Strong Island Co.

Strong Island Clothing Co

Ten Years In A Portsmouth Slum – New Book Release

Hi everyone I’m very pleased to introduce myself as the new Strong Island shop manager and I’ll be featuring some of our products on here over the next few weeks. After the popularity of Portsmouth Fairy Tails For Grown Ups we were eager to stock a new book Ten Years In A Portsmouth Slum from Pompey publisher Life Is Amazing.

ten years in a portsmouth slum

“Originally published in 1895, the book tells the true story of Father Robert Dolling, a priest sent to perform missionary work in Portsmouth after his successes doing similar work in Stepney, London. Dolling arrived in Portsmouth in 1885, and was immediately thrown into the rough, violent and impoverished world of the narrow streets and courtyards around Conway Street, which used to stand between Charlotte Street and the Dockyard wall. His stories of local people are funny, shocking and surprising.

The sight of a “Landport Dance” in the town on his very first day would have shocked more modest Victorians. A teenaged boy and girl had swopped skirts and trousers and were dancing topless in the streets in front of a large crowd. One woman in the crush was so drunk she fell down, and when Father Dolling reached down to pick her up, he was greeted by a shower of stones from the crowd, who clearly didn’t like priests meddling in their business. Only when a sailor stepped in and told the crowd to leave the “Holy Joe” alone did they stop. Later, a younger girl who was in his Sunday School explained that the girl dancer was a prostitute who had basically been advertising with a client. The younger girl knew this because because she worked as cleaner in the “bad house” where the older girl plied her trade. The younger girl was eight years old.

It was an introduction to a world filled with vice, violence and also deep laughter. Dolling worked to bring out the more civilising aspects for his parishioners, concentrating less on religion and more on their earthly needs. In his time he set up a gymnasium for the children and young men, a dance class to bring finesse into the rough courtships of the young men and women, and even a knitting circle and tea party to encourage the strictly clannish women to talk to those from other streets. He recalls the old ladies he took on an excursion to the Isle of Wight getting drunk and playing skipping on the pier when they got back, and the men he took on a trip to a wealthy benefactor’s house in Winchester, whose orchard they stripped of apples.

Dolling himself personally raised a subscription to replace the dilapidated church of St Agatha’s Landport, and though the streets were wrecked by the Conway Street Bomb during the Portsmouth Blitz, the church he built survives to this day – a lone testament to the extraordinary work of this man over a decade.

It’s a true account of an area long gone that drips with the authentic essence of Victorian Portsmouth. Tough, funny, vibrant and rich in local detail, Ten Years In A Portsmouth Slum provides you an insight into Portsmouth life you won’t find anywhere else.” – Matt Wingett, Life is Amazing

Not one to miss and I personally can’t wait to find the time to read it all. Available in store 12 Highland Road, Southsea and online


Summer Work Experience with Sam and Imogen at Strong Island

Over the last couple of weeks two young people who have been undertaking their summer work experience with Strong Island. Sam is studying at Horndean Technology College and Imogen is studying at Highbury College and both have spent time working with us. Sam has been on a two week placement with Strong Island Media working with us on film & photography projects and Imogen has been working in Strong Island Co looking at all things related to fashion design through to merchandising and marketing. A huge thank you to both Sam and Imogen for all their help!

Sam & Imogen
Sam & Imogen.

We asked Sam and Imogen to share what they have been up to in their own words.


My name is Sam and I’m a photography and music student from Horndean. I’ve done two weeks of work experience with Paul at Strong Island.

My first day, I was actually dropped in at the deep end, assisting Paul teach a load of students that where my age from Chichester High School for Boys. This meant I had to use my photography skills right from the start. This was a good learning curve for me, being one of the people stood at the front of the class for once. The Wednesday of my first week I had the opportunity to go on the unopened HMS M.33 in the historic dockyard to sort out some filming which will go ahead later this month. This chance wasn’t the sort of thing you get everyday and it was cool to see it before everyone else had the opportunity to. I also learnt how to prep for some filming and directing. Later on that Wednesday I went along to the last Strong Island Recordings gig at the Cellars in Eastney. Here I was able to do some music photography of Gang who are on the label, along with some other acts. I really enjoyed the tunes and got some really good photos!

