The Rowner area of the peninsula was known to have been settled in the Saxon era, mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle as Rughenor (Rough bank or slope). Both Rowner and Alverstoke (a separate village now within the boundaries of Gosport), the name coming from the original point where the River Alver entered the Solent at Stokes Bay, were included in the Domesday Book. Settlements in the wider region date back much earlier. Rowner is recorded as being the earliest settlement of the peninsula with many Mesolithic finds and a hunting camp (presently sealed under the reclamation site) being found, tumuli are located on the peninsula (all investigated). Bronze Age items found during a 1960s construction in HMS Sultan included a hoard of axe heads and torcs (now stored by, and loaned to Portsmouth museum services). A three-celled dwelling unearthed during construction of the Rowner naval Estate in the 1970s points to a settled landscape. Next to the River Alver which passes the southern and western edge of Rowner is a Norman motte and bailey, the first fortification of the peninsula, giving a vantage point over the Solent, Stokes Bay, Lee-on-the-Solent and the Isle of Wight. The former Rowner naval married quarters estate, now mostly demolished, and HMS Sultan were built on a former military airfield, known first as RAF Gosport and later as HMS Siskin, which gives its name to the local infant and junior schools. The barracks at Browndown (Stokes Bay) were used in the ITV series: Bad Lads Army.
There are several theories of how the borough got its name including from the early name of Goseport which is believed to derive from 'goose'. An alternative etymology 'gorse' (from the bushes growing on local heath land) is not supported by the regional name for the plant, 'furze'. The third theory which was found in the Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales and used in the town's motto, "God's Port Our Haven", claims a derivation from "God's Port", King Stephen's thanks in 1144 for safe landing in a storm. This, however, is believed by some to be a 19th-century invention.
Naval and military
Until the last quarter of the 20th century, Gosport was a major naval town associated with the defence and supply infrastructure of Her Majesty's Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth. It is still home to HMS Sultan and a Naval Armament Supply Facility as well as a Helicopter Repair base; however Gosport's naval history goes a very long way back and it has several buildings of historic interest as well as a lot of people who lived here and became famous. Most of the former naval and military installations have closed since the Second World War leaving empty sites and buildings. As a way forward Museums have opened up and many of its fortifications and installations (such as Fort Brockhurst, Priddy's Hard (formerly an Armament Depot, now the Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower) and the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Haslar Road) have been opened to the public as tourism and heritage sites. One of the more recent additions is the Diving Museum at No 2 Battery at Stokes Bay which is bidding to become the National Diving Museum for the British Isles.
Several sites have also been redeveloped to provide housing, including the New Barracks (opened 1859, renamed St George Barracks in 1947 having served as HMS St George during the war, closed 1991), the Royal Clarence Victualling Yard (opened 1828 on the site of an earlier victualling facility, closed 1992) and Royal Hospital Haslar (formerly the last military hospital of the UK: opened as a Royal Naval Hospital in 1753, later served other armed forces personnel and latterly the wider community of Gosport; closed as a military hospital in March 2007, the NHS withdrew in 2009 and the hospital closed). Forton Barracks (opened 1811, closed 1923, re-opened as HMS St Vincent in 1923, closed 1969) was part-demolished and is now St Vincent College.
There has also been extensive redevelopment of the harbour area as a marina.
In November 1850, two ships of the Turkish Navy, the Mirat-ı Zafer and Sirag-i Bahri Birik, anchored off the Hardway near Gosport. The visit lasted several months and during this time some of the members of the crew contracted cholera and were admitted to Haslar Hospital for treatment, where most of them died. In addition, some other sailors died because of training accidents. In total 26 died and were laid to rest in the grounds of Haslar. At the turn of the 20th century the bodies were exhumed and transferred to the R.N. Military Cemetery, Clayhall Road, in Alverstoke.
In the first week of June 1944, tanks, scout cars and wheeled vehicles of the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment, Canadian Army loaded Landing craft tanks in Gosport. Convoys of vehicles had been carefully concealed from German discovery in the areas further inland, and in daylight on 3 June moved through Titchfield and Stubbington to G3 Hard on the Gosport waterfront. There the M4 Sherman tanks were backed into position in preparation for the Channel crossing. The initial plan was for the invasion to begin on 5 June but bad weather, with the various vessels riding at anchor off Calshot in the Solent, delayed the plans by one day.
The Town area of the Borough, including Newtown, consists of the town centre, Stoke Road shopping area, Walpole Park, Royal Clarence Yard and three modern marinas: Royal Clarence, Gosport Marina and Haslar Marina.
South of the centre is Haslar Creek, which flows into Portsmouth Harbour near the harbour mouth. The lowest part of Haslar Creek is called Haslar Lake; at its western end, the creek splits into two branches. These are called Workhouse Lake (the northern branch) and Stoke Lake (the southern branch). South East of Stoke Lake and along Gilkicker Point is the area of Clayhall.
