgrovemarker in Racecourse Lane near the site where there was originally a station . Along with these new roads towards the stadium, it has been proposed to build a new bridge from Tipnermarker alongside the motorway . 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 .

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 .

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. 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


External links

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