Sam on Photo Workshop
Sam on Photo Workshop.

GSNG - Photo by Sam
GANG – Photo by Sam.

Tuesday and Wednesday of the second week we had a technology company come into the shop and I assisted with some product shoots. This really gave me an idea on how to set up and capture a photograph in the way they wanted, for example with a white background and reflections. This was also unreleased military and police technology which was, again, cool to get an exclusive on. At the end of the second week I got the chance to do some more freelance, independent photography down by Canoe Lake and on Southsea Seafront. I found the opportunity to do relaxed work like this helped inspire me. You can see some of the results below!

Sam Photographing Products
Sam Photographing Products.

I did have a few days that were helping around the shop, doing anything from helping in the storeroom to putting up exhibitions from photo workshops. I’ve also been doing various photo shoots in store of 22 new designs we got in store. This meant that some of my photography has been featured on their social media. I also wrote 5 or 6 articles on the Strong Island website which gave me a chance to get closer to the culture scene in Portsmouth.

Last of all I’d like to say thanks to everyone at Strong Island for having me… it’s been a really good experience!

Photo by Sam
Photo by Sam.

Photo by Sam
Photo by Sam.

Photo by Sam
Photo by Sam.


Being at Strong Island has been a really great experience, even in such a short amount of time they have given me the opportunity to do lots! I have had the chance to do stock checks, visual merchandising, work the till/serve customers, update the website, learn how to work bits on Adobe Illustrator and was even able to put together my own research including mood boards and sketches for new products ideas. Strong Island hasn’t only been brilliant in providing me with interesting experience, but they’ve also been fantastic in welcoming me to the store and I’ve felt like part of the team since day 1 with the lovely Lara and Paul. Not only were the people absolutely great but the store is such a nice place to be, and the amazing interior decor just tops it off!

Imogen on Digital Design

Imogen & Lara

Imogen Product Design

Strong Island Clothing Co. Spring Tee Range

As sunnier weather finally approaches, it’s surely time to start stocking up on new tees for the all your temperate outdoor activities. Our Spring range for this year is a mix of fresh reworkings of classic designs and further expansion of our ‘Down the Hatch’ motif, with a tee to fit any situation.

A short sleeve alternative to our popular ‘Down the Hatch’ zip hoodies, the new ‘Down the Hatch’ tee features the same two-colour screen printed back and chest designs as the hoods but on a super soft Galapagos blue tee.

Our ‘Local’ design makes its shirt-based return after a successful run adorning our tea towels. Hand screened in off-white on neutral heather indigo, it makes for a fantastic base to accessorise from with a nod to the rich marine wildlife found in our local waters.

For all those avid twitchers out there, this white on heather cardinal reprint of our classic ‘Langstone Harbour’ is a must-have, styled out with a pair of binoculars and a Field Notes notebook for jotting down your spots for later reference.

Adding to our range of ‘Branded’ tees is this limited edition version featuring the same super reflective 3M ink used on our black ‘Strong in the Leg’ tee. The ink works in a similar way to the coating employed on road signs – catching any indirect light and throwing it back out in dazzling fashion. Perfect for those that prefer to lay low during daylight hours but stand out when the stars come out to play.

We’ve also re-printed the ever-popular ‘Wander’ motif in white on pastel blue making for a subtle, unobtrusive tee designed to slot in with your standard spring/summer colour palettes.

All the tees are just £22 and available for purchase from our Strong Island Co store on Highland Rd or online at Strong Island Clothing Co as ever. Don’t forget, you can order online and collect in-store to save money on postage and also pick up a loyalty card to earn yourselves a free t-shirt and ceramic mug when you complete it.

Strong Island 2014 Review Part 1 – January to June

This took a little longer than hoped but for the first time we thought we’ld try and make a note of all the things Strong Island got up to last year. We’re not the best at letting people know what we do (too busy sharing what you lot get up to). Some of the headlines, as it were, included:

– Two large exhibitions
– Working with almost 1000 young people and adults with photography, film & animation workshops
– Two stages at two festivals
– Three releases by the record label
– Opening of Strong Island Co

So if you’ve ever wondered what a year in Strong Island is like, here is part one, covering the first six months of January through to June. Part 2 later this week!


