Strong Island Co.

Naval & Dockyards

Boathouse 4 at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Opens to the Public This Week

If you have visited Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in the last year or two it has been difficult to miss the changes happening to one of the largest buildings at the historic site, with Boathouse 4 undergoing a complete restoration and re-fit both inside and out. The building itself was hastily completed at the start of World War Two (with the building originally intended to extend all the way to Victory Gate) and it’s industrial shape and form has now been restored and converted into a Boatbuilding Skills Training Centre and is now home to the International Boatbuilding College Portsmouth (moving back from Boathouse 5). Boathouse 4 is now finished and opens to the public this week.

The building is a vast open, central space that provides a working home for small boats that will be restored by the students attending International Boatbuilding College Portsmouth and Highbury College, many of whom come from all over the world. The current boats being worked on range from a Falklands War marines landing craft through to the historic Lively Lady, which Southsea sailor Sir Alec Rose completed his single-handed trip around the world in 1968.

These and many other boats will undergo restoration with the students utilising their new skills to bring these (and future) craft back to use. Boathouse 4 has workshops for the students to learn the timeless woodworking skills required for their new careers, with them building toolboxes in the woodshop plus step ladders and tools. As well as using tools (some of which donated back to the college from boatbuilders from the dockyard through the ages) the students can also use some of the state of the art new machinery too. These workshops all open out to the main workspace and for years to come will be a hive of activity for visitors to the dockyard to watch.

The college will be actively working with the local community on a range of interesting outreach projects with schools and colleges, with young people in particular able to get a taste of what it is like to build small boats. The new classroom in Boathouse 4 gives educational visitors a base to learn but the they’ll be very quickly put to work with fun and creative activities.

As well as being a working space, Boathouse 4 now has new additions for visitors to the dockyard, including exhibition of small boats (some with particularly fascinating histories) and activities people can get involved with. With a circular, elevated walk around the building, you can learn more about the boatbuilding before visiting the brand new cafe/restaurant/bar that will be opening very soon. The decor and fittings to this new cafe/restaurant/bar are excellent and the view through the huge windows looking over HMS Warrior and the busy Portsmouth Harbour are quite simply worth a visit alone. This new space will also be home to corporate events too.

Boathouse 4 opens just in time for half-term as a brand new attraction for visitors to the city and local residents too. It can’t be understated how Boathouse 4 brings a whole new dimension to what is on offer at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. As with the recent restoration and opening of the National Museum of the Royal Navy and the WWI ship HMS M.33, the dockyard now brings the country’s & the city’s naval, shipbuilding and sailing history from the Mary Rose all the way up to today, and even in to the future with the young boatbuilders working on new craft. What’s more, Boathouse 4 is a FREE attraction, you do not need to buy a ticket like you do for HMS Victory or the Mary Rose Museum, you can simply pop in as and when you like. There is no doubt that Portsmouth Historic Dockyard really is one of the very best visitor attractions not just in the south but in the UK and even Europe.

You can find out much more about Boathouse 4 on the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard website (see below) and regarding opening and activities this week check out the Boathouse 4 Twitter (@Boathouse_4):

Below are more photos from Boathouse 4:

Space Interrupted – Art Installations at Fort Brookhurst

Space Interrupted brings together artists and film makers who will create new and engaging work, responding to and interrupting Fort Brookhurst in Gosport, an English Heritage fort. The six artists have been drawn to the fort to make site specific installations inspired by its fortifications, history and archives, interrupting and overlapping the space, layering and fragmenting, disrupting function and meaning.

Space Interrupted is a collaboration between Curator Clare Sheppeard and artist Sharon Haward. Artists will present site responsive work which will span Fort Brockhurst, creating an assemblage of real and imagined installations. Audiences will be able to explore this rarely open site through the artists’ response to the space, experiencing a sense of place through sculptural installations, sound and projections Each work will enhance highlight, or disrupt the integrity of the building.

The exhibition itself will be open on the 10th, 12th and 13th of September 2015, with opening times – 11-3pm and FREE.

The artists involved in the exhibition and project are:

Sharon Haward uses a range of media to engage with a sensory and narrative sense of place. Her practice is predominantly site-responsive and installation-based created to capture a slippery sense of the past and present, fragmentation and dislocation. At Fort Brockhurst she draws on the period of revoutionary turmoil in Europe around 1848 and the historically fragile relationship between France and Britain which led to the building of the fort, by interrupting the space with a precarious barricade, projections and sound recordings.

