This summer Portsmouth International Port will be celebrating its 40th anniversary,. In the 1970s ferry companies began to encourage Portsmouth City Council to construct a ferry port. They were looking to cut the time spent crossing the channel from Southampton by an hour, and also take advantage of good transport links to London and the Midlands.
The City investigated three locations for a ferry port and the current location at the end of the newly constructed M275 was chosen. The choice was based on cost and the likely benefit of cross-channel ferries. An extensive programme of land reclamation took place and the site opened in 1976 with two berths and a newly constructed terminal building.
Portsmouth had been in continuous use since Roman times, and had for centuries been an important naval base. But there was no real infrastructure in place for ferries until June 1976 when the ferry port first opened for business with the launch of a Townsend Thoresen service to Cherbourg.
Townsend Thoresen renamed the ferry Viking 1 as Viking Victory, reflecting Nelson’s famous flagship as a gift to the people of Portsmouth. It was joined at Portsmouth by Brittany Ferries newly acquired Armorique, which sailed on a route to St Malo. A year later Townsend Thoresen began transferring other services from Southampton, now fully aware of the advantages that came with sailing from Portsmouth.