Thursday, 21 May 2015

Portsmouth Harbour & Gunwharf Quays

On Tuesday 19th May, with a 1st of June deadline and a Bank Holiday weekend looming, I had to make a visit to Portsmouth Dockyard Visitors Center to collect an Annual Season Ticket that I had purchased back in February. 

This was to be my first visit there since we moved to the south coast last November but the visit was only to collect the Dockyard Season Ticket.

My route there involved a pleasant drive along the coast road to Gosport where, after parking the car, I take the short ferry journey across the harbour from where it is but a short walk to the dockyard gate.

As I was leaving the car park I had the pleasure of watching a Spitfire make a fly past over the harbour before sweeping out along the Solent. 

I just managed to get the camera out to take this snap. Yes, the sky was this beautiful blue for most of the day..

My next treat, as I walked to the Ferry Ticket Office on the right here, I was to catch a sight of one of the Brittany Ferries ships leaving port.

By the time I had purchased the ticket the ship was rounding the harbour wall. They do not hang around.

I went up on the top deck of the ferry to take a few snaps. 

I realised that I was travelling on the brand new ferry 'Spirit of Gosport' which only came into service a few weeks ago. Not True it seems.

When I was reading the local newspaper the other evening I discovered that I had not been travelling on the New Ship but the previous new one. 

That latest one is called Harbour Spirit but it was not in service when I made my two crossings.

There is always a lot of activity going on and plenty to see in the harbour. 

As we make our crossing, one of the Isle of Wight 'Wight Link' ferries is just leaving her berth in Old Portsmouth, located right next to the newly constructed Racing Center for the Ben Ainslie Racing 'BAR' team.

Here they are in preparation for the America's Cup Race coming to the UK. 

To the right of this are the old houses where the likes of Marine Artist William L. Wyllie used to live for a while. 

Behind there, the Cathedral Towers above the houses. 

Crossing our bows at some turn of speed is this Crane Barge heading for a lifting job of some sort.


As the ferry swing her bow towards the landing jetty the Dockyard and HMS Warrior come into view.

 Crossing to the other side I get another great view of Spinnaker Tower.

As we get closer I am able to get the full broadside view of HMS Warrior

Now that I am on the quayside walking towards my destination at the Dockyard Main Gate I am the nearest that I will get to the ship without going on board. 

The last time I was able to get this shot, It was from my Morgan when driving past, during my Around Britain's Coast fundraising for Help for Heroes.

.Just outside of the Gates is this statue depicting the famous 'Mudlarks'

The nearby statue commemorates the generations of Portsea Island children who enjoyed mudlarking here - entertaining travelers by retrieving coins they threw into the mud below the bridge to the Harbour Railway Station and Gosport Ferry.

Having collected my Dockyard Season Ticket I decided to take the opportunity to visit the Shopping area at Gunwharf Quays. 

Shopping centers are much the same but once I arrived at the Harbourside it was another and much more interesting scene. 

I am still trying to find out who is the owner of this Tower, known locally as 'The Lipstick Tower'. 

One of the old naval bollards in the foreground and a Cannon (but no Brass Monkey used here)  .

The restaurants and bars at the rear end of the shopping center offer great views across the harbour for the customers there.

Moored in the old basin is this lovely Thames Barge.

One of the original dockyard cranes stands proudly over its old workplace.

Even from right back here I did not manage to capture the whole of the tower.

Here is the beautiful 'Fair Lady' which is available for charter at in excess of £50000 per week for 8 guests. 

She was built in 1928 at Camper & Nicholsons which used to be located across the harbour in Gosport.

This group of craft are also part of a Tall Ships Sail Training organisation of the same name.

I still cannot think why but, as soon as I saw this figure head, something deep in my noddle said 'Admiral Benbow' transferred from Chatham dockyard. 

Then I did some searching only to find that it is in fact 'The Duke of Marlborough' removed from HMS Marlborough.

Admiral Benbow is actually located inside of the Portsmouth Dockyard. 

You may sympathise due to the similarity. It must have been the Hairdo?

Admiral Benbow

Just as I round the corner, the next Whitelink Car Ferry is leaving her berth for Wooten Creek on the Isle of Wight.

Another view of the Thames Barge.

Just across the inlet, behind the wash from the car ferry, is Old Portsmouth and the Slipway where once a Chain Car Ferry from Gosport used to offload.

It appears that much of the Gunwharf area has been built on what was once the Naval Base of HMS Vernon. Here is the old Main Gate building , now converted into apartments. 

Across the Car Ferry Basin I was as close as I could get to the Americas Cup BAR Team headquarters.

Right alongside me, the Fast Catamaran Ferry travelling back from Ryde of the Isle of Wight, is just about to dock.

Another view of the Basin and the Spinnaker Tower.


One of two Torpedo Artifacts seen lining the the edge of the old Ships Basin, which now contains popular Drive Your Own  Motor Boat rides.

Further along is an old Magnetic Sea Mine, often found these days a collecting boxes for Maritime Charities.

Just across the basin footbridge is the Old Customs House which is now a Fullers Public House.

This is the Figurehead from HMS Vernon which used to be set just inside of the Main Gate and could just be seen there if passing by.

A Closer look at the Canon would suggest that it is a replica but magnificent all the same. 

Can you imagine standing beside one when the fuse is lit?

Another view of the 'Fine Lady'.

I just had to take a couple of shots from under the Spinnaker Tower just to see the effect.

From another angle it still looks pretty impressive.

I have now travelled back to Gosport on the ferry and am walking along the quayside. One last look at the Harbour Mouth.

The second Harbour Ferry is making a return to the Portsmouth side.

I spotted this Light Ship advertising the Marina at Haslar but could not get a decent shot from the other side. 

It is not a much better view from here as it turns out.

My last photo was a quick snap of a Chinook Helicopter making a pass over the Harbour. As you can see I missed.

I hope you enjoyed the tour. Next time I go to the Dockyard I will make a visit to the many Ships on display there.