Newest Review: ... a variety of attractions. Old ships HMS Victory & HMS Warrior are visitor attractions on their own. HMS Warrior, the ironclad is perh... more
Portsmouth: all you ever needed to know
Flagship Portsmouth at the Historic Dockyard (Portsmouth)
Member Name: stephen_logan
Flagship Portsmouth at the Historic Dockyard (Portsmouth)
Date: 17/01/02, updated on 17/01/02 (351 review reads)
Advantages: Compact city with plenty to do, Interesting places to visit
Disadvantages: Once you have seen everything there aint much more to do.
Portsmouth, a city with such a celebrated history; it is the birthplace of Charles Dickens, the position at which Nelson and his fleet were based and the position from where Henry VIII watched his most celebrated ship, the Mary Rose plunge to the depths of the Solent. Portsmouth today doesn’t quite have the same splendour, as it’s former glory. Today Portsmouth is famous for the most unattractive building in Britain (official-the Tricorn centre, a wonder to behold) and a millennium project, which has only just gained approval.
WHAT PORTSMOUTH HAS TO OFFER
It is testament to the cities history that it is only really historic items that are really worth visiting. In the historic dockyards you have Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory. It has been restored to what it looked like when Nelson fought in the Napoleonic wars. The dockyards also host the skeletal remains of the Mary Rose, which as previously stated sank in mysterious circumstances on its launch in front of the king of the time, Henry VIII. Finally there is one of the first ironclad warships, which if memory serves me correctly is the HMS Warrior, a spectacle of engineering success.
I have lived in the Portsmouth for 14 of my 18 years, which is the only knowledge for which I base this assessment. Portsmouth is very much a maritime-based culture, as signalled by the rather obscure cockney-esque accent. In the grand scale of things it is a city probably now relegated to an insignificant level, but if you are a visitor there is certainly a days worth of interesting exploration to be done.
Charles Dickens’ birthplace or the dockyards are a common place to begin a grand tour of the city. Dickens’ birthplace is an interesting experience, you truly feel in awe as you stand in the birthplace of one of the worlds greatest novelists. It is the very house in which he was born, no doubt modified and refurbished to be s
imilar to it’s original state. If you are a literature lover, this will probably be a far more exciting attraction, than it would be for somebody who felt absolutely nothing for it.
If you are visiting Portsmouth with a family, it might be more of a worthwhile experience to mosey on to Southsea (just south of Portsmouth), where there is an excellent sea life centre (even I still love to visit that place). If you have an interest in the Second World War and the military in general, Portsmouth really does have what you want. There is the D-Day museum, which focuses on the D-Day landings in Normandy, much of which was plotted and begun in Portsmouth. It has some very interesting artefacts and images. There is also a Royal Marines museum, which has a vast collection of Marine regalia, and tells many stories of the involvement of the British marines throughout history.
FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART
Portsmouth of course is a university city. Therefore it has the qualities of all similar cities, with an array of economy and some less economical clubs and bars. If you want to stay in Portsmouth to have a night out, I would recommend Guildhall walk as the place to go. Guildhall walk is surprisingly situated next to the Portsmouth Guildhall. It has a number of varying establishments, including nationwide chains such as Witherspoons and Firkin & Firkin. Now when you finally come stumbling out of there a club may be in order, so get into a taxi and head to Southsea. I would say the most common clubs are Route 66 and Time, in the student population. Route 66 is a club with a 60’s American style, the music they play there is pop music from the 1960’s up to the present day garble, highly recommended if you don’t mind making yourself look a little foolish. Time is more of a club, club; it plays up to date dance records, etc. so it may be more appropriate for those who actually know how to dance (not me). Of cou
rse there are other great watering holes in Portsmouth such as at Gunwharf and other rarefied places but you can discover those yourself.
Portsmouth has 3 potential concert venues, the Guildhall, the Wedgwood rooms and the Pyramid centre. Guildhall is the largest venue we have, it is about to stage The Who (if you want to lend me your tickets I would be extremely happy), it is not the most popular venue though. In popularity terms in the student community, the Wedgwood rooms are by far and way the most loved. The Wedgwood rooms hosts more alternative bands, and as the alternative seen is so big in Portsmouth (as it is in most places), the Wedgwood rooms are the concert venue most regularly visited. The pyramids centre is actually a swimming pool on the Southsea sea front. However situated to the right of the pool is the concert venue, this venue is not often used for large events, the last time I went there was to see Uriah Heep and Nazareth. The kindest way to describe it without being too harsh is by saying it is cosy, or in Lehman’s terms no room whatsoever and a very close proximity to the stage.
If you really feel the need to go shopping in Portsmouth, there are two places to go Gunwharf, which has all sorts of more upper class ‘posh’ shops, or Cascades with all the usual high street shops. However as much as this sickens me to say it, Southampton our jolly old neighbours has a far more advanced shopping facility called West Quay’s or something similar. It has a far larger population of shops, of which the majority are situated within the same building.
Well here is where the positive vibes come to an end; in Portsmouth we have a choice of two main sporting venues, the dog tracks and Fratton Park, home of Portsmouth football club. At least when you visit the dogs there is slight entertainment however watching Portsmouth (unless you are an away fan) is usually a somewha
t sombre and thoroughly depressing occasion. Pompey are currently languishing in the bottom half of division one, as they have been for about 7 years, luck is not really associated with them, infact if you looked up the word unlucky in the dictionary, there would probably be the Portsmouth crest.
Portsmouth has a with and varied culture, and if you look hard enough and attempt to be open minded about the whole experience you may well find something to enjoy. We have everything a major city has; it is just compressed into a more manageable size. Who else can (and would) bost the country’s most unattractive building but Portsmouth, where else can you visit historic sites such as Charles Dickens’ birthplace and the ship which helped Nelsons fleet defeat the French, only in Portsmouth. With any luck Portsmouth will become even more of an attraction, when they complete the monorail (have you ever seen that Simpsons episode), and finally the millennium project. I hope this has been an amazing experience for you, and one day I may just see you down here, taking pictures of the Tricorn centre, until then farewell.