Watch the 20 years in 12 places: Portsmouth video
Heritage projects in Portsmouth have received a total of £58m in grants, or £230.32 for each resident*.

The value of individual grants varied, ranging from £6,800 (for Thisability, a project by disabled film-makers seeking to encourage access to heritage for people with disabilities) to over £25m (for the establishment of the Mary Rose museum and completion of conservation of the Mary Rose).


Portsmouth is a very densely populated city. In recent years, its population has become both more diverse and younger. Portsmouth’s economy has also improved over the last two decades and unemployment and deprivation have declined. 

“You read about the dockyard or the naval heritage and you start to learn a little bit more about Portsmouth itself. My kids enjoy coming here and are always asking questions.” Workshop participant

These changes are reflected in the research findings. Both workshop participants and stakeholders described a changing city. They said that on-going regeneration has had a big impact on the local economy, the fabric of the city and the communities that live there. For the most part, these changes were seen as positive: 45% of residents say the area has improved over the time they have lived there.  However, stakeholders and residents also saw Portsmouth as a divided city. 

Eighty-six per cent of residents know at least a little about Portsmouth’s heritage, in line with the average for this piece of work (84%).  Both the stakeholder research and workshop suggest that awareness of the city’s naval heritage is particularly high. Many workshop participants were aware of the projects around the dockyards but not of other heritage sites and projects in the area. This naval heritage was seen by many residents in the workshop as integral to Portsmouth’s identity. They said the south of the city, which is thought to be more affluent, has benefitted from significant investment, whilst less prosperous areas are perceived to have been overlooked.

” I think heritage defines Portsmouth more than other cities. In Portsmouth you associate yourself with the dockyard and the naval heritage.”Workshop participant

Positively, 80% of residents are satisfied with the local heritage offer. Although this overall figure is in line with the average across the 12 research locations, satisfaction is stronger in Portsmouth than elsewhere (33% very satisfied compared with 25%). There is also a strong perception, shared by both stakeholders and residents, that Portsmouth’s heritage offer has improved over time (73% of residents say this compared with an average of 64% across the 12 research locations). Stakeholders, in particular, thought that heritage funding has contributed to Portsmouth’s revival by attracting tourists and businesses. 

About the research

Portsmouth was selected as the pilot location for the research. Initially, background data was collected to understand how it has changed in the 20 years since HLF’s inception. Six interviews were then conducted with local stakeholders from a range of categories (for example, one representative of local business took part, as did a representative from a local tourist organisation). To understand the public’s perspective, 353 residents took part a telephone survey, and a further 14 participated in a half-day workshop. In the workshop, activities were used alongside table discussions and plenary sessions to understand participants’ views.  For example, participants were asked to work in pairs to make the case for funding a local project, based on case studies. 

Heritage projects in Portsmouth

The research project focused on the following heritage sites and projects, which are also reflected in this map.

*Grants awarded to projects in the Portsmouth research area up to September 2013.

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