More than 130 Portsmouth students to stage boozy 'sit-in' protest after closure of university's union bar

The Waterhole in the University of Portsmouth Students' Union building, in Cambridge Road, after bosses announced its closure in August. Picture: Charlotte Nurnberg
The Waterhole in the University of Portsmouth Students' Union building, in Cambridge Road, after bosses announced its closure in August. Picture: Charlotte Nurnberg
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MORE than 130 students at the University of Portsmouth will stage a boozy sit-in protest in a revolt against the closure of their union bar, the Waterhole. 

The institution allegedly became the first in England to close its own bar in August with bosses citing year-on-year declines in alcohol sales.

Now 132 students have vowed to take ‘booze, music and friends’ to the Cambridge Road venue in a bid to throw the biggest party in its history.

The protest, scheduled for Friday, was launched on Facebook by a third-year politics and international relations student, Charlotte Nürnberg. 

The 20-year-old said: ‘The Waterhole was the only student-only place we had – it was the only place students felt really safe. 

‘I think the fact it was closed over the summer is terrible, especially with the rise in crime in Portsmouth because many students felt safer there than they would along Guildhall Walk. 

Third-year University of Portsmouth politics and international relations student, Charlotte Nurnberg, 20, who is staging a boozy sit-in protest at the former Waterhole bar in the University of Portsmouth Students' Union.

Third-year University of Portsmouth politics and international relations student, Charlotte Nurnberg, 20, who is staging a boozy sit-in protest at the former Waterhole bar in the University of Portsmouth Students' Union.

‘We went through the formal procedure by setting up a petition, but now that isn’t being taken further we want them to take us seriously and listen to students.'

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Miss Nürnberg claims University of Portsmouth chiefs failed to consult students before announcing the Waterhole’s closure on August 23. 

They suggested transforming the space with ‘soft seating, microwaves and hot water points’, but new pictures from inside show the bar cordoned off by a row of empty cabinets and roll-up advertising banners.

The Waterhole in the University of Portsmouth Students' Union building, in Cambridge Road, after bosses announced its closure in August. Picture: Charlotte Nurnberg

The Waterhole in the University of Portsmouth Students' Union building, in Cambridge Road, after bosses announced its closure in August. Picture: Charlotte Nurnberg

Meanwhile the seating area once bustling with tipsy students now looks sparse – packed only with colourful plastic chairs and round tables.

Miss Nürnberg has urged her university peers to fill the venue from 5pm on Friday to show executives ‘how much it means to them’.

She said: ‘It’s a sit-in protest. Show up, have a good time with your friends and show the atmosphere the bar could have again.

‘It’s important we have our voice heard.’ 

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The Waterhole’s closure follows uproar after the loss of the University of Portsmouth’s flagship book shop, Blackwell’s, which was also in Cambridge Road until February, 2018.

Prominent city artists had enjoyed the venue for their own book launches, with writer Matt Wingett branding its closure a ‘blow to cultural life in Portsmouth'. 

A spokeswoman for the University of Portsmouth said: ‘The Waterhole bar has seen a long-term decline in sales, dropping 20 per cent year on year for the past four years and has seen the bar become a significant loss-making venue.

‘It will be refurbished into a social space with street food, a coffee shop, microwaves and comfy furniture open to all students.  

‘The university encourages all students to share their ideas on what they would like to see in the space.

‘Ideas can be sent to waterholeideas@port.ac.uk .’ 

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