Closeup map of Portsea Island
Portsea Island is a small, flat and low lying island just off the south coast of England. The island is totally within, and contains a large proportion of, the city of Portsmouth. It has the third-largest population of any island in the British Isles, after the mainlands of Great Britain and Ireland.
To the east lies Langstone Harbour, and to the west is Portsmouth Harbour. To the south it faces into the Solent. A small channel, known as Portsbridge Creek, separates the island from the mainland.
Three road bridges (the M275 motorway, the A3 and the A2030), a pedestrian and cycle bridge, and a rail bridge connect the island to the mainland, and a small road bridge joins it to Whale Island. In addition there are ferry services to Gosport (on the mainland), Hayling Island and the Isle of Wight. It gives its name to a relatively commercial and historic neighbourhood, adjoining the south-western "city centre", Portsea, which has had variable use in local government but has long been a parish of the island.
There have been two Bronze Age hoards found on the island. A hoard of Roman coins has also been found. In 979AD the island was raided by Danes. At the time of the Domesday Book 3 manors were recorded as being on the island.
For later history see History of Portsmouth
Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born at Britain Street in 1806; writer Charles Dickens was born nearby at Landport, in Portsea, on 7 February 1812; the professor William Garnett was born in Portsea on December 30, 1850.
The area was originally known as the "Common" and lay between the town of Portsmouth and the nearby Dockyard. The Common started to be developed at the end of the 17th, as a response to the overcrowding in the walled town of Portsmouth. This development worried the governor of the dockyard as he feared that the new buildings would provide cover for any forces attempting to attack the dockyard. In 1703, he threatened to demolish any buildings within range of the cannons mounted on the dockyard walls. However, after a petition to King George, royal consent for the development was granted in 1704. In 1792 the name of the area was changed from the Common to Portsea. By then it was home to a mixed dockside population.
William Tucker, baptised there in 1784, was convicted of shoplifting from a Portsea tailor, William Wilday, in 1798 and transported to New South Wales on the "death ship" Hillsborough which took convicts and typhus with it from Portsmouth. Tucker escaped and made it all the way back to Britain in 1803 only to be taken to Portsmouth for re-embarkation to Australia. He was later a sealer (seal hunter), established the retail trade in preserved Maori heads and settled in Otago, New Zealand where he became that country's first art dealer before falling victim to his hosts in 1817 and being eaten. The novelist Sarah Doudney was born in Portsea on 15 January 1841.
By the start of the 20th century Portsmouth council had started to clear much of the slum housing in Portsea. The city's first council houses were built in the district in 1911. The 1920s and 1930s saw extensive redevelopment of the area, with many of the older slums being replaced by new council houses.
The area's proximity to the dockyard resulted in its taking massive bomb damage during World War II. After the war the area was redeveloped as all council housing, in a mixture of houses, maisonettes and tower blocks.
Southsea occupies the southern end of Portsmouth in Portsea Island, within a mile of Portsmouth's city centre focal point, its harbour. Southsea has a thriving commercial area which includes two national department stores and many other well-known high street chains. It combines these large stores with numerous independent traders which includes charity shops, food retailers and furniture/household goods shops.
Fratton is a residential and formerly industrial area of Portsmouth. It consists of mostly Victorian terraced houses, and is typical of the residential areas in the city. In the past it housed a huge railway depot, but this has mostly been dismantled, making way for a shopping complex and the redevelopment of Portsmouth F.C.'s stadium, Fratton Park.
There is also a modest shopping centre on Fratton Road, The Bridge Centre, which is dominated by a large Asda supermarket, and in atmosphere reflects the working class naval and industrial heritage of the neighbourhood, with localised rather than centralised low-budget shops and cafés. Its railway station is one of four serving the island.
A modern development adjoined by one of the island's largest green buffers consisting allotments, the sports fields of a Portsmouth Academy and Great Salterns Golf Course, Anchorage Park occupies a north-eastern portion of the island.
Adjoining the eastern green buffer, this extends into the heart of the Baffins neighbourhood which has a large pond and the grounds of Portsmouth College.
Buckland is a central neighbourhood at the heart of the island, directly south of North End and north-east of Landport.
Fronting the beach along the southern shore is the promenade road of Eastney, which includes is punctuated by three forts, small Eastney Fort West (dismantled), Eastney Fort East and large Fort Cumberland, which occupies a modest peninsula.
Residential parts of Landport are separated from its trade and distribution premises alongside its Albert Johnson Quay by the M275/A3 where the roads change designation. In the westernmost street of this residential side is a large old listed horse trough and row of listed four homes, the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum in his birthplace home, and Mile End Chapel (a studio).
This small central, typical, terraced district of the city has a few high rise developments and is entirely residential.
Old Portsmouth contains most of the traditional High Street and heritage of the town. This is in the south-west of the island.
North End is a residential area occupies the centre-north of the island.
Hilsea is the north-western district of the city with a mixture of residential and industrial/retail/distribution areas. It is home to one of Portsmouth's main sports and leisure facilities, the Mountbatten Centre and City of Portsmouth Boys' School. Among its small green buffers to the north and west is Portsmouth rugby football club.
This residential area of terraced streets includes Alexandra Park, with the Mountbatten Sports Centre, and Portsmouth Ferry Terminal. To the north lie Tipner and Hilsea, and to the south are Kingston, Buckland and Commercial Road, the main retail area of the city. Stamshaw is bounded to its west by the M275 motorway and Whale Island, and to the east is North End. The main thoroughfares of Stamshaw, Twyford Avenue and Stamshaw Road, are two axes of a one-way traffic system.
An eponymous infant and junior school serve it. Its park adjoining the feeder road terminating at the city centre (with motorway status) has large fields and an adventure playground.
This small north-west corner has the public parkland point, Tipner Point and is a mixture of road use, retail/distribution and residential, however falls mostly the first categories.
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- Rudkin, David J (1980). Early Man in Portsmouth and South-East Hampshire. Portsmouth City Council. p. 14. ISBN 090155407 Check
- Gates, William G (1987). Peak, Nigel, ed. The Portsmouth that has Passed: With a Glimpse of Gosport. Milestone Publications. p. 10. ISBN 1-85265-111-3.
- Osborne, Mike (2011). Defending Hampshire The Military Landscape from Prehistory to the Present. The History Press. p. 26. ISBN 9780752459868.
- Quail, Sarah (1994). The Origins of Portsmouth and the First Charter. City of Portsmouth. p. 2. ISBN 090155992 Check
- Brindle, Steven (2005). Brunel: The Man Who Built the World. Weidenfield & Nicholson. p. 28. ISBN 0-297-84408-3.
- Peter Entwisle, Taka: a Vignette Life of William Tucker 1784-1817, Dunedin, NZ: Port Daniel Press, 2005.
- Doudney's ODNB entry: Retrieved 7 December 2011. Subscription required.