Main Births etc
Coordinates: 50°47′41″N 1°07′28″W / 50.794785, -1.124324

Gosport is located in Hampshire

 Gosport shown within Hampshire
Population 80,000 ONS mid-year population estimates
    - Density 
OS grid reference SZ6181799831
    - London  82mi 
District Gosport
Shire county Hampshire
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town GOSPORT
Postcode district PO12, PO13
Dialling code (023) 92
Police Hampshire
Fire Hampshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Gosport
List of places: UK • England • Hampshire

Gosport /ˈɡɒspɔrt/ is a town, district and borough situated on the south coast of England, within the county of Hampshire. It has approximately 80,000 permanent residents with a further 5,000-10,000 during the summer months. It is part of the South Hampshire conurbation and lies on a peninsula on the western side of Portsmouth Harbour opposite the City of Portsmouth, to which it is linked by a pedestrian ferry.

History[edit | edit source]

Up until the last quarter of the 20th century, Gosport was a major naval and military town associated with the defence and supply infrastructure of Her Majesty's Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth. As a result of a decline in these activities, many of its fortifications and installations, such as Fort Brockhurst, have been opened to the public as tourism and heritage sites, with extensive redevelopment of the harbour area as a marina.

The Rowner area of the peninsula was known to have been settled in Saxon times, mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles as Rughenor (Rough bank or slope). Both Rowner and Alverstoke (a village now within the boundaries of Gosport), the name coming from the original point where the River Alver entered the Solent at Stokes Bay, were included in the Domesday Book. Settlements in the wider region date back much earlier.Rowner is recorded as being the earliest settlement of the peninsula with many Mesolithic finds and a hunting camp (presently sealed under the reclamation site) being found, tumuli are located on the peninsula (all investigated). Bronze Age items found during a 1960s construction in HMS Sultan included a hoard of axe heads and torcs (now stored by Portsmouth museum services). A three-celled dwelling unearthed during construction of the Rowner Estate in the 1970s points to a settled landscape. Adjacent to the River Alver which passes the southern and western edges of Rowner can be found a Norman motte and bailey, the first fortification of the peninsula, giving a high vantage point over the Solent, Stokes Bay, Lee-on-the-Solent and the Isle of Wight. The Rowner estate and HMS Sultan are situated upon the former Royal Naval air station, first known as RAF Gosport and later as HMS Siskin and gives its name to the local infant and junior schools. The barracks at Browndown (Stokes Bay) were used in the first series of Bad Lads Army.[1]

There are several theories of how the borough got its name including from the early name of Goseport which is believed to derive from "goose". An alternative etymology "gorse" (from the bushes growing on local heath land) is not supported by the regional name for the plant, "furze". The third theory which was found in the Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales and used in the town's motto, "God's Port Our Haven", claims a derivation from "God's Port", King Stephen's thanks in 1144 for safe landing in a storm. This, however, is a 19th century invention.[2] Royal Hospital Haslar, formally the last military hospital of the U.K. was closed as a military site in March 2007. It was opened in 1753, serving military personnel and their families, later also serving the community of Gosport. The hospital was then used by the NHS until 2009. The hospital closed as NHS services were relocated to The Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Portsmouth. Within the grounds, situated next to Haslar wall on the Solent can be found graves of Turkish prisoners of war in tranquil settings overlooking the busy waterways between the mainland and the Isle of Wight. These graves have led to the nickname of Gosport people being referred to as "Turkers" and Gosport as "Turktown".[3]

Geography[edit | edit source]

At the southern tip of the Gosport peninsula is Gilkicker Point which is the location of Fort Gilkicker. To the west of the point are Stokes Bay and the Browndown Battery. To the east of the point are Fort Monckton, Haslar Hospital and Fort Blockhouse.

There are several areas north of the town centre. These areas extend from the west shore of Portsmouth Harbour to the inland areas of the peninsula. From north to south, these are Fleetlands, Bridgemary, Elson, Hardway and Christchurch (including Priddy’s Hard). The Town area (including Newtown) of the borough consists of the town centre, Stoke Road shopping area, Royal Clarence Yard and three marinas; these are Royal Clarence, Gosport marina and Haslar marina.

