So over at Strong Island Recordings we’ve been meaning to get a podcast up and running for the past 12 months but with releases, shows and everything else we haven’t been able to find the time and it looks to continue that way for the foreseeable future. The idea of the podcast was to showcase and share music we love as well as from label acts and friends of the label. Luckily we don’t actually need a podcast for that so instead we’re starting a Strong Island Recordings Spotify series featuring fortnightly curated playlists from label family and friends. The aim is to share music we all love where acts show their favourite tracks, albums, acts who influenced them and so forth and build a community of music lovers and despite Spotify’s rather questionable royalty rates, it does offer a great platform to share curated playlists. So come and join us on our little journey as it should be a lot of fun whilst loads of acts share their various playlist themes featuring music they love and inspired them.
Kick starting our series is Bristol/London thrash twosome and former Portsmouth natives, Rickyfitts who have selected twenty tracks from past and present featuring an eclectic array of cuts from the likes of Flaming Lips, Girl Band to Songhoy Blues so their playlist may come as a surprise to those who have seen the grunge duo live. Go check it out below or here and be sure to follow our Spotify account to keep up to date with our playlists and future curated playlists curated by acts from our label and beyond in our Spotify series.
Also be sure to check Rickyfitts and the following dates if you’re around-
24th October – The Old Blue Last, London w/ Slutface for Fake DIY Presents
31st October – Powerlunches, London w/ Strange Cages for Fluffer Records
This Saturday was Strong Island’s 6th birthday and unlike previous years we had a quiet one for a change. For the last 4 years we’ve had charity raffle birthday parties that have raised a significant amount of money for three local charities but due to a few reasons we decided this year we sadly just didn’t have the time required to organise the party and work with the 50+ local artists, designers and businesses who all step up and show incredible support & generosity by donating for the raffle.
This summer has been Strong Island’s busiest yet, with our Creative Cargo project launched this month including the publication of a 96 page book, being the official media partners for Portsmouth’s two music festivals Victorious & Southsea Fest, preparing an upcoming art event (to be announced this week), hosting a stage at Southsea Fest and working with hundreds of people of all ages and abilities in a series of photography and filmmaking workshops. All that…plus the biggest thing to happen to Strong Island in all those 6 years…which we’ll let you know about this weekend.
So for this year we would like to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the six years: our volunteer writers, people who have bought and represented the tees, mugs and more from Strong Island Clothing Co, our calendar contributors, everyone who has ever come to one of our exhibitions, events, parties and music nights, every person who has sent us leads for articles, allowed us to interview them, connected us with people to work with, contributed to our art projects, donated to our raffles, brewed Strong Island ales, worked with us to release their music, volunteered time and energy to what we do AND most of all to everyone who visits this website and hopefully becomes inspired to get involved in the arts and culture of this special city. A special thank you to all our friends and family too, who provide the understanding and support that makes us able to dedicate so much time to Strong Island and make many of the things we do possible. Thank you!
If you would like to donate to our three charities we always donate the money raised from the birthday raffles you can do so here:
Earlier this week you may have read about ‘Tender Loving Care’, a new play by Vickie Donoghue and Portsmouth theatre company Old Salt. A few weeks ago I caught up with the plays’ director Ian Nicholson in craft ale pub The Brewhouse next door to The New Theatre Royal where preperations were underway for the play. We discussed everything from Ian’s intriguing background and training to why it’s so important to develop creativity in Portsmouth and keep it here.
As Ian arrives to meet me next door to the theatre in the warm and relaxed Brewhouse it’s hard to not to be warmed by his bright smile and even brighter yellow coat. I’d first met Ian a few days earlier on a photo shoot for the productions’ poster at Old Portsmouth’s Hot Walls. I was intrigued to learn what draws successful creatives back to Portsmouth after leaving it for opportunities in London or further afield. ‘After graduating I studied a Masters at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’ says Ian as I enquire about his education and training, ‘after that I went off to France to train as a clown’.
This was something I didn’t expect to hear. It’s hard not to smile as Ian talks about this transition to clowning, something that inspired his first play The Last March which tells the tragic story of Captain Scott’s doomed expedition to the South Pole. ‘There is something funny and tragic about Scott’s expedition, they took a piano with them and other useless items; it was doomed.’
Photo by Josh Knill.
Ian has spent several years involved with youth theatre and working with young people at the Stafford Gatehouse before he set up Tinder Theatre which subsequently became Old Salt Theatre. So what drew Ian back to produce work in Portsmouth as he currently divides his time between here and London, where he is very successful? ‘Portsmouth feels like home but it feels like there are lots of stories waiting to be told.” Ian extolls, his passion unflinching, “I want to invite writers here, take them round the city and see how it inspires them.”
