Front cover for The Mystery of Southsea's Laughing Sailor

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Turn the historic streets of Southsea into an exciting outdoor escape room, with The Mystery of Southsea's Laughing Sailor!

Can you crack Southsea's most legendary unsolved mystery? It's suitable for adults and older children.

Solve the clues and crack the mystery, discover amazing local history, and get some fun outdoor exercise!


According to local legend, in the summer of 1910 a strange character appeared on Southsea Common for the first time, who became an overnight celebrity and a treasured city icon; a mechanical laughing sailor owned by local handyman Quentin Price. Crowds were drawn from far and wide to hear the sailor’s contagious laugh, and queues lined up to have their portrait painted with the famous star.

However, on the morning of the 24th August, as the local handyman was fixing a broken carriage wheel, someone forced open the sailor’s side panel and destroyed its machinery in a terrible act of vandalism, silencing the laugh of the jolly sailor forever!

Why would someone want to destroy Southsea’s most iconic tourist attraction? Was it a personal grudge against the owner? Or did someone grow envious of the sailor’s admiration?

You must follow the route, eliminate the suspects, and track down the shadowy vandal to get to the bottom of this legendary mystery. On your journey you will be challenged with a range of cryptic clues, including word games, maths puzzles and hidden objects, as you unravel the crime and discover the best of Southsea's fascinating history.

"A fabulous Southsea adventure!"

Distance: 4.5km walk
Duration: 3+ hours
Difficulty: Medium (adults + older children)
Players: 1-3 per booklet
Clues to solve: 16
Starting Point: Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery, Museum Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2LJ

The trail includes the following offers:
10% off food and drink at The Jolly Sailor
10% off drink at The Phoenix
20% off lunch at the Queens Hotel (Mon-Thu)

How to book

Order a copy of the activity book to your address via or purchase in-person at Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery.

Book Tickets

Guide Prices

From £9.99



TripAdvisor Traveller Rating:

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    Recent Reviews:

    • Sperenzo
      Trip Type:
      An amazing Brighton adventure!
      5 of 5 stars
      Tuesday, 6th July 2021
      Truly was an amazing Brighton adventure! Loved exploring the city and learning new things! Highly recommend! Read full review
    • 235Alan
      Portsmouth, United Kingdom
      Trip Type:
      Great SOUTHSEA Experience
      5 of 5 stars
      Saturday, 7th August 2021
      A really interesting, fun and informative treasure-hunt. We did the SOUTHSEA Adventure (new for summer 2021). The museum at the start was excellent and really put us in the mood for further... Read full review
    • AnnieNearSouthampton
      Near Southampton
      Trip Type:
      Exploring Southsea enjoying a mystery.
      5 of 5 stars
      Monday, 13th September 2021
      Plenty of places to stop for refreshments. We parked near The Parade tea Rooms at Western Parade and had coffee and then walked to the museum to start. Lunch at Southsea Castle. Cuppa near the... Read full review

    Map & Directions

    The Mystery of Southsea's Laughing Sailor

    Type:Walking Tour

    Starts at Portsmouth Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2LJ

    TripAdvisor Traveller Rating

    TripAdvisor Traveller Rating - 76 reviews76 reviews

    Opening Times

    The Mystery of Southsea's Laughing Sailor (1 Jan 2021 - 31 Dec 2021)

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