Strong Island went straight in to a hectic first month of 2014 with a few ongoing projects running through from 2013. Our main 2013 project was Creating Balance which brought together ten Portsmouth artists/designers and teamed them up with 10 Portsmouth photographers, with all groups given an Anglepoise lamp for inspiration. The project had heavy coverage in national newspapers and had two very successful exhibitions in 2013, one in London at the London Design Festival and one in Winchester. In Late January we opened the Creating Balance exhibition at Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth, with an opening night that was the busiest yet for the gallery.

Back in November we had joined the Portsmouth Shipbuilding consortium as one of the founding members and the month saw the new website going up and the continued lobbying of trying to continue shipbuilding in the city.

Our animation project with young people from Portsmouth Autism Support Network finished with a film screening at John Pound Centre. The film was written, designed and animated by the group who also recorded all their own music and sound effects. The project was part of Artswork’s Strong Voices programme of activities and involved working with Portsmouth’s Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.

Creating Balance (1)

Creating Balance (2)


February was a busy month for Strong Island Media with many children and young people workshops in film, animation and photography in Portsmouth, Basingstoke and Gosport. We also worked with the University of Portsmouth and Sharon Court on the Far From Home project which connected university students with ex-service personnel and their families.

Our 4th Strong Island Homebrew competition saw the most brews entered in the history of the competition. The winner went on to be brewed by Irving & Co and sold in pubs and bars in Portsmouth and beyond.

February also saw the launch of Strong Island Recordings’ first album: the awesome Something by Yoofs. The band and the release were featured on many websites including Vice.

4th Annual Strong Island Homebrew Competition


Possibly the businest month ever for Strong Island media with a solid month spent in Winchester on a Lottery Heritage Fund project with Winchester Theatre Royal and ten groups from 9 Winchester schools. Each school had two days on the project, the first day a film or animation workshop and the second spent writing & filming or animating their own film about the history of the theatre. The project involved working with almost 250 young people with 10 films produced.

The month also included filming at night with Portsmouth visual artist Jez Stevens on a film commission from Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Jez created a number of projections on both the soon to be opened Babcock Galleries and The Submarine Museum. The films were used to promote the opening of both cultural attractions.

In March the Tricorn exhibition opened at Portsmouth City Museum and included two aspects that Strong Island had worked on. The first was the large community photography panel. We had in previous months asked people to submit their photography of the Tricorn and the best images were put together in to a large wall section. Strong Island also worked with nine local artists, photographers and designers in producing the Tricorn Artist Series of prints depicting the structure. These prints were displayed in the exhibition and on sale in the museum shop.

The Far From Home project exhibition was held in the brand new exhibition space in the new Eldon wing of Portsmouth University. The exhibition included photography, film, illustration and more by final year students, work inspired by the lives of local ex-service personnel and families. The exhibition saw all participants come down and enjoy the event.

Kings Worthy

St Bede Group B


Tricorn Exhibition

Tricorn Exhibition


With the arrival of the sun and spring a new film project began with two schools as part of the Entrenched Project, working in partnership with Hampshire County Council and two other Hampshire based production companies. Strong Island Media worked with Crofton School in Stubbington and Wildern School in Whiteley on films relating to the First World War.

Workshops also began on the My Life project, run with the award winning SPUD group. The film & photography workshops begun with a youth group in Netley View, focusing on their local community and how young people are represented.




In the run up to the end of May’s Portsmouth Street Games event at Guildhall Square three short teaser films were produced by Strong Island Media featuring My Dog Sighs, Effraim Catlow & Most Wanted, showcasing the street art, BMX and street dance aspects of the event.

The My Life project continued, this time working with a group of young carers in Romsey who created a film that tried to tackle local misconceptions on young people and their contribution to society. Their film was screened to their friends and family and local dignitaries. A third group for the My Life project was a youth group in Burley in the New Forest. The group focused on photographing their local areas looking for what made the area both good and bad to live in as a young person. The group exhibited their photography at a final exhibition to family and local councillors.

Burley Photo Exhibition

My Life Project - Burley

My Life Project - Burley

My Life Project - Burley


The month began with the Portsmouth Street Games weekend. Strong Island Media were the official media partners for the event and produced a film for the organisers and participants.

