Strong Island Co.


Art Space | Open Garden

The Garden has come a long way since it was started by Art Space Portsmouth artists Jane Kilford and Adrian Mundy in 2008, turning an area of unused tarmac into a thriving oasis in the heart of the city.

With help from volunteers from the local community and Art Space artists and thanks to donations of plants and pots from various sources the garden has gone on to win multiple awards from Portsmouth in Bloom and the RHS South/South-East in Bloom. Fingers crossed there may be more to follow in this years Portsmouth in Bloom awards which are to be announced soon.

The garden is going to be opening the gates for their annual Open Garden on Saturday 1st August between 1pm-4pm. You will be able to look around the garden, purchase yourself some plants and sit and relax with a nice cuppa and cake. Entry is free… but donations are gratefully received.

You can find the garden at Art Space, 27 Brougham Road, Southsea, PO5 4PA. If you would like to know more then check out their Facebook page HERE.

Art Space

Kayak Photography Trips in Langstone Harbour with Portsmouth Watersports

We recently went on a boat trip out in Langstone Harbour with our cameras looking for birds and wildlife but if you want something at a bit of a more leisurely pace Portsmouth Watersports are running photography kayak trips out in the harbour in July. Portsmouth Watersports are offering the photographers of Portsmouth the chance to kayak out with a guide to the many islands and mudbanks that appear at low tide around the harbour to visit the bird sanctuaries and to see the seals that also call the local harbours home. You do not have to be a competent kayaker to take part on these tours and you will be supplied all the kit you require.

There are two kayak trips planned:

Sunday 12th July, from 2.30pm to 5.30pm
Saturday 22nd August, from 10am to 1pm

The trips cost only £35 per person and spaces are very limited, if you would like to book on, please contact Joanne on 02392 663873.

Below are a few photos from a seal boat trip in neighbouring Chichester Harbour. These seals travel up and down the Solent and the mud banks down by the Watersports centre is a particularly popular sunbathing spot for them.

Don’t forget this summer we are running our wildlife photography competition with the RSPB, so if you are out on a kayak and get great shots of the three different birds we a re after, send them in for a chance to win some Strong Island and RSPB prizes.

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.

Get Twitching in Portsmouth with the RSPB: Three Different Birds to Spot & Photograph This Summer

If you have read the write up from our recent RSPB trip around Langstone Harbour you’ll know that even though we live in such a densely populated city we’re lucky to have lots of wildlife living in and around Portsmouth. For birds each season brings flocks of new birds to call the city and harbours home, if only for a short while before travelling (sometimes thousands of miles) onwards.

We’re working with the local RSPB team to suggest three birds to keep your eye out for each season, beginning with summer. Summer attracts many birds to Portsmouth to nest and breed new generations of birds that will return year in year out. These first three birds are Langstone Harbour favourites and can be spotted fairly easily by the naked eye or with binoculars or a camera.

Speaking of cameras, we’re running a competition where we want all you budding wildlife photographers to send in your photos of the three birds for the season. Photo each one and send them in and the RSPB team will pick their favourites for each bird. The three winners will win some Strong Island and RSPB prizes. Obviously, goes without saying, that we recommend you photo the birds from a distance where you will not disturb their nests, chicks, etc.

Send in your bird photos via email to and label the email RSPB and be sure to send them in by the end of AUGUST for a chance to win.

The three birds the RSPB suggest you keep an eye out for this summer are:

The oystercatcher is a large, stocky, black and white wading bird. It has a long, orange-red bill and reddish-pink legs. In flight, it shows a wide white wing-stripe, a black tail, and a white rump that extends as a ‘V’ between the wings. Because it eats cockles, the population is vulnerable if cockle beds are overexploited. They are commonly seen in the harbour, we know they breed here, though how successfully we don’t know.


Little Egret
The little egret is a small white heron with attractive white plumes on crest, back and chest, black legs and bill and yellow feet. It first appeared in the UK in significant numbers in 1989 and first bred in Dorset in 1996. The RSPB was formed to counter the barbarous trade in plumes for women’s hats, a fashion responsible for the destruction of many thousands of egrets and other species who’s plumes had become fashionable in the late Victorian era.

