Southsea is a seaside resort located in Portsmouth at the southern end of Portsea Island in the county of Hampshire in England. Southsea is within a mile of Portsmouth’s city centre. 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.
Southsea also has a vibrant social scene with numerous bars and eateries which cater for a range of budgets and tastes.
In 1544 Henry VIII built the fort which became known as Southsea Castle. Although it would not have been called that at the time it is recorded as "Southsea Castle" in a map of 1724.
In 1809 a new suburb began to grow. It became known as Southsea after the castle. The first houses were built for skilled workers in the ‘mineral’ streets (Silver Street, Nickel Street etc.). These mineral streets were the most bombed areas of Portsmouth in the Second World War.
Around 1810 Hampshire Terrace, Landport Terrace, King’s Terrace, Jubilee Terrace and Bellevue Terrace were built adjacent to the town walls. Nowadays they form an almost continuous road between the City Centre and the beach.
Southsea remained small until 1835. The area between Castle Road and Victoria Road South was built up between 1835 and 1860 as housing for middle-class families. A prominent architect during this period was Thomas Ellis Owenwho built properties in Kent Road, Queen’s Terrace, Sussex Terrace, Beach Road, Grove Road South, Clarendon Road, Osborne Road and Portland Terrace.
By the 1860s the suburb of Southsea had grown along Clarendon Road as far as Granada Road. In 1857 Southsea gained its own Improvement Commissioners responsible for paving, cleaning and lighting the streets.
After the 1870s, east of Victoria Road, there was new building in the Campbell Road / Outram Road area..
As building proceeded most was put up in the cramped manner typical of much of Portsmouth, a city where space is at a premium.
Southsea suffered badly from bombing in World War II. In particular the main shopping centre, Palmerston Road, was almost completely destroyed.
On 6 June 1994 a drumhead service was held on Southsea Common in front of the War Memorial to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D-Day. The service was attended by all the heads of the states which had participated in the allied landings, notably US President Bill Clinton, HM Queen Elizabeth II and most notably, several members of the American Secret Service. The service was also witnessed by over 100,000 members of the public. Historically, a blessing before battle was offered during a drumhead service which is conducted in the field with the drums forming the altar and the colours serving as the altar cloth.
In 15 September 2000 parts of Southsea were flooded when the pumping station which pumps surface water out to sea was itself flooded during a particularly heavy storm.
On 28 June 2005 Southsea Common was used as a venue for the Trafalgar 200 celebrations. Southsea seafront was an ideal point from which to witness theInternational Fleet Review and evening fire work display.
On 9 August 2011 a fire broke out at the old Joanna’s nightclub, a derelict building situated opposite South Parade Pier. Police sectioned off most of the area and guests at the nearby Best Western Royal Beach Hotel were evacuated as a precaution. Despite rumours circulating on social network sites, the incident was reportedly not linked to the riots taking place. The building was demolished a few days later.
Southsea beach is mostly flint gravel, but with sand exposed at low tide. There are two piers: South Parade Pier and Clarence Pier; both house amusement arcades. South Parade Pier also contains a ballroom and a bar area. Clarence Pier is adjacent to a permanent funfair.
A prominent sight out to sea is the four large forts created in the 1860s as part of an attempt to fortify the city against the threat of invasion. From the shore they look oval but are, in fact, round. They were part of defences which included land-based forts all around the city but as they were never used in action, they became known as Palmerston’s Folly, after the Prime Minister who initiated them.
To commemorate the millennium, a scenic walk was created extending to Gunwharf Quays from Southsea seafront. The route is marked on the pavement, and is lined by distinctive blue street lanterns.
There are a number of miniature golf courses, a skateboard park and public grass and clay tennis courts. During winter 2008 three beach volleyball courts were added to these attractions.
The D-Day museum (which holds the Overlord embroidery) is located on the seafront in Southsea, very close to Southsea castle.
At the end of Palmerston Road where it joins the Ladies Mile a plaque on a house records that it was once the home of Fred Jane, the creator of the standard naval reference book Jane’s Fighting Ships.
Cumberland House is a natural history museum, butterfly house and aquarium located close to Canoe Lake just off Southsea seafront.
The Blue Reef Aquarium is also situated on the seafront.
Throughout the summer, there are regular open air concerts and events at the bandstand and on Castle Field.
Just off the seafront is Southsea Model Village which is a 1/12 scale model village with forty miniature buildings, houses, forts, castles and a miniature railway. It was opened in 1956 on the site of a Victorian fort. Another part of the fort has been converted into Southsea Rose Garden.
Canoe Lake is the last remnant of an area of marsh and open water known as the Great Morass, drained in 1886, on which much of Southsea now sits. The lake is topped up from the sea by opening a sluice at high tide. Crabs and fish find their way in, and attract children fishing equipped with a piece of bacon on a string. Recently other marine wildlife have also been spotted such as Moon jellyfish and apparently even flounder.
When undisturbed there are regularly swan and mallard, with less frequent visits from tufted duck, mediterranean gull,cormorant, little grebe and occasionally a lone black swan. In summer pedalos can be rented on the lake.
Since 2006 Canoe Lake has been used as a venue for the annual Lake of Lights Memorial Service. This happens in December where thousands of lights are floated on the lake to commemorate loved ones in the local community who have been lost to cancer.
Towards the eastern end of the seafront is the Royal Marines Museum. Based in the lavishly decorated former Officers’ Mess of Eastney Barracks (built in the 1860s for the Royal Marine Artillery), the Museum includes The Making of the Royal Marines Commando exhibition, opened in 2008, and a refurbished Medal Room with over 8,000 medals earned by Royal Marines – including all 10 Victoria Crosses won by them.
The Kings Theatre, situated in Albert Road, is a venue that hosts a variety of performances, including productions by the local amateur group the Southsea Shakespeare Actors.
A recently created attraction has been the now annual "Love Albert Road Day" which is held along one of Southsea’s main roads. The event features live music, street art and theatre, stalls, food from around the world, an outdoor cinema, competitions and skate demos. All the businesses from the road remain open for the day.
This event was first held in 2007 when it was expected 2,000 visitors would attend and 20,000 turned up on the day. The second "Love Albert Road Day" was held on 28 September 2008 when 40,000 visitors attended.
Text from Wikipedia
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