Southsea Portsmouth To Porchester
Its Tuesday August 21st 18 and after a great nights rest at the Esk Vale Guest House it was time for myself and Dave Beech to hit the road again. Having visited Southsea on several occasions over the last few years I am always pleased to be walking in this area. Developed into a fashionable Victorian seaside resort in the 19th century it was originally called Croxton Town after Thomas Croxton who's land the town was built on. later it borrowed the name of nearby Southsea Castle to promote itself and grew into a dense residential suburb, a commercial district and entertainment area separate from the centre of Portsmouth. During World War II Huge areas of Southsea were destroyed by bombing during The Blitz. Although some of Victorian Southsea escaped the bombing, areas such as the Kings Road and Elm Grove were extensively damaged and the Palmerston Road shopping areas were completely destroyed. At the end of the war, in 1945 Southsea and the rest of Portsmouth embarked on a massive clearance and rebuilding scheme. Many areas of destroyed, damaged and intact low-income housing were cleared to make way for new building schemes. The Kings Road Estate and Roslyn House, among others, were developed between 1945 and the 1970s. Palmerston Road shopping area was developed in the 1950s and still stands today. Although visitor numbers to the resort area have never recovered, Southsea continued to develop throughout the 20th century and today remains a mixed residential area and leisure destination.
If visiting Southsea please visit to the famous "Tenth Hole" tearooms simply a must if you are in the area, you will not be disappointed. Get there early though the queues can stretch down the road.
Leaving the B&B it's a short walk to Southsea Pier to the start of today's walk. From the beach the views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight are stunning and we soon reflect on our time there when we walked the coast in March 2018. As we meander along the seafront past the dog walkers and joggers we soon happen across these lovely ornate seafront shelters owned by Portsmouth City Council. They were built around 1900 and are listed buildings in their own right. For me these stunning shelters add charm and class to any seafront or promenade. Recently restored, cleaned and freshly painted I salute Portsmouth City Council for looking after these historic gems.
Southsea Castle, historically also known as Chaderton Castle, South Castle and Portsea Castle, is an artillery fort originally constructed by Henry VIII in 1544. It formed part of the King's Device programme to protect against invasion from France and the Holy Roman Empire, and defended the Solent and the eastern approach to Portsmouth. The castle had a square central keep, two rectangular gun platforms to the east and west, and two angled bastions to the front and rear, and was an early English example of the trace italienne-style of fortification popular on the Continent. The Cowdray engraving of the Battle of the Solent in 1545 depicted Henry VIII visiting the castle. Despite several serious fires, it remained in service and saw brief action at the start of the English Civil War in 1642 when it was stormed by Parliamentary forces.
The castle was expanded in the 1680s by Sir Bernard de Gomme and, after a period of neglect in the 18th century, was redesigned again in 1814 during the Napoleonic Wars. After a brief period of use as a military prison in the 1840s, the fortification was expanded in the 1850s and 1860s with additional gun batteries on the east and west sides. The defences were upgraded throughout the century due to the fears of a French invasion and formed part of the plan for defending Portsmouth during the First World War. In the interwar years some of the fortifications were stood down, but the castle saw service again in the Second World War, when it was involved in Operation Grasp, the seizure of French naval vessels in Portsmouth harbour. In 1960, Southsea Castle, by now obsolete, was sold to Portsmouth City Council. It was restored to its pre-1850 appearance and opened as a tourist attraction.
Looking out to sea you can see several Solent forts. These man-made island forts were originally built to protect the eastern approaches to Portsmouth Harbour from attack by enemy forces. The four armour-plated forts Spitbank, St Helen's, Horse Sand and No Man's Land were designed by Captain E. H. Stewart, overseen by Assistant Inspector General of Fortifications, Colonel W. F. D. Jervois. Construction took place between 1865 and 1880, at a total cost of £1,177,805. By the time the forts had been completed, the threat of invasion had long since passed and although the forts were armed and re-armed as technology advanced, they were never used in anger. They were decommissioned in 1956 and put up for sale in the 1960s, although they were not sold until the 1980s. They have now been transformed into luxury hotels and a museum. Seen here is Spitbank Fort with Ryde on the Isle of Wight in the background.
