We need to make more of our ties to Conan Doyle

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ON the wall of a fairly nondescript looking block of flats at the corner of Elm Grove and Castle Road in Southsea you will find a plaque.

It’s easy enough to miss.

But that plaque marks the fact that the then doctor Arthur Conan Doyle had his surgery on that spot, and more importantly historically, wrote the first Sherlock Holmes stories at that address.

On the city’s streets that’s about the only indication you will get that one of our country’s literary giants once lived here.

The city’s other most famous literary son, Charles Dickens is rightly heralded – you can visit his birthplace, which is now a museum, and there is a statue of him in Guildhall Square.

But, whereas Dickens only spent three years here as an infant, Doyle created one of the most well-known creations in literature while living here.

The city has an enormous, collection of Conan Doyle-related books, documents and memorabilia in the shape of the Lancelyn Green Bequest, which was left to the city in 2004.

And while some of this 40,000-item collection has gone on display in the city museum, and arrangements can be made to see the rest in the archives, it’s a huge shame that more has yet to be made of it.

There has always been the hope that more could be made of this amazing gift to the city.

Holmes is routinely revived in TV and film and has fans across the globe – witness the success of the Benedict Cumberbatch version on the BBC, or the Guy Ritchie-directed Hollywood blockbusters.

If Portsmouth could tap into this rich vein of love for the fictional detective, it could bring many more visitors to our city.

And in a rare moment of cross-party unity, our council supports the notion of a dedicated attraction.

However, £7m is a lot of money to find and a lot of work needs to be done to make this a reality – previous attempts have stalled before even getting as far as the planning stage.

But if the will is there, and the money can be found, it could prove to be another fine gem in Portsmouth’s cultural crown.