Golden lottery finger strikes city harbour

The front page of The News from Monday, October 2, 1995
The front page of The News from Monday, October 2, 1995

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It hardly seems possible that it’s nearly 16 years ago that this special edition of The News hit the streets.

The National Lottery’s golden finger of fate broke through a dark sky above Portsmouth and descended on Portsmouth Harbour.

It was the moment which was to transform the city, give it new strength and turn its long-envied waterfront into one of the south of England’s leading shopping and leisure destinations.

For on this day heritage secretary Virginia Bottomley announced that the hugely-adventurous scheme to revitalise Portsmouth, and to some extent Gosport, had become Britain’s first millennium city.

She revealed the bold Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour project had scooped the lottery jackpot with a massive £40m grant – the second largest lottery hand-out given to any of a dozen so-called national projects to mark the millennium.

That sum, which had to be more than doubled by matched funding from the private sector, paved the way for Gunwharf Quays, the Spinnaker Tower and millions of pounds investment on both sides of the harbour.

Behind that lucky finger on the front page you can make out the derelict 30-acre site which was the lynchpin for the entire scheme, the old HMS Vernon from which Gunwharf and later the tower, would eventually emerge. That day we reminded readers what the news meant. It’s interesting to see how many became reality:

n A 500ft-high tower to be built in the water off Gunwharf ‘designed to be a new beacon for Britain’

n Dramatic cross-harbour fountains and laser-lit water jets

n The opening-up of Ministry of Defence land such as Gunwharf and Priddy’s Hard, Gosport, for the first time in centuries

n Five kilometres of new promenade forming a renaissance trail around the harbour

n A network of waterbus services criss-crossing the harbour

n A series of new and enhanced maritime heritage attractions including a new national ordnance museum at Priddy’s Hard and a hi-tech Navy in Action centre in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.