Strong Island Co.

Architecture & The City

Pier Today, Gone Tomorrow? Sign the Petition to Order Repairs to South Parade Pier

“Time and tide wait for no man” is a 13th century proverb that goes back even further in ancient English and the sentiment remains the same almost 1000 year later in the case of Portsmouth & Southsea’s South Parade Pier: the laws of the land say it can’t be demolished but these laws mean nothing to the rain, the wind and the sea. After years of seemingly wilful neglect by the current owners, a mixture of handwashing and legal nonchalance by Portsmouth City Council, elusive, hokey-cokey ‘new’ owners and a winter of the worst storms in memory the treasured landmark at one of Portsmouth & Southsea seaside’s busiest points may well not be structurally able to survive another bad winter.

South Parade Trust have created a petition calling on Portsmouth City Council to act and force the owners of South Parade Pier to “…carry out urgent, end-to-end repairs to prevent further ongoing structural collapse, using Section 48 of The Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, as recommended by English Heritage”. You can re-open a toilet and fill a pothole but once the pier is gone…it is gone forever. If the small Suffolk seaside town of Southwold can have a vibrant pier, so can we. If Hastings can restore a pier to its previous splendour (from burnt out ruins), then so can we. If Penarth can have a community pier with resources and facilities for locals and tourists, then so can we. No more excuses, time to act.

The petition has only been online a matter of days and already has almost 3000 signatures at the time of writing, there is absolutely no reason why it cannot get to 10,000 or even 100,000 seeing the number of people who live, work & visit the city of Portsmouth and Southsea. It takes 10 seconds to sign and another 10 seconds to share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Forgetting the heritage, forgetting a restored pier being a community asset, forgetting the pier being a tourist attraction…culturally & artistically the pier is one of the most photographed locations in the city. Photos taken on mobile phones all the way to remote drones, photos taken at all times of the day and year from land and sea…all of these photos shared online to what must be millions of people. Imagine that lost to a storm surge and shoulder shrugging owners and PCC…

Below are just three photos I’ve taken of the pier of literally hundreds in the last few years, I imagine just locally there must be thousands and thousands of photos by local people, even more by visitors to the city. People are inspired to take photographs by special places and locations, lets try and keep one of ours and to bring it back to life.

South Parade Pier (1)

South Parade Pier (2)

South Parade Pier (3)

Last Chance to Sign Up for Tricorn Study Day on 21st June

Portsmouth City Museum are holding a Tricorn study day on the 21st June that includes many different talks about the structure & its design (including one by the architect Owen Luder) plus talks on the possible use of the space left behind from the demolition of the building in 2004. The line up for the day is as follows:

09:50 – Introductions
10:00 – Celia Clark: Brutalism as a style – the fate of Brutalist buildings around the world
10:55 – Coffee break
11:10 – Roger Tyrrell & Nicola Crowson, University of Portsmouth: ‘The Iconic’ – a comparative analysis of the Tricorn and the Sydney Opera House
12.05 – Owen Luder: The Tricorn – the architect’s perspective
13:00 – Lunch in the Activities Room (ground floor, east end)
13:45 – Ron Tate: The Tricorn – a planner’s perspective
14:40 – Univ. of Portsmouth architecture students: Reusing the Tricorn footprint I
15:25 – Tea break
15:40 – Univ. of Portsmouth architecture students: Reusing the Tricorn footprint II
16:25 – End

A place at the study day, which includes a buffet lunch, tea and coffee, costs only £20 with Portsmouth Leisure Card Holders & students at only £12. To book a place phone 023 9283 4737 and pay by credit or debit card.

Tricorn by Jon King
Photo by Jon King

Proposal for Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup Headquarters

Currently one of the most contentious planning proposals in the city is the proposed new home for Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup headquarters, located on The Camber in Old Portsmouth. The story has been developing quickly over recent weeks and we have heard people’s opinions on both sides through messages on our Facebook and with emails. I think there is no doubt that having the city home to one of the best sailing teams in the World would be a huge boost to the city on many levels, be that employment, new skills and prestige. Personally I think the plans for the building are striking too, a new landmark for Portsmouth and also a symbol of the city’s development for every single passenger of every continental and IOW ferry that leaves and arrives in the harbour.