Patti Gaal-Holmes is an artist/filmmaker and historian. Her cross-disciplinary practice includes working with moving image (celluloid and digital), photography, drawing, artists’ books and performance. For Fort Brockhurst she will creating a new film on 16mm. Gaall Holmes is the author of ‘A History of 1970s Experimental Film: Britain’s Decade of Diversity’ ( 2015).

Kye Wilson uses moving image to create site specific films and video installations that explore space, self and other. Wilson will be making a film inspired by the forts location and function.

Eileen White is a craft based visual artist who will be responding to textiles in the collection at Fort Brockhurst and their provenance. White will be working with a writer, poet and painter.

Helene Kazan uses research and archival material to generate moving image and multimedia installations. She is currently a phd candidate at Centre of Research Architecture at Goldsmiths. Helene will be creating an installation and sound piece inspired by home shelters.

Lisa Traxler is interested in conversation, personal memory and environment – emotive references and the fundamental are the inspirations for Lisa work. For Fort Brockhurst Lisa will make a number of large scale paperscape installations using the funcions and narratives of each room choosen.

Clare Sheppeard is a curator who has worked with local, national and international artists in a variety of sites David Batchelor, Mariele Neudecker, Karin Van Pinxterern, Alice Anderson, Kate MccGwire and Emma Crtichley. Projects include Coastal Currents Festival Hastings, Jerwood Gallery Hastings, LIMBO Margate, Venice Biennale, Van Abbemuseum and Independents Liverpool Biennial.

There will be a series of events related to the exhibition where you can take part and get involved:

Saturday 29th August – Point and Shoot photo tours. Meet at 2pm outside the Discovery Centre, High Street, Gosport, PO12 1BT. Bring your camera, camera phone, disposable camera and join artists Sharon Haward for a tour of Gosport looking at the architecture and historical buildings. The resulting photos will be displayed as part of Space Interrupted at Fort Brockhurst.

Thursday 10th September, 4.30-6.30 – Discussion & networking event with bluemonkey net at aspex, the Vulcan Buildings, Gunwharf Quay, Portsmouth.

Sunday 13th September, 1.30 – Walk and talk around the exhibition.

To book a place on any of these events email:

For further information check the Space Interrupted website:

Space Interrupted - Art Installations at Fort Brookhurst

Photos from the Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33

Thursday saw the official opening on HMS M.33 with the Theatre of Gallipoli event at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where visitors were taken through the opening events of the bloody campaign of Gallipoli with immersive theatre and dance. At different points in the Dockyard visitors explored the role that HMS M.33 played in the conflict through a street theatre, a drama piece on board HMS M.33 and a physical theatre and dance piece which incorporates Motionhouse‘s amazing show ‘Cascade’ re-imagined for The Theatre of Gallipoli.

An array of local arts organisations took part in the day’s activities such as Cop the Needle, Groundlings Theatre Company, Abstract Dance as well as workshop activity participants commissioned by The National Museum of The Royal Navy.

Below are photos from the day.

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (1)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (2)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (3)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (4)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (5)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (6)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (7)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (8)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (9)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (10)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (11)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (12)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (13)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (14)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (15)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (16)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (17)

Record Coastal Sounds as Part of a National Project for the National Trust

The Sounds of our Shores project is a joint scheme between the National Trust, the National Trust for Scotland and the British Library and aims to create a collection of sounds from around the Uk shoreline and seasides to form an audible snapshot. With coastal erosion, the changes in tourism, wildlife, fishing, sailing, transport and much more the sounds of the shoreline of the UK have changed over the years and this project hopes to have the public help collect the sounds of today.

Musician Martyn Ware, a founder member of bands The Human League and Heaven 17, will use some of the sounds submitted by the public to create a piece of music for release in February 2016. The National Trust wants to use the thousands of recordings uploaded to build a digital map which will be curated by the British Library.

With Portsmouth being such a mix of wildlife, shipping, tourism and so much more we are in a perfect position to record and contribute to this project. Sounds like the foghorn over the Solent would be a perfect example.

At Strong Island Media we’ve actually worked on a few ‘soundscape’ projects in the last couple of years with schools in Chichester and Bordon. It can be really interesting not thinking about the visual (with photography and film) and to focus on the sounds around you. The project we worked on with Chichester High School for Girls at Chichester Harbour was a soundscape with video clips and a poem filmed and written by the students edited over the top. We’ll be submitting the raw audio to the Sounds of Our Shores project. You can have a watch/listen HERE.

