The Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port handles over two million passengers every year. Portsmouth Harbour is a world-famous naval port and home to the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy, busy with traffic to and from the Continental Ferry Port, the commercial quays, and many yachts and leisure craft. Lying on the Portsea Island to the northeast of the Ilse of Wight, the Portsmouth faces the English Channel on the outside and Portsmouth Harbour on the inland side.
Blessed with two of the best anchorages on the UK’s southern shores, Portsmouth has been the country’s top naval base for hundreds of years. It’s the only island-city in England and a popular vacation resort served by the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port. It’s home to the oldest working dry dock in the world and home to several world-famous ships, including Admiral Nelson’s NMS Victory. In 2001, over 442 thousand people lived in the Portsmouth urban area.
Ancient settlements have been located in the area of Portsmouth since Roman times, when it was called Portus Adurni and the Roman English Channel navy was based there. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle refers to “Portesmuoa,” as having been founded by a Saxon warrior, but most historians do not believe that is the genesis of the city’s name. Portsmouth is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, although it does refer to settlements that later formed the city.
The modern city is believed to have been founded by John of Gisors in 1180. Norman invaders destroyed the city’s earliest records. While there was a small church there, the first real church was dedicated by Thomas Becket in 1181, and the Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral now sits on its original site. Richard the Lionheart summoned a fleet and army to Portsmouth in 1194 after taking it from John of Gisors. Richard granted the first Royal Charter for the city that year allowing the town to have a market and a local court.
King John reaffirmed those rights in 1200, and he made Portsmouth his permanent naval base, building the first docks and a hospital there. Kings Henry III and Edward I used it as a base for their attacks on France during the 13th Century.
By the 14th Century, today’s Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port was importing wine, grain, wool, iron, and wax. In 1338, French forces destroyed much of Portsmouth, and Edward III exempted it from taxes so it could rebuild. Ten years later, the Black Death struck. Then France struck again, sacking the town three times before the Century ended.
Henry V built permanent wooden fortifications in what would become the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port in the early 15th Century, and Henry VIII reconstructed them with stone, adding England’s first dry dock. He built Southsea Castle in 1527. In 1545, Henry’s Mary Rose sank off Southsea Castle while moving against the French fleet, taking with it about 500 lives. Over the intervening centuries, monarchs have continued to add fortifications to the port. The dockyard and what is now the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port have been the main sources of income for the city since the late 15th Century when it was a naval base.
In 1787, eleven ships embarked from the future Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port to build Europe’s first colony in Australia and began to ship prisoners to the new continent. Their landing point is called First Fleet in Australia today.
The first mass production line in the world was established at the Portsmouth Block Mills in 1802 to make pulley blocks for ships of the Royal Navy. During the 19th Century, tomorrow’s Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port’s dockyard was the biggest industrial site. In the 1860s, four forts were built to defend the port and naval base.
Today’s Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port was bombed by a German Zeppelin in 1916 during World War I. In 1926, Portsmouth received city status. During World War II, Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port suffered from heavy bombing. For decades following the war, much of the city was rebuilt. To this day, developers find unexploded WWII bombs. Portsmouth Harbor and Southsea were embarkation points for the Allies on D-Day, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower made his headquarters in Southwick House, just north of the city, during the D-Day invasion.
When the city was rebuilt after World War II, people were moved out of the city center to new developments. Post-war development was marked by stark utilitarian architecture that is only now being replaced in a new redevelopment effort.
Today, the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port and the city’s dockyards cover over 120 hectares, and it houses many dry docks and repair basins. The Portsmouth Naval Dockyard employs 10% of the workforce, and defense continues to be the biggest industry. A small fishing fleet also operates from Portsmouth Harbour. Modern redevelopment has added many new shopping areas. The Historic Dockyard is an important tourist attraction, and tourism is a growing sector of the city’s economy. Today, the city is experiencing rapid economic growth challenging that of London.