West, Northwest and South of Stoke Lake is the district and village of Alverstoke. To the west of which is Browndown, where the River Alver flows into The Solent at Stokes Bay. Further west from Browndown point is the district of Lee-on-the-Solent with the former RNAS Daedalus which is now home to a hovercraft museum and several marine related businesses. It is also used as a base for glider clubs, light aeroplanes, HM Coastguard heliport and police aircraft.
In the west of Gosport is the naval base HMS Sultan. West of HMS Sultan is the district of Rowner which includes Alver Village.
There are several districts north, northwest and west of the town centre. These include areas that extend to the inland areas of the peninsula, Hardway (including Priddy’s Hard and Forton Lake) Elson, Brockhurst, Bridgemary and Rowner. Hoeford (A32 Gosport Road) is the most north westerly area within Gosport and ends at the boundary with the Borough of Fareham.
The climate of Gosport is milder than that of the surrounding areas, winter frosts being light and short-lived and snow quite rare. Temperatures rarely drop much below freezing, because the peninsula has water to the south and east. Portsdown Hill also protects the town from the cold northerly winds during the winter months. Located on the south coast, Gosport also receives more sunshine per annum than most of the UK. The average maximum temperature in January is 8C with the average minimum being 3C. The average maximum temperature in July is 21C, with the average minimum being 14C. The record high temperature is 32C and record low is -9C.
The Met Office has a weather station at the M.R.S.C. in Lee-on-the-Solent.
Gosport is an eclectic area with many business sectors, light manufacturing, marine and retail being the most prominent. Gosport centre is dependent on businesses in vulnerable sectors. These include construction. Of its 80,000 residents, 35,000 approximately are in employment and most of them are skilled manual labourers.
Gosport is the largest town in Britain without an operational railway station. The Gosport Ferry provides quick access to Portsmouth Harbour railway station, terminus of the Portsmouth Direct Line to London. Due to heavy traffic (see below) this ferry is very well used. At one time the Gosport Ferry Company operated steam ferries, until the arrival in 1966 of two identical (and then very modern) diesel ferries, named Gosport Queen and Portsmouth Queen. In 1971 a third ferry called Solent Enterprise joined the fleet. She was a slightly larger, more luxurious version of the "Queens". The company now operates two new modern ferries along with the two 1966 veterans. The first was built in 2001 and is named Spirit of Gosport. After the retirement of the Solent Enterprise in 2003, a second modern and slightly larger ferry was added to the fleet and was named the Spirit of Portsmouth. All ferries have been able to carry cycles and motorcycles.
Gosport received its railway before Portsmouth, but it closed to passengers in 1953. In 1841 a railway opened between the London and Southampton Railway at Eastleigh via Fareham to Gosport, where a terminus was built to an Italianate design of Sir William Tite. Gosport railway station was intended to serve Portsmouth across the water, but was sited at Gosport away from the harbour because the railway company was not allowed to breach either the Hilsea Lines, defences at the northern end of Portsea Island protecting Portsmouth, or the Gosport Lines protecting depots such as Royal Clarence Yard.
An extension to Royal Clarence Yard was opened in 1846, and branch lines to Stokes Bay (open from 1863 to 1915), and to Lee-on-the-Solent (open to passengers 1894 to 1931). Due to declining traffic, the connection to Fareham was closed for passenger services in 1953 and to freight traffic in 1969, although trains to the armament depot in Frater ran until the late 1970s.
The trackbed of the former Gosport – Fareham railway is now an exclusive fast bus route and cycle lane. Tite's station building has been retained for its historical and architectural value and has been converted into a small number of residential properties and offices. The main gate in Spring Garden Lane has been opened up for vehicle access. A further development of six terraced homes has been built at the north western end of the site linking with George Street.
Being a peninsula town without a railway system Gosport relies heavily upon the major A32 road in and out of the town. In the 1970s there were plans to widen the road to accommodate expected increases in traffic flow but this did not take place. In the early 1990s a computerised system controlling traffic lights along the route was installed to improve the rate of flow of traffic but this failed to work and had to be switched off since it could not cope with the traffic volumes. Now, in the 21st century, the A32 is much the same as it was thirty years ago and the traffic using it has increased to such an extent that the journey time to the nearby M27, about 5 miles (8 km), can routinely take anything from 45 minutes and often longer at peak times between 07:30 & 09:00 and 16:00 & 18:30.
The station site was linked with the South Hampshire Rapid Transit scheme, which would have made use of the former railway route. However, due to Government refusal to fund the scheme, it was formally abandoned in November 2006. During 2010, construction started on the same route to provide a rapid bus route between the Holbrook area of Gosport and the town of Fareham. Now completed, regular service buses between Gosport and Fareham divert onto the new route avoiding lengthy queues on the A32 and speeding up commuting time between the towns for bus passengers.
Many people who live in Gosport use it as a dormitory town. According to Gosport Borough Council, the number of people commuting out of the town each day in 2001 was 18,200 compared to 7,600 people commuting in. In addition the number commuting out is increasing at a faster rate than that coming in.
