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Boat lift crane in Gosport Marina - geograph.org.uk - 1424169.jpg
Boat lift crane in Gosport Marina
Grid reference: SZ6181799831
Location: 50°47’41"N, 1°7’28"W
Postcode: PO12, PO13
Dialling code: 023
Local Government
Council: Gosport

Gosport is a town on the south coast of Hampshire. It has approximately 80,000 permanent residents with a further 5,000–10,000 during the summer months. 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, the Gosport Ferry.


Up until the last quarter of the 20th century, Gosport was a major naval and military town associated with the defence and supply infrastructure of 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 Rugenora.[1] (meaning "Rough bank" or "Rough slope"). Both Rowner and Alverstoke (a 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 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 and HMS Sultan are on the former Royal Naval air station, first known as RAF Gosport and later as HMS Siskin and gives its name to the local infant and junior schools. The barracks at Browndown (Stokes Bay) were used in the first series of 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 a 19th-century invention.[3]

Fort Gilkicker

Royal Hospital Haslar, formally the last military hospital of the United Kingdom, 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 National Health Service until 2009. The hospital closed as NHS services were relocated to The Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Portsmouth.

In November 1850, two ships of the Turkish Navy, the Mirat-ı Zafer and Sirag-i Bahri Birik anchored off the Hardway - Gosport. The visit lasted several months and during this time some of the members of the crew contracted Cholera (see Gosport Cholera epidemic in 1848) and were admitted to Haslar Hospital for treatment, from those who were admitted most of them died and 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 Clayhall Cemetery where they now lie in peace.

"They set sail for eternity and met their creator, and here they are laid to eternal rest."

These graves have led to the nickname of Gosport people being referred to as "Turkers" and Gosport as "Turktown".[4]


Falklands Gardens

At the southern tip of the Gosport peninsula is Gilkicker Point which is the location of Fort Gilkicker. To the west of the point are Stokes Bay and the Browndown Battery. To the east of the point are Fort Monckton, Haslar Hospital and Fort Blockhouse.

There are several areas north of the town centre. These areas extend from the west shore of Portsmouth Harbour to the inland areas of the peninsula. From north to south, these are Fleetlands, Bridgemary, Elson, Hardway and Christchurch (including Priddy’s Hard). The Town area (including Newtown) of the borough consists of the town centre, Stoke Road shopping area, Royal Clarence Yard and three marinas; these are Royal Clarence, Gosport marina and Haslar marina.

South of Newtown 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 of Stoke Lake and north of Gilkicker Point is the area of Clayhall.

West and northwest of Stoke Lake is an area called Alverstoke, which includes the village of Alverstoke. To the west of which is Browndown, where the River Alver flows into Stokes Bay. Further west from Browndown point is the town of Lee-on-the-Solent with the former RNAS Daedalus which is now home to a hovercraft museum and several marine related businesses. It is also used as a base for the coastguard helicopter and police aircraft.

In the west of Gosport is the naval base HMS Sultan, at the southern end of which is a large sports field called HMS Sultan Polo Fields. To the west of HMS Sultan is the area of Rowner.


Fort Blockhouse and the marina

Gosport is an eclectic area with many business sectors, light manufacturing, marine and retail being the most prominent. Gosport 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. A recently commissioned study carried out by Experian on behalf of the BBC ranked Gosport at 324 out of 324 in how resilient businesses within towns and cities were likely to be to the UK spending cuts.[5]


Gosport has no 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 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 a pedestrian walkway and cycle track. 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.[6]

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, can routinely take anything up to 45 minutes and longer at peak times.

The station site was linked with the South Hampshire Rapid Transit scheme, which would have made use of the former railway route. However, funding was unavail;able and the scheme was formally abandoned in November 2006.

Present day

Forton Lake Millennium Bridge 2005
Haslar Marina

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.[7]

As of 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.[8] Its timekeeping is partially restricted each day by shadowing caused by large tower blocks either side of the "timespace".[9] The International Festival of the Sea drew over 250,000 tourists to the Portsmouth Harbour area in 1998, 2001 and 2005.[10] The most recent festival took place in 2007.

The Royal Navy still maintains a presence in Gosport at HMS Sultan, which is the home of Royal Naval School of Marine Engineering (RNSME) and the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival School (RNAESS). The Sultan site occupies 179 acres of land within a 3½-mile 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.


The town of Gosport has many sports clubs and organisations including boxing, judo, angling, rugby, cricket, football and hockey.

  • Football:
    • Gosport Borough FC play their home games at Privett Park
    • Fleetlands FC who play at Lederle Lane Stadium.
    • RMLI Gosport FC were a former team to represent the town winning the 1910 FA Amateur Cup.
  • Rugby: Gosport and Fareham RFC


The Gosport peninsula has 17 miles 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 Second World War 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, alias "The 1642 Living History Village". The village exists to educate both children and adults about 17th century life at the outbreak of the Civil War and is open for the public to meet the villagers at certain times throughout the year.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Gosport)


  1. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle  Laud Chronicle (1114)7 þone ærcediæcne Iohane þes arcebiscop neafe. 7 hi þær wellspæddon. Ðis wæs don þes dæges xi kalendæ Octobris, on þone tuna þe man cleopað Rugenore. 7 þes ylces dæges eode se cyng on scipa on Portesmuðe.
    and the archdeacon John the archbishop's nephew and they succeeded there. This was the 23rd September in the village called Rowner and this same day went the king by ship to Portsmouth.
  2. A Brief History of Gosport, Hampshire
  3. The Place Names of Gosport by Philip Eley
  4. http://www.qaranc.co.uk/haslarroyalnavalhospital.php History of Haslar Hospital
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-11215629
  6. http://www.hermitage-housing.co.uk/page.asp?id=349 Gosport Railway
  7. Gosport Borough Local Plan Review - May 2006.
  8. New Lottery Funded "millennium Timespace" Sundial Unveiled Millennium Commission.
  9. Tower blocks put sundial in shade This is Hampshire - 22 January 2001.
  10. Four Amazing Days in Summer The International Festival of the Sea 2005.