Visit the Sounds of our Shores project website to find out how to get involved.

Photo from our soundscape recorded by Bordon Juniors.

HMS Victory Was Launched 250 Years Ago

Today sees the 250th anniversary of the launch of HMS Victory. Construction first began in 1759 at Chatham Dockyard with the ships name being chosen in 1760 and launch on the 7th May 1765. The Victory is often first remembered as Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 but had a very active history in battle in the 40 years previous including serious reconstruction in 1800.

HMS Victory is a key part of Portsmouth’s naval heritage and a distinctive part of the city’s skyline. A visit while at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is highly recommended (it’s easy as a local to sometime never get around to exploring some of the best local attractions) and the HMS Victory website is a great resource for information on the ship.

Restoring HMS Victory by William Lionel Wyllie
Restoring HMS Victory by William Lionel Wyllie.

The Battle of Trafalgar by J. M. W. Turner (1822)
The Battle of Trafalgar by J. M. W. Turner (1822).

HMS Dreadnought and HMS Victory
HMS Dreadnought and HMS Victory.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory

HMS Victory

HMS Victory

HMS M.33 Crowdfunding Appeal

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is home to some of the finest historic ships in the UK, with HMS Victory, HMS Warrior & The Mary Rose all iconic and tourist attractions helping bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city. Soon to join this elite flotilla of ships is the HMS M.33, dry docked opposite the Victory and currently undergoing a huge refit inside and out ready for opening to the public in August. The M.33, a Monitor gun platform, was built in only 7 weeks specifically for ship to shore bombardment with it’s two heavy 6 inch guns. The shallow draft with it’s flat bottom design meant it could come close to the shoreline. The ship is one of a handful of Royal Navy craft left from WW1 and the only craft from the Gallipoli campaign, which occurred 100 years ago this year.

The redevelopment of the ship is restoring and redeveloping it from the bare metal up. The craft (and the dry dock) will welcome visitors in through new access points with the lower decks converted in to exhibition spaces. Working upwards the on deck cabins will be restored with the feel of a ship from 1915. The guns are also being lovingly restored by dedicated volunteers too.

Even with all this activity and work ongoing on the ship the National Museum of the Royal Navy is hoping to raise £19,150 to help finish the £2.4m project. The funding is being done through crowdfunding website Indigogo which is an innovative route for sourcing donations for the project for a ship of this type. You can watch the film below for all the details on how any donation will go towards creating another unique visitor experience celebrating the city and the nations nautical heritage.

I visited the ship to see progress in person on a rainy February day, the ship will be up there with its dockyard neighbours and not only that, you’ll also get to actually be in the scheduled monument dry dock too to see the ship from a completely new perspective. You can find out lots more about the project and make a donation before 18th March at:

Below are a selection of images from the visit to HMS M.33, you can see many more on our Flickr.

‘Hearts of Oak’ Book on Nelson & The British Library Free Online Collection

Back in 2013 Britain’s pre-eminent research library The British Library placed over one million images from it’s collection on to Flickr, available to all to view online via it’s own Flickr account. The images made available by the British Library come from books published between the 17th and 19th centuries and include the illustrations plus all decorative artwork within the books. These images are not just free to browse but are also copyright free, which means we can share them here and it means you can download them for use such as inspiration for your own artwork, etc. The source books are also available both in the library and online via a PDF. The online collection does not include what many might define as the ‘masters’ of the collection, but this online resource is a vast collection of imagery spanning two decades of literature.

As a brief dip in to this collection, I’ve picked “Hearts of Oak. A story of Nelson and the Navy” by Gordon Stables, published by Shaw and Co. in 1893. You can view the details of the book on the British Library’s website HERE. The UIN for the book is BLL01003471521 and if you strip the first five prefix codes, replace with ‘sysnum’ and search within the British Library account on Flickr (using ‘sysnum003471521’) you’ll find all of the images from within the book. These images include detailed illustrations of Nelson, the title plate and even the small illustrative designs set within the publication. Some of the images from the book are shown below. You can also search by keywords such as ‘Nelson’ that will bring up not just the images from this particular book but from many others too.

If you are at a creative loose end this Monday lunchtime, you can get exploring for free right away at:

'Hearts of Oak' Book on Nelson & The British Library Free Online Collection (2)

'Hearts of Oak' Book on Nelson & The British Library Free Online Collection (3)

'Hearts of Oak' Book on Nelson & The British Library Free Online Collection (4)

'Hearts of Oak' Book on Nelson & The British Library Free Online Collection (1)

The Mary Rose: A Timewatch Guide. TONIGHT.

