Borough of Gosport
|Sovereign State||United Kingdom|
|• Body||Gosport Borough Council|
|• Leader||Cllr. Peter Chegwyn (Liberal Democrats)|
|• Mayor||Cllr. Jamie Hutchison (Liberal Democrats)|
|• MP||Caroline Dinenage (Conservatives)|
|• Total||9.76 sq mi (25.29 km2)|
|• Rank||306th (of 309)|
|• Rank||284th (of 309)|
|• Density||8,700/sq mi (3,400/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC0 (GMT)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (BST)|
|ONS code||24UF (ONS)|
|OS grid reference|
Gosport (// GOS-port) is a town and non-metropolitan borough on the south coast of Hampshire, South East England. At the 2011 Census, its population was 82,662. Gosport is situated on a peninsula on the western side of Portsmouth Harbour, opposite the city of Portsmouth, to which it is linked by the Gosport Ferry. Gosport lies south-east of Fareham, to which it is linked by a Bus Rapid Transit route and the A32. Until the last quarter of the 20th century, Gosport was a major naval town associated with the defence and supply infrastructure of Her Majesty's Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth. As such over the years extensive fortifications were created.
Gosport is still home to HMS Sultan and a Naval Armament Supply Facility, as well as a Helicopter Repair base. The Town area of the Borough, including Newtown, consists of the town centre, Stoke Road shopping area, Walpole Park, Royal Clarence Yard and three modern marinas: Royal Clarence, Gosport Marina and Haslar Marina. 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.
Though there are multiple theories which point towards the etymology of Gosport, it is widely purported to derive its name from "goose". An alternative etymology of "gorse" (from the bushes growing on local heathland) is not supported by the regional name for the plant, "furze". A third theory, claiming a derivation from "God's Port" is believed to be a 19th-century invention. This is, however, the slogan of Gosport as demonstrated on its emblem.
The Rowner area of the peninsula was settled by the Anglo-Saxons, and is mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle as Rughenor ("rough bank or slope"). Both Rowner and Alverstoke, the name coming from the point where the River Alver entered the Solent at Stokes Bay, were included in the Domesday Book. Rowner was the earliest known settlement of the peninsula, with many Mesolithic finds and a hunting camp being found, and tumuli on the peninsula investigated. Bronze Age items found in a 1960s construction in HMS Sultan included a hoard of axe heads and torcs. A three-celled dwelling unearthed during construction of the Rowner naval Estate in the 1970s points to a settled landscape. Next to the River Alver which passes the southern and western edge of Rowner is a Norman motte and bailey, the first fortification of the peninsula, giving a vantage point over the Solent, Stokes Bay, Lee-on-the-Solent and the Isle of Wight.
Gosport Town Hall, designed by W. H. Saunders and Sons, was completed in 1964.
The former Rowner naval married quarters estate, now mostly demolished, and HMS Sultan were built on a former military airfield, known first as RAF Gosport and later as HMS Siskin, which gives its name to the local infant and junior schools. The barracks at Browndown (Stokes Bay) were used in the ITV series Bad Lads' Army.
The borough is administered by Gosport Borough Council. Caroline Dinenage currently serves as the Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Gosport, and has done so since 2010, after gaining a 48.0% majority vote in the 2010 General Election.
The Town area of the Borough, including Newtown, consists of the town centre, Stoke Road shopping area, Walpole Park, Royal Clarence Yard and three modern marinas: Royal Clarence, Gosport Marina and Haslar Marina.
South of the centre 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 East of Stoke Lake and along Gilkicker Point is the area of Clayhall.
West, Northwest and South of Stoke Lake is the district and village of Alverstoke. To the west of which is Browndown, where the River Alver flows into The Solent at Stokes Bay. Further west from Browndown point is the district of Lee-on-the-Solent with the former RNAS Daedalus which is now home to a hovercraft museum and several marine related businesses, and CEMAST College (Fareham College). It is also used as a base for glider clubs, light aeroplanes, HM Coastguard heliport and police aircraft.
In the west of Gosport is the naval base HMS Sultan. West of Sultan is the district of Rowner, which includes Alver Village.
There are several districts north, northwest and west of the town centre. These include areas that extend to the inland areas of the peninsula, Hardway (including Priddy's Hard and Forton Lake) Elson, Brockhurst, Bridgemary and Rowner. Hoeford (A32 Gosport Road) is the most northwesterly area within Gosport, and ends at the boundary with the Borough of Fareham.
The climate of Gosport is milder than that of the surrounding areas, winter frosts being light and short-lived and snow quite rare. Temperatures rarely drop much below freezing, because the peninsula has water to the south and east. Portsdown Hill also protects the town from the cold northerly winds during the winter months. Located on the south coast, Gosport also receives more sunshine per annum than most of the UK. The average maximum temperature in January is 8C with the average minimum being 3C. The average maximum temperature in July is 21C, with the average minimum being 14C. The record high temperature is 32C and record low is -9C.
The Met Office has a weather station at the M.R.S.C. in Lee-on-the-Solent.
|Climate data for Solent MRSC 1980-2010|
|Average high °C (°F)||8.2
|Average low °C (°F)||3.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||68.8
|Source: UK Met Office|
Gosport is the largest town in Britain without an operational railway station, however it may be considered that the town does not require a railway station due to the ferry connection to Portsmouth Harbour. The Gosport Ferry provides quick access to Portsmouth Harbour railway station, terminus of the Portsmouth Direct Line to London. Due to heavy traffic (see below) 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 Solent Enterprise joined the fleet. She was a slightly larger, more luxurious version of the "Queens". The company now operates two new modern ferries along with the two 1966 veterans. The first was built in 2001 and is named Spirit of Gosport. 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.