This Portland stone obelisk was erected as a memorial to the Crimean War (1853 -1856) inscribed "ERECTED IN MEMORY OF THOSE BRAVE SOLDIERS AND SAILORS WHO DURING THE LATE WAR WITH RUSSIA DIED OF THEIR WOUNDS AND ARE BURIED IN THIS GARRISON. ERECTED BY THE DEBATING SOCIETY OF PORTSMOUTH AIDED BY THEIR FELLOW TOWNSMEN, JUNE 10TH 1857. ALMA BALAKLAVA INKERMAN AND SEBASTAPOL SWEABORG KERTCH" Sadly and unfortunately I was reading online that the persons who erected this memorial did not inscribe the names of the men to whom they were referring, as there are no other records pertaining to them. It is likely that these unknown men would have been buried in Highland Road Cemetery which opened the previous year.
The Portsmouth Naval Memorial, commemorating nearly 10,000 naval personnel of the First World War and almost 15,000 of the Second World War who were lost or buried at sea. In total More than 45,000 men and women lost their lives while serving with the Royal Navy during the First World War alone and after the Armistice, the naval authorities and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission were determined to find an appropriate way to commemorate naval personnel who had no grave. Along with Chatham and Plymouth, the Portsmouth Memorial were designed by Sir Robert Lorimer with sculpture by Henry Poole. Each design is the same with an obelisk of Portland stone surmounted by a copper sphere. Later The Second World War extension was designed by Sir Edward Maufe with additional sculpture by Charles Wheeler, William McMillan and Esmond Burton. These magnificent memorials are beautiful and having taken part in a Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Chatham one, when I was a Sea Cadet, I can tell you it was one of the proudest days of my youth and quite overwhelming. Stood there as a 14 years old looking up at this white shaft of stone reaching into the sky remembering those who have been lost was very emotional and this memorial like the others always brings that back to me. Lest We Forget.
Aboukir Memorial obelisk, this was erected in memory of forty eight men and officers who died aboard HMS Aboukir in Jamaica in 1873 and 1874. The outbreak of Yellow Fever was started by an infected marine returning from leave in Kingstown. HMS Aboukir was the third ship of that name. It was named after The Battle of the Nile (1798) which was fought in Aboukir Bay. She was a ship of 3,080 tons, 204 X 60 feet and draught 19 feet. She carried 90 guns and a crew of 750 men (peace time) 820 men (war time) and was launched at Devonport Dockyard on 4th April 1848.
This Trident Memorial obelisk in red granite is dedicated to the forty four officers and men of the HMS Trident who died during a short space of just six weeks when an epidemic of yellow fever struck the ship in Sierra Leone in 1859. HMS Trident was an iron paddle sloop built for the Royal Navy by Ditchburn & Mare in 1845 at Leamouth, London. She served in the Mediterranean, off West Africa and in the South Atlantic, and was broken up in 1866 at Charlton London.
The Shannon Memorial. This tapering granite monument with bronze flags at the top sits on a stepped plinth with cannon bollards at each corner. The bronze flags are made from the metal of a gun captured at Lucknow. The monument remembers the seamen and marines of the Shannon Naval Brigade who died during the Indian Mutiny / rebellion in 1857. HMS Shannon was a Liffey-class steam frigate of the Royal Navy. Under the command of Sir William Peel, Shannon played an important role in the Indian Mutiny landing a naval brigade which fought at the Siege of Lucknow, including the Storming of the Sikandar Bagh. Five Victoria Crosses were won by the following crew of HMS Shannon: Lieutenant Thomas Young, Lieutenant Nowell Salmon, Leading Seaman John Harrison, Able Seaman Edward Robinson and Able Seaman William Hall, the first Black person and the first Canadian sailor to be awarded a Victoria Cross.
