Global appeal of Holmes backs plans to think big

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It’s a mystery fitting for the great detective himself.

He’s one of the world’s most renowned fictional characters but – despite his strong links to Portsmouth – there is little in the city to do justice to the global popularity of Sherlock Holmes.

His creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, may have grown up in Edinburgh, while Holmes’ dwelling was the notorious setting of 221B Baker Street in London. But the genius ‘consulting detective’ is very much ours.

Looking around the city, though, you’d be hard pushed to know it.

If ambitious plans turn into a reality, however, that could all be about to change.

As revealed on page five today, a private company has been commissioned by the city council to look into whether there is enough demand for a world-class Sherlock Holmes attraction in Portsmouth.

For now, a grand vision including a multimedia experience and re-enactments of Holmes’ life remain just one of the options to showcase the Arthur Conan Doyle collection – the largest of its kind in the world – currently in the city, much of it gathering dust in storage.

But today we urge the people behind the project to think big and, more than 130 years after Holmes was penned by Conan Doyle while he was living in Southsea, give us a top-class attraction to celebrate him.

The timing could not be more fitting, with the adventures of the detective and his sidekick Dr Watson very much at a high thanks to the hugely popular BBC series and recent films starring Robert Downey Jnr.

And with a fan base spreading from America and Japan to Australia and Canada, just imagine how significant a visitor hotspot would be to tourism in Portsmouth.

Added to that is the potential boost an attraction would be to bringing in extra footfall for the proposed Northern Quarter retail development.

As Steve Pitt, of Portsmouth Culture Partnership, says: ‘There are 6.9m people who search for Holmes and Conan Doyle on Google every month.’

The stats say it all. Surely the appeal is simply elementary?