Little Egret

Sandwich Tern
The Sandwich tern is a very white tern, with a black cap on its head, a long black bill with a yellow tip and short black legs. In flight it shows grey wedges on its wings tips and it has a short forked tail. The Sandwich tern is one of 3 species of tern that breed in Langstone Harbour and this year looks to be promising so far. In the UK many of the important colonies survive because they are on Nature Reserves.

Sandwich Tern

We’re looking forward to seeing the results!

Our Langstone Harbour Trip with the RSPB

On a grey yet thankfully dry Sunday morning if I had a Portsmouth bucket list, I had one of the items near the top ticked off with a boat trip with the RSPB. Personally, I’ve always loved Langstone Harbour. When I first moved to Portsmouth I lived at the Furze Lane Langstone campus of the University of Portsmouth and the harbour was on my door step and one of the first places I explored with my bike and camera. Throughout the years I’ve been lucky enough to explore every yard of its edge plus the sandbank and the Phoenix Breakwater with my camera, from high tide to low, but I haven’t had a chance to explore the islands.

The thing, for me, that makes Langstone Harbour extra special is that it is a wild habitat right on the doorstep of the most densely populated city in the UK. Considering the close proximity to well over two hundred thousand people, the harbour is surprisingly biodiverse and a key nesting location for birds on the south coast. More surprising is that for birds, Langstone Harbour has way, way more calling it home through the seasons than its neighbour Chichester Harbour. So…all of this wildlife shares Portsmouth with us, and us with them. Particularly at this time of year: nesting season. So for the very, very novice twitcher side of me, a boat trip out to see the birds with the RSPB was a fantastic opportunity.

We set off from the slipway at Broadmarsh Costal Park south of Havant with Wez at the boat controls and Dawn to help both myself and Tristan find out more about the wildlife and what the RSPB do in regards to the harbour and the bird populations. It was a good start with lots of Mute Swans seeing us off from the quayside and even a low flying Heron passing overhead. We travelled south, in parallel with the shore of Long Island, one of many different islands in the harbour that have (since the late 1970s) become protected bird preserves of the RSPB. We passed the southern tip of the island, which is one of the few areas where the public can land (we saw kayakers taking a break on the small shingle beach) before moving south west to Round Nap Island.

Long Island.

I’ve always been intrigued by the harbour’s islands and as they are off limits to the public this was my first chance to see them up close. Round Nap Island is quite small and at high tide seemed like a very flat and precarious home to the nesting birds and visiting birds too. On the shingle we saw Black Headed Gulls with their brown, fuzzy and big chicks who will be very soon flying themselves. Also on the island we saw quiet Cormorants taking a rest from fishing and curious Oyster Catchers exploring the shingle and waterline for food.

Round Nap Island.

Cormorants on Round Nap Island.

The RSPB routinely (at times, daily) check the nesting islands to ensure the birds aren’t effected by the many different dangers to them, their nests and their young. At low tide some of these islands are accessible by the mudflats so some islands have electric fences to protect against foxes and other predators. Another serious danger to these birds are storms and surging tides. Recently a storm washed away nests and seriously effecting the breeding of some of the harbours most important visitors.

Black Headed Gull.

From Round Nap Island we set off to the much larger South Binness Island, the most southerly of the islands in the harbour. As we travelled along the southern shore of the island we saw hundreds and hundreds of Black headed Gulls and their young plus the sharp edged Sandwich Terns, Common Terns and our first sighting of the beautiful Little Terns that visit the harbour each year. The Little Terns have struggled in recent years to raise young due to weather and tides and in 2013 this island was raised up with 500 tonnes of aggregate with the hope that their ‘scrapes’ would be better protected.

South Binness Island.

Oyster Catcher and Black Header Gulls on South Binness Island.

South Binness Island.

Black Headed Gull chicks on South Binness Island.

South Binness Island.

Sandwich Tern.

