Not a lot of people know these days, but until the 1930s, Portsmouth had a flourishing soap making industry. The major players were Doudneys of Commercial Road, whose Dolphin Soap brand sold internationally, and Tillys of Prospect Row (now Gunwharf Road). Launching on Saturday, a brand new business based in the city will bring this forgotten part of Portsmouth’s heritage back to life.
Southsea Bathing Hut is the brainchild of Southsea resident Samantha Worsey. Formerly General Manager of Portsmouth Festivities, Samantha explains:
“I was born and bred in Portsmouth, so I am passionate about this city and its heritage. Having learned so much about Portsmouth’s history while working in arts and culture, I decided it was time to use my skills to revive a lost local industry.” She adds, “We like to say we’re ‘bringing soapy back’.”
Samantha has a life-long love of craft and creation. She has poured this passion into learning traditional cold process soap making and developed a range of original ‘Portsmouth Soaps’. The products are made as they would have been produced back in Victorian times, by hand.
But the company’s branding is right up-to-date, with quirky names for the nine-strong range including Aloe Sailor, Ooh-La-Lavender and Mint Overboard.
“This is just the beginning,” Samantha explains. “We’re starting with soap and bathing accessories but our ambition is to develop a whole range of handmade cosmetics and coastal interior products. Whatever we do, we want to keep it uniquely Portsmouth.”
Southsea Bathing Hut launches at the Love Southsea Easter Market on Palmerston Road, on Saturday 4th April. They are booking a range of markets across Hampshire for spring and summer and will also be selling their products at www.southseabathinghut.co.uk.