Concerning the design, which will fill much of the current Camber carpark, it is safe to say that this modern structure wrapped in curved ‘sails’ caught in a strong wind will cause controversy due to the close proximity of the historic Point and the streets of the Old Portsmouth district. Personally, I think architecture in these situations can work in two ways, either feel in keeping with the existing period design or be the opposite, a meeting of diametrically opposed styles that work together, combining the heritage of the city with dynamic contemporary architectural design. This has worked in numerous significant developments in recent years (even intimately such as the Great Court at the British Museum)…in a way this bringing together of the two styles can be representative of a city wishing to celebrate its heritage yet strike new ground with a view to the future too. Despite there still being questions regarding issues such as public access to the very popular Bridge Tavern (maybe the idea of the return of the bridge over the water isn’t a joke after all?) and the problem of parking in an area designed long before the car, the change of use from an area once piled high with power station coal could help power the city in new ways.

It seems like opinion is once again polarised from this development, in recent days councillors of all political persuasions have come out in support of the proposal plus a planning committee has also shown support yet many local residents are raising concern about possible problems with the proposal. Strangely pre-development work has already broken ground on the site too with businesses moving location to make way for the new building. A little worrying considering no formal approval has been given, but if the local businesses are happy about the changes, maybe that is a move in the right direction if a little presumptive. For me…it was important to see what opinion the Portsmouth Society might have on the issue and last week saw them also show support too. With that support in place and with Ben Ainslie’s apparent desire to choose Portsmouth over two sites in Southampton it looks very positive.

There is a consultation meeting this evening at 7.30pm at Cathedral House (next to Portsmouth Cathedral), after the first was postponed due to too many people arriving for the space available. At the meeting Sir Ben Ainslie will be making a presentation of the proposal in person and people are encouraged to attend to both raise any concerns but also to show local support for the plans. The final planning consent decision is very quickly approaching and the building is planned to start very soon so we could be seeing the very best racing yachts in Portsmouth Harbour and out on The Solent in the very near future.

One real concern regarding this development is if it will have any detrimental impact on the ARTches project, I would really hope that this local area is able to take both developments on and the council will ensure that this doesn’t become a situation where they only offer one out of the two large scale changes to the Old Portsmouth area to appease residents.

There is a petition showing support for the proposal, you can find out about it HERE.

Proposal for Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup Headquarters (3)

Proposal for Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup Headquarters (2)

Proposal for Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup Headquarters (1)

Explore The Tricorn with Architectural Flythroughs by Sam Brooks

If you have visited the Portsmouth City Museum’s Tricorn exhibition (and if you haven’t you should do quick as it ends at the end of this month) you would have seen an incredible virtual flythrough of the building, revealing its different areas, shops and more…giving a new whole new perspective of the structure’s design. The virtual flythrough by Sam Brooks (who also is part of the Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series) is a detailed tour and based on the original architectural drawings by Owen Luder Architects.

Sam has produced a large series of Tricorn flythroughs with the one below capturing the whole structure but if you visit the Leftfield Motive YouTube channel you’ll find detailed flythroughs focusing on particular areas like the department store, the residential flats and views of each of the individual levels. I highly recommend you take a few minutes and re-discover this Portsmouth architectural icon in a fascinating new way.

Explore The Tricorn with Architectural Flythroughs by Sam Brooks (1)

Explore The Tricorn with Architectural Flythroughs by Sam Brooks (2)

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series

Earlier this year as part of our contributions to the Portsmouth City Museum’s fantastic Tricorn exhibition we curated and commissioned a limited edition of artist prints to be displayed in the exhibition and exclusively sold in the museum gift shop. The artist series included a wide range of work (some of it specially designed for the series), from photography through to graphic design and illustration from nine different local creatives. Each print shows a different side of the Tricorn yet all clearly identify the building as a powerful creative inspiration for the city through its history.

