Southsea is a seaside resort and a geographic area of Portsmouth, Portsea Island in England. Southsea is located 1.8 miles (2.8 km) to the south of Portsmouth's inner city-centre. Southsea is not a separate town as all of Portsea Island's settlements (including Southsea) were incorporated into the boundaries of Portsmouth in 1904.
Southsea began as a fashionable 19th-century Victorian era seaside resort named Croxton Town, after a Mr Croxton who owned the land. As the resort grew, it adopted the name of nearby Southsea Castle, a seafront fort constructed in 1544 to help defend the Solent and approaches to Portsmouth Harbour.
In 1879, South Parade Pier was opened by Princess Edward of Saxe-Weimar in Southsea. The pier began operating a passenger steamer service across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. This service gave rise to the idea of linking Southsea and its pier to Portsmouth's railway line, and for tourists to bypass the busy town of Portsmouth and its crowded harbour. East Southsea railway station, along with the Southsea Railway and Fratton railway station were jointly opened on 1 July 1885 by Lady Ada Mary Willis (née Neeld), wife of General Sir George Willis, the Lieutenant Governor of Portsmouth.
Southsea subsequently grew into a dense residential suburb and large, distinct commercial and entertainment area, separate from the town of PortsmouthQuail, Sarah (2000) Southsea Past, Philimore Publishing. p.xi up until Southsea and the whole of Portsea Island were incorporated into the town borough of Portsmouth in 1904.
Due to declining use and World War I, the Southsea Railway line and its East Southsea station were closed on 6 August 1914.http://www.starzina.com/Starzina%20Z%20Railways%20Portsmouth.htm To maintain Southsea's tourism, the Southsea station name was moved and merged with Portsmouth's main town centre railway station in 1925, officially becoming known as Portsmouth & Southsea railway station. A year later in 1926, Portsmouth was granted official city status, while its main railway station retained its "Portsmouth & Southsea" name, which has led many non-locals and visitors to wrongly assume that Southsea is still a separate town near to Portsmouth.
The areas of Southsea surrounding Albert Road, Palmerston Road, and Osborne Road contain several bars, restaurants and independent shops. Palmerston Road is the main High Street of Southsea and contains various shops and restaurants, as well as the local library. Albert Road is a distinct street containing shopping and cultural venues, which includes the Kings Theatre, a regional theatre built in 1907.
The first references to the development of the suburb appear in the Portsea Poor Rate returns of 1790 and describe small areas of building and farming plots. Most of the land was undeveloped and open grass and marshland still dominated the area.Quail, Sarah (2000) Southsea Past, Philimore Publishing. p.14 In the early 19th century, development continued on land owned by Thomas Croxton, and the community became known as Croxton Town. The first houses were built by 1809 for skilled workers in what were called the "mineral" streets (such as Silver Street and Nickel Street). Around 1810, streets such as Hampshire Terrace, Landport Terrace, King's Terrace, Wish Street (which later became King's Road and Elm Grove), Jubilee Terrace and Bellevue Terrace were built adjacent to the old walls of the city. Although the streets still exist, many of them were among the most heavily bombed areas of Portsmouth in the Second World War, and like much of Southsea they experienced significant redevelopment in Postwar Britain.Quail, Sarah (2000) Southsea Past, Philimore Publishing. p.15
The development of Southsea continued during the Napoleonic era and as the dockyard continued to grow, new homes were required for the increasing personnel, and many houses, villas and apartments were built. The architect and builder Thomas Ellis Owen created many of these, and the surviving buildings retain a coherent late Georgian and early Victorian style, and form a conservation area today, with many of the buildings having listed status. Owen built properties in Kent Road, Queen's Terrace, Sussex Terrace, Elm Grove, Beach Road, Grove Road South, Clarendon Road, Osborne Road and Portland Terrace. The area between Castle Road and Victoria Road South was built up between 1835 and 1860.