Another restored shelter in tip top condition with its original cornice a little further along the foreshore.
The HMS Chesapeake Memorial commemorates those who served, fell in battle, died from disease and accident during an eventful commission of HMS Chesapeake of 4 years 1857-61 (India 1857-58, Arabia 1858-59 and China 1859-61). One of it's reliefs depicts it's Seaman and Marines taking the Taku Forts, China, 25 June 1859 during the second Opium War. The Battle engaged 11 gunboats, with combined crews of 1,100 men. In total 89 men were killed and 345 wounded. HMS Chesapeake a Royal Navy screw-propelled 51-gun frigate launched in 1855, with a crew of 510 men was the flagship of the British China Squadron in 1861.
Southsea Hoverport operated by Hovertravel provides the fastest Isle of Wight ferry service across the Solent taking you directly to the shore between Southsea and Ryde in just 10 minutes. It is the world's only year round passenger hovercraft service, but is subject to service curtailment in inclement weather.
Portsmouth was founded by King Richard I and by the outbreak of the Hundred Years War it was a thriving town. This lead to several attacks by the French in 1338, 1369, 1377 and 1380. Consequently this meant that sea defences were needed for the harbour and the first fortifications appear consisting of a town wall and simple earthworks protecting the town. Later a wooden round tower was constructed between 1418 and 1426, closely followed four years later by a second wooden tower on the opposite side of the harbour at Gosport. Between these two towers a harbour chain was slung which enabled controlled entry to the estuary.
However during Henry VIII's reign and the Tudor period it was rising tensions with the continent that prompted a full scale building programme of stone fortifications and new stronger sea defences around the town to be undertaken. This included a rebuilt stone Round Tower, a Square Tower, Southsea Castle, Point Battery and Kings Bastion.
Seen here is a surviving segment of the Kings Bastion and Long Curtain Wall which is part of the 16th century town defences.
The Round Tower, once known as Ridley's Tower after John Ridley a Royal administrator of Henry VIII's reign who was responsible for the defences of Portsmouth. Originally wooden and later stone it is from this tower that the harbour chain was slung to Gosport to control entry to the harbour. Today it is also an important traditional vantage point for families to say farewell to their loved ones heading to sea aboard one of Her Majesty's ships from Portsmouth Navel Base. It is also the same location that we welcome them back home safe and sound, thanking them for their service.
Inside the Round Tower.
Point Battery was built in 1847 and consisted of a battery of 24 guns with most covering the harbour entrance and the remainder in a two storey gallery providing cover for the length of the Curtain Wall.
Fort Blockhouse across the narrow stretch of water that leads into Portsmouth Harbour is believed to be the oldest fortified position in the United Kingdom that is still in active military use. It was built in the seventeenth century and extensively modified thereafter. Today it is known as Support Unit Fort Blockhouse and continues to house many lodger units. The tall white tower on the left of the picture is the Submarine Escape Tank at HMS Dolphin which was used as a Submarine Base until 1998 before it was moved to HMNB Devonport. The Royal Navy Submarine School (RNSMS) remained at Dolphin for another year to train Royal Navy submariners before also shutting its doors to young submariners and moving to HMS Raleigh in 1999. Today only the Submarine Escape Training Tank (SETT), a 30m deep tank of water used to instruct all Royal Navy Submariners in pressurised escape, remains in use on the same site today. Nearby to Fort Blockhouse you can visit the Royal Navy Submarine Museum to learn more about submarines, submariners and the work carried out here since 1904.
The view looking north into Portsmouth Harbour.
