ALBERT ROAD, SOUTHSEA
Albert Road is located in central Southsea and has an interesting mix of shops, restaurants and pubs.
There are only a few national and chain retail outlets, the majority of shops being mainly independent traders helping give the area its unique atmosphere and feel.
The area has been described as, "exciting, Bohemian, contemporary, highly diverse and unique to Portsmouth." At the heart of Albert Road is the Kings Theatre on the corner of Exmouth Road.
The Kings which opened in September 1907, was designed by the highly respected theatre architect Frank Matcham and is described as one of the best examples of Edwardian playhouse to be found in the British Isles. The theatre retains most of it's original features including the highly ornate and richly decorated plaster work and cornices evident in the main auditorium and public spaces.
There is an eclectic range of shops to choose from in Albert Road including comic shops, cafes, hairdressers, music shops, vintage and retro clothing shops, art and crafts, a great range of antique shops, off licences, second hand books, furniture dealers, specialist food shops and fruit and vegetable shops. The area retains the feel of a traditional high street and has a real sense of community.
Southsea and in particular Albert Road is renowned for its wide range and numerous restaurants catering for all budgets, there are restaurants and takeaways providing cuisine from around the world such as Indian and Pakistani, Pizzas, Kebabs, Chinese, Thai, Carribbean as well as traditional British food.
The area also has a wide range of pubs, bars and cafes. Many of the pubs such as the Wine Vaults and the 5th Hants Volunteer specialise in serving real ale. The Phoenix in Duncan Road is a great traditional pub which has stable facilities sometimes used by the nearby Kings Theatre to house animals appearing in productions. The Goose at the V and A, on the junction between Albert Road and Victoria Road, is housed in the old Southsea Police Station.
Opened on 14th June 1873 the station originally housed twenty eight Police officers. The station was rebuilt and expanded in 1956. The Police station finally closed in 1994, being purchased by Gales Ales of Horndean who opened the Fuzz and Firkin pub at the site. Following the takeover of Gales Ales the pub was renamed the Goose at the V&A.
Towards the eastern end of Albert Road is the Wedgewood Rooms a live music and comedy venue with a capacity of 450 - 500 people depending on use. Before becoming a music venue the Wedgewood Rooms was a more traditional function suite hosting dinner dances, awards ceremonies, society functions, wedding receptions and private parties.
The current Wedgewood Rooms venue has hosted concerts by bands such as the Klaxons, Travis, Renegades and Bowling For Soup. The venue is a favourite of many bands to host pre tour warm up concerts and promotional events.
Until 2009 a very popular community street festival called Love Albert Road Day was held each year in late July. The festival included street entertainment, live music and bands and was aimed at promoting the Albert Road area and showcase the businesses located there.
However the event became too popular, with an estimated 100,000 people attending in 2009. Due to the large scale of the event the costs for bus diversions, road closure, policing, insurance and the clean up operation afterwards became prohibitive and Love Albert Road Day was cancelled in 2010 and has not been held since. A smaller ticket only music festival, Southsea Fest is now held annually, featuring live music and entertainment located in participating pubs and venues along the road.