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Things to do in Southsea, Hampshire

South Parade Pier © Ray Hall

Southsea is a coastal town at the southern tip of Portsea Island near Portsmouth in Hampshire. The boundary between Portsmouth and Southsea is now indefinable as the two towns centres are just a mile apart.

The area was initially developed when Henry VIII built Southsea Castle for defense. The houses which sprang up were for the skilled workers to serve the castle and the street names still reflect those trades: Stone Street, Copper Street, Flint Street and Silver Street as well as Castle Road. Unfortunately they were heavily bombed during World War II and have since been rebuilt.

Southsea remained a small village until 1835 when it was expanded to provide further housing for workers and their families. Thomas Ellis Owen was the architect responsible for many of the Victorian houses around Kent Road. Many of his streets are now listed conservation areas.

In 1860 four large forts were built offshore and can still be seen today. As they were never used, they are known as Palmerston's Folly after the Prime Minister who had them built.

Being so closely connected with Portsmouth and the Royal Navy, Southsea hosted celebrations to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1995. It was attended not only by the Queen but also by President Clinton and other heads of state.

Southsea Common was also the location of the Trafalgar 200th anniversary celebrations in 2005.


Present Day Southsea

Southsea is a thriving commercial area with a pier, a couple of national department stores and many other retail outlets. It has plenty of bars and restaurants which cater to all ages and budgets.

Being so close to the sea, Southsea relies on pumping stations to control the water levels. In 2000, during a particularly heavy storm, the pumps themselves were overwhelmed and the town suffered flooding.

Southsea Common is a grassy space between Clarence Pier and Southsea Castle. It was kept free of buildings to preserve a clear firing line from the harbour defences at possible enemy ships approaching Portsmouth. The pleasant recreation area is the venue for summer shows, festivals, circuses and other special events.

The lovely elms which shade the area are thought to be the oldest in Hampshire. One of the finest is at the entrance to the skateboard park. The area has miniature golf, tennis courts and volleyball courts as well as a scenic promenade.

Several houses have a blue plaque denoting their historic importance. They include Peter Seller's birthplace on Castle Road and the home of Fred Jane on Palmerston Road who created the naval reference book Jane's Fighting Ships.


Things to do in Southsea

Southsea beach is fine gravel with sand exposed at low tide. There are two piers, the South Parade and the Clarence piers which both provide amusement arcades. South Parade Pier has a ballroom and bar while the Clarence Pier is next to a permanent funfair.

The D-Day Museum is on the seafront at Southsea along with the Blue Reef Aquarium and the Model Village. The Royal Marines Museum is at the eastern end in the lavish Officers' Mess of the Eastney Barracks.

Nearby, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a series of museums, old ships, harbour tours and attractions which make an excellent way to experience the area's maritime history.

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Images of Southsea


Boating Lake © Ray Hall
South Parade Pier © Ray Hall
Seafront © Ray Hall
Gardens © Ray Hall
Sea View © Ray Hall
Fastcat Ferry © Ray Hall

Interactive Map of Southsea



 
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