Drawing on his experience of working on youth productions, Ian recognises the essential role children play in telling the citys’ stories, “It’s also important to get families involved, especially children as workshops in schools are a great way for children to see how a play is made. People move away to London or elsewhere but we should make art in the city, for the city.’ We carry on talking enthusiastically about the importance of culture in Portsmouth and move onto Ian’s current play Tender Loving Care which opens in June. Using D-Day as the back drop to tell the story of women in wartime, the production utilises a predominantly female cast. Inspired by Ian’s grandmother who worked as a clerk in the Portsmouth Dockyard during WW2, the play has an exceptionally personal connection to him and Portsmouth.
Ian’s passion is real, he doesn’t simply preach about how we should create new creative work for Portsmouth, he is actively doing it. It’s not always easy and I admire his determination and obvious affection for his hometown. Tender Loving Care runs from the June 4th to 21st at The Square Tower. You can book tickets here.
Students are being encouraged to swap their once loved clothes at a clothes swapping event to encourage reuse and recycling, by Portsmouth BIG Recycle, an initiative run by Portsmouth City Council to improve recycling in the city.
The Student Swap Shop event is on Tomorrow between 9am – 5pm at Third Space in the Student Union. All students of Portsmouth University are invited to attend. The union foyer will be brimming with clothes rails full of people’s old garments for people to browse and take home for free.
Students are asked to bring along items of clothing to swap and in return they will get tokens to use to ‘buy’ clothes. There is also the option to drop the items off prior to the event in a drop-off bin outside the union bar.
If students don’t have an item to swap they just need to sign up to the BIG Recycle in order to get a token to ‘buy’ an item of clothing.
There could be few a vintage gems on the rails and the best part is the students get to take them away for free. The BIG Recycle recycling officers have already collected many bags of clothes ready to be swapped, all in good condition and fit for Cara Delevigne!
There will be free pizza at the event and a chance for one lucky person to win £100 of Arcadia vouchers (Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Miss Selfridge). The BIG Recycle team will be on hand to teach students what materials can be recycled in Portsmouth and getting them signed up to the BIG Recycle incentive scheme to be in with a chance of winning £250!
Adam Wintle some years ago helped design and build this second version of the Strong Island website and not long after moved to the far east, settling in Thailand and starting up his own web design business. Over the weekend whilst out and about in Bangkok Adam discovered on a wall a poster from an old event put on by Bored of Southsea with Strong Island and Little Johnny Russells. It was quite a while back, Tris designed the poster and guesses 2009 maybe. There is also a 2009 Strong Island bike ride poster, which we coincidentally posted up the other day again on the website. The posters are all at Pickdaily just off of Sukumvit 77/39 and seem to be part of the decor in some way.
Somehow the posters have made their way to Thailand and have been up on a wall in the capital city. If it was you who tucked it away in your rucksack when you went travelling maybe 5 years ago or you know the story behind how it got there, let us know!
Just noticed that we posted our 4000th article on Strong Island on Friday. That is now 4000+ exhibitions, gigs, artists, designers, bands, illustrators, festivals, crafters, painters, charities, community groups, cafes, bars, theatres, dancers, plays, restaurants, skaters, BMXers, filmmakers, photographers, events & way, way more…all in Portsmouth & Southsea in just over 5 years. Now if anyone tells you “nothing happens in this city”, be sure to put them right and send them this way.
Happy 2014! After our most manic Christmas and NYE (including a couple of us DJing at The Belle Isle) we’re getting back to business today. We have loads and loads of things planned for 2014, from exhibitions, new community arts projects, new collaborations, profiles on & interviews with new businesses, artists and designers plus our brand new website too…and a tonne more. Going to be a good one!
First thing done on the first day back? Visit Portsmouth Harbour on a sunny morning, batteries recharged, good to go. Hope you who are back at work too have a great day!
We are very sad to announce a break in at All About Tea at 8:31 this morning. Whilst the rest of Portsmouth were enjoying The Great South Run, an opportunist brazenly broke through the front door window and stole £535 from the till. The CCTV evidence below is pretty clear, so if you recognise the offender please report it to your closest police station. What appears to be a student also walks by seconds after the act, if you can assist with any potential further information then please do.
All of us at Strong Island want to wish a huge Happy Birthday to Southsea gent Ian Parmiter who is 50 years old/young/awesome today. Ian and family have shown us huge support and helped us in hundreds of ways over the years and we hold Ian in the highest regard. Ian is probably at an antique fare cornering the world market on vintage suitcases whilst looking strong in tweed as I type, safe to say there is only one Ian Parmiter and this city is lucky to have him right here.