Here set in stone on the floor are occasional large bronze anchor plaques with a chain motif paving slabs symbolising the three kilometre promenade walk that now links Portsmouth’s historic waterfront. The route starts from Spur Redoubt near Clarence Pier, Southsea and finishes on The Hard, taking in old Portsmouth, the Camber and Gunwharf Quays. The walkway has been built of the highest quality natural stone and opened up waterfront land that had been closed to the public for centuries. The route is indicated by a chain motif set into the surface, symbolising partnership between the communities of Portsmouth and Gosport and between past and present. Historically it also refers to the chain, which used to be tightened across the harbour entrance at times of potential attack. Column-mounted lanterns light the promenade, designed to reflect the historic character of blue lights at night that are strung around the harbour. Points of Interest from Spur Redoubt to the Historic Dockyard
Portsmouth Sailing Club headquarters & club house located on the waterfront in the old town was established in 1920, it is located within one of Portsmouth's oldest buildings. It is grade 2 listed, constructed in the 1830's and some of the timbers used to build it are from older ships broken up at the time.
This stunning stained glass window can be seen at the 18th century Still and West Public House on the waterfront in Portsmouth's old town. Another grade 2 listed building originally the pub was called the Still, the name of the pipe from the bosun’s whistle that was used to summon deck-hands.
From The Point's quayside in the old town you get your first look at modern Portsmouth, The Spinnaker Tower and the regeneration of Gunwharf Quays. This area is busy, very popular and it's hard to imagine today that once HMS Vernon stood here stockpiled with ordnance including cannons, ammunition and armaments. There had been an ordinance yard on this site since the late 17th century where they made ready, serviced and repaired armaments to be shipped for use at a moments notice on both land and sea. If you look closely when visiting Gunwharf Quays some of the surviving 18th century buildings can still be seen on this former military site, which closed in 1995.
The KB Boat Park dry stack at Camber Dock in the old town Portsmouth. Having already spoken about the benefits of boat dry stacks in my Wyke Regis to Wyke Regis Portland circular section, it continues to amaze me how great an idea these are. Seen here a fork lift is just putting a boat in the water for this lucky owner. Its such a good idea you simply call ahead to notify them you want your boat to be launched. Then a trained and experienced staff member will safely move your boat from the dry stack with a forklift from it's secure berth ashore to the water, ready for your arrival. When you return after a day on the water, you simply tie up alongside and the rest is taken care of. The boat will be washed down and safely stowed back in the stack ready for your next visit, genius.
The luxury Amaryllis super yacht moored in front of Gunwharf next to the Spinnaker Tower. It's mind boggling to think of the wealth that you must need to own one of these beautiful vessels. Am I jealous? maybe a little, just imagine the vantage point a boat like this could offer. Liking the sea its not about the vast sums of money (£690,000 for a weeks charter) for me, it's simply the idea of travelling to destinations all around the world in relative comfort that appeals to me. Maybe in another life. :)
Now this is probably more my price range (£6 a day), Portsmouth's children's Mini Port, they even had a boat suitably apt for me.:)
Opened in 2001, today Gunwharf Quays is a leisure destination which offers retail, eating and entertainment whilst gently reminding us of Portsmouth's historic past. It feels really nice to me, especially in today's sun and I like it. It's a shining star for regeneration projects of this type and it has made very good use of the old defence site it now resides on. I look forward to returning and having a closer look around in the future. Well done to VF, Berkeley Group and Portsmouth City Council and all who helped with this project, a job well done.
Some unusual and quirky facts about the Gunwharf Quay site from the internet include:
- Gunwharf Quays has its own on-site recycling centre, and over the last three years has increased its combined recycling and reuse performance from 48% to 80%.
- Gunwharf Quays has one of the largest arrays of solar panels on a shopping centre in Europe, which are used to power the car park.
- As the site is open 24 hours a day, the site is constantly manned, even on Christmas Day
- The site contains 4 Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Only 2% of listed buildings fall into this category, so to have 4 on site is exceptional.
- The canals on site are filled with salt water, and represent the last remaining piece of the marshlands from pre-1770.