A little late on this one, but make sure you tune into BBC4 at 9PM this evening for “The Mary Rose: A Timewatch Guide”, filmed in Portsmouth with Dan Snow last summer.

Radio Times says the following: “Historian Dan Snow explores the discovery, excavation and raising of the iconic ship, finding out what the latest research has revealed about the vessel and her crew. The presenter also investigates how the project helped create modern underwater archaeology, and examines the techniques, challenges and successes of the divers and archaeologists involved.” The documentary also features long term Mary Rose Trust members Alex Hildred (Curator of Ordnance at the Trust) and Chris Dobbs (Head of Interpretation). Both having been part of the original excavation and raising team. This seriously recommended viewing.


Created Local: Harry Maguire

One of the things we love most about having our shop on Highland Rd is being able to put faces to names and meeting people we would otherwise never be able to; Harry Maguire is one of those people. When Harry dropped by a couple of weeks ago, he off-hand mentioned that during his time as a sailor in the Royal Navy he had developed a penchant for making ships in a bottle, a craft gleaned from a fellow shipmate during periods of down time. Over the years, Harry has modelled various types of ships from small schooners to historic frigate warships, working from single photographs or just his own memory to build intricately detailed craft complete with full rigging and sails.

Of particular note is the model Harry made while on active duty in the Falklands conflict, a complete scale replica of Portsmouth’s own HMS Warrior. Lacking any reference to work from, Harry sent the Warrior Preservation Trust a letter requesting a photograph to which they dutifully replied to with a handful of images. Upon his return, Harry presented the model to the Warrior Trust who were so impressed with his work that it was put on display in one of the Officers’ Quarters aboard the ship – a spot it still resides in to this day.

Sci Fi Weekend At Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard

Last weekend saw Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard host a Sci Fi and Fantasy weekend. Attractions included props and memorabilia from Sci Fi classics such as Back To The Future, Star Wars and Dr Who. As well as the usual attractions within Action Stations you could have a go at Laser Quest and watch a showing of Guardians Of The Galaxy.

I ventured down on Saturday as I couldn’t resist the chance to see to see Guardians of the Galaxy on the big screen again. It was easily my favourite movie of the summer. I arrived to discover Action Stations bustling with children and adults, plenty wearing fancy dress or at least dug out their favourite Sci Fi t-shirts.

The market featured local creatives including the Urban sketcher himself Chris Webb, Tori Rosenbaum’s awesome custom made peg people and James Waterfield’s gruesome Lawn of the Dead garden ornaments.

The event was relatively small in size but I am excited to see the event grow in the future. You can find out more about the next Sci Fi and Fantasy event by following the Facebook Page HERE.

Delorian Sci Fi
Photo by Matthew Harrison
R2D2 and K9 Sci Fi

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Southsea Seagulls

How good was the weather on Sunday. Albeit cold, it was a belter for sure. Me and Liz hit up the seafront for fish & chips and inadvertently got involved with dive bombing seagulls. They love them chips…

Photography : Tristan

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.

Portsmouth on Film – Episode 4

The new episode of Jonathan & Matthew Ring’s vintage family footage ‘Portsmouth on Film’ went up yesterday. This episode is of a bus trip from Old Portsmouth to Southsea to Eastney.

I still lament the loss of the Portsmouth Transport Museum.

Created Local – David Thompson

The Hiscock Gallery on Stanley Street behind Waitrose has some interesting new vintage style prints in stock by local artist David Thompson. They are a series of digitally drawn images reflecting upon 1930 – 1950s style advertising posters, enhanced with modern techniques. A really nice simplistic approach highlighting the main features of the subject, yet still very technical and intricate in places. The front of The Victory is awesome.

All reproductions are genuine giclée prints, printed with pigment based inks on 180gms Canon Matte paper, fade resistant for 100+ years. These “Poster” Prints are all personally signed by the artist. Head on over to Davids Gallery and take a look for yourself. Nice stuff for sure.

Hitler’s reaction to The Registry closing down.

This is just classic. I’ve seen a few others before. I think I saw one about accidentally using Arial instead of Helvetica, funny stuff. This one however is just hilarious, if you know the Portsmouth pub scene. More so if you’ve ever ben a student.