The photo below is by Jack Daly from his People With Passions photography project:
Victorious Festival has collected together a haul of items from the event sponsors and are giving them away in a simple online competition, all you have to do is Like the Victorious Festival Facebook page, submit your email and share. Only takes a few seconds and the competition runs for only a few more days so get in quick.
I’ve been following Pompeyshoes on Flickr for a while now, yet somehow missed this great shot of a sunset down on the seafront. Be sure to check his Portsmouth & Southsea set for more great photos and interesting perspectives.
You know we love a bit of Vintage Portsmouth & Southsea here at Strong Island. Not too much info on this one, perfect for holidays though. The flickr link states the photo of the poster was taken in Eastney, but I’m not sure where.
Portsmouth’s Pounds scrapyard has been the final stop for the lives of many military vehicles over the years but most noticeable it has been the location for a submarine graveyard. So iconic was the sight of the submarines as you entered Portsmouth that they became the inspiration for the architect when designing the new swimming pool at the Mountbatten Centre.
Robin Hinson has a large collection of photos of the scrapped submarines here, with a few shown below.
With the 101st edition of the Tour de France due to begin on Saturday and a summer of sport well underway, I believe the time is right to delve into the past and look to when the world’s greatest cycling race crossed the channel to our shores. On the 7th of July 1994 Hampshire was gripped with cycling fever; a 187km long 5th stage was about to begin and end in Portsmouth. Half a billion eyes around the world were glued to television sets as the peloton, which included cycling legends Marco Pantani, Miguel Indurain, Chris Boardman and a young Texan called Lance Armstrong, powered past HMS Victory in the Historic Dockyard. For a day, Portsmouth played host to one of the most prestigious sporting events on the calendar. So how did this extraordinary day come about? In a two part post, I catch up with Southsea resident and ex-council employee John Bagnall, a key player in bringing the event to the city.
Hi John, thank you for taking time out to speak to us. First of all can you tell us what you were doing during the lead up to 1994?
I was the Marketing Communications Manager at Portsmouth City Council, it was looking after press and media relations.
And I believe that this whole venture arose from a discussion over a pub lunch, is that right?
My colleague David Knight, head of leisure for the city council said to me “What can we do that will really put Portsmouth on the map and be a counter point to the D-day commemorations? What is international, bright, young and youth orientated?”
So when you say the commemorations? This was the 50th D-day celebrations? Quite a big deal.
Yes, it was the 50th anniversary of D-day. So for a week at the start of June, Portsmouth became centre to the world in terms of commemorating the liberation, or the beginnings of the liberation of Europe. Clinton and the Queens were here, many world leaders came to Portsmouth and stood in a special bandstand built on Southsea Common. There was a huge international flypast, I think a couple of hundred planes came over Portsmouth; Spitfires, Lancaster Bombers, Flying Fortresses, it really was the world solemnly marking D-day and the beginning of the end of World War Two.
OK, so press-wise, a pretty good window of opportunity here. What was discussed over lunch?
As I said to David over that pub lunch “Hey, why don’t we bid to get the Tour De France to England?” I’d never really thought at that moment there was a realistic prospect of getting them here, I just thought the council would probably laugh it out of court anyway. Even if we did get as far as sending an invitation to them they would just turn round and say “I’m sorry, why would we come to England? You have no history or heritage of cycling”.
So to add a little context, I believe The Tour had come to England once before? In 1974?
Yes, the time before they raced on the newly completed, but not yet opened, Plympton By-pass near Plymouth. It was just coned off at each end and they went up the dual carriage way for X number of laps. And that was it. I think a few hardcore cycling clubs came to see some of the riders of that time, but there was no broadcast coverage and precious little coverage in the newspapers. By all accounts it was very dull and very boring. The Tour didn’t like it because of the amount of time it took to get the riders there and then take them back again.
I see, so it seems like The Tour organisers weren’t exactly scrambling to recreate another UK leg?
No, the tour had no thoughts of coming to England ever again after the Plymouth stage. So during that pub lunch the idea really was to “fly a kite”, let’s do something a bit crazy. My argument to David was; they will probably say no even if they bother to reply, but I can still get some publicity out of that. Perhaps a little story into the cycling friendly The Guardian about how a town in Portsmouth bids to get France’s biggest sport event there (wry laugh)… So David and I went to talk to a guy called Richard Tryst who was the chief executive of the council. Richard was quite a frightening man with a hawkish and cynical sharp manner, but he didn’t suffer fools gladly. He liked boldness and directness. We went to see him and basically said “it’s crazy but we think this is a good thing to do, it ticks all the boxes of what the council are looking at”. He sorted of nodded and said “well yes, there are a lot of other questions to answer as well, but we’ll keep this alive”.
