CELEBRATIONS were in full swing as Portsmouth International Port officially turned 40.
The port opened for business on June 17, 1976, and has grown into one of the largest transport hubs in the country.
Today’s operation is a far cry from our humble beginnings, but the desire to provide the highest levels of service, now and in the future, remains the same.Martin Putman, port manager
Yesterday afternoon staff – past and present – united at the ferry port to mark the momentous milestone.
At the centre of the celebration was a custom-baked birthday cake featuring scenes of the terminal.
Martin Putman is the port’s long-standing manager and will be retiring from the role later this year.
Speaking of yesterday’s birthday bash, Mr Putman said: ‘Today’s operation is a far cry from our humble beginnings, but the desire to provide the highest levels of service, now and in the future, remains the same.
‘We look forward to many more decades of success.’
The first ferry to sail from the port was Townsend Thoresen’s Viking Victory, which travelled to the French city of Cherbourg.
Since opening in 1976, the site has expanded and now has about two million people passing through the terminal every year.
William Gibbons was one of the first people to be involved with the port.
In 1976 he was the operations manager of Sea Link and was there when the first Brittany Ferries ship sailed.
He explained the port had a tough start in life with rivals Southampton.
‘The staff from Southampton came down to try to close the port down – they saw Portsmouth as being a threat to the port in Southampton which of course it was,’ he said.
Portsmouth International Port is owned and operated by Portsmouth City Council.
Since first opening, more than £70m in profits from the terminal have been ploughed back into the city’s public services.