The prints have been selling really well with a few of the designs now almost out of print. The prints are available direct from the museum until the end of the exhibition and are professionally printed & come on exceptionally high quality, specially selected paper in both A4 and A3, priced at £15 and £30 respectively. Every purchase helps support both the museum and the local creatives directly.

The Tricorn exhibition runs until the end of June, if you haven’t visited yet, it is well worth a visit and is free entry, as are all of the other great exhibitions at the museum. Have a look at our review of the exhibition HERE.

The artist series is shown below, let us know which is your favourite and if you have already bought one or more!

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Craig Eves
Craig Eves

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Jon King
Jon King

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Superrb

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Eloïse Parrack
Eloïse Parrack

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Sam Brooks
Sam Brooks

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - AllCaps

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Stu Linfield
Stu Linfield

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Russell Squires
Russell Squires

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Tristan Savage
Tristan Savage

Time And Tide – An Update On The Pier.

At the time of my last post on the subject, the pier was due to be rescued by a mystery consortium who’s ambitions were to restore the iconic landmark to its former glory. So where are we now? As time keeps marching on, the pier continues to slowly crumble into the sea and the potential new owners continue to shroud their identity in secrecy without any real sign of the purchase going ahead. During this time, the council have resumed their legal action against current owners Fred Nash and Dawn Randall, by ordering the construction of a protective perimeter wall rather than opting for the repairs it badly needs. So where does this leave us? We have two penniless owners who want to wash their hands of the structure, a shadowy group who quite clearly have nothing in their coffers, an eyesore of a wall that will cost money to put up and subsequently tear down, and a local council who seem happy enough to sit down and watch this farcical situation go from bad to worse.

We should remind ourselves that Portsmouth is not the only coastal city who have battled to save their pier. Let us take Hastings as an example. Hastings Council rightly issued a compulsory purchase order and placed their pier firmly in the hands of the Hastings Pier Trust (the model for South Parade Trust). Whilst the financial risk are taken on by the trust, it leaves them free to apply for grants. Hastings Pier Trust received £11.4m from this process alone thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Take a second and drink that figure in. This type of back-to-back handover would not only best serve the people of Portsmouth, it will also save the pier from certain ruin and clear any of the water that has been muddied by the consortium. Should Portsmouth City Council choose not to go down this simple route, it will be tantamount to neglect.




Investment In Portsmouth

Over the past week we have heard announcements in the local press that Bouygues Development are looking to seek permission to demolish the eyesore that is Brunel House, and replace it with an impressive tower which has been nicknamed ‘Our Shard’. In addition there have also been reports about the investment which will be going into South Parade Pier by the new owners, and the residential development of the old Portland Hotel building on Kent Road. With all this exciting development I am half expecting to hear that someone will finally turn the the Northern Quarter of Commercial Road into the New Westfields.

Putting all cynicism to one side however, these projects would be fantastic for the city. The regeneration of The Hard and Portsea area over the past few years has been a real success, and this would continue this time of regeneration for our city. In my opinion the building looks brilliant and would enhance the already impressive Portsmouth skyline.

Bouygues Development’s plans consist of a forty storey tower which will include student accommodation, 329 residential properties and one floor of retail space. The development would see the demolition of Brunel House, Victory Public House, ‘City Wide Taxi’s’ building and former Ambulance Station.

To find out more you can view the planning application yourself HERE.

Brunel House Our Shard

We have all been waiting and hoping for some positive news about our beloved South Parade Pier. The consortium who have just taken over ownership of the pier, South Parade Pier Limited have announced their plan to develop the pier. The plans include a music venue, bars and restaurants however still maintaining traditional seaside pier attractions like the arcades and food kiosks.