Little Terns are very special visitors to Portsmouth. Unknown to me until fairly recently, Portsmouth and Langstone Harbour is home to one of the largest colonies of these special birds, along with Blakeney Point and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and Minsmere in Suffolk. You might find the birds in much smaller groups around the coast of the UK, including Scotland…but right here in Portsmouth is a key nesting site in the UK. Sadly these birds have difficulty in producing young as our weather has been bad in consecutive years but they will continue to try through the rest of the season. There are only 1,900 (approx.) breeding pairs in the UK so the work done locally by the RSPB to support and help these birds is vital. To put it in context, on South Binness Island alone in 2008 the island had 4,886 nesting pairs of Black Headed Gulls.

Little Tern.

Little Tern.


We travelled west past the island and out to a place I have wanted to visit for years, Oyster Island. Many years ago this small island was home to an oyster watchman’s house built in 1819. I had heard that you could still see the foundations and remains of the house (which was possibly washed away in a storm) still on this tiny island south of Farlington Marshes. As we approached you could clearly see on this tiny island the timber beams of the house plus bricks and more. Hard to believe that someone could live out here, right on the harbour.

Oyster Island.

Oyster Island.

From here we travelled to Baker’s Island with it’s northerly wild side. The RSPB obviously tries to not disturb the birds but there are occasions when it is necessary to land on one of the islands. Routinely the RSPB need to count the nests and check for any issues. Sometimes they have to fix fencing and maintain signs, etc, on this occasion Wez had to replace the electric fence battery so we grounded the boat on the beach for a few minutes. Obviously it is vital these islands are not visited by the public so this was an unexpected privilege to see this habitat up close for a minute or two.

Baker’s Island.

Oyster Catcher on Baker’s Island.

Surrounding the boat at Baker’s Island.

We set off from here and travelled east across the harbour and midway saw a large commercial vessel leave the quay at the Lafarge Tarmac site and travel towards the harbour entrance. It was a good reminder that despite being a quiet harbour there is still commercial activity on a day to day basis. There are also fishing vessels that work within the harbour too.

Commercial vessel passing Round Nap Island.


The old oyster beds on Hayling Island’s north westerly edge (next to the ‘Billy’) have a long history, from farming huger amounts of oysters for consumption in London (ending due to pollution) to them being neglected until recent years when they were restored and made a protected RSPB area. These interlinking beds are now home to many different birds and access is prevented from Hayling Island as well as from boats. From here we saw a harbour favourite the Little Egret and also a solo Great Crested Grebe before it dived under the water and disappeared. On the way back to Broadmarsh we were lucky to see about a dozen Common Terns feeding, with them circling, hovering and then diving in to the harbour waters. We also saw some Little Terns too, who only feed around one kilometre from their nesting sites.

Little Egret at Hayling Island Oyster Beds.

Diving Common Tern.

In only a matter of two hours we had an incredible trip around the harbour and were introduced to not just the birds that call Portsmouth home but also the dedicated work by the RSPB, who with a very small team have to protect the habitats and birds. If you want to keep up to date with the work done by your local RSPB team be sure to follow their blog HERE. A huge thank you to Wez and Dawn for the trip!

Interested in seeing some of these birds yourself? It is actually pretty easy from the shoreline of the city of Portsmouth. We’re working with the RSPB on a series of articles starting tomorrow and we’ll be running a competition too. More details tomorrow.

Nature Garden on Kings Road in Southsea

Not really sure when I first noticed the little patch of land on Kings Road in Southsea that has been given over to nature. I used to pass it all the time years ago going down to university and home again and it must have caught my eye. In a part of Southsea that was almost wiped clean off the map during the Blitz and 1960s redevelopment, Gloucester Terrace looping around to Gloucester Place (and backed with Gloucester View) is one of the few pieces of the original Kings Road area still intact.

This old road and its old buildings surround a small, gated park much like a smaller version of those fenced garden squares in London. This garden on the other hand has been given over to nature as a small preserve, slap bang in busy Southsea. Whilst the people of the city go about their work, studies and life, this little part of the island sees insects, plants, trees and birds (and probably snakes and lizards) go about their own lives too.