During the same period, Southsea grew as a leisure and bathing destination. In 1816 a pump room and baths were erected near the present day Clarence Pier, and by 1820 a large complex was developed including vapour baths, showers, and card playing and assembly rooms.Quail, Sarah (2000) Southsea Past, Philimore Publishing. pp.16–17 The remaining marshland, known locally as The Great Morass was drained, leading to the creation of Southsea Common, some 480 acres (about 2 km2) of open grassland. Due to military requirements for clear lines of fire adjacent to Southsea Castle, the area was developed and remains today as a park and garden.Quail, Sarah (2000) Southsea Past, Philimore Publishing. pp.19–20 Apartments and hotels were constructed towards the common and waterfront, along Southsea Terrace, Western Parade and Clarence Parade. The first large hotel was the Portland Hotel (destroyed in the Second World War) near Kent Road. Others soon followed, including the purpose-built Queens Hotel (1861), Pier Hotel (1865) and Beach Mansions Hotel (1866).Quail, Sarah (2000) Southsea Past, Philimore Publishing. pp.42–43 In 1852 the Clarence Esplanade and a memorial were erected by public subscription, and development of the resort led in 1861 to Clarence Pier being constructed as a promenade pier and landing place for steamers.Quail, Sarah (2000) Southsea Past, Philimore Publishing. pp.45–47 Other piers were also built, including the Victoria and Albert Piers, with the construction of South Parade Pier in 1879 marking the culmination of seafront development in the Victorian period.Quail, Sarah (2000) Southsea Past, Philimore Publishing. p.46 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, street cleaning and Street light. The Southsea Railway came in 1885 and brought further development to the area, although it was to be financially unsuccessful and eventually closed in 1914.Quail, Sarah (2000) Southsea Past, Philimore Publishing. p.51 By the mid to late Victorian era, Southsea had become recognised as a largely middle-class neighbourhood, with many naval officers and other professionals taking up residence. During this time the writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lived in Portsmouth, moving to Southsea in June 1882 with less than £10 (£ today) to his name. He set up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea.Daniel Stashower, (2000). Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle. Penguin Books, pp.58–59. Areas of Southsea suffered from the rapid development of the suburb; certain streets suffered from poverty and there was a major cholera outbreak in 1848.Quail, Sarah (2000) Southsea Past, Philimore Publishing. p.71 The works of the commission helped bring about some improvements and eventually led to the setting up of the Southsea Improvement Association.
On 9 August 2011 a fire broke out at the old Joanna's Nightclub, a derelict building 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.
The common is a popular recreation ground, and also serves as the venue for a number of annual events, including the Southsea Show, Para Spectacular, Military Vehicle Show, Kite Festival, Victorious Festival and a variety of circuses including the Moscow State Circus and Chinese State Circus. It was also the place where fans of Portsmouth F.C. gathered to celebrate their victory in the 2008 FA Cup Final.
On 6 June 1994 a drumhead service was held on Southsea Common in front of the Portsmouth Naval 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 HM Queen Elizabeth II and US President Bill Clinton. 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.
On 28 June 2005 the Common was a venue for the Trafalgar 200 celebrations, the seafront an ideal point from which to witness the International Fleet Review and evening firework display.
In August 2010, "Ultrasauros", a life-size (52 ft high) model of an ultrasauros dinosaur was erected on the common in conjunction with the Portsmouth's Aspex Gallery. The sculpture was destroyed by a fire, thought to have been caused by an electrical fault, on 1 October.
In 2013 Victorious Festival moved from the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to Southsea Common. The annual festival was extended to a 3-day event in 2017.
In September 2013, it was announced that a new Parkrun would begin along Southsea seafront in October 2013.
In July 2015 and 2016 Southsea Common hosted the America's Cup World Series sailing event. The British sailing team Land Rover BAR is based in nearby Old Portsmouth.
The Ladies' Mile is also home to several semi-mature Canary Island date palms Phoenix canariensis. Planted in 1996, these palms are now some of the largest in the UK and for the last few years have fruited and produced viable seed, the first time this species of palm has been recorded doing so in the UK. Other palms growing close to the Common include Trachycarpus fortunei, (Ladies' Mile, Rock Gardens and Rose Garden), Chamaerops humilis (in front of the Pyramids Centre), Butia capitata (in Burgoyne Gardens) and Brahea armata, (Canoe Lake and D-Day Island). Many Cordyline australis are also planted in the area, though these are not true palms, but more closely related to yuccas and agaves.
and mallard can be seen regularly, with less frequent visits from tufted duck, Mediterranean gull, great cormorant, little grebe and occasionally a lone feral black swan. Pedalos can be rented on the lake in the summer.
Since 2006 Canoe Lake has been a venue for the Lake of Lights Memorial Service, held each December, when thousands of lights are floated on the lake to commemorate loved ones in the local community who have been lost to cancer.
The initial creation of the town council was opposed by Portsmouth City Council. There was a long-standing campaign to disband the town council. In a poll of local residents in February 2010, 66.3 percent voted to abolish it. Southsea Town Council was abolished on 23 April 2010.
The town council had limited powers and a small budget funded by the local precept. It campaigned on local issues, seeking to influence the unitary authority Portsmouth City Council, awarded funds to local causes and funded infrastructure improvements in the local area. Until 2007 it had a small office open to the public in Southsea town centre.
In 1898 a railway branch called the Southsea Railway was opened from platform 3 at Fratton Station, terminating at East Southsea Station (near to The Strand). Two unstaffed halts were added at Albert Road and Jessie Road/Devonshire Avenue. The line was not able to compete with the Portsmouth corporation tram services. It was closed in 1914 and never re-opened. The line itself and the station have since been demolished and replaced with houses. Southsea is now served by stations at Fratton and Portsmouth and Southsea station and on to Portsmouth Harbour (also called The Hard), with regular trains to London Waterloo.