Drive to put Cathedral on Tourist Map
THOUSANDS more visitors could soon be pouring through the doors of Portsmouth Cathedral. Staff have revealed ambitious plans to make our historic cathedral a magnet for tourists visiting the city.
Our new dean, the Very Rev David Brindley, wants to radically increase the number of people visiting the building. At the moment, only around 14,000 people a year do so - the lowest number to visit any cathedral in the UK.
“One of the things I realised when I came here was that there was so much for people to see, but that we weren’t marketing ourselves very well,” he said. “We have the grave of a Mary Rose sailor, a D-Day memorial window and a piece of Nelson’s flag from Trafalgar. Anyone who is interested in the history and heritage of Portsmouth should be making a beeline for the cathedral.
“There were 1.4 million people walking along the millennium walkway next to the seafront last year. If we manage to attract only 10 per cent of them into the cathedral, I would be delighted.”
He has appointed a new, part-time marketing manager, Judy Walker, who previously worked with the boy band Take That in the 1990s. She has unveiled ambitious plans to make the cathedral the first port of call for tourists.
They involve a coach stop outside the cathedral, a new website with a 360-degree virtual tour of the building, new marketing leaflets, a re-branded logo and more trained tour guides.
“I discovered that the local tourist information centres had no leaflets advertising the cathedral and that the tourist tours of Portsmouth didn’t stop here,” she said. “I want to market the cathedral with the slogan: ‘The history of Portsmouth starts here’ so people make it their first stop on their way to Gunwharf or the historic ships.
“People ought to be able to come to the cathedral and have an experience they remember - whether it is to do with the history of the place, the architecture, the music or the spirituality. Of course, we are aware that it is primarily a place of worship, and I would hope that all that we are doing would complement that and not detract from it.”
The cathedral was founded in 1180, expanded in the 1680s to become the parish church of Portsmouth and became a cathedral in 1927. The west front of the nave was only completed in 1991.
During April, it experimented with creating a manned welcome desk at the south-west door. Volunteers were also being recruited to become tour guides.