A series of four adult photography workshops for Chichester Harbour Conservancy began, with them running through the summer months. The workshops looked at photography in Bosham, on the beach of Hayling Island and from the Solar Heritage boat out in the harbour. Photography workshops were also given to GCSE students from the Chichester High School for Boys at Chichester Harbour Conservancy’s education centre at Dell Quay. For the third year running these workshops introduced photography skills on ‘walkshops’ around the harbour shoreline.

Strong Island worked for Anglepoise through to June producing a series of short films on four of their product collections, these films were for their new website. The films can be viewed HERE.

June also saw the release from Strong Island Recordings of the Sandscrape EP by GANG.

Conservancy Photo Workshop - People 2014

Conservancy Photo Workshop - People 2014

Conservancy Sailing Photography Workshop

Conservancy Sunset Workshop

Conservancy Photo Workshop - Chichester High School for Boys

Strong Island Co. Extended Christmas Openings

In the run up to this years’ festive celebrations, we will be extending our opening hours from our usual 10-6 Thursday to Saturday at the Strong Island Co. shop on Highland Rd. Starting from next week, we’ll be doing two late shopping evenings on Thursday 18th December and Saturday 20th December until 8pm alongside usual hours on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th for all your last minute gift needs.

If that’s still not enough, you can always order through our online store though you’ll have to get your orders in by Thursday 18th to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas and you’ll miss out on fantastic shop exclusive stocking fillers like the beautiful Field Notes notebooks we now distribute.

Hope to see you all in the shop soon!

WIN a Strong Island Care Package by Representing at Bestival

It’s that time of the year when dozens (if not hundreds) of Strong Islanders head over to the Isle of Wight for Rob Da Banks Bestival extravaganza. Since it’s beginnings the Southsea contingency has gone from strength to strength, and this year will be no exception.

As always we’re super excited to be going over and it looks like the weather is going to be on our side this year. I know I’m leaving my wellies at home, that’s for sure! The sneak peaks of sunshine is getting everyone even more eager than normal to go get involved.

Over the years we’ve seen a nice steady increase of people representing our tees and this year we hope to see even more. If you’re going over and fancy a chance to win a Strong Island Care Package full of goodies then it couldn’t be easier. Get a photo of yourself, your friends, a stranger or just a RAD photo of someone repping Strong Island and having fun.

You can email the photo’s to or simply hashtag #strongislandclothingco or #strongrepresent on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook for your chance to win. Make sure to tag all your friends.

Whether your going over to the festival or staying at home in Southsea have a great one and enjoy the sunshine.

Strong Island Clothing Co ‘Down the Hatch’ Enamel Mug Now Available in Shop Ahoy

It took us two years of searching for just the right manufacturer but finally this summer we we’re able to release the ‘Down the Hatch’ Strong Island enamel mug at Victorious Festival. Built from scratch in Gdansk, Poland by a company steeped in enamelware heritage, we have been able to work with the manufacturer on the two colour, three point design (front, back and base) as well as carefully selecting the paint colours inside & out, including the hand-painted mug handle. Not your every day mug and rough, rugged and ready to be used out camping, sailing, cycle touring and at home. Every mug comes carefully boxed in Southsea with a handstamped tag plus Down the Hatch sticker, pin badge and beermat.

This run of enamel mugs in limited to just 100 and due to the really strong demand at Victorious (we are now down to the last 20 or so) it has taken a little while to get them online but as of now the mugs are available in Shop Ahoy HERE for £14 plus P&P.

This design is also available on an extra special Down the Hatch navy pocket tee too.

Thank you for being patient and thank you as always for your incredible support!

Strong Island Clothing Co 'Down the Hatch' Enamel Mug Now Available in Shop Ahoy (1)

Strong Island Clothing Co 'Down the Hatch' Enamel Mug Now Available in Shop Ahoy (2)

Strong Island Clothing Co 'Down the Hatch' Enamel Mug Now Available in Shop Ahoy (3)

Strong Island Clothing Co 'Down the Hatch' Enamel Mug Now Available in Shop Ahoy (4)

FREE Strong Island Clothing Co. Tees

With payday just around the corner we’re offering a free tee to the first 10 people to make a full price purchase of any Strong Island Clothing Co. tee over at Shop Ahoy. This offer is only available on Friday 1st August 2014 so you’ve got to be in it, to win it…

Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 - Dell Quay

Strong Island Clothing Co. Collections - Summer 2014 (5)

Strong Island Clothing Co. Collections - Summer 2014 (2)

Strong Island Clothing Co. Collections - Summer 2014 (8)

Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 14 Drop Now Available

The initial drop of the new summer 2014 collection by Strong Island Clothing Co. is now available to buy online in the Shop Ahoy store HERE. We’ve also put together a quick video lookbook from the recent Dell Quay shoot to, have a watch below. To coincide with this drop we’ve given the website a little tidy up and fixed a few things here and there too.

