Portsmouth, Hampshire, England

Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city, which is mainly located on Portsea Island. It is situated 64 miles (103 km) south west from London and 19 miles (31 km) south east from Southampton.

As a significant naval port for centuries, Portsmouth is home to the world's oldest dry dock still in use and also home to some famous ships, including the HMS Warrior and Lord Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory. Although smaller than in its heyday, the naval base remains a major dockyard and base for the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Commandos whose Headquarters resides there. There is also a thriving commercial ferryport serving destinations on the continent for freight and passenger traffic. The City of Portsmouth and Portsmouth Football Club are both nicknamed Pompey.

The Spinnaker Tower is a striking recent addition to the city's skyline. It can be found in the redeveloped former HMS Vernon, an area of retail outlets, restaurants, clubs and bars now known as Gunwharf Quays.

The City of Portsmouth has a population of 197,700 and is the only city in England with a greater population density (4,639 /km2 (12,010 /sq mi)) than London (4,562 /km2 (11,820 /sq mi)). The Portsmouth Urban Area includes Fareham, Portchester, Gosport, Havant and is the 14th largest urban area in the United Kingdom with an estimated 442,252 residents. Portsmouth combines with Southampton to form a single metropolitan area stretching from Salisbury to Bognor Regis. With a population of 1,547,000 this is the United Kingdom's eighth most populous metropolitan area.

On the postcard: second row first from right: HMS Warrior (1860)

HMS Warrior

11 May 1859

Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co. Ltd


Laid down:
25 May 1859

29 December 1860

1 August 1861

Museum ship

General characteristics

Class and type:
Warrior class armoured frigate

9,210 long tons (9,358 t)

418 feet (127 m)

58.4 ft (17.8 m)

26 ft (7.9 m)

Penn jet-condensing, horizontal trunk, single expansion steam engine

Sail plan:
Full rigged ship


13 knots (24.1 km/h) (sail)

14.5 kn (26.9 km/h) (steam)
17.5 kn (32.4 km/h) (combined)

705 officers and men


26 muzzle-loading 68-pounder guns
10 RBL 7 inch Armstrong guns

4 RBL 40 pounder Armstrong guns

HMS Warrior was the first iron-hulled, armour-plated warship, built for the Royal Navy in response to the first ironclad warship, the French La Gloire, launched a year earlier.

When completed in October 1861, Warrior was by far the largest, fastest, most heavily armed and most heavily armoured warship the world had ever seen. She was almost twice the size of La Gloire and thoroughly outclassed the French ship in speed, armour, and gunnery.

Warrior did not introduce any radical new technology, but for the first time combined steam engines, rifled breech-loading guns, iron construction, iron armour, and the propeller in one ship, and all built to an unprecedented scale.

Her construction started an intense international competition between guns and armour that did not end until air power made battleships obsolete in the Second World War. Warrior became an early example of the trend towards rapid battleship obsolescence and was withdrawn as a fighting unit in May 1883. Listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection, she is now a museum ship in Portsmouth, United Kingdom.

On the postcard: second row in the middle: Spinnaker Tower, Harbourfront

Spinnaker Tower is a 170 m (557 ft 9 in)–high tower in Portsmouth, England. It is the centrepiece of the redevelopment of Portsmouth Harbour, which was supported by a National Lottery grant. Its shape was chosen by Portsmouth residents from a selection of concepts. The tower, designed by local firm HGP Architects and the engineering consultants Scott Wilson and built by Mowlem, reflects Portsmouth's maritime history by being modeled after a sail. After several years of delays and cost overruns, it was opened on 18 October 2005.

The tower, at a height of 170 metres (557 feet 9 inches) above sea level, is 2½ times higher than Nelson's Column, making it the tallest accessible structure in the United Kingdom outside London. The tower is visible for miles around Portsmouth, changing the horizon of the area. It can be seen from the Isle of Wight, and even the Manhood Peninsula.

The tower represents sails billowing in the wind, a design accomplished using two large, white, sweeping steel arcs, which give the tower its spinnaker sail design. The steelwork was fabricated by Butterley Engineering. At the top is a triple observation deck, providing a 320° view of the city of Portsmouth, the Langstone and Portsmouth harbours, and a viewing distance of 37 kilometres (23 mi). The highest of the three observation platforms, the crow's nest, has a wire mesh roof, allowing visitors to be in the elements. Windows extend to above head height, so it is not possible to get a view unobstructed by glass. The glass floor is the largest in Europe. The tower has a design lifetime of 80 years.

The design is similar to the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, whose structure is a little less than twice as tall at 323 metres (1,059 ft 9 in).

