Two people enjoying 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

Book online via TripAdvisor using the following link:

Alternatively, 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:

5 of 5 stars
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    Recent Reviews:

    • AnnieNearSouthampton
      Southampton, United Kingdom
      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
    • 245davem245
      Canterbury, United Kingdom
      Trip Type:
      Friends getaway
      “Who smashed Brighton Rock?” was smashing!
      5 of 5 stars
      Sunday, 5th December 2021
      We did the Brighton mystery and it was such fun. Even though we know the town really well we saw places that were new to us, saw things on familiar landmarks that we’d missed before and learned some... Read full review
    • jennysB6341EL
      Trip Type:
      Great fun exploring Bristol
      5 of 5 stars
      Saturday, 15th January 2022
      We did the Georgian Bristol Mystery Adventure: The Amazing Flying Machine today as a team of three - 1 adult (me) and two 12 year olds, who rated it as "good" and "great". They solved all the puzzles... 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 - 88 reviews88 reviews

    Opening Times

    The Mystery of Southsea's Laughing Sailor (1 Jan 2022 - 31 Dec 2022)

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