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This Selection is inspired by my Gosport constituency which stands a short journey across Portsmouth Harbour, from my birth city of Portsmouth. I wanted to showcase the rich military history of this area which is set against the backdrop of a beautiful costal landscape. I hope these images conjure up the essence of how this part of the south coast has shaped the proud history of our region and captured the importance of artists through history. Join me on a virtual journey across Portsmouth Harbour to Gosport through a diverse range of paintings from museums across the UK.

8 artworks

1979

Bride of the Sea
© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Government Art Collection

Bride of the Sea

It has been the unique coastal location, the natural harbour and deep water moorings that have shaped the fortunes of the settlements and Portsmouth Harbour across the ages.

Bride of the Sea 1979
Eileen Agar (1899–1991)
Acrylic on canvas
H 76 x W 101.5 cm
Government Art Collection

1775

British Warship Leaving Portsmouth Harbour
Photo credit: Hampshire County Council’s Fine Art Collection

From Portsmouth Harbour to Gosport

Imagine yourself in this eighteenth-century vessel as it passes through the narrow entrance to Portsmouth Harbour at Sunset.

Old Portsmouth on one side, Fort Blockhourse and Gosport on the other, Portsmouth is the famed home of the Royal Navy, but everything that went on these warships, from food, to fuel, rum and ropes, all came from across the harbour in Gosport. This partnership has served the Royal Navy and the defence of our country for centuries.

British Warship Leaving Portsmouth Harbour c.1775
John Cleveley the younger (1747–1786) (circle of)
Oil on canvas
H 35 x W 56 cm
Hampshire County Council’s Fine Art Collection

1877

Portsmouth Dockyard
Photo credit: Tate

The Journey Begins

The song says "all the nice girls love a sailor" but in this charming and humourous painting it looks like it's a soldier of a Highland Regiment who is enjoying some well-deserved 'shore leave' with some flirtatious friends and could that be the prow of Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, in the background? Victory can still be seen in Portsmouth's historic dockyard today.

Portsmouth Dockyard c.1877
James Tissot (1836–1902)
Oil on canvas
H 38.1 x W 54.6 cm
Tate

1967

Gosport Pontoon and the Semaphore Tower, Portsmouth
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Hampshire County Council’s Fine Art Collection

What do you see?

The Gosport ferry comes across the short distance across Portsmouth Harbour carrying over 3 millions passengers per year. It is one of the longest serving ferry services in the UK. In the reign of Henry VIII, Portsmouth became a naval base and dockyard, and many of the sailors and dockyard workers lived in Gosport. As the population grew, so did the popularity of the ferry service.

Gosport Pontoon and the Semaphore Tower, Portsmouth 1967
Nickless
Oil on canvas
H 49.5 x W 74.9 cm
Hampshire County Council’s Fine Art Collection

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The Hard and High Street, Gosport
Photo credit: Hampshire County Council’s Fine Art Collection

Arriving at Gosport

Step off the Gosport ferry into the town, take in the sea breeze and walk the High Street with its Victorian Buildings, most of which have long disappeared. World War II bombing raids targeted the Naval Assets in Portsmouth and Gosport, with some of its most vicious attacks.

The Hard and High Street, Gosport
unknown artist
Oil on canvas
H 29.6 x W 45.1 cm
Hampshire County Council’s Fine Art Collection

1982

Gosport Iron Foundry
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Hampshire County Council’s Fine Art Collection

Take a Stroll

Delve deep into the heart of the city to explore its architectural features. Iron manufacture alongside brewing, ropemaking and shipbuilding. A whole town gleaned to the purpose of serving the Royal Navy, and defending the realm.

Gosport Iron Foundry 1982
John Hubert Cooper (1912–1990) (possibly)
Oil on canvas
H 40 x W 51 cm
Hampshire County Council’s Fine Art Collection

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An Engineer Working at Fort Grange in 1919
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Explosion! The Museum of Naval Firepower

Step inside the Museum

These days, Gosport is still home to HMS Sultan, the Royal Navy School of Engineering. History lovers will also enjoy exploring the Museum of Naval Firepower at the former munitions factory in Priddy’s Hard. Or to experience life below the waves in the Submarine Museum at Fort Blockhouse. You can also climb aboard HMS Alliance, a 1945 A class ‘sub’.

An Engineer Working at Fort Grange in 1919 c.1919
Ellis Silas (1885–1972)
Oil on canvas
H 54.7 x W 45 cm
Explosion! The Museum of Naval Firepower

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The Hard, Gosport
Photo credit: Hampshire County Council’s Fine Art Collection

Into the Night

Our virtual trip to the coast ends with a spectacular sunset view across the waterfront area.

The Hard, Gosport
Martin Snape (1853–1930)
Oil on canvas
H 70 x W 98.5 cm
Hampshire County Council’s Fine Art Collection