Day 24: Portsmouth to Portchester – Spinnaker & Victory

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England, Hampshire
Spinnaker Tower being painted gold for rebranding as Emirates Spinnaker Tower. The 170 meter structure was designed by HGP Architects and built in 2005. Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Spinnaker Tower being painted gold for rebranding as Emirates Spinnaker Tower. The 170 meter structure was designed by HGP Architects and built in 2005. Portsmouth, Hampshire.

On awakening I hear trains rumbling into the harbour station, ship’s horns sounding and the pssst of coach doors opening. I enjoy Portsmouth’s cosmopolitan sense of purpose in contrast to the parochial air that can blight some coastal settlements.

Climbing the mast, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Climbing the mast, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

At Spinnaker Tower abseilers are skilfully painting the exterior with gold and blue as part of an Emirates sponsorship deal.

Emirates Spinnaker Tower painting, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Emirates Spinnaker Tower painting, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Emirates Spinnaker Tower & Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Emirates Spinnaker Tower & Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Up the tower an elderly couple are awkwardly taking a photo of themselves. I offer to take the picture but they declined with a smile saying “It’s our first selfie”

Gunwharf Quays from Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Gunwharf Quays from Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Gosport Marina, Hampshire.

Gosport Marina, Hampshire.

Emirates Spinnaker Tower, detail, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Emirates Spinnaker Tower, detail, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

What a formidable harbour this must have been before air power – protected by both the Isle of Wight and water on all sides.

Portsmouth Naval Base and Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Hampshire.

Portsmouth Naval Base and Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Hampshire.

Emirates Spinnaker Tower painting II, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Emirates Spinnaker Tower painting II, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

HMS Warrior, launched in1860 was the first armour-plated, iron-hulled warship of the Navy. Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

HMS Warrior, launched in 1860 was the first armour-plated, iron-hulled warship of the Navy. Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

HMS Warrior, Upper Deck, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

HMS Warrior, Upper Deck, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

HMS Warrior, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

HMS Warrior, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

In 1860 HMS Warrior was built in 19 months and restored beautifully over 9 years. Every millimetre imbued with a ruthless, engineered efficiency and the rigid class system to make the whole enterprise unassailable. The result is incredibly evocative and shows how the crew of 706 slept and ate cheek to jowl with the huge guns

HMS Warrior, gun deck after restoration, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

HMS Warrior, gun deck after restoration, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

When I asked the staff which enemy the ship was built to counter. He replied “There has only ever been one enemy sir – the French”

Number 1 Basin, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

Number 1 Basin, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

To see the Mary Rose was nostalgic as aged seven I vividly remember seeing the wreck being miraculously raised from the ocean with Prince Charles in attendance on John Cravens Newsround.

Wreck of the Mary Rose undergoing conservation. A warship of the English Tudor Navy of King Henry VIII built in 1512. Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

Wreck of the Mary Rose undergoing conservation. A warship of the English Tudor Navy of King Henry VIII built in 1512. Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

Mary Rose Museum designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre, built in 2013, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

Mary Rose Museum designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre, built in 2013, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

HMS Victory, Entry floor plate. A 104-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched in 1765. She is best known as Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

HMS Victory, Entry floor plate. A 104-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched in 1765. She is best known as Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

HMS victory wasn’t looking her finest today with her masts truncated and the gilded stern covered in scaffolding.

Fire buckets on the HMS Victory's Quarter Deck on which Lord Nelson was shot by musket fire in 1805, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

Fire buckets on the HMS Victory’s Quarter Deck on which Lord Nelson was shot by musket fire in 1805, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

As I traced on foot the pubic edge of the huge naval base past different check points of armed men in fluorescent jackets and peaked caps and walked away from all this I pondered how, in a stroke, the computer and nuclear weapons have done away with the relevance of so much of what I’d just seen.

RFA Argus, a Primary Casualty Receiving Ship returning home after 'Operation Gritrock' - the UK's response to the Ebola crisis. Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

RFA Argus, a Primary Casualty Receiving Ship returning home after ‘Operation Gritrock’ – the UK’s response to the Ebola crisis. Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

The creek dividing Portsea island from the mainland now contains jumps for water sports. Ahead angular Portsdown Hill radar station appears like the superstructure of a war ship on land. Outside an isolated Porsche show room, a runner gives me directions through the maze of motorways – some road bridges here don’t have a footpath, information not shown on my map.

IBM UK headquarters is private property – no pedestrians. It looks exactly as you would imagine – a large concrete and glass box surrounded by a vast car park with some white tenty structures so they can’t be accused of making absolutely no effort. Nobody walks on these roads and further along a Wedding Fayre is taking place at the Marriott hotel.

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