Gosport is a town, district and borough situated on the south coast of England, within the county of Hampshire. It has approximately 80,000 permanent residents with a further 5,000–10,000 during the summer months. It is part of the South Hampshire conurbation and lies on a peninsula on the western side of Portsmouth Harbour opposite the City of Portsmouth, to which it is linked by a pedestrian ferry.
Up until the last quarter of the 20th century, Gosport was a major naval and military town associated with the defence and supply infrastructure of Her Majesty's Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth. As a result of a decline in these activities, many of its fortifications and installations, such as Fort Brockhurst, have been opened to the public as tourism and heritage sites, with extensive redevelopment of the harbour area as a marina.
The Rowner area of the peninsula was known to have been settled in Saxon times, mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles as Rughenor (Rough bank or slope). Both Rowner and Alverstoke (a village now within the boundaries of Gosport), the name coming from the original point where the River Alver entered the Solent at Stokes Bay, were included in the Domesday Book. Settlements in the wider region date back much earlier.Rowner is recorded as being the earliest settlement of the peninsula with many Mesolithic finds and a hunting camp (presently sealed under the reclamation site) being found, tumuli are located on the peninsula (all investigated). Bronze Age items found during a 1960s construction in HMS Sultan included a hoard of axe heads and torcs (now stored by Portsmouth museum services). A three-celled dwelling unearthed during construction of the Rowner Estate in the 1970s points to a settled landscape. Adjacent to the River Alver which passes the southern and western edges of Rowner can be found a Norman motte and bailey, the first fortification of the peninsula, giving a high vantage point over the Solent, Stokes Bay, Lee-on-the-Solent and the Isle of Wight. The Rowner estate and HMS Sultan are situated upon the former Royal Naval air station, first known as RAF Gosport and later as HMS Siskin and gives its name to the local infant and junior schools. The barracks at Browndown (Stokes Bay) were used in the first series of Bad Lads Army.
There are several theories of how the borough got its name including from the early name of Goseport which is believed to derive from "goose". An alternative etymology "gorse" (from the bushes growing on local heath land) is not supported by the regional name for the plant, "furze". The third theory which was found in the Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales and used in the town's motto, "God's Port Our Haven", claims a derivation from "God's Port", King Stephen's thanks in 1144 for safe landing in a storm. This, however, is a 19th century invention.
Royal Hospital Haslar, formally the last military hospital of the U.K. was closed as a military site in March 2007. It was opened in 1753, serving military personnel and their families, later also serving the community of Gosport. The hospital was then used by the NHS until 2009. The hospital closed as NHS services were relocated to The Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Portsmouth.
Graves of Turkish Sailors - 1850-1851 In November 1850, two ships of the Turkish Navy, the Mirat-ı Zafer and Sirag-i Bahri Birik anchored off the Hardway - Gosport. The visit lasted several months and during this time some of the members of the crew contracted Cholera (see Gosport Cholera epidemic in 1848) and were admitted to Haslar Hospital for treatment, from those who were admitted most of them died and other sailors died because of training accidents. In total 26 died and were laid to rest in the grounds of Haslar. At the turn of the 19th Century the bodies were exhumed and transferred to Clayhall Cemetery where they now lie in peace.
"They set sail for eternity and met their creator, and here they are laid to eternal rest."
These graves have led to the nickname of Gosport people being referred to as "Turkers" and Gosport as "Turktown".