The 2001 Census recorded 54,854 people in Gosport of working age between the ages of 16 and 74. The economic activity of the residents in the Gosport Borough was 46.7% were in full-time employment, 12.9% were in part-time employment, 6.1% were self-employed, 2.7% were unemployed, 2.5% were students with jobs, 2.5% were students without jobs, 14% were retired, 6.2% were looking after the home or family, 3.8% were permanently sick or disabled and 2.5% were economically inactive for other reasons.
As part of the Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour Millennium project, a large sundial, known as the Millennium Timespace, was installed on the harbour front in 2000. Its timekeeping is partially restricted each day by shadowing caused by large tower blocks either side of the 'timespace'. The International Festival of the Sea drew over 250,000 tourists to the Portsmouth Harbour area in 1998, 2001 and 2005. The most recent festival was held in 2007.
The Royal Navy maintains a presence in Gosport at HMS Sultan which is the home of the Defence School of Marine Engineering (DSMarE) and the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival School (RNAESS). The Sultan site occupies 179 acres (72 ha) of land within a 3 1⁄2-mile (5.6 km) perimeter and is the largest of the Royal Navy's training establishments, with around 3,000 Service and civilian personnel when working at full capacity.
The Borough of Gosport has the following schools and colleges:St Vincent Sixth Form College
Bay House School which is a former grammar school, located near the coast, in Stanley Park. Bay House School also includes a sixth-form. In September 2008 there were 2100 pupils and 370 sixth-form students enrolled. It was within the top 200 state schools in the country, as judged by The Times..
Bridgemary Community School, located in Wych Lane, Bridgemary. Bridgemary is the only school in the U.K. to have adopted a 'vertical learning' curriculum, where children are put in classes based on ability, not age.
Brune Park Community School is a performing arts college, with the Joe Jackson Theatre, named after the 1970s pop star and past Brune Park pupil.
Bedenham Primary School
Haselworth Primary School
Holbrook Primary School
Newtown Primary School
St John's CE (A) Primary School
St Mary's RC (A) Primary School
Woodcot Primary School
Newtown Junior School
Alverstoke Junior School
Brockhurst Junior School
Elson Junior School
Gomer Junior School
Grange Junior School
Lee On The Solent Junior School
Leesland Junior School.
Peel Common Junior School.
Rowner Junior School
Siskin Junior School
Alverstoke Community Infant School
Brockhurst Infant School
Elson Infant School
Gomer Infant School
Grange Infant School
Lee On The Solent Infant School
Leesland Infant School
Peel Common Infant School
Rowner Infant School
Siskin Infant School and Nursery School
Haven Early Years Centre
The town of Gosport has many sports clubs and organisations including boxing, judo, angling, rugby, cricket, football and hockey.
Gosport Borough F.C. play their home games at Privett Park and cater for players of either sex from age six upwards. The club play in the Football Conference South and represent the town at a national level in the FA Cup and FA Trophy. The area also has another Non-League football club Fleetlands F.C. who play at Lederle Lane Stadium. RMLI Gosport F.C. were a former team to represent the town winning the 1910 FA Amateur Cup.
Gosport and Fareham Rugby Football Club has 6 senior sides, a Ladies team, and 10 youth sides. Gosport Borough Hockey Club, based at St Vincent College, has three Men's teams, a Ladies team and Junior teams.
Gosport also has two Synchronised Ice Skating teams who compete at national level competitions, including the British Synchronised Skating Championships. The club use Planet Ice Gosport to train.
The Gosport peninsula has 17 miles (27 km) of waterfront on Portsmouth Harbour and The Solent and is a maritime playground for all. The pebble beach at Stokes Bay slopes steeply into the sea and offers fine views of the shipping going in and out of Portsmouth and Southampton and the many pleasure craft from the many marinas along The Solent and the Isle of Wight.
The town also has a strong military history – chiefly with the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy Submarine Museum has exhibits including Holland 1 – the Royal Navy's first submarine and the Second World War submarine HMS Alliance.
Explosion! tells the story of naval firepower from gunpowder to modern missiles. This modern, interactive museum is housed in historic buildings at Priddy's Hard, the Navy's former armaments depot, with views across Portsmouth Harbour.
Fort Brockhurst is one of the "Palmerston's Follies", built in the 1850s to defend Portsmouth Harbour against threats of a French invasion. A central exhibition explains Palmerston's plans to defend the key naval port. Nearby is the Gosport Aviation Heritage Museum, dedicated to the development of the Royal Air Force. The fort is owned by English Heritage.
Gosport is also home to Little Woodham, aka "The 1642 Living History Village". The village exists to educate both children and adults about 17th century life at the outbreak of the English Civil War and is open for the public to meet the villagers at certain times throughout the year.
In September 2016, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum became the set for a scene in Transformers: The Last Knight, which starred the HMS Alliance. The expensive cars and famous actors brought locals to crowd the entrance and take pictures. Royan, France
See Category:People from Gosport