New era dawns for Portsmouth as Gunwharf quays opens

Crowds wander through Gunwharf Quays during the official opening.
Crowds wander through Gunwharf Quays during the official opening.

Saint Roger's halo didn't slip when he gave me interview

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It’s 15 years ago this month that Gunwharf Quays opened.

It was a cold and wet February 28, 2001, when the shutters were pulled back and hundreds of curious Portsmouth people poured in to what had been trumpeted as the start of a new-look Portsmouth.

PARADE Olivia Davenport tries out her hat for the samba parade on opening day at Gunwharf Quays

PARADE Olivia Davenport tries out her hat for the samba parade on opening day at Gunwharf Quays

And it did quickly change the city’s image. Designer-wear shops, smart restaurants, apartments and, probably most importantly, the harbour frontage, put Portsmouth on a different map.

Built on the site of the old HMS Vernon, there had never been public access to this piece of Portsmouth Harbour’s waterfront. Suddenly an entirely new view of the harbour mouth, Old Portsmouth and Gosport was opened up.

Celebrations start today at 3pm with the cutting of a cake to mark the milestone and continue until the end of the month. Today we look back at the opening day.

The busy La Tasca on day one at Gunwharf

The busy La Tasca on day one at Gunwharf

Queues trail back through the Nike Factory Outlet at Gunwharf shortly after it opened

Queues trail back through the Nike Factory Outlet at Gunwharf shortly after it opened

The Dream Engine heliosphere flies above the crowds at Gunwharf Quays as part of the offical opening

The Dream Engine heliosphere flies above the crowds at Gunwharf Quays as part of the offical opening