In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Portsmouth like this:
Portsmouth.-- parl. and mun. bor., naval station, seaport, and par., Portsea Island, Hants, opposite the Isle of Wight, 18 miles SE. of Southampton and 74 SW. of London by rail - par., 130 ac., pop. 7967; bor. (including also the par. of Portsea, and embracing nearly the whole of Portsea island), 4320 ac. and 855 tidal water and foreshore, pop. 127,989; 3 Banks, 5 newspapers. Market-days, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, Portsmouth is divided into the four districts of Portsmouth, Portsea, Landport, and Southsea; Portsmouth being the barracks and garrison town, Portsea the seat of the great naval dockyard, Landport the artisans' quarter, and Southsea a modern watering-place with fine esplanade and pier, baths, and assembly-rooms. ...
Portsmouth is the largest naval establishment in the world, and the strongest fortified place in the kingdom, being protected by a complete chain of forts, including the forts at Spithead, the forts on the heights of Ports Down, and the lines of Hilsea. The harbour is 4 miles in length by nearly 2 miles in width, with an entrance 220 yards in breadth, permitting access to the largest vessels at low water. On the eastern shore are the ordnance gun wharf (with armoury) and the great Government dockyard (with the Admiralty House and the Royal Naval College), covering an area of 500 ac.; at Gosport, opposite (with which there is communication by floating bridge and steam launches), are the Clarence victualling-yard and the Haslar Hospital. The port of Portsmouth extends 9 miles eastward to Emsworth and 5 miles westward to Hill Head, at the entrance to Southampton Water; the trade, both foreign and coasting, is considerable. (For shipping statistics, see Appendix.) The industries (except brewing) are all immediately connected with the naval establishments. Some of the principal features of the place, besides those already noted, are the extensive barracks, 8 in number; the headquarters of the Royal Marine Artillery at Eastney; the hospitals at Landport and Hilsea; the convict prison at Portsea, which superseded the hulks in 1852; the Recreation Grounds for the military and naval forces; the Clarence Esplanade at Southsea, 2 miles in length, with fine views of the anchorage at Spithead and the Isle of Wight; and Southsea Common, where the troops in garrison are assembled for reviews and field-days. Portsmouth received its first charter from Richard I., was a naval station of some note in the reign of John, was fortified by Edward IV., and began to be of importance as a dockyard about 1554. Since the 23d of Edward I. it has regularly returned 2 members to Parliament.
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 Portsmouth 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 Portsmouth and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Portsmouth in Hampshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 19th June 2013
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