It is appropriate that in Portsmouth, a city so closely associated with the Royal Navy, there stands a tower more than twice the height of Nelson’s Column in London. Standing 560 ft high Spinnaker Tower is located in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth. The Quays is a smart retail location consisting of 90 stores and a number of bars, restaurants, cafes and places of entertainment.
The tower stands as the stunning centrepiece of the harbour redevelopment project designed by HGP Architects and engineering consultants, Scott Wilson and built by Mowlem, one of the largest civil engineering companies in the UK.
The design is representative of a ‘ship’s sail’ which is in keeping with Portsmouth’s maritime history.
Gunwharf Quays opened to the public on October 18, 2005 and is owned by Portsmouth City Council although operational responsibility is managed by Continuum Leading Attractions, a cultural attractions group based in York.
The structure is 2 ½ times higher than Nelson’s Column, making it one of the tallest accessible structures outside of London. The structure can be seen for miles around including from the Isle of White.
Situated right at the top is a triple observation deck which provides a 360 degree view of the city with a viewing distance of 23 miles. At the highest point the ‘crow’s nest,’ a wired meshed roof provides a different and more exposed experience for those brave enough to stand and take in the air and look out across the incredible cityscape. The floor is made out of glass and is the largest in Europe.
The design of Spinnaker Tower has an 80 year lifetime guarantee. It is similar to the ‘Burj Al Arab’ in Dubai, although, the Dubai structure is slightly taller.
Planning of the Quays project started in 2000, with construction beginning in 2001 and the completion of the project was finalised in 2005 which was a frustrating six years behind schedule but worth the wait.
It was originally intended to be part of the Millennium celebrations and the tower was originally to be named ‘Portsmouth Millennium Tower’ but this was later changed to the ‘Spinnaker Tower,’
More money had to be spent on the project than originally agreed and the tower alone cost £35.6 million. The local Council Tax payers were never intended to have to pay for the tower but Portsmouth City Council eventually contributed £11.1 million towards the additional construction cost.
In its first year of opening the Quays attracted more than 600,000 people. The Spinnaker Tower is a landmark of southern England and featured in the opening sequences of both BBC South Today and ITV News.
The tower won two awards in 2006, the RICS Project of the Year Award and the RICS Regeneration Award.
It is spectacular lit up in the night sky over the city of Portsmouth.
Spinnaker Tower is a tourist attraction and access is via a paid entrance fee. There are concessions and a joint pass can be brought for a combined visit to other Portsmouth’s attractions.
Access to the tower might be difficult for some visitors.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Main Road, Southbourne
Hampshire, England, PO10 8JH
+44 (0)1243 373 202
- Address: Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom, PO1 3TT
- GPS: 50.7960101,-1.1081845999999586
- Phone: 0044 (0)2392 857 520
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: PO1 3TT
- Entrance Fees: Charges Apply
- Disabled Access: Good
- Visibility from Road: Good
- Image Credits: Skyearth