Richard bought in the then leader of the conservative council, a guy called Ian Gibson, who like all local politicians that get to be leaders of the council, was a very upfront, bold and visionary guy. And he got really excited about it as well. So on the 18th of December 1990 I drafted a letter to Henry LeBlanc who was the president of Amaury Sports Organisation, which was the company that controls the Tour De France. And about two weeks later they came back basically saying; “Subject to commercial confidence we are interested, and we are very grateful for your support”. They went on to explain that the Tour at that time was losing direction as the Tour De France; it had this great tradition attached to it but it wasn’t going anywhere with it. What they were trying to do was to introduce a policy that they called “mondialisation”. The organisers wanted to take it global and they were actively looking for other European countries that they could go to. They even discussed the possibility of, and this was back when people were excited by Concorde, to go across the Atlantic and even starting it in America or Canada. So to have an approach from an English city saying “what can we do to help?” was brilliant to them.
Could you perhaps detail some of the ins and outs of trying to organise an event of this scale whilst remaining compliant with the confidentiality agreement? Seems impossible to me.
We had to sign legally binding documents with them not to divulge the fact that they might be coming here, and from there it became a planning operation. The organisers want to be able to book up every hotel going within, in some cases, 50 to 60 miles of a particular stage town. And at a competitive rate too. If it was common knowledge that the Tour was coming to Portsmouth every hotel in Hampshire, Sussex and Dorset would be ratcheting up their prices. Not only that but we had to make sure that the public knew where to be and what they were going to see. We took care of safety and we made sure there were no embarrassing blockages such as level crossing gates being down. It was a massive planning operation that went into incredible detail; and day after day more and more levels of detail were added.
One of the first things that came up was that the Tour uses a massive bandwidth of transmission frequencies. Back then, before radios were used with the riders, the teams still had their private frequencies so that the Director Sportif could talk to the team cars and any other helpers he needed to contact. The race officials too needed an overall race frequency that everybody could listen to, as did the aid operations, the radio operations, the feeding operations, the signing operations and for the clearing up of the signing operations. The list just went on and one. Hundreds of frequencies and sod’s law would have it that was the most of them were in the band of frequencies used in the UK for hospital radio paging systems. There was no way that we could bring the Tour through with hospitals being disrupted and lives being put at risk because of radio interference.
Immediately we set up a meeting with a government agency called the Radio Communications Agency. This was a formal meeting with about 30 of their wise men. We bought over the communications manager of the Tour and a specialist from France Telecoms. During the meeting’s presentation you could see various people around the table shaking their heads; “impossible”, “far too hard”. But a couple of the right senior people listened intently, and one of them I think the deputy chief executive said “well look, I have no idea how were are going to do this because it will be a massive problem, but leave that to us, if we can’t solve it we shouldn’t be doing our job, we think we can do it.” Suddenly the head shakers were agreeing. We got their commitment. From then on the RCA also undertook all that was necessary to make sure that the hospitals, for those two days, would be working from a different wavelength and there would be no clash.
Another major issue was that the overall physical envelope of the Tour is massively more than just the peloton. You have the advanced publicity caravan, you have the people who would have gone over two or three days prior: putting up signage, checking access to the routes, checking where they can take off vehicles that might break down. All the kind of technical aspects. They are physically working several days, and perhaps hundreds of miles distance, from where the Tour is at that particular point. It is all part of the live event. Then you have the security operation that physically surrounds the tour: the motorbike marshals that escort the official’s cars, that monitors the press and first aid cars. They have their own radio frequencies and take up physical space on the roads. Amongst those you have the camera bikes that are filming the close-up of the derailleurs and the break-aways. They are beaming a signal up to a helicopter above and there will be four to five other helicopters covering the breakaways and the peloton. Each group of cyclists needing their own cameras.
For two days they would have to touched on Gatwick’s airspace and the approach path for Heathrow. I remember being in the office when Alan Rushton called Directory Enquiries (this was pre internet days) to get the number for the Civil Aviation Authority. He phoned up the switchboard and asked to speak to whichever department was responsible for closing the airspace above British airports. You could sense the stunned silence on the other end of the phone. Thankfully the CAA came back very quickly with a can do attitude. The only stipulation being that any emergency aircraft landings would have to take priority, but otherwise they would work with the French air traffic specialists to bring the Tour through safely.
Be sure to check in on Wednesday, when we bring you the second part of our interview with John. We will touch on what else was required to bring the race here and what cycling legacy (if at all) the Tour left, not just in Portsmouth, but for the UK.
Based in Chichester but a constant visitor to Southsea, Portsmouth, Hayling and all of the Chichester harbour area, David Jacobs’ photos capture the warmth of the local light and and the inspiring natural views of the local landscape and coastline. To see more of David’s photos be sure to click ‘Read More’ below and check David’s Flickr.