Gosport

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Coordinates: 50°47′42.32″N 1°7′27.25″W / 50.7950889°N 1.1242361°W / 50.7950889; -1.1242361

Gosport
Borough of Gosport
Town & Borough
Borough of Gosport shown within Hampshire
Borough of Gosport shown within Hampshire
Coordinates: 50°47′41″N 1°07′28″W / 50.794785°N 1.124324°W / 50.794785; -1.124324
Sovereign State United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region South East England
Non-metropolitan county Hampshire
Status Non-metropolitan district, City
Admin HQ Gosport
Government
 • Type Non-metropolitan district council
 • Borough Council Gosport Borough Council (Conservative)
 • Mayor Richard James Dickson
 • MPs Caroline Dinenage (Conservative)
Area
 • Total 9.76 sq mi (25.29 km2)
Area rank 315th (of 326)
Population (2011 est.)
 • Total 82,700
 • Rank 283rd (of 326)
 • Density 8,500/sq mi (3,300/km2)
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
Postcodes PO12, PO13
Area code(s) 023 [1]
ONS code 24UF (ONS)
E07000088 (GSS)
OS grid reference SZ618998
Website www.gosport.gov.uk

Gosport /ˈɡɒspɔrt/ is a Borough town situated on the south coast of England, within the county of Hampshire. It has approximately 85,000-100,000 permanent residents with a further 5,000–10,000 during the summer months.[citation needed] 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]

Up until the last quarter of the 20th century, Gosport was a major 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 Chronicle as Rughenor (Rough bank or slope). Both Rowner and Alverstoke (a separate 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, and loaned to 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, now demolished, and HMS Sultan are situated upon the former Royal Naval air station, first known as R.A.F. Gosport and later as H.M.S. Siskin and gives its name to the local infant and junior schools. The barracks at Browndown (Stokes Bay) were used in the ITV series: Bad Lads Army.[2]

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 believed by some to be a 19th-century invention.[3]

Royal Naval 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 N.H.S. until 2009. The hospital closed as N.H.S. services were relocated to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Portsmouth.

Graves of Turkish sailors 1850–51[edit]

In November 1850, two ships of the Turkish Navy, the Mirat-ı Zafer and Sirag-i Bahri Birik, anchored off the Hardway near Gosport. The visit lasted several months and during this time some of the members of the crew contracted cholera and were admitted to Haslar Hospital for treatment, where most of them died. In addition, some other sailors died because of training accidents. In total 26 died and were laid to rest in the grounds of Haslar. At the turn of the 19th Century the bodies were exhumed and transferred to the R.N. Military Cemetery, Clayhall Road, in Alverstoke.

Geography[edit]

The Town area (including Newtown) of the Borough consists of the town centre, Stoke Road shopping area, Walpole Park, Royal Clarence Yard and three modern marinas: Royal Clarence, Gosport Marina and Haslar Marina.

South of the centre 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 East of Stoke Lake and along Gilkicker Point is the area of Clayhall. West, Northwest and South of Stoke Lake is the district and village of Alverstoke. To the west of which is Browndown, where the River Alver flows into The Solent at Stokes Bay. Further west from Browndown point is the district of Lee-on-the-Solent with the former R.N.A.S. Daedalus which is now home to a hovercraft museum and several marine related businesses. It is also used as a base for glider clubs, light aeroplanes, H.M. Coastguard heliport and Police aircraft.

In the west of Gosport is the naval base H.M.S. Sultan. To the west of H.M.S. Sultan is the district of Rowner which includes Alver Village.

There are several districts north, northwest and west of the town centre. These include areas that extend to the inland areas of the peninsula. Hardway (including Priddy’s Hard) Elson, Brockhurst, Bridgemary and Rowner. Hoeford (A32 Gosport Road) is the most north westerly area within Gosport and ends at the boundary with the Borough of Fareham.[4]

Climate[edit]

The climate of Gosport is 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. Located on the south coast, Gosport also receives more sunshine per annum than most of the UK. The average maximum temperature in January is 8C with the average minimum being 3C. The average maximum temperature in July is 21C, with the average minimum being 14C. The record high temperature is 32C and record low is -9C.[5][6]

The Met Office have a weather station situated at the M.R.S.C. in Lee-on-the-Solent.

