In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Southsea like this:
SOUTHSEA, a suburb and four chapelries in Portsea parish, Hants. The suburb lies on the SE side of Portsmouth, on the coast, opposite Spithead; occupies a quondam barren common, all flat, and fringed with a fine beach; was only a small hamlet at the commencement of the present century; forms now a compact mass of streets, terraces, and handsome villas; includes a new town, begun about 1860, divided into two portions, called Havelock Park and Nelsonville, and promising to be highly ornamental; is a sea-bathing resort, with many amenities and charming views; and has a post-office‡ under Portsmouth, a branch railway, several hotels, a castle, a large bathing establishment, a splendid esplanade, an obeliskal memorial of the Crimean war, a coastguard station, four churches, and a number of dissenting chapels and public schools. ...
The branch railway is a line of two miles, through the town, from the South-western at Union bridge; and was authorized in Aug. 1867. One of the hotels bears the name of the South sea Beach Mansion; contains 140 rooms, including 85 bedrooms; and was built in 1866. The castle was originally a blockhouse, erected by Henry VIII.; was taken by the parliamentarians in 1642; was reconstructed, modernized, and converted into a strong fort in 1814; contains accommodation for 200 men; and includes a beacon-tower, with a fixed light 31 feet high, seen at the distance of 9 miles. St Paul's church was built in 1822, at a cost of £15,970; and is in a plain pointed style. St. Jude's church was built in 1851; is in the later English style; and has a fine, lofty, conspicuous spire. St. Simon's church was built in 1867, at a cost of £4,000; and is in the decorated English style.-The four chapelries are St. Paul, St. Jude, St. Bartholomew, and St. Simon. Pop. of St. P., 10,674; of St. J., 6,301; of St. B., 2,600. The livings are p. curacies in the diocese of Winchester. Value of St. P., £150; of St. J., £650;* of St. B. and St. S. not reported. Patron of St. P., the Vicar of Portsea; of St. J., the Executors of the late T. E. Owen, Esq.; of St. B., the Bishop of Winchester; of St. S., not reported, See Portsea and Portsmouth.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Southsea has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Portsmouth. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Southsea and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Southsea, in Portsmouth and Hampshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 30th July 2016
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