Written by frangliz on 21 Jul, 2009
In the past, Portsmouth has often fallen behind other cities on the south coast of England, namely Southampton and Brighton, not offering the same variety of cultural events for example. More recently it has begun to hold its own with the ever-expanding university, the development…Read More
In the past, Portsmouth has often fallen behind other cities on the south coast of England, namely Southampton and Brighton, not offering the same variety of cultural events for example. More recently it has begun to hold its own with the ever-expanding university, the development of Gunwharf Quays, and a premiership football team. Portsmouth has traditionally been the home of a large naval base, and the dockyard area eventually became known as the Historic Dockyard, housing Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, and the remains of the Mary Rose from the time of King Henry VIII. This could provide an excellent educational day out for families. About five minutes' walk from the dockyard will take you to Gunwharf Quays, the focal point of which is now the curvaceous 170-metre-high Spinnaker Tower, from the top of which can be seen panoramic views of the city itself, Portsmouth Harbour, the Isle of Wight, Gosport to the west and Portsdown Hill to the north. Residents of Portsmouth are entitled to a discount on the entry fee if they can show proof of address, but be prepared for queues at weekends and holiday times.Gunwharf Quays provides a centre for both residents and visitors, offering shops, a cinema, restaurants, nighclubs, pubs, cafes and a small art gallery. The most pleasant way of dining out here in fine weather is down on the waterfront, overlooking Portsmouth Harbour. Choose from Spanish, Italian, Indian, French or American food, or simply have a drink and watch the ferries going off to France. If you find Gunwharf Quays is really to your liking, you could buy a flat there. It does attract the crowds, however, but if they get you down, follow the Millennium Path along to Old Portsmouth where you can have a drink at the Still and West pub.On High Street, Old Portsmouth, is the Cathedral, a modest one compared to those of neighbouring cities Winchester and Chichester. It does, nevertheless, house Charles II's original marriage certificate as well as a fragment of the flag that flew at the Battle of Trafalgar and was carried at Admiral Lord Nelson's funeral procession. High Street is also the location of Portsmouth Grammar School, by far the best independent school that the city has to offer, although Portsmouth High School for Girls also has an excellent reputation. Just around the corner from High Street on Museum Road is the City Museum and Art Gallery. The Commercial Road pedestrian precinct is the main shopping centre in Portsmouth. Debenham's have recently taken over Allders department store, and John Lewis have plans to build a store on the site of the now-demolished ugly Tricorn building. This area is being kept on its toes now that some shoppers prefer to visit Gunwharf Quays, but all the major banks are situated in Commercial Road and it is in close proximity to the university. Only about a hundred yards away you will find Victoria Park, a pleasant spot for city sunbathing, and fun for children who can see rabbits and guinea pigs there, perhaps even a peacock spreading its glorious tail. Just behind the park are the local swimming baths.Going south from Commercial Road past Portsmouth and Southsea railway station you will come to Portsmouth Guildhall, where I can remember seeing both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in concert as a teenager in the early sixties. Close by are the central library and the recently refurbished New Theatre Royal on Guildhall Walk, which is also well known for its clubs and bars.Not far north of Commercial Road you can visit the birthplace of the great nineteenth-century writer, Charles Dickens. Away from the city centre, North End is a sizeable residential area with plenty of small shops, a cinema, pubs, fast-food outlets and several banks. More attractive, however, is Southsea with its seafront – albeit lacking in sand – Canoe Lake, D-Day Museum, Blue Reef Aquarium, Natural History Museum/Butterfly House and Southsea Castle, dating from the time of Henry VIII. Crossing Southsea Common, you will soon reach Palmerston Road, a shopping centre with a good variety of eateries and one or two pubs. The Albert Road area of Southsea is popular with students; it is lined with small shops and restaurants, as well as being the home of the Wedgewood Rooms, the one remaining live music venue. For those who live in Portsmouth and want to go for days out or short breaks nearby, there is plenty of choice. Portsmouth has good rail links to London (Waterloo) with a journey time of around ninety minutes, as well as to Southampton, Brighton or even Cardiff. There is a car ferry service to the Isle of Wight, or foot passengers can take the 'fast cat' or again the hovercraft from Clarence Pier. Hayling Island offers an alternative beach and can be reached by a brief ferry journey from Eastney. Ferries from Portsmouth Harbour run to Gosport where there is a Submarine Museum. Just north of the city Portchester Castle is worth a visit, or go a little further to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park on the A3 shortly before the charming market town of Petersfield. There is also a delightful open air museum not far away in West Sussex. Portsmouth is of course a continental ferry port offering crossings to Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg and St. Malo in France, Bilbao in Spain, and Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Leaving first thing, you could even fit in a day trip to France.For those who love the sea, Portsmouth is an ideal location. But there is now an increasing number of amenities that make it an interesting place for families, students or retired couples. Some may still prefer Brighton, but housing in Portsmouth is at a much more affordable price. For most of us, this is a major consideration. Close
Written by BRAMCOTE on 25 Jul, 2005
The Festival of the Sea was held in the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth over a 4-day period in June 2005. The dockyard was filled with warships, aircraft carriers, tall ships from all over the world, and many smaller craft, many of which visitors were able…Read More
The Festival of the Sea was held in the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth over a 4-day period in June 2005. The dockyard was filled with warships, aircraft carriers, tall ships from all over the world, and many smaller craft, many of which visitors were able to board at certain times of the day.
Although the official opening time was 10am, the gates were opened at 9:30am, probably due to the long queues already forming along the main road. With an extra half-hour on our hands, we headed straight for the ships in the hope that we could board some of them before things got busier.
We were fortunate enough to be able to board and view three of the tall ships, a wonderful experience. The size of them was quite unbelievable, and the crews were all available to answer questions, and each ship had souvenirs available for purchase.
Our next visit was to the South Korean warship where we were given a detailed guided tour, including a visit to the bridge. To board, we had to pass over the deck of a Danish vessel that had only been in service for 6 months, and we took the opportunity of taking photographs alongside the helicopter that was on deck. At this point, early in the day, we realised that it would be impossible to participate in everything on offer in one day, and that we would have to prioritise. Had we realised that so much was available, we would have purchased tickets for two days. So we took our souvenir programme, and over a cup of coffee, planned our day.
Fortunately, we had visited the Historic Dockyard twice previously, so had had the opportunity to board Nelson's Flagship, Victory, and HMS Warrior 1860, view the restoration of The Mary Rose, and visit the museums. Just as well - we would never have managed to do all this.
Throughout the day, there were entertainers and performers all around the dockyard, many in period costume acting out situations that would have arisen in Nelson's time. There was even a house with all the washing hung out to dry outside and the householders bantering with the public as they passed.
We saw "kangaroos" bouncing on springs (a great favourite with the children), all types of sea creatures - riding around on bicycles, would you believe - and some excellent bands, one of our favourites being Deep Sea Jivers, who played rock-and-roll favourites as well as other popular songs. Dressed in bright yellow suits, they could not be missed.