The Seafront, Southsea, Hampshire

The Southsea Seafront has a wealth of military history from Henry VIII's 16th-century castle to the impressive, unique D-Day Museum and Overlord Tapestry.

Southsea Seafront

Clarence Esplanade




United Kingdom

Southsea seafront is a beautiful, four-mile long, open area to the south of Portsmouth and Southsea. It’s an area with a rich military and seafaring history. As recently as 1922, the land was owned by the War Department as an area for marshalling troops.

The Royal Navy ashore in Portsmouth

Imperial War Museum Photo: A 6067 (Part of the Admiralty Official Collection). Three members of the crew of HMS Bangor enjoy some shore leave in Portsmouth with the ship’s mascot Bebe the dog.

The houses, hotels, bars and shops of Southsea sprang up around the seafront but the open spaces of the common were preserved.

Southsea Seafront remembers D-Day

Clarence Esplanade snakes round from the old port and harbour area of Portsmouth. On the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Southsea seafront provides an opportune spot for military vehicles to assemble.

Landing craft approach the beaches

A D-Day re-enactment in Portsmouth by the Royal Marines sees landing craft storm the beaches at Southsea. Photo taken on 5th June 2014.

Reenactors in full 1940s wear tend their US Jeep “General Purpose” motors. Vintage motorcycles and a recreated field hospital are among the attractions along the coastline.

As well as the displays, the seafront has seen an amphibious landing, a drumhead service and a show from the Red Arrows. Throughout the year, Southsea is a popular tourist resort with views across the Solent towards the Isle of Wight.

Sundown in Portsmouth

The sun goes down over the English Channel as WWIINI prepare to leave Portsmouth Harbour bound for the Normandy beaches. Photo taken on 5th June 2014.

A wealth of military history

The seafront has been of major military importance since the 16th century. Henry VIII built Southsea Castle there as part of a series of coastal defences. Nearby, in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard lies the Mary Rose. Henry’s warship, which sank just off the coast.

The south coast of Hampshire was vital to Britain’s D-Day effort. The D-Day Museum on Clarence Esplanade is the UK’s only museum devoted entirely to the Normandy campaign.

D-Day Anti-Aircraft Guns

Anti-aircraft guns stand silently outside the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth. Photo taken on 5th June 2014.

Within the museum is the 83-metre long Overlord Tapestry, which tells the story of those involved in the operation in 1944. Tanks stand next to the tree-lined entrance of the museum, which is well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in World War Two.