Shakespeare lovers back Portsmouth’s Sherlock attraction aspirations

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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A CULTURAL group in the town where William Shakespeare was born have urged Portsmouth to capitalise on its literary connections and build a world-class Sherlock Holmes visitor attraction.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, set up after the poet’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon became a national memorial, has backed Portsmouth’s bid to celebrate the fictional detective character.

It would be fascinating to know more about Conan Doyle’s links with Portsmouth and how the town could benefit from this literary connection.

Diana Owen, chief executive of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Trust officials say Stratford’s ties with the world-famous writer have enabled it to attract more than a million visitors every year.

The cultural body’s endorsement of efforts to obtain planning permission to create a global museum near Portsmouth’s seafront comes days before a strategy meeting to discuss how bids for cash could be developed.

Diana Owen, chief executive of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: ‘There is no doubt that being the home of a world-renowned literary figure can bring huge benefits to your town and economy, both in terms of tourism and the richness of your cultural offer.

‘The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was established in 1847 to care for and preserve the five historical Shakespeare family homes in Stratford-upon-Avon, and of course share the enjoyment of his works, life and times with people of all ages and backgrounds.

‘Each year we welcome nearly a million visitors from all over the world to the five Shakespeare houses, and thousands more enjoy our educational programmes here in Stratford and via our innovative digital initiatives.

‘Many more visit the town to enjoy productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the beautiful medieval town.

‘It would be fascinating to know more about Conan Doyle’s links with Portsmouth and how the city could benefit from this literary connection.

‘Surprisingly, we even have a few letters from Conan Doyle in the Bram Stoker Collection cared for by the trust on behalf of the RSC.’

Portsmouth Tory culture boss, Councillor Linda Symes, will consider the city’s Sherlock plans on Friday at 9am in Portsmouth Guildhall.

Meanwhile, Portsea’s Groundlings Theatre has backed the proposed new attraction and says it would love to hold a production celebrating Sherlock to tie in with its launch.

Richard Stride, the theatre’s artistic director, said: ‘Anything that revitalises the appeal of Sherlock Holmes and literature in general is brilliant.

‘Conan Doyle wrote his Holmes story here and the inspiration for John Watson was from Portsmouth, so there is a great cultural link.’