- 76 unexploded ordnances were discovered when the site was being built
- 7 acres of foreshore were reclaimed to build the centre
- When it was first built, Gunwharf Quays was the largest man made marine deck in Europe
- Rumour has it that Nelson marched through Vernon Gate on his way to the Battle of Trafalgar
- The world’s largest single masted yacht has stayed in our Leisure Marina
- The site was one of several naval bases used for the D-Day preparations, with units based at Gunwharf responsible for carrying 3rd British Division to Sword Beach on D-Day.
Originally the Portsmouth Millennium Tower now the Emirates Tower, The Spinnaker Tower at a height of 560 feet (170m), is 2.5 times as high as Nelson's Column, making it one of the tallest accessible structures in the United Kingdom outside London. The tower is visible around Portsmouth, changing the horizon of the area. It can be seen from the Isle of Wight, the manhood peninsula and even Highdown Gardens in Worthing.
The tower represents sails billowing in the wind, a design accomplished using two large, white, sweeping metal arcs, which give the tower it's spinnaker sail design. The steelwork was fabricated by Butterley Engineering. At the top is a triple observation deck, providing a 360° view of the city of Portsmouth, the Langstone and Portsmouth harbours, and a viewing distance of 23 miles (37km). The highest of the three observation platforms, the Sky Deck, has only a wire mesh roof, so visitors are open to the elements. The windows extend above head height, so it is not possible to get a view unobstructed by glass. A glass floor is located on the first viewing deck at 100 metres above sea level. The tower has a design lifetime of 80 years.
High up on the Spinnaker Tower the outside glass is getting cleaned by their own abseiling team. The glass is cleaned every 6-8 weeks ensuring viewing remains optimum for the visiting public.
Another view of the Amarylli.
The stunning HMS Warrior launched in 1860 from the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, Blackwall London. Now berthed in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard complex she can be seen as soon as you exit Portsmouth Harbour railway station. Along with her sister ship HMS Black Prince they were the first armour plated, iron hulled warships (Warrior-class Ironclads).
Well it's not too often you meet two Royal 'so and so's' on your walks, but here Dave throws his name into the hat at an impromptu audition to be the next Henry VIII at the Mary Rose Museum if they ever need him. Well I have to say with a little work the job's his! :)
The entrance to HMS Nelson, one of three operating bases in the UK, the others being HMNB Clyde and HMNB Devonport. This base is the headquarters for two thirds of all the Royal Navy's service fleet and employs up to 17,200 personnel. It is also home to a number of private commercial companies working closely with the Navy.
The stunning figurehead from the HM Yacht Victoria & Albert 1899-1954 now sits within HMS Nelson near the parade ground. Sadly for us we must view this gem from outside the boundary fence beside the busy main road.
Now sadly for us the rest of our walk from HMS Nelson to Paulsgrove Lake inlet Portchester is a mixture of concrete urban sprawl, busy roads and to add insult to injury a poorly thought out diversion for a development project was in place. This took us away from the Pilgrim's Trail into Stamshaw, North End and Hilsea. To keep closest to the foreshore, we spent valuable time trying to find a way to keep as close as possible to the Pilgrim's Trail and Allot Gardens. After much zig zagging down urban streets we eventually found the roundabout for the M27 and A3, at that point we rejoined the Pilgrim's Trail. This diversion really took a shine off the afternoon's walking and it really was a day of two halves. So from here it was 'heads down' and get to Portchester as soon as possible, there really was nothing to see or document.
Finely we arrived at the Paulsgrove Lake inlet at Portchester and seeing this little bit of water gave us a slight lift, although it still had a busy main road beside it. Arriving here also signalled the end of today's walk and it was time for some refreshment and our journey back home to Kent.
Please remember I am walking the coast in aid of Demelza Children’s Hospice and any donation no matter how small would be very much appreciated. Please see the Donate link on my home page. Thank you Shaun. 11.22 miles.