South of Newtown is Haslar Creek, which flows into Portsmouth Harbour near the harbour mouth. The lowest part of Haslar Creek is called Haslar Lake; at its western end, the creek splits into two branches. These are called Workhouse Lake (the northern branch) and Stoke Lake (the southern branch). South of Stoke Lake and north of Gilkicker Point is the area of Clayhall. West and northwest of Stoke Lake is an area called Alverstoke, which includes the village of Alverstoke. To the west of which is Browndown, where the River Alver flows into Stokes Bay. Further west from Browndown point is the town of Lee-on-the-Solent with the former RNAS Daedalus which is now home to a hovercraft museum and several marine related businesses. It is also used as a base for the coastguard helicopter and police aircraft.

In the west of Gosport is the naval base HMS Sultan, at the southern end of which is a large sports field called HMS Sultan Polo Fields. To the west of HMS Sultan is the area of Rowner.

North and North West of Gosport town centre, along the A32 are three other named areas; these are Forton, Brockhurst and Holbrook. Fleetlands is the most northerly area within Gosport and ends at boundary with the Borough of Fareham.[4]

Climate[edit | edit source]

The climate of Gosport is much milder than that of the surrounding areas, winter frosts being light and short-lived and snow quite rare. Temperatures rarely drop much below freezing, because the peninsula has water to the south and east. Portsdown Hill also protects the town from the cold northerly winds during the winter months. Summer temperatures can also be higher than in some other south coast towns due to the "urban heat effect", where heat is reflected and retained by buildings. Located on the south coast, Gosport also receives more sunshine per annum than most of the UK. The average maximum temperature in January is 10C with the average minimum being 5C. The average maximum temperature in July is 22C, with the average minimum being 15C. The record high temperature is 35C and record low is -8C.[5]

Climate data for Gosport, England, UK
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 9.6
Average low °C (°F) 5.2
Precipitation mm (inches) 65
Source: UK Met Office [6]

Business[edit | edit source]

Gosport is an eclectic area with many business sectors, light manufacturing, marine and retail being the most prominent. Gosport is dependent on businesses in vulnerable sectors. These include construction. Out of its 80,000 residents, 35,000 approximately are in employment and most of them are skilled manual labourers. A recently commissioned study carried out by Experian on behalf of the BBC ranked Gosport at 324 out of 324 in how resilient businesses within towns and cities were likely to be to the UK spending cuts.[7]

File:Gosport 1960s.jpg

Gosport - taken in 1960

Transport[edit | edit source]

Gosport is the largest town in Britain without an operational railway station. The Gosport Ferry provides quick access to Portsmouth Harbour railway station, terminus of the Portsmouth Direct Line to London. Due to heavy traffic (see below) this ferry is very well used: it can also be used by motorcycles. Ironically, Gosport received its railway before Portsmouth, but it closed to passengers in 1953.

In 1841 a railway opened between the London and Southampton Railway at Eastleigh via Fareham to Gosport, where a terminus was built to an Italianate design of Sir William Tite. Gosport railway station was intended to serve Portsmouth across the water, but was sited at Gosport away from the harbour because the railway company was not permitted to breach either the Hilsea Lines, defences at the northern end of Portsea Island protecting Portsmouth, or the Gosport Lines protecting depots such as Royal Clarence Yard.

An extension to Royal Clarence Yard was opened in 1846, and branch lines to Stokes Bay (open from 1863 to 1915), and to Lee-on-the-Solent (open to passengers 1894 to 1931). Due to declining traffic, the connection to Fareham was closed for passenger services in 1953 and to freight traffic in 1969, although trains to the armament depot in Frater ran until the late 1970s.

The trackbed of the former Gosport–Fareham railway is now a pedestrian walkway and cycle track. Tite's station building has been retained for its historical and architectural value but is at present inaccessible and in poor condition. The station is currently being converted into a small number of residential properties and offices with the main gate in Spring Garden Lane opened up for vehicle access. A development of six terraced homes is being built at the north western end of the site linking with George Street.[8]

Being a peninsula town without a railway system Gosport relies heavily upon the major A32 road in and out of the town. In the 1970s there were plans to widen the road to accommodate expected increases in traffic flow but this did not take place. In the early 1990s a computerised system controlling traffic lights along the route was installed to improve the rate of flow of traffic but this failed to work and had to be switched off since it could not cope with the traffic volumes. Now, in the 21st century, the A32 is much the same as it was thirty years ago and the traffic using it has increased to such an extent that the journey time to the nearby M27, about 5 miles (8.0 km), can routinely take anything up to 45 minutes and sometimes longer at peak times.

