Strong Island Co.

Harbours & The Solent

D-Day Museum & D-Day Commemorations

This weekend sees the 70th anniversary of D-Day being remembered on Southsea Seafront.  An event in history that shall never be forgotten as it affected so many millions of lives both then and now.

There is a wide programme of events starting today, running through until Sunday including a Red Arrows display, mock beach landings performed by the Royal Marines and a live performance by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.  Many veterans will be attending alongside top leaders from around Europe.  The events are free for all to attend and commence from around 10am each day.

You may also have heard this week about the fantastic news the D-Day Museum in Southsea is to receive some funding to help towards a complete redevelopment to upgrade and modernise the museum, making it the biggest D-Day commemorative attraction in the world.  A huge honour for the city of Portsmouth, who played such a pivotal role in the D-Day operations from planning through to implementation.

This funding will bring the museum just short of it’s target for the development to be completed in time for the D-Day 75 celebrations.  Various local businesses have pledged to carry out fundraising drives over the coming months the help the museum achieve it’s target, as well as the news that Victorious Festival will be donating a percentage of ticket sales towards the museum’s initiative.

You can read the D-Day museum plans of development and fundraising strategy here in more detail.

Remembering the allied forces who sacrificed so much for those of us today is hugely important for the future generations in so many ways.  To see the D-Day museum reach these goals would not only be a fantastic achievement for the city, but also for the wider world to remember such a significant event in history.

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South Parade Pier Sold?

Over the past couple of weeks quiet rumours about South Parade Pier being sold to a mysterious new owner/s have become more and more audible. So what truth is there to these whispers? The notion that Fred Nash and Dawn Randall are merely buying extra time in order to fend off any legal action from the council is perfectly plausible. However, it does appear that the structure is in the process of being sold to a group of local business men, with finalised contracts pending an ongoing survey. This group is believed to include local property and car dealer Tommy Ware, former owner of the Cambridge pub site before it’s bankruptcy. The group state that they are committed to reopening the entire pier and, incredibly, have been offered a grant of £100,000 by Portsmouth City Council who at this point are still shrouding the deal in secrecy. Malcolm Belcher of Vivid Surveyors has been retained by the prospective new owners of the pier to draw up a survey of what is required to restore the attraction. At the East Neighbourhood Forum held last night in the Royal Beach Hotel, Councillor Gerald Vernon Jackson (head of the city council) was severely criticised by local residents who doubted the good intentions of the secretive new owners. A real fear is that only the landward end of the pier will be restored in order to generate quick revenue, whilst leaving the rest to carry on slowly crumbling away into the sea.

As expected, this current outcome raises some serious concerns; have PCC carried out the appropriate company background checks on this group? If so, what financial assurances can they give regarding their intentions? How do we know this “consortium” are not acting as a pressure alleviating patsy for Fred and Dawn? And is it really wise to offer this grant to a non-charitable organisation? The next couple of weeks will be crucial for our pier’s survival: whilst the surveyors are outlining a repairs programme and the local elections are looming, the west side hole on the decking is slowly making its way towards the east side hole (see first photo below, courtesy of Howard Thompson). Should the two meet there could be catastrophic consequences.

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Second and third photo my own.

Design Released for the New Camber Footbridge

As you may know The Camber some years back had a famous footbridge that crossed over the water from The Bridge Tavern (which it was named after) to the side now occupied by the fishing wharf. Back when the city walls ran north of the Camber this route gave quick access from The Point (on the inside of the gates) to the centre of the city and the dockyard. The bridge was removed as redevelopment work was done, including the building of the power station, which stored it’s coal where the carpark currently is by the Camber.

With more and more of the Portsmouth Council master design for the city being built it (Tipnor Park & Ride, the new junction, etc) we were hoping to see the plans for the proposed return of the footbridge and this week they were released by Owen & Partners, the architects for the project. The footbridge will return to it’s original position which will allow for the improved Millennium Walkway 2.0 route, speeding up the walk from the Hotwalls & Old Portsmouth through to Gunwharf.

The design of the bridge was commissioned by Portsmouth Council Councillor for Transport Henry Ayers who said:

“The Millennium Walkway 2.0 project was a key part of the master design for the city, with the Camber Bridge a vital link between two old and great parts of the city of Portsmouth. I’m proud to be seeing the return of a bridge that will again connect across the ancient waters of The Camber.”

