WHY IS PORTSMOUTH KNOWN AS POMPEY?
For as long as anyone can remember Portsmouth, both the City and the Football Club, have been known as Pompey.
But why it is called this is less clear, here we have gathered together various possible explanation's of why Portsmouth is called Pompey.
However nobody seems to be able to put forward a definitive answer to this question, perhaps we will never know.
- Legend has it that a snoozing, drunken sailor on shore leave in Portsmouth, interrupted a lecture on the Roman Empire given by naval temperance worker, Dame Agnes Weston founder of the Royal Sailors Rests, 'aggie weston's'.
When he heard that the emperor Pompey had died, the sailor shouted out 'Poor old Pompey' in a drunken slur, the name was taken up by others at the lecture and moved into common usage.
- It is said that a group of Portsmouth based sailors, who climbed Pompey's Pillar near Alexandria in Egypt around 1781, they became known as the 'Pompey Boys' and that this term carried over to the City itself.
- Portsmouth has been a port ever since Roman times, the Romans having a military base at nearby Portchester.
Later when the port started to be developed locals nicknamed it Pompey, likening it to Pompeii which was well known for its Roman ruins.
- The pomp and ceremony connected with the Royal Navy based at Portsmouth led to the adoption of the nickname, Pompey.
- Bombay was part of the wedding gift of Catherine of Braganza to Charles II.
Portuguese seaman saw a resemblance between the two ports and may have called Portsmouth 'Bom Bhia' which became Anglicised to Pompey.
- Pompey is merely a drunkards slurred pronunciation of Portsmouth Point in Old Portsmouth (where in the past there were many taverns popular
- Ships entering Portsmouth harbour make an entry in the ships log Pom. P. as a reference to Portsmouth Point (this being too long).
Navigational charts also use this abbreviation.
- La Pompee was a captured French ship moored in Portsmouth harbour and used for prison accommodation, (captured 1793 and broken up 1817).
The Pompee was newly built when she was captured by the Royal Navy from the French, during the Siege of Toulon in 1794. She went to to serve as a Royal Navy ship renamed
HMS Pompee. Later HMS Pompee was used as a prison hulk in Portsmouth Harbour in 1816.
- Volunteer firemen in the eighteenth century (known as pompiers) used to exercise on Southsea Common.
If you have any alternative explanations as to why Portsmouth is called Pompey, or how this term originated, we would be pleased to hear from you, contact details are shown here.