5 things you will only know if you went to university in Portsmouth

Thousands of young people across the UK have moved to our city this year to study at the University of Portsmouth.

Sunday, 8th August 2021, 4:17 pm

Of course we are going to be biased – but if you’ve chosen Portsmouth as your new home you will find there is so much to do and lots to find out about student life.

The overwhelming majority of Portsmouth’s students love their university, so we’ve broken down some of the experiences unique to them as they’ve studied in the UK’s only island city over the years.

Please be aware these will vary in seriousness and likely mean nothing to people unfamiliar with Portsmouth.

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The old Anglesea Road crossing.

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:: The library hand gel

Given we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, we’re all pretty used to slapping on the sanitiser and washing our hands as a matter of procedure.

The University of Portsmouth library in Cambridge Road. Picture: Sarah Standing (210319-2665)

But tens of thousands of University of Portsmouth graduates will know well the uncomfortable side of keeping germ free, thanks to the university’s own library.

The inside door handles of the library’s toilets used to be made of a perforated plastic casing that belched hand gel into your palms whenever you pulled them to leave.

Looking back, it was a pretty intuitive mechanism to ensure student hygiene – but it felt pretty violating when you had already washed and dried your dannies after a number one, two or three*.

*The tearful trip you make to the library loos when those deadlines get a bit too much.

The puffin crossing linking Cambridge Road and St Michael's Road, otherwise known as 'Flyer Island' to University of Portsmouth students. Picture: Google Street View

:: Flyer Island

Portsmouth students love a party. But before they pack into the city centre nightclub of their choice, they're propositioned by dozens of promoters in branded gilets vying for their cold, hard cash.

Armed with hundreds of flyers and a bucketload of confidence, these stringent salespeople strategically place themselves between crossings so a student’s only way out is a dash across a main road.

It’s this reputation that coined these hustlers a domain on which to build their empire – the unofficial Flyer Island – which joins pedestrian crossings between the students’ union and St Michael’s Road.

The Albert Road branch of Ken's, which hit the headlines in January. Picture: Google Street View

They can also be seen working between crossings at the western end of Winston Churchill Avenue, just a stone’s throw from the clubs themselves.

:: The peril of Anglesea Road

Students whose timetables took them to the Anglesea, Burnaby, Buckingham, Milldam or Lion Gate buildings didn’t need a coffee or an extra Weetabix before 9am lectures.

Instead, their morning pick-me-up was a real-life game of Frogger that served a shot of adrenaline so intense it could scupper a prince’s ability to sweat.

We're of course referring to the former pelican crossing at Anglesea Road, which hundreds of bleary-eyed students would embark on like Lemmings every hour.

The island that made up this crossing was so unfit for its huge footfall that it may as well been the size of a postage stamp. It was like the floating door from James Cameron's Titanic.

Thankfully it has since been removed, but the streets – nor the understandably angry drivers – will forget the game of chicken students played there in a bid to get to uni on time.

A special mention must also go to the university bus stop opposite Lidl, in Goldsmith Avenue. Crossing there after disembarking made Moses’s parting of the Red Sea look like a doddle.

:: The ups and downs of the Rosalind Franklin Halls (formerly the James Watson Hall*)

Caved-in ceilings, paddling pools in bedrooms, slip ‘n slides in corridors, vandalised lifts and parties in kitchens – you name it, these halls have seen it all.

Most graduates would have attended pre-drinks at the Rosalind Franklin Halls at some point and that was usually thanks to the fun-loving students who called them home.

We can’t condone the idiotic acts of criminal damage the halls have seen over the years, but we can salute their many residents who harmlessly lived their University of Portsmouth life to the full.

*The building’s old name was struck off last year after disgraced DNA scientist James Watson made some ‘abhorrent’ remarks on race.

:: Ken’s

Excluding Colonel Sanders, there can’t be that many celebrities in the fried chicken game, can there?

Well, Ken is one – and his many restaurants in Portsmouth will without a doubt go down in university folklore as bookends of an either brilliant or terrible night out.

One Ken’s restaurant in Southsea reached cult status in January when footage of an indoor brawl spread on social media like wildfire. It has now been viewed more than 24million times.

Not ringing any bells? You may remember the bloke who watched the chaos unfold while peacefully listening to music and munching on a kebab and chips. Bliss.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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