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 allowed 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 an exclusive fast bus route and cycle lane. 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.
Being a peninsula town without a railway system, Gosport relies heavily upon the major A32 road in and out of the town. Plans existed in the 1970s 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[when?] and the traffic using it has increased to such an extent that the journey time to the nearby M27, about 5 miles (8 km), can routinely take anything from 45 minutes and often longer at peak times between 07:30 & 09:00 and 16:00 & 18:30.
The station site was linked with the South Hampshire Rapid Transit scheme, which would have made use of the former railway route. However, due to Government refusal to fund the scheme, it was formally abandoned in November 2006. During 2010, construction started on the same route to provide a rapid bus route between the Holbrook area of Gosport and the town of Fareham. Now completed, regular service buses between Gosport and Fareham divert onto the new route avoiding lengthy queues on the A32 and speeding up commuting time between the towns for bus passengers. Gosport bus station serves the town.
In 1999, a study was undertaken by the Light Rail Transit Association in regard to a proposed tunnel connecting Gosport to Portsmouth, crossing under Portsmouth Harbour. The study proposed a 670m Immersed tube which would not require long closures of the harbour to construct, and would alleviate traffic congestion in Gosport and the surrounding area. The tunnel was intended for construction in 2002, but financial problems delayed the project. The government declined to fund the initiative in 2005.
The 2001 Census recorded 54,854 people in Gosport of working age between the ages of 16 and 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 and 3.8% were permanently sick or disabled.
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. Its timekeeping is partially restricted each day by shadowing caused by large tower blocks either side of the 'timespace'. These towers, Seaward Tower and Harbour Tower, were built in 1963. Their surfaces are covered in mosaic murals designed by Kenneth Barden that rise the full height of the buildings and are illuminated at night. They were controversial initially but are now a tourist attraction. The tiles were produced by Poole Pottery. The International Festival of the Sea drew over 250,000 tourists to the Portsmouth Harbour area in 1998, 2001 and 2005. The most recent festival was held in 2007.
The Royal Navy maintains a presence in Gosport at HMS Sultan, which is the home of the Defence School of Marine Engineering (DSMarE) and the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival School (RNAESS). The Sultan site occupies 179 acres (72 ha) of land within a 3+1⁄2-mile (5.6 km) 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 Borough of Gosport has the following schools and colleges:
There are public libraries at Bridgemary, Elson, and at Gosport Discovery Centre. In 2020, Hampshire County Council announced plans to close the council-run Elson library. Following this, a bid was made to save the library from closure, following consultations with the community.  The library reopened on 12 May 2021, operating as Elson Community Library and Hub, registered as a charity.
The town of Gosport has many sports clubs and organisations including boxing, judo, angling, rugby, cricket, football, model yachting, sailing, and hockey.
Gosport Borough F.C. play their home games at Privett Park and cater for players of either sex from age six upwards. The club play in the Southern Football League and represent the town at a national level in the FA Cup and FA Trophy. The area also has another Non-League football club Fleetlands F.C. who play at Lederle Lane Stadium. RMLI Gosport F.C. were a former team to represent the town winning the 1910 FA Amateur Cup.
Gosport and Fareham Rugby Football Club has 6 senior sides, a Ladies team, and 10 youth sides. Gosport Borough Hockey Club, based at St Vincent College, has three Men's teams, a Ladies team and Junior teams.
Gosport Borough Cricket Club was formed in 1966 following the merger of Gosport Amateurs & Gosport C.C., and also play at Privett Park. They reached the ECB National Club Cricket Championship final at Lord's in 1980. Future England players Trevor Jesty & Phil Newport played for the club before moving on to first-class careers. In 2008 18 year old Chris Lynn was their overseas player, later going on to represent Australia in ODI & T20I matches. They currently run 4 adult league sides, and colts teams from Under 9 to Under 15.
Gosport also has two Synchronised Ice Skating teams who compete at national level competitions, including the British Synchronised Skating Championships. The club use Planet Ice Gosport to train.
Furthermore, Gosport has a model yachting lake which has national and international events held there every year. Boats sailed there include the Vane A class, Vane 36, 1 meter, multihull, dragon force and laser. Model yachting used to be one of the most popular sports in Britain. Now it is one of only a few lakes in the world that still races vane steered boats, the more traditional kind without remote control or electricity.
A greyhound racing track called the Gosport Greyhound and Whippet Track existed from April 1930 until June 1936 and held racing every Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. The racing was independent (not affiliated to the sports governing body the National Greyhound Racing Club) and was known as a flapping track, which was the nickname given to independent tracks. The stadium was located on the Forton Road and distances raced were mainly over 400 yards.
Gosport and Stokes Bay Golf Club is located on the Southern tip of the Gosport peninsula. The original 9-hole golf course was built in the late 19th century.
The Gosport peninsula has 17 miles (27 km) of waterfront on Portsmouth Harbour and The Solent. The pebble beach at Stokes Bay slopes steeply into the sea and offers 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 has three Marinas, (Gosport Marina, found North of the Highstreet; Haslar Marina, found South of the Highstreet near the former site of Royal Hospital Haslar; and Royal Clarence Marina which also has a Cruising Club.) The town also has a strong military history – chiefly with the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy Submarine Museum has exhibits including Holland 1 – the Royal Navy's first submarine and the Second World War submarine HMS Alliance.
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, aka "The 1642 Living History Village". The village exists to educate both children and adults about 17th century life at the outbreak of the English Civil War and is open for the public to meet the villagers at certain times throughout the year.
In September 2016, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum became the set for a scene in Transformers: The Last Knight, which starred HMS Alliance. The filming brought many locals to see what was occurring.
The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the Borough of Gosport.
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