Historic Dockyard boss says ugly railway stations and a lack of loos set a bad impression of Portsmouth

A TOP-BRASS ambassador for Portsmouth’s world-renowned dockyard has slammed eyesore gateways for giving visitors a bad impression of the city and its top attractions.

Saturday, 19th October 2019, 7:00 am
Director general of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Professor Dominic Tweddle.

Run-down train stations, allegedly ‘drearily inadequate’ ferry services and dodgy toilets are all in Professor Dominic Tweddle’s firing line.

The director general of the National Museum of the Royal Navy vented after his anger at broken loos at Wightlink’s Fastcat terminal boiled over.

A ‘badly damaged’ sewage pipe under its base on Portsmouth Harbour railway station’s pier saw them shut three weeks ago amid environmental concerns.

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Portsmouth Harbour station. Picture: Malcolm Wells

To make matters worse Prof Tweddle claims visitors face a ‘minefield of misinformation' over whether loos at city train stations will open each day.

‘Come on guys this is the 21st century,' said Prof Tweddle, who travels to Portsmouth on the Fastcat from his home in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight. 

‘Portsmouth Harbour station would disgrace the meanest town in the poorest country on Earth and the services to the Isle of Wight are a drearily inadequate substitute for a bridge or tunnel.’ 

He added: ‘Portsmouth and Southsea is probably the nastiest station on the planet. It's hit or miss whether [its] loos will be available.’ 

Portsmouth and Southsea station

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Prof Tweddle said the issues ‘do not give a very good impression of Portsmouth’.

It comes after The News and then-Portsmouth City Council leader, Donna Jones, led calls for a refurbishment of the harbour station in 2018.

A plea to rejuvenate Portsmouth and Southsea's station later followed in March of this year, led by Liberal Democrat councillor Ben Dowling. 

Portsmouth City Council’s leader, councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said the city’s stations are not as dire as Prof Tweddle claims. 

He said: ‘The harbour station, the town station and Fratton all need significant work to make them better – but I have been to many, many worse.'

He added: ‘I've got no idea what Wightlink have got to say but they should get [their toilets] up and running as soon as possible.’

A Wightlink spokeswoman said contractors are currently replacing ‘between 50 and 70 metres’ of pipework under its Fastcat terminal, after it was ‘pulled’ away from the pier. 

She added: ‘Wightlink apologises for the inconvenience caused and assures customers the toilets will be open again as soon as possible. 

‘However, customers can still use the toilet facilities on board the Fastcats, at Ryde Pier, at Portsmouth Harbour railway station or in the new transport interchange nearby.’ 

South Western Railway said toilets at both its city stations had not been out of order for three weeks, but confirmed one faced a recent outage. 

A spokesman said: ‘We’re very sorry that due to a blockage with the drain system the toilets at Portsmouth Harbour station had to be closed to the public for 48 hours. The toilets are open again for customers to use and have been for some time.’

Network Rail said it was working with the rail operator to improve city station facilities, including an ongoing refurbishment of the Landport Viaduct at Portsmouth and Southsea.