H Ayrton from Owen & Partners described the innovative new bridge design:

“We wanted it to be striking, in the same way the Spinnaker Tower has captured the imagination and become a key landmark for both the city and the south coast. The bridge itself has sails which signify the history of The Camber, not just the current home to many fishing and pleasure boats but how it’s natural harbour for boats one thousand years ago was the reason for Portsmouth to take shape and become the great city it now is.”

Personally, I am really excited to see the bridge return, not only is it a part of the heritage of the city back in it’s rightful place but it also looks to be a stunning new design bringing more great architecture to Portsmouth.

Let us know what you think!




Cloud Shadows on The Solent by Chris Brunnen

Chris Brunnen sent over this stunning aerial photo of the Solent from the other day (the one between the storms) and it is striking seeing a familiar view of the Isle of Wight from a totally different perspective. Plus, I am a huge fan of cloud shadows. Weird maybe but there you go.

Chris Brunnen runs CJB Photography a local photography studio that specialises in aerial photography (from a helicopter…very jealous) as well as studio work too. Find out more at:

www.cjbphotography.co.uk

Cloud Shadows on The Solent by Chris Brunnen

RETROSPECTIVE – Vintage Portsmouth RNLI Photos

Since Strong Island began back in 2008 we have amassed an incredible amount of historical information about Portsmouth & Southsea’s past. These articles are not only from our own interest and passion about the city, but also from readers that have sent us some amazing facts. So much has changed in such a relatively short amount of time and the fast pace of life around us can make it easy to forget the importance of this cities history.

Retrospective‘ takes a look back at some of our previous posts incase you missed them in the past or you’re one of our new readers. One day myself and Paul hope to create a stand alone archive here utilising all the books and photos we have collected that haven’t made it on to Strong Island as of yet. With permission of course! So much to do and so little time. Enjoy.

A good friend of ours works at the RNLI HQ in Poole and recently sent over these photos that he dug up whilst working on a project.

The first 2 B&W photos show training manoeuvres out in Lee On The Solent and Langstone, and the colour photos are all of the Hayling Crew. No dates, but they look pretty 70/80s to me.

The helicopter photo shows helmsman Adrian West in command with crew members Steven Alexander and David Parker. The 2 Eastney lifeboats from left to right are maned by Helmsman William Hawkins, Dennis Faro and Kenneth George with Operational Swimmer Colin Beeston and the second lifeboat is crewed by Stephen Alexander and James Peplow with Operational Swimmer Graham Jewell.

The group shot is the Hayling Island crew dated 1920, with the image below of a 38SR Class Heyland boat out in Southsea dated 1882.

The photo of a lifeboat being horse drawn along Edinburgh Road in 1902 is simply incredible. It’s almost like it’s floating on a sea of Victorian hats. We’re not sure what the actual parade was concerning, but a quick history check tells me Queen Victoria died in 1901 so it may have been some kind of royal salute, or just for the shear showmanship of it alongside other frontline services.

Does anyone recognise names or faces? Be great if these photos had never been seen by the people in them and they appear all these years later to be brought to their attention.







Photo used with kind permission from photographer Andrew Filipinski (Copyright Andrew Filipinski)








Eastney MOD Test Station and Music by VNF

Despite being derelict the old MOD test station on Eastney beach adds a lot of, well, character to the seafront of Portsmouth and is a well recognised landmark both from shore and sea. The station was once a barracks and then became a test site for both weapons and radar/signals. The site itself overlooks the west entry point of Langstone Harbour and despite being empty for a long, long time it is part of the skyline and one of the last links to Eastney’s past history as a firing range and also a firm favourite for local photographers, not to mention nudists too, of course. Sadly though it seems the tower and buildings have their fate sealed (read about it on The News website).

Last spring we did a spot of urban exploration and had a look around inside, in part to find out more about the city’s heritage but also to film a music video of ex-Portsmouth engineer/producer VNF. The song inspired a theme of echoing signals lost & forgotten yet still resonating and the long derelict location touches on a visual parallel to that theme. VNF’s song ‘Reset’ and also his song ‘Orbs Lighten Them’ are formed from field recordings, many of which recorded in Portsmouth. In particular in ‘Orbs Lighten Them’ the hovercraft provides the baseline and Southsea seafront builds elements forming the dream-dub sound.

The video, VNF’s songs and photos from the test station are below. To see more photos visit the album on our Facebook page.

What are your thoughts on the loss of this historic Portsmouth landmark? Let us know with comments and over on our Facebook too. Do you have any photos of the test station you want to share? Send us a link to those too.

