New board will tell the story of Portsmouth’s first dockyard

John Bingeman, Rob Kennedy, Philip MacDougal, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Steven Wylie and Dr Dominic Fontana with the design of the dDisplay board to mark the site of King John's Dock in St George's Square, Old Portsmouth.

John Bingeman, Rob Kennedy, Philip MacDougal, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Steven Wylie and Dr Dominic Fontana with the design of the dDisplay board to mark the site of King John's Dock in St George's Square, Old Portsmouth.

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BENEATH a leafy corner of Portsea lies one of the area’s most historically significant sites.

More than 800 years ago, the area around St George’s Square in Portsea was the site of Portsmouth’s first royal dockyard, built by King Richard I and extended by King John.

Until now, there has been nothing at the site to tell people about the history of the site or to point out that it was once underwater.

But now a group of naval history enthusiasts have come together to install an information board at the site.

John Bingeman, 80, who was one of those behind the plan, said: ‘It came about after my friend Arthur Mack wrote a letter to The News pointing out that it was the 800th anniversary of Portsmouth’s first royal dockyard.

‘He approached me for my help in getting something put up and it went from there.

‘It is a relief and it is exciting to see it here at last. I hope it will be interesting to people as they walk past and find out a bit more about the area here.’

The small dock was surrounded by buildings which would have been used to store sail cloths, timber and rope.

The King needed a harbour for his ships when travelling between England and his possessions in France. This was the birth of the future city of Portsmouth which grew from a small fishing hamlet into a town with a Royal Charter in 1194.

It was from this dock in 1213 that King John’s royal fleet of galleys joined more galleys from the Cinque Ports to achieve the first great naval victory over the French at the Battle of Damme.

It was decided the dock did not offer enough protection to the King’s galleys and another was built on the site where HMS Victory sits today.

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