As Portsmouth gets even more developed and continues to be the most densely populated city in the UK, I hope this little area dedicated to a wilder version of city life goes on untouched.

If you know more about this small garden, please let us know.

Nature Garden on Kings Road in Southsea (1)

Nature Garden on Kings Road in Southsea (2)

Nature Garden on Kings Road in Southsea (3)

Nature Garden on Kings Road in Southsea (5)

Bluebells in Foxes Forest

A quick, early morning walk through Portsmouth’s Foxes Forest with the camera is hard to beat this time of year. This city has harbours, beaches, towers, castles, cathedrals, docks, a loud and vibrant inner city but it also has on the north shore: a quiet home to birds and other wildlife. Hilsea Lines is perfect to get away from things for 30 minutes and see the colours and hear the sounds of spring.

Museum beasts

I took time out today to visit Portsmouth City Museum and in particular the Birds, Beast and Bugs exhibition. I have a great interest in the craft of taxidermy, perhaps a bit more of an unusual craft than knitting but amazing nonetheless.

Most of the exhibition was collected by Henry Guermonprez in the 19th Century and lots the animals and jars have beautiful little hand written notes by Henry. There are also sweet intricate paintings and drawings by him as well as activities for children. I rather enjoyed the jars containing snakes, octopus and mice. More photos here.


Photographs wanted for the Langstone Ark

Are you interested in taking photographs of local wildlife? If so, the Langstone Harbour Board would like to hear from you. The Board’s Environment Officer Louise MacCallum is launching a project called the “Langstone Ark” which aims to create a collection of digital images of all the species of wildlife, big and small, that can be found in and around the harbour to build into a website. Anyone with an interest in Langstone Harbour is being encouraged to contribute photographs of wildlife, from local yachtsmen, commercial fishermen to local residents.

Once a photograph of a particular species has been selected, a web page will be created including some information about the species such as its feeding habits and behaviour. The name of the contributor and where the image was taken will also be included. The Langstone Harbour Board hopes that the website will build into an engaging environmental resource which the harbour users themselves have helped to create.

Langstone Harbour is internationally renowned for its wildlife, providing nursery, feeding and overwintering grounds for a myriad of species. A number of internationally recognised laws are in place to protect the harbour’s habitats and associated wildlife, including Langstone Harbour being a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

You don’t need an expensive camera, or a qualification in wildlife photography to take part in the Langstone Ark Project – just the ability to take an interesting picture of one of the harbour’s wild residents and e-mail it to the Environment Officer. And remember, as the project aims to collect images of all the harbour’s residents, a photograph of a Gull or some Gorse will be just as welcome as a photograph of an Osprey or an Orchid.

The Langstone Ark website will launch online sometime in 2011, but harbour users are encouraged to start taking and sending photographs of wildlife now in order to catch some of the harbour’s 2010 winter visitors.

If you would like more information on the Langstone Ark project, or the wildlife and habitats that can be found in Langstone Harbour, please visit the Langstone Harbour Board website at You can contact them directly at

Photo: Quiet Corners

Portsmouth & District Angling Society

For those keen anglers amongst you the time has come to dig out your tackle box for the freshwater season.  Portsmouth & District Angling Association have been operating since 1948 and have control over 13 different sites in and around the Portsmouth area.  As well as having an Environment Agency Rod License you can pay an annual membership fee to the P&DAS to fish at one of their rivers, lakes or ponds.  The membership fee is worth every penny as it all goes back into protecting the environment and the wildlife at each fishing spot, making it more enjoyable for everyone concerned.

If fishing is something that interests you but you’re not quite experienced to start paying membership fees etc., don’t forget we are situated on one of the prime bits of coastline and fishing in the Solent is absolutely free either from the beach or by boat.

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Southsea Typeface

When ever possible I like to do the odd piece that’s just for me, just for fun. This came about off the back of something I was doing for work. Messing around with pens and pencils, then putting it through the computer. Maybe I’ll tackle Strong Island at the weekend! Oh, and for those that know him it’s Borneos birthday this Friday. KST then on to Albert Road. Be sure to check my flickr photostream to see the carnage.

