PORTSMOUTH & SOUTHSEA and PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR The Navy dominates Portsmouth. Along with IBM, the Navy is the biggest local employer, though it can sometimes create a them-and-us feeling in the city – particularly when hordes of American seamen come ashore and head straight for the nightlife in Southsea. The dockyard has been home to the Royal Navy for 500 years, and the fleet is still serviced here. It is not only a good place for spotting modern warships, there is also an impressive collection of historic ships, including HMS Victory and the Mary Rose, which attracts tourists all year round. On top of the naval traffic are the constant comings and goings of the Cherbourg, Caen, St Malo, Le Havre, Santander and Bilbao ferries into Albert Johnson dock. In the Mountbatten Centre, the city has one of the best leisure centres in southern England, which also doubles as a conference and trade show venue. Portsmouth Grammar School is the local private school that takes both boys and girls.
Portsmouth Harbour station is close to Old Portsmouth and the ferry terminal for the Isle of Wight, and a short ferry-ride from Gosport. An 18th-century four- or five-bedroom house in Old Portsmouth would cost £500,000 to £600,000. Quaint little cottages of the same period cost around £325,000. Gun Wharf Quays is a new marina with smart shops, restaurants, a nightclub and Jongleurs comedy club, where a one-bedroom flat costs from £180,000 and a large penthouse up to £1m; four-bedroom modern town houses sell for £400,000. North of Portsmouth Harbour, towards Fareham, is Port Solent, a product of the high-earning, fast-living Thatcher years. The marina is the centrepiece, with the surrounding houses, shops, restaurants and sailing school. A two-bedroom flat will cost £260,000; a three-bedroom town house with a berth £320,000.
Throughout the city, first-time buyers compete for two-bedroom Victorian and Edwardian houses, priced at around £120,000. A third bedroom puts the price up to around £155,000. Second-time buyers attracted to newish houses, could look in Anchorage Park in the north of the city, where four-bedroom detached houses cost £250,000; a studio, £100,000. Others might prefer to browse among the bay-fronted Victoriana of North End, an area undergoing gradual gentrification . A three-bedroom terraced house here would cost around £135,000.
Southsea has more the feel of a seaside resort, with two piers, a shingle beach, permanent funfair, ballroom and the King’s Theatre. It is packed with shops, restaurants and pubs. Running back from the seafront are plenty of Victorian and Edwardian houses. You would pay around £250,000 for three bedrooms and £350,000 to £400,000 for four bedrooms. Two- or three-bedroom dockworkers’ terraced houses further back from the sea sell for £120,000 to £150,000.