Planning began in 1995, and construction began 2001, and was completed in mid-2005, due to repeated delays and extra funding requests by the builders Mowlem. This was six years later than the planned opening date of 1999, chosen to coincide with Millennium celebrations. The tower, originally called Portsmouth Millennium Tower, was renamed Spinnaker Tower.

The project was over budget, with an overall cost of £35.6 million for the tower alone. Taxpayers were not meant to fund the tower, but Portsmouth City Council eventually contributed £11.1 million towards construction.

In March 2004, Portsmouth Council's former leader Cllr Leo Madden resigned from leading the Labour Group on the Council after a highly critical report of the council's handling of the project and failure to exploit revenue opportunities, such as the Millennium. Barry Smith, the project's legal advisor, also retired after being suspended on full pay, mostly due to controversy over the contract with the builders, which at one point would have cost the council more to cancel than to complete. In 2009 as Tower Revenues drop the council has again lost out as its income is linked to the tower's profits which have fallen significantly in 2008/9.

The tower has had a number of health and safety issues since opening, including large cracks beneath the observation deck and a malfunctioning external glass lift. Fathers 4 Justice campaigners and base jumpers have infiltrated the tower, leading to security concerns.

The tower was dedicated on 16 October 2005 and opened two days later. On opening day, the Tower's project manager, David Greenhalgh, and representatives for Mowlem and Maspero were stranded in the tower's malfunctioning external lift (built by Maspero) for an hour and a half. Abseiling engineers were called to rescue them. Some, including the franchise's chief executive, felt it was rather fitting that these particular people were trapped.

Once open, the tower attracted crowds in excess of expectations, despite only the internal lift working since opening, with over 600,000 people visiting the tower the first year. It is one of a number of observation towers around the world that have become popular, including Vancouver's Harbour Centre, Toronto's CN Tower, Blackpool's Tower and Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower.

In June 2006, the local press raised a concern that the tower may be forced to close. All public buildings in the UK require disabled access under the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act. With the external lift inoperative and only the internal lift for disabled access, the tower did not meet this requirement, and the tower operators could be sued under the act. This problem was rectified by investing in an evacuation chair, and training for staff to use it. In the event of evacuation, should the internal lift be inoperable, those unable to navigate the 570 steps can use the evacuation chair.

The original date given for the external lift to be operational was the end of January 2007, although as of December 2010 the lift is not in service.

The Spinnaker, being a southern landmark features on the BBC South Today news programme. It also features on ITV News.

Visitor numbers are down year on year and tower management admit interest is starting to fade. However, in June 2009 Tower operators succeed in gaining permission for a free fall ride, despite criticism, to be attached to the Tower in an attempt to boost falling visitor numbers and revenue.

In 2006, the tower won the RICS Project of the year award and the RICS Regeneration award.

On the postcard: first row in the middle: HMS Victory

HMS Victory

14 July 1758

Chatham Dockyard

Laid down:
23 July 1759

7 May 1765


Honours and

Participated in:

Active, preserved at Portsmouth, England
General characteristics

Class and type:
104-gun first-rate ship of the line

3,500 tons (3,556 tonnes)

Tons burthen:
2,142 tons bm


186 ft (57 m) (gundeck),

227 ft 6 in (69.34 m)(overall)

51 ft 10 in (15.80 m)

28 ft 9 in (8.76 m)

Depth of hold:
21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)

Sails—6,510 sq yd (5,440 m²)

Sail plan:
Full-rigged ship

8 to 9 knots (15 to 17 km/h) maximum

Approximately 850



  • Gundeck: 30 × 2.75 ton long pattern Blomefield 32 pounders (15 kg)
  • Middle gundeck: 28 × 2.5 ton long 24 pounders (11 kg)
  • Upper gundeck: 30 × 1.7 ton short 12 pounders (5 kg)
  • Quarterdeck: 12 × 1.7 ton short 12 pounder (5 kg)
  • Forecastle: 2 × medium 12 pounder (5 kg), 2 × 68 pounder (31 kg) carronade
Marines armed with muskets

None, although oak hull thickness at waterline 2 ft (0.6 m)

Height from waterline to top of mainmast: 205 ft (62.5 m

HMS Victory is a 104-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, laid down in 1759 and launched in 1765. She is most famous as Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

She was also Keppel's flagship at Ushant, Howe's flagship at Cape Spartel and Jervis's flagship at Cape St Vincent. After 1824 she served as a harbour ship.

In 1922 she was moved to a dry dock at Portsmouth, England, and preserved as a museum ship. She continues to be flagship of the Second Sea Lord and is the oldest naval ship still in commission.


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