Portsmouth unveils renewed bid to build £7m Sherlock Holmes visitor attraction

The statue of Sherlock Holmes in Edinburgh

The statue of Sherlock Holmes in Edinburgh

A CGI of plans for Brunel House that were rejected in 2015

Anger as stalemate emerges over future plans for derelict Portsmouth building

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RENEWED efforts are being made to create a world-class Sherlock Holmes visitor attraction in Portsmouth.

Councillors across political parties have pledged to do more to celebrate the city’s connection with the fictional detective character.

It’s not something that can be done overnight, we haven’t got the funding for it. But it would be a really great offer and opportunity to attract people who perhaps wouldn’t be attracted by the naval heritage.

Portsmouth Tory culture boss Linda Symes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle began writing stories about Sherlock after arriving in Portsmouth in 1882. He also had his own GP practice in Elm Grove, Southsea.

And while city leaders agree Portsmouth has been successful in boasting about its naval heritage – not enough is being done to plug its association with Sherlock given the character’s global appeal.

The aspiration is to build a new visitor attraction utilising the city’s Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, and get a major financial backer on board.

That’s because the move could cost up to £7m.

Portsmouth Tory culture boss Linda Symes said: ‘The collection is important. We need to not just focus on our naval heritage, we are all about history. We can promote Conan Doyle and be the city of Conan Doyle; he lived here and had a surgery in Portsmouth. He started writing Sherlock Holmes here. We need to create a Sherlock experience.

‘It’s not something that can be done overnight, we haven’t got the funding for it. But it would be a really great offer and opportunity to attract people who perhaps wouldn’t be attracted by the naval heritage.’

Lib Dem culture spokesman Lee Hunt said it would a great idea talking to the bosses of the city’s major events like Victorious Festival and the Great South Run to see how they can incorporate Sherlock themes into their programme of activities.

Tory council leader Donna Jones spoke of the importance of the city bringing to national and international attention its relationship with Sherlock Holmes.

Former Portsmouth Cultural Partnership chairman Steve Pitt spoke to The News in 2014 about his hopes to see a Sherlock Holmes visitor attraction included in the then proposed Northern Quarter shopping scheme.

That then collapsed due to financial concerns.

But Mr Pitt praised the renewed strategy.

He said: ‘We need to make people aware Sherlock Holmes the character was born in Portsmouth.’

He praised the collaborative approach to the project.

Mr Pitt said: ‘It’s not often you see cross-party support so the fact all parties are behind this is great.’

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