A nice touch that excited me was the plan for a ferry service could also be set up to go between Gunwharf Quays.

With all of this in mind, I feel it is key to point out that we at Strong Island echo the thoughts of The South Parade Trust, who are a community organisation who were also looking to purchase the pier, they urge caution and want to see evidence of the investment required. If reports are to be believed the costs to restore the pier could reach between £3-5 million.

It’s still very early days and the owners will have to allow the full extent of the damage to be assessed before anyone can hope to see repairs begin. It may take a few years but let’s hope the future for one of Portsmouth’s oldest and most loved attractions is in good hands.

Catherine Taylor
Photo by Catherine Taylor

Todays Portsmouth News has featured the new development for the land opposite the pier. Take a look and you can make up your own opinions.

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum

Tricorn: Controversy in Concrete is a brand new exhibition commemorating 10 years since the demolition of this distinct and controversial building that between 1966 and 2004 was a fundamental part of the Portsmouth skyline. The exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum goes far beyond documenting the building from an architectural perspective, although for the first time many, many original drawings, plans and photographs are on display from the building’s architects, much of it for the first time ever. Where this exhibition explores beyond the groundbreaking and (for many) iconic Brutalist architectural design is documenting how it was experienced and used by the people of Portsmouth. The exhibition opened on the 15th and formally had its opening celebration to a capacity crowd on Saturday 22nd.

The exhibition on the ground floor of the museum is loosely arranged in to two areas, with the first section detailing the origins of the building from concept to design and build. As you enter this space the striking architectural plans on the wall are what first catch the eye. The lines and form of the concrete structure can almost take you back in time to the exciting and economically optimistic early 1960s, with the original and then cutting edge design still feeling strangely fresh even now. This is reinforced with the many original pamphlets, magazines and books that show the enthusiasm the project launched with. This part of the exhibition also establishes where the Tricorn sat within the Brutalist movement and also with some other buildings in the city such as Portsdown Park and Portsmouth Central Library, both of which are in the exhibition in the form of architect sketches and models.

The second section focuses on how the people of Portsmouth experienced the structure over the years it stood in the city centre. Part of this section is an incredible collection of posters and artwork from the nightclub but there is also related music, photos and even period clothing giving a sense of how the building was, for a time, a hub for the community. This section also looks at how the building was a creative inspiration for many, including artwork, skateboard decks and in particular, photography. It is in this section the Strong Island community photo panel is located, with over 100 photos capturing the structure in artistic angles and light. This area is also home to some striking work by Jon King and James Earle, both of who explored the building with their cameras throughout it’s demolition. Both areas also contain oral history, with interviews, opinions and memories on the Tricorn from both architect and members of the public. Also in both areas of the exhibition are feedback walls, which welcome comments from people visiting the exhibition. Despite the exhibition only being open for a week these are already full with amazing contributions.

On Saturday 22nd the exhibition was formally opened including attendance by VIPs such as Owen Luder, one of the original architects, plus many people associated with the Tricorn from right back to it’s design and construction through to its final demolition. The event included speeches by Owen Luder, Celia Clark and Councillor Lee Hunt, possibly the most interesting was the story of the Tricorn told by Owen Luder himself. It was fascinating to see how for him the aspirations for the building were in many ways dashed due to an economic turndown happening with an extended delay in securing contracts with key business tenants. Of particular note were his thoughts on how the space itself has been used “54 years on it is back to how it was when I first saw it in 1960, a carpark”.

The exhibition runs through to the 29th June.

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (1)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (2)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (3)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (4)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (5)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (6)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (7)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (8)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (9)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (11)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (12)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (13)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (14)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (15)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (16)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (17)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (18)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (19)

Tricorn Exhibition Opens at Portsmouth City Museum

Love it or hate it, one thing is undeniable, The Tricorn was a distinctive building and helped shape for many years the skyline of Portsmouth. Another undeniable fact is that everyone had an opinion on the structure, from its design through to its use and this exhibition, entitled Tricorn: Controversy in Concrete at Portsmouth City Museum, is sure to remind people that even after 10 years since it’s demolition the Tricorn can still instil passion in the people of Portsmouth and further afield.