The station site was linked with the South Hampshire Rapid Transit scheme, which would have made use of the former railway route. However, due to Government refusal to fund the scheme, it was formally abandoned in November 2006.[9] During 2010, construction started on the same route to provide a rapid bus route between the Holbrook area of Gosport and the Fareham. When built, regular service buses between Gosport and Fareham will divert onto the new route avoiding lengthy queues on the A32 and speeding up commuting time between the towns.

Present day[edit | edit source]

Forton Lake Millennium Bridge 2005

Many people who live in Gosport use it as a dormitory town. According to Gosport Borough Council, the number of people commuting out of the town each day in 2001 was 18,200 compared to 7,600 people commuting in. In addition the number commuting out is increasing at a faster rate than that coming in.[10]

As of the 2001 Census in the United Kingdom, Gosport had 54,854 people of working age between aged 16–74. The economic activity of the residents in the Gosport Borough was 46.7% were in full-time employment, 12.9% were in part-time employment, 6.1% were self-employed, 2.7% were unemployed, 2.5% were students with jobs, 2.5% were students without jobs, 14% were retired, 6.2% were looking after the home or family, 3.8% were permanently sick or disabled and 2.5% were economically inactive for other reasons.

As part of the Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour Millennium project, a large sundial, known as the Millennium Timespace, was installed on the harbour front in 2000.[11] Its timekeeping is partially restricted each day by shadowing caused by large tower blocks either side of the "timespace".[12] The International Festival of the Sea drew over 250,000 tourists to the Portsmouth Harbour area in 1998, 2001 and 2005.[13] The most recent festival took place in 2007.

The Royal Navy still maintains a presence in Gosport at HMS Sultan (establishment) which is the home of Royal Naval School of Marine Engineering (RNSME) and the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival School (RNAESS). The Sultan site occupies 179 acres (0.724 km2) of land within a 3.5-mile (5.6 km) perimeter and is the largest of the Royal Navy's training establishments, with around 3,000 Service and civilian personnel when working at full capacity.

Education[edit | edit source]

Gosport has 10 each of infants and junior schools, 7 primary schools, 3 secondary schools, a college and a sixth form college.[14] The secondary schools include:

  • Bay House School which is a former grammar school, located near the coast, in Stanley Park. Bay House School also includes a sixth-form. Currently there are 2100 pupils and 370 sixth-form students enrolled (correct as of September 2008). It was within the top 200 state schools in the country, as judged by The Times..
  • Bridgemary Community Sports College, located in Bridgemary. It used to be a failing school but in recent years the introduction of new teaching techniques have turned the school's fortunes around. Bridgemary is also the only school in the UK to have adopted a "vertical learning" curriculum, where children are put in classes based on ability, not age. Bridgemary will also be starting a 24/7 timetable and a virtual learning window in the near future.
  • Brune Park Community College is also situated in Gosport. It is a specialist performing arts college and has a state of the art dance studio (opened on 20 January 2006), drama studios as well as a gym and a swimming pool (the roof of which has recently been renovated). Recently "footlights" café was opened in place of the old drama hall. The Brune Park "Youthy" is also very successful.

Sport[edit | edit source]

The town of Gosport has many sports clubs and organisations including boxing, judo, angling, rugby, cricket, football and hockey.

Gosport Borough F.C.[15] play their home games at Privett Park and cater for players of either sex from age six upwards. The club play in the Southern Football League Division One South & West and represent the town at a national level in the FA Cup and FA Trophy. RMLI Gosport F.C. were a former team to represent the town winning the 1910 FA Amateur Cup.