Vintage Southsea Skatepark articles

Articles about Southsea Skatepark can be hard to come by, and articles from 1988 even more so. I found these on the ‘when we was rad’ website a while back. I remember having the picture of Tommy Guerrero pulling that slob torn out and on my wall for years. Sick.

Last Day of the Creating Balance Project Exhibition at Pitfield in Winchester

The Creating Balance Project exhibition’s current residency at the Pitfield Pop-Up in Winchester ends today with the exhibition receiving some really great comments and coverage on websites, etc. Below are some photos by our own Claire Sambrook from a recent visit when many of the project’s artist/designer/photographer participants went up for a look. See more of Claire’s Creating Balance Project photos over on here Flickr.

The Creating Balance Project exhibition will return home to Portsmouth on the 10th of January 2014 for an extended exhibition at Aspex Gallery in Gunwharf, with an opening party and a series of other events and activities to be announced very soon. Ourselves and Anglepoise® are all really looking forward to showing the project to everyone in Portsmouth very soon!

To find out more about the project and exhibition please visit:

Creating Balance Project Exhibition at Pitfield in Winchester (1)

Creating Balance Project Exhibition at Pitfield in Winchester (2)

Creating Balance Project Exhibition at Pitfield in Winchester (3)

Creating Balance Project Exhibition at Pitfield in Winchester (4)

Creating Balance Project Exhibition at Pitfield in Winchester (5)

Creating Balance Project Exhibition at Pitfield in Winchester (6)

Creating Balance Project Exhibition at Pitfield in Winchester (7)

Creating Balance Project Exhibition at Pitfield in Winchester (8)

£800 raised at our 3rd Birthday Charity Raffle

Wow. Another Incredible success. Myself, Paul and the Strong Island Crew owe a MASSIVE thank you to all the people who donated, helped out, attended and of course bought those ever so important raffle tickets.

With your generosity we managed to raise an amazing £800 for The Portsmouth Autism Support Network and The Portsmouth Lifeboat Station.

Everyone had a great time and got fully involved in the atmosphere of the night. Free Strong Island Iced Teas were flowing, and the buffet was awesome. Pet Sounds kept the musical vibe alive and the crowd did the rest. A really good turn out of Strong Islanders made sure The Belle Isle was packed and the charity tin was full.

Well done to all the people who were lucky enough to get one of the prizes. If not more. Winners win prizes…..

Thanks to everyone who came down, all of the very generous prize donators and of course extra special thanks to Paul, Graham, Ben, James, Andy and all The Belle Isle staff for letting us hold our party and making sure no one went thirsty. Cheers guys.

Without the support from our readers, contributors and friends Strong Island would not be in the position to hold such an event, and we greatly appreciate it.

Prizes were very kindly donated from the following people: LJRs / The Belle Isle / Sopranos / Southsea Skatepark / Caravan Gallery / Michelle So Scone / Boed / Southsea Boutique / Dead Mans Glory / Lou Bush / Helen at Kings Theatre / Geoff at The Wedge / Love Southsea / Mikey Ayling / Mark Persuad / Southsea Gallery / james Porter / Parmiters, Ian & Sue / James Weaver / Alanna Smith / Matt Howarth / Bruce Jamieson / Jamie Olivers (Megatron) / Diana Goss / James Batchelor / Fran Bierton / Paul Thurlow / Bonzo Studio / Head Hairdressers / I Love Dust / Holgarama / Stuart Trett at Ye Olde Bike SHoppe. Apologies if I forgot your name.

We’re already looking forward to our 4th Birthday Party next year. Hope you can make it. All the best and thanks again.

Tristan & Paul

Photos: Matt Saxey

The Tricorn

It’s fair to say that we all loved The Tricorn outside of it’s it intent. A classic example of people reinventing architecture far beyond it’s original purpose. This short film doesn’t delve too deeply in to the many uses and inspirations The Tricorn had to offer, but it’s still a nice watch.

“An imaginative portrait of a futuristic concrete experiment of a shopping centre (‘the ugliest building in the world’ according to Prince Charles), built in the 1960s coastal town of Portsmouth, England. Loved or loathed, it developed a passionate cult following of artists and skateboarders but has now lost the battle for life.”

Directed by David Ferrone and Martin Fickling.

Vintage Photos

Adam Wintle recently uploaded to his blog loads of photos from an old book about Portsmouth passed down to him by his dad. Some of the photos in the book are incredible, be sure to spend some time having a good look through, below are a few examples:

Strong Island Clothing Co.