Climate data for Solent MRSC 1980-2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.2
(46.8)
8.2
(46.8)
10.5
(50.9)
13.2
(55.8)
16.7
(62.1)
19.2
(66.6)
21.4
(70.5)
21.4
(70.5)
19.0
(66.2)
15.5
(59.9)
11.5
(52.7)
8.7
(47.7)
14.46
(58.04)
Average low °C (°F) 3.4
(38.1)
2.8
(37)
4.5
(40.1)
6.1
(43)
9.2
(48.6)
12.1
(53.8)
14.2
(57.6)
14.3
(57.7)
12.2
(54)
9.6
(49.3)
6.2
(43.2)
3.8
(38.8)
8.2
(46.77)
Precipitation mm (inches) 68.8
(2.709)
49.3
(1.941)
51.6
(2.031)
42.4
(1.669)
43.4
(1.709)
42.0
(1.654)
44.5
(1.752)
50.0
(1.969)
53.7
(2.114)
86.2
(3.394)
83.2
(3.276)
83.9
(3.303)
699
(27.521)
Source: UK Met Office[7]

Business[edit]

Gosport is an eclectic area with many business sectors, light manufacturing, marine and retail being the most prominent. Gosport centre 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.

Gosport - taken in 1960

Transport[edit]

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. At one time the Gosport Ferry Company operated steam ferries, until the arrival in 1966 of two identical (and then very modern) diesel ferries, named 'Gosport Queen' and 'Portsmouth Queen'. In 1971 a third ferry called the 'Solent Enterprise' joined the fleet, she was a slightly larger, more luxurious version of the 'Queens'. The company (along with the two 1966 veterans), now operate two new modern ferries, the first was built in 2001 and was named the 'Spirit of Gosport' and after the retirement of the 'Solent Enterprise' in 2003, a second modern (and slightly larger ferry) was added to the fleet and was named the 'Spirit of Portsmouth'. All ferries have been able to carry cycles and 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 an exclusive fast bus route and cycle lane. Tite's station building has been retained for its historical and architectural value and has been converted into a small number of residential properties and offices. The main gate in Spring Garden Lane has been opened up for vehicle access. A further development of six terraced homes has been 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 from 45 minutes and often longer at peak times between 07:30 & 09:00 and 16:00 & 18:30.

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 town of Fareham. Now completed, regular service buses between Gosport and Fareham divert onto the new route avoiding lengthy queues on the A32 and speeding up commuting time between the towns for bus passengers.

Present day[edit]

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]

At the 2001 census, 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 the Defence School of Marine Engineering (DSMarE) and the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival School (RNAESS). The Sultan site occupies 179 acres (0.72 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]

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. In September 2008 there were 2100 pupils and 370 sixth-form students enrolled. It was within the top 200 state schools in the country, as judged by The Times.[citation needed].
  • Bridgemary School, located in Wych Lane, Bridgemary. Bridgemary is the only school in the U.K. 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 School is also situated in Gosport. It is a specialist performing arts college and has a state of the art dance studio, 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.
  • There has been a thriving Home Education group in the area for over twenty years, with support from Education Otherwise.

Sport[edit]

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  Football Conference South and represent the town at a national level in the FA Cup and FA Trophy. The area also has another Non-League football club Fleetlands F.C. who play at Lederle Lane Stadium. 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]

Tourism[edit]

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]

Notable people[edit]

Nat Gonella, Trevor Jesty, Joe Jackson and Matt Ritchie.

See Category:People from Gosport

See also[edit]

Media related to Gosport at Wikimedia Commons

References[edit]

External links[edit]