Tentative though it is, I think Gosport might be reinventing itself. Maybe it’s just that I hadn’t noticed until last week, but to me the town is definitely on the up.
It started when I saw a pub which I didn’t know existed, just off the High Street. It was as if it had magically appeared but, according to my hairdresser’s assistant, it’s been there since the dawn of time.
Soon I saw possibilities springing up everywhere. The first one is The Art Place, with all sorts of lovely bits and pieces of ceramics and prints, plus vintage clothes and exhibition space to hire out for budding artists.
Moving up the High Street, there’s now Stuff (antique and shabby chic) opposite the ferry, while down the road a bit there’s also The Old School selling secondhand leather sofas and other items – but only on Saturdays.
There’s something deliciously old-fashioned about this shop, from the man out the front smoking and telling mysterious tales of ‘the trade’ (which always sounds a little nefarious to me) to the odd little rooms crammed full of chaise longues and assorted curious ephemera.
Walking around with my eyes open, in the sunshine, made me think of how much potential we have in Gosport to have a renaissance.
We’ve got the space, we’ve got the buildings and we’ve obviously got the entrepreneurial talent. Now all we need is the shoppers, not just from Gosport but from across the water.
Yes that’s you, citizens of Portsmouth. We’ve been spending our pennies at Gunwharf for years, so it’s time you came over here and checked out some individuality!
We’re never going to be able to compete with Gunwharf, or Fareham for smart looks. But what we can do is embrace our quirkiness and go all out for secondhand chic.
The High Street is already laden with secondhand clothes shops and now the furniture is coming. Add in a little bit of swank and we have the perfect recipe to build a destination that people will come to.
Give up the dreams of big brands and go back to individuals. Then maybe we’ll be able to keep our High Street alive.