RESIDENTS raised a glass to Charles Dickens ahead of his 200th birthday tomorrow.
Neighbours of Old Commercial Road – the same street where Dickens was born – held a street party yesterday to mark the occasion.
Performances of his work were given by the University of Portsmouth’s drama department and Corpus Christi Amateur Dramatic Society.
And a host of party food as well as Victorian street games kept young and old entertained.
Mike Spicer 60, the street’s neighbourhood watch co-ordinator, said: ‘Dickens is probably the most famous writer in the western world after Shakespeare, and we should celebrate that.
‘After all, he’s only ever going to have a bicentenary once.
‘On a more personal level, if his birthplace wasn’t on this street it would’ve been knocked down when they built the M27, so we owe a lot to him.’
Joining in with the celebratory spirit, the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum opened its doors for free.
More than 400 visitors streamed into the famous home which usually only sees around 20 visitors on a busy day.
Gareth Brettell, learning officer for the museum service, said: ‘Dickens’ 200th birthday is a very special occasion and we always wanted to do something big for it, but we also wanted to do something on a smaller scale for local residents.
‘Dickens is such an important part of Portsmouth’s heritage and we think people should be proud of that.
‘By opening up the museum we’re encouraging people to come and have a look at the home and take pride in their city’s history.’
Events will be held across Portsmouth tomorrow to mark Dickens’ birthday, including an official street party in Old Commercial Road.