Click the read more link to see a whole variety of colours.


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.

Telly Savalas Looks at Portsmouth

There’s more than ‘meats’ the eye to Portsmouth. A city where everyone in the know goes. Classic stuff. Kojak takes time between sucking lollipops and fighting crime to give us the 411 on Portsmouth city through the ages. Love the eclectic soundtrack. Thanks to Harry for posting this up for us in a previous article. Here’s looking at you Portsmouth…

Someone Invent A Time Machine

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

Submarine Graveyard

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.

Southsea Show 1970

Image: eBay

Guildhall After WWII

On 10th January 1941 during a heavy bombing attack on Portsmouth the Guildhall was hit by several incendiary bombs which heavily damaged the structure and the resulting fires quickly spread throughout the whole building, turning it in to just a shell. It took almost 15 years to rebuild the Guildhall in to what we have today, which was officially reopened by the Queen on the 8th June 1959. This photo from Stan Webb from a collection of photos collected by Portsmouth College shows how totally destroyed the building was, leaving just some of the frontage and most of the tower.



The now defunct Brickwoods Brewery was Portsmouth’s largest local brewer before it’s final demise in 1983. Many old pubs (and many houses that are converted old pubs) still have tiles and signs with the old brewery’s name on so in a way, it still lives on, just in the city’s background. Keep your eyes peeled. You can find out more about the company here too.

I came across these amazing beermats via Google, some interesting designs. Notice the sun motif…


CHAOS – 20 years & out!

20 years!!!! That has to go in the books as Southsea longest running night? Give or take, most people you bump in to have been to a least one Chaos night, and most spent a grimy late one down the pier dancing like idiots and spilling Newcastle Brown all over the place. I’ve a lot of fond memories of the earlier days at Chaos, mostly after skating and sitting in the pub saying I’m not going. Not this week. Then 8 pints later jumping in a taxi…

If you have any stories or cool photos from Chaos we’d love to see them. Or even some of the old flyers. There have been some pretty interesting designs over the years. I’ll always remember the photo flyer of the kid on the dance floor with a girl and his ‘wandering hands’.

Jay Dunstan got in contact and had this to say:

“To coincide with our 20th Birthday on Saturday 26th November – we’re announcing that this will be the last ever “Chaos”.

Starting in 1991 at South Parade Pier, moving to the Wedgewood rooms in 2008 – we’ve been crowned the South Coasts longest running Independent Club night, winning The Guide Awards “Best club night”, “Best DJs” (x 2) and the promoters Ped & Jay being awarded a special award for contribution to the Portsmouth Music Scene. Chaos has provided Dj’s and club nights at Guilfest, Southsea Fest & Isle of Wight Festivals.

Having been a constant in our lives and the Portsmouth clubbing & music scene for 2 decades – Its been a very tough decision to stop the regular club night. But we feel that now is the best time to unplug the speakers for the last time.

Chaos was always quite literally about being ‘alternative’ – alternative in music policy, but also offering an alternative to the traditional and mainstream clubs. Our ethos was always simple – play music we liked, to people to we liked & do it prime time on a Saturday night 52 weeks a year!

Our feeling is that the current scene is very different now and although still loving every element of the gigs, festivals and guitars – a regular club night offering everything we did, now isn’t whats required. Clubbers will always want an alternative, but the music scene is now so split and venues, pubs & clubs are all competing for survival – we felt it was a good opportunity to step back, take a deep breath & raise a glass to rock n roll!

We want to thank everyone who has contributed to the success of Chaos over the last 20 years – venue managers, bar staff & door stewards – sound & light technicians – – street teams – performers & bands and of course the roll call of DJ’s past & present that have provided the soundtrack to so, so, so many silly, drunken and above all fun Saturday nights.

Hey ho, lets go!”

The 20th Birthday & Last EVER Chaos – Saturday 26th November 2011

Flyer: Chaos Flickr

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.




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