Check the full lookbook HERE and below are a few photos of the new designs and colours:

Hand Type x Strong Island Collaboration Video

The Summer 2014 collection from Strong Island Clothing Co includes two collaboration tee designs by multi award winning designer and hand type virtuoso Andy Lethbridge aka Hand Type. Over the last two years Andy has become an exceptional talent able to create beautiful type all by hand. For the first logo tee the design is drawn with brush pen, the second is all hand formed with pencil…each taking an impossibly steady hand and awe inspiring skill and dexterity. The work behind these two designs was captured on film by Andy, who produced this short film for the collaboration.

We are exceptionally proud to have worked with this University of Portsmouth graduate who is destined for a very bright, creative future. To see more Hand Type goodness and Andy’s other incredibly good graphic design visit:

Hand Type x Strong Island Collaboration (1)

Hand Type x Strong Island Collaboration (2)

Hand Type x Strong Island Collaboration (3)

Hand Type x Strong Island Collaboration (4)

Next »


Created Local – Carl Partridge

Portsmouth’s Carl Partridge is a local artist and photographer currently studying MA Communication Design up in that there London at Central St Martins. As well as all the awesome artwork on his website we particularly liked his Lomo Diana photos from round Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. Be sure to look through the good work over at



Local Photographer – Paul Gordon

Local photographer Paul Gordon has spent a lot of time hanging out and photographing the local skaters over the summer, both in the skatepark and out and about. The photos from the summer are now up in galleries on Paul’s website As well as the skating photos there are also loads of other galleries too including sport, portraiture, landscape, etc. Have a flick through.




Local Photographer – Pompey Shoes

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.


Following Toby Taylor on Bored

If like me you can’t get enough of skateboarding, but just don’t know where to dig everything out from that there world wide webby, then local top gun Toby Taylors twitter feed for Bored of Southsea will fill all your needs in the world of local and international skateboarding. Jump on Tobys feed HERE. Check Tobys Tre Flip at the underpass courtesy of Tom Timewaster.

Vintage Skatepark Photographs

I’ve been holding on to these truly amazing vintage photographs that Simon Tiller kindly sent in as we went through a pretty heavy skateboard period and thought we should chill back a little. Loving the roller hockey team photos too. The 1978 trophies photo is a epic and they were British Champions in 1973 too. Belated congratulations to you all.

This is just a small picking from the Southsea Skatepark website Check them out and if you see anyone you recognise or want to bring something to our attention then remember to add your comments at the bottom of this post.

Special props to the final photo and all the Southsea boys representing ‘back in the day’. Some young looking faces there. Rippers.

Created Local – Inksquatch

Here’s an interesting little blog I stumbled upon. Inksquatch are a collective of Portsmouth based artists, illustrators and designers that comprises of four people working on anything from books, maps, sculptures, bags, badges, you name it from the sound of things. Check out their BLOG and WEBSITE for more info.


Southsea Flats by Cat

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’



Matt O’Neill

Matt is one of Southsea and Portsmouth’s legendary skateboarders since all the way back to the 80s. This footage was filmed all in one evening about a year ago, still one of the best skaters to ever step on a board on this fair isle.

Strong Island Easter Bike Ride Video II

Sharpie just sent me over his edit from the Bike Ride last April 4th. He attached one of those fancy Flip Cameras onto his handlebars and he was away. Really cool to be able to see the ride from different perspectives. Cheers buddy.

Ash Cloud

I took these photos the other week when the ash cloud was at it’s worst, there are more over at Forever Circling. if you have any photos online taken around the island effected by the ash cloud please pop a link in the comments and we’ll post some up later this week.

Strong Island Clothing Co.