Gosport and Fareham Rugby Football Club has 6 senior sides, a Ladies team, and 10 youth sides.[16] Gosport Borough Hockey Club, based at St Vincent College, has 3 Men's teams, a Ladies team and Junior teams.[17] There are also Solent and Gosport Ice-Hockey Club and Gosport Borough Cricket Club.

Tourism[edit | edit source]

The Gosport peninsula has 17 miles (27 km) of waterfront on Portsmouth Harbour and The Solent and is a maritime playground for all. The pebble beach at Stokes Bay slopes steeply into the sea and offers fine views of the shipping going in and out of Portsmouth and Southampton and the many pleasure craft from the many marinas along The Solent and the Isle of Wight.

The town also has a strong military history - notably with the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy Submarine Museum is home to the Royal Navy's first submarine (Holland 1) and HMS Alliance - a World War Two submarine one can explore.

Explosion! tells the story of naval firepower from gunpowder to modern missiles. This modern, interactive museum is housed in historic buildings at Priddy's Hard, the Navy's former armaments depot, with views across Portsmouth Harbour.

Fort Brockhurst is one of the "Palmerston's Follies", built in the 1850s to defend Portsmouth Harbour against threats of a French invasion. A central exhibition explains Palmerston's plans to defend the key naval port. Nearby is the Gosport Aviation Heritage Museum, dedicated to the development of the Royal Air Force. The fort is owned by English Heritage.

Gosport is also home to Little Woodham, aka "The 1642 Living History Village". The village exists to educate both children and adults about 17th century life at the outbreak of the English Civil War and is open for the public to meet the villagers at certain times throughout the year.

Twin towns[edit | edit source]

Notable people[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • In the BBC radio series the Navy Lark (set on a ship based at HMNB Portsmouth), one of the catchphrases was 'You carry on on that course, and you'll be doing 50 knots up Gosport High Street!'
  • The first series of TV show Bad Lads Army was filmed at Browndown Training centre, between Gosport and neighbouring Lee-on-the-Solent.
  • A Gosport Tube was a voice tube used by flight instructors in the early days of military aviation to give instructions and directions to their students. It was invented by flying instructor Robert Raymond Smith-Barry at the School of Special Flying he opened at Gosport in 1917.[30]
  • A portion of one Taggart episode was shot in Ann's Hill Cemetery in the early 1990s.
  • Several scenes in the 1955 film, The Cockleshell Heroes, were shot on the streets and beaches of Gosport.

References[edit | edit source]

  2. ^ The Place Names of Gosport by Philip Eley
  3. ^ History of Haslar Hospital
  4. ^
  5. ^ Gosport climate information adapted from Portsmouth climate information. Thanks to User: Jaguar for permission.
  6. ^ Regional mapped climate averages
  7. ^
  8. ^ Gosport Railway
  9. ^ Tram scheme to be formally abandoned Hantsweb
  10. ^ Gosport Borough Local Plan Review - May 2006.
  11. ^ New Lottery Funded "millennium Timespace" Sundial Unveiled Millennium Commission.
  12. ^ Tower blocks put sundial in shade This is Hampshire - 22 January 2001.
  13. ^ Four Amazing Days in Summer The International Festival of the Sea 2005.
  14. ^ Hampshire Area 2 Schools Hantsweb
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Gosport - Royan twinning
  19. ^ On life, laughs and Lily, Cotswold Life, citing auobiography Grow Up.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  21. ^ Official MySpace page
  22. ^ Roger Black, Mr Motivator, South West Trains e-motion magazine
  23. ^ Rawlings, Philip, Hackman, James (bap. 1752, d. 1779), in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) and online at Hackman, James (subscription required), accessed 16 March 2008
  24. ^ Famous People of Gosport
  25. ^ A Cure for Gravity, autobiography, Joe Jackson, Da Capo Press, 2000
  26. ^ Surrey cricket archive
  27. ^ Johnson, Alexander Bryan, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.
  28. ^ *Martin Snape 1853-1930, Gosport Discovery Centre, 27 January 2006 (Internet Archive)
  29. ^ Cyril Tawney - Obituary, The Times, April 29, 2005
  30. ^ Vincent Orange, "Barry, Robert Raymond Smith- (1886–1949)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 12 September 2007

External links[edit | edit source]

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