Wanted: A home for Holmes so Portsmouth can cash in on Sherlock

HOME FOR HOLMES? Basil Rathbone playing the famous detective in 1939
HOME FOR HOLMES? Basil Rathbone playing the famous detective in 1939
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THE hunt is on for a venue to house a permanent Sherlock Holmes exhibition which could earn the city millions of pounds.

Portsmouth City Council wants to develop the attraction to celebrate the world-famous detective whose character was created here by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Council bosses hope it will attract tens of thousands of tourists, and say it has the potential to earn up to £20m over three years.

Councillor Lee Hunt, who’s in charge of cultural issues, said: ‘We want a permanent place for visitors to come and learn more about Sherlock Holmes. Conan-Doyle created him in Portsmouth, with the novels Study In Scarlet, and The Sign of Four conceived and written here. We are a literary city and we want to make sure people know about what was created here.’

The council is in the early stages of its preparations for the exhibition, which will be branded Sherlock Holmes – Made in Portsmouth.

But while no budget has been set, and the proposals have yet to be agreed, Cllr Hunt is keen to involve the public in suggesting venues to house the exhibition.

He said: ‘There are lots of buildings around the city, such as the City Museum, where there are rooms. But I’d like to hear from anyone who has an idea for a venue. This will be an exhibition which is advertised around the world and we hope will attract visitors from everywhere people are interested in Sherlock Holmes.’

The exhibition will use items in storage, including some from the Lancelyn-Green collection, which also forms the basis of Portsmouth Central library’s Conan Doyle resource centre.

Cllr Hunt said: ‘We have almost finished cataloguing everything in the collection and that will be available online, so in combination with the resource centre, this would be the third stage.

‘We are very confident the collection will attract a huge number of visitors from around the world.’

The council will apply for funds to help set up the exhibition from groups including English Heritage, The Lottery Fund, and the Arts Council.

Cllr Hunt, who believes the attraction could earn £6m to £7m a year, added: ‘These groups would be very keen to help. Sherlock Holmes has fans across the world, particularly in Japan and the USA. 221b Baker Street attracted two million visits in its first few years, so if we were to charge £10 per head that would be £20m coming into the city from the exhibition alone, forgetting the money which will come from hotels and restaurant visits.’

To suggest a venue, e-mail Cllr Hunt at ljhunt1@virginmedia.com