Eastney MOD Test Station & VNF (1)

Eastney MOD Test Station & VNF (2)

Eastney MOD Test Station & VNF (3)

Eastney MOD Test Station & VNF (4)

Alex Thompson Returns to Gosport after Vendée Globe Around The World Race

British solo sailor Alex Thomson has finished the non-stop around the world Vendée Globe race in third place, completing the course in 80 days & 18 hours, breaking the previous British record by eight days. The 38 year old sailor crossed the finish line 2 days 17 hours and 7 minutes after the winner Francois Gabart, finishing the 24,000 mile Everest of sailing at his third attempt.

Alex will be returning home to Gosport tomorrow with a tour around Portsmouth Harbour, with any boats or yachts wishing to join Alex in his Alex Thompson Racing/Hugo Boss yacht in a flotilla welcome to join at Spitbank Fort at 11am. You can see Alex’s tour of the harbour from a few view points in Portsmouth, see the map below. Find out more about Alex Thompson and his race at:

www.alexthomsonracing.com

Alex Thompson Returns to Gosport after Vendée Globe Around The World Race (1)

Alex Thompson Returns to Gosport after Vendée Globe Around The World Race (2)

Alex Thompson Returns to Gosport after Vendée Globe Around The World Race (3)

Alex Thompson Returns to Gosport after Vendée Globe Around The World Race (4)

Coloured Lights on the Hot Walls

Late last year we spied some photos of the LED changing colour lights on the beach side of the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth on Instagram and they really caught our eye. The lights form a pattern of different colours on the ancient city and port fortifications and are a striking sight to all visitors arriving to the city by sea.

Local photographer Andrew Whyte has been down on the beach with his camera and capturing these lights in a way that means you can see all of the colours in one snapshot in time, quite a tricky task. Check Andrew’s photos of the lights below and you can visit Andrew’s Flickr to see more of his work.

P.S. To see Andrew’s panoramic photo much, much larger (recommended!) click HERE.

Coloured Lights on the Hot Walls by Andrew Whyte (1)

Coloured Lights on the Hot Walls by Andrew Whyte (2)

Coloured Lights on the Hot Walls by Andrew Whyte (3)

Coloured Lights on the Hot Walls by Andrew Whyte (4)

Coloured Lights on the Hot Walls by Andrew Whyte (5)

Travelling on The Solent in the 1970s

This great 8mm cine film from the late 1970s shows what it was like travelling across the Solent at that time with the both the hovercraft and the Isle of Wight ferry. As well as seeing the busy Solent with all of it’s traffic this film also gives you a good look at the shoreline and skyline of Southsea and Portsmouth at the time. One particular difference that caught my eye was the old Portsmouth Power Station that was located down at the harbour with chimneys that dominated views of the city from all directions, just like the Spinnaker Tower does now. We’re working on an article about the Power Station at the moment, more on that soon.

Vintage Portsmouth RNLI Photos

A good friend of ours works at the RNLI HQ in Poole and recently sent over these photos that he dug up whilst working on a project.

The first 2 B&W photos show training manoeuvres out in Lee On The Solent and Langstone, and the colour photos are all of the Hayling Crew. No dates, but they look pretty 70/80s to me.

The helicopter photo shows helmsman Adrian West in command with crew members Steven Alexander and David Parker. The 2 Eastney lifeboats from left to right are maned by Helmsman William Hawkins, Dennis Faro and Kenneth George with Operational Swimmer Colin Beeston and the second lifeboat is crewed by Stephen Alexander and James Peplow with Operational Swimmer Graham Jewell.

The group shot is the Hayling Island crew dated 1920, with the image below of a 38SR Class Heyland boat out in Southsea dated 1882.

The photo of a lifeboat being horse drawn along Edinburgh Road in 1902 is simply incredible. It’s almost like it’s floating on a sea of Victorian hats. We’re not sure what the actual parade was concerning, but a quick history check tells me Queen Victoria died in 1901 so it may have been some kind of royal salute, or just for the shear showmanship of it alongside other frontline services.

Does anyone recognise names or faces? Be great if these photos had never been seen by the people in them and they appear all these years later to be brought to their attention.







Photo used with kind permission from photographer Andrew Filipinski (Copyright Andrew Filipinski)








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Transport No. 2: The Hovercraft

Southsea seafront has iconic and familiar structures and views but ever since the mid 60s we also have the familiar sound of the hovercraft engines as it repeatedly arrives and leaves for Ryde. This hovercraft route itself was the first Hovercraft passenger service in the world and Hovertravel Limited, founded in 1965, is the world’s longest established commercial hovercraft operator. The first hovercraft was first developed on the Isle of Wight in 1955 when inventor Sir Christopher Cockerell tested out his idea for a floating/flying craft by putting a cat food tin inside a coffee tin. After fine-tuning his designs, Sir Christopher Cockerell secured funding to build a hovercraft. Saunders Roe, the flying boat firm in Cowes on the Isle of Wight was given the contract. The commercial success of hovercraft was initially huge but subsequently suffered from rapid rises in fuel prices during the late 1960s and 1970s. Since the channel routes abandoned hovercraft the United Kingdom’s only public hovercraft service is now our one operating from Southsea.