The exhibition itself explores the architectural roots of both the Tricorn in the Brutalist movement, its construction in 1966 & all the way through to the Tricorn’s demise in 2004. The exhibition also explores how the Tricorn formed a part of the community, with it home to businesses, a place to work, explore and play through the years. For the first time all of these aspects of this distinctly Portsmouth building will be on display.

As part of the exhibition will be a display of over 100 photos submitted to Strong Island by over 30 photographers that will form the community photography panel. The photographs show the Tricorn in many different ways, with it forming not just a backdrop but a clear, creative inspiration to many students and people of Portsmouth. We’re really excited to share the work and the display.

We are also working with a group of artists and photographers on a series of prints that will be on sale at the Portsmouth City Museum during the exhibition and on display within the exhibition. We’ll have more details on these and some other Tricorn related events and activities soon!

The exhibition opens on the 15th March and runs through to the 29th June.

Below is the official flyer plus a very small selection of images submitted to us to form the community photography panel.

Tricorn Exhibition Poster

Tricorn by Nick Moore

Tricorn by Dave Sanderson

Tricorn by Jon King

Tricorn by Allister Lewis

Tricorn by Paul Duffy

Deadline for Tricorn Photos is Friday 7th

As we mentioned recently (you can find out the full details HERE) we have been collecting submissions of people’s photos of Portsmouth’s iconic Tricorn for the upcoming Tricorn exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum. The submitted photos will form a community panel within the exhibition itself, helping to show the creative inspiration to local people the structure became. We have been overwhelmed with the response so far, receiving over 300 photos and some of them are quite simply stunning. Many people who have submitted photos took them whilst studying art and photography and the quality of the images is incredible.

The deadline for all submissions is now next Friday, the 7th February. If you could please dig out your negatives, dive through your old prints and look in old hard-drives for your photos and send them over that would be great. To find out how to submit give me a shout on

We’re also hoping to organise a few more Tricorn related events and activities throughout 2014, the 10th anniversary of it being demolished.

Tricorn by Russell Squires
Photo by Russell Squires

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Vintage Southsea Skatepark

Bored Manager Tom sent us over this original Skatepark article and poster. It doesn’t get more back in the day than this really. The original proposal plan and the opening day poster. At last Skateboard Paradise. Truly amazing. The article is quite small, but I zoomed it to read back the first paragraph.

‘Skatepark plan caters for all plus band and roller skating. Fast elevated runs and steep twisting slalom – like tracks for the advanced skateboarder, are a design feature of the £60,000 skateboard arena proposed for Southsea Common’



Old Portsmouth

I found this photo of Old Portsmouth shot form The Spinnaker last night. I don’t think I’ve seen it shot from this angle before. It almost looks like another town at first glance. Some great details. Cricket in full swing, all the catchers traps on the roof of the fish market, enjoying a beer at The A Bar, Lawn Bowls, all on a cracking sunny day. Click on the image for full size.

Photo – eNil

By The Castle

Apologies for a little self-linkage, but I’ve added some photos from a July day down by the castle on Forever Circling (a photography, etc blog I update daily).

It’s sunny today too, roll on spring and summer.

Around the Castle

Portsmouth on Film – Episode 2

A new episode of Jonathan & Matthew Ring’s vintage family footage ‘Portsmouth on Film’ went up this week.

This episode has focuses on Canoe Lake and the Model Village.

Someone Invent A Time Machine

The photography exhibit The Birth of British Rock at the Museum is now in it’s last week so be sure to make it down before it finishes on June 6th. Looking through the Pompey Pop Pix Flickr, which contains loads of local photos, tickets and posters, I came across this poster for what must have been on of the best line-ups the Guildhall has ever had.

Strong Island Clothing Co.