In 1972 Hovertravel’s SR-N6 012 overturned off of Southsea with a loss of five lives. This was the world’s first fatal accident involving a commercially operated hovercraft. Apart from this one incident the service has an incredible safety record and is used day in day out to transfer up to 100,000 passengers a year.

The hovercraft is a wonderful and now unique form of local transport and something to celebrate and also to actively enjoy with a trip. Booking and travel information is available at the Hovertravel website.

To discover more about hovercraft we are lucky to have the Hovercraft Museum just down the road in Lee-On-Solent which houses the world’s largest library of documents, publications, film, video, photographs and drawings on hovercraft and a collection of actual hovercraft too including the last two remaining SR.N4 craft, the world’s largest civil hovercraft.

The Abrooks

The infamous 1980s Southsea locals Mark & Barry Abrook, doubles on the halfpipe at the skatepark from 1990.

Abrooks

Vintage Southsea Postcards

You know we love a bit of vintage nostalgia here at Strong Island, and these old postcards of Clarence Pier are no exception. I always pick them up at the Car Boot sale opposite Clarence when I see one. When does the Car Boot start up again? Got to be soon. Answers on a postcard…

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Thomas Ellis Owen Shaper of Portsmouth, ‘Father of Southsea’ by Sue Pike

I’ve been holding on to this for a while now as I wanted to make a feature of it and had to wait for the exhibition to finish to give it pride of place on the front page. If like myself you’re always looking around at our local architecture you will have noticed many of the buildings within the book Thomas Ellis Owen Shaper of Portsmouth, ‘Father of Southsea’. Some could even be right on your doorstep but you have never noticed, or peeked over that high wall. Thomas Ellis Owen’s work is all over the city and you’d be forgiven for walking past as a lot of it is hidden or down those streets you may not stroll down too often. Other buildings however are right in your face. Ever noticed the huge block of flats at the entrance to Waitrose, the detailing on the building at Dover Court opposite the old Havana bar?



“Thomas Ellis Owen is probably the best known of Portsmouth’s nineteenth century architects, his construction of villas and substantial terraces in Southsea being responsible for the emergence of the district as a middle class locality. His work was recognised by Pevsner and Lloyd in their magisterial Buildings of England: Hampshire, and later by a rather more detailed architectural enquiry by two students, Preedy and Stewart. My own research was principally concerned with dating Owen’s properties and analysing their inhabitants. What Sue Pike has done is to cast the net very much wider, not only by providing great detail about Owen’s family, but also by demonstrating the impressive breadth of his activities outside architecture. Indeed, his interests were so wide that there must have been few aspects of Portsmouth’s development in the 1830s, 1840s and 1850s in which he was not involved. Infrastructural fields such as gas supply, the Portsea Canal, railways, the Camber Docks and hospitals lay within his purview, while he assisted in the purchase of land for one of Portsmouth’s defining features, the Palmerstonian forts. His tithe map has proved of inestimable value to local historians. Meanwhile Owen was an important local politician. All these facets of Owen’s life have been fully laid bare in this thoroughly well researched book by Sue Pike, who is to be congratulated on her labours.” Professor Ray Riley

Thomas Ellis Owen Shaper of Portsmouth, ‘Father of Southsea’ is a really interesting read and contains stunning colour photos of many Owen properties in Southsea and Alverstoke by Gosport photographer, Tim Martin. There is no real target audience and hopefully it will appeal to old and young alike. The detailed captions may be helpful to first year architecture students but it showcases Southsea well and may well appeal equally to academics, photographers, interested newcomers and people who just want a really nice book to put on their coffee table. I’m a huge fan of both history and architecture so this book is a real winner for me, and I have no doubt that if that’s not really your bag you will still appreciate what Thomas Ellis Owen Shaper of Portsmouth, ‘Father of Southsea’ has to offer.

You can purchase a hardback copy for £25 via the publishers www.tricornbooks.co.uk and www.whsmith.co.uk and read up on the book and the author Sue Pike over at www.thomasellisowen.co.uk















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