The overture was selected for performance at the 1926 International Society for Contemporary Music festival, and received its first performance in Zürich on 22 June 1926, conducted by Volkmar Andreae. The first London performance was on 28 June 1926, with Eugene Goossens conducting the overture as an interval work in the midst of a Diaghilev ballet performance. Walton himself conducted the overture at The Proms in 1927. Constant Lambert later prepared a version of the overture, with a reduced orchestration, from Walton's original, and also with simplified time signatures. Lambert first conducted this version in 1932.
Portsmouth Point depicts in musical form the rumbustuous life of British 18th century sailors. Commentators have noted the influence of Igor Stravinsky's music and of jazz in the rhythms of the score, as well as the rhythm of the Catalonian sardana dance.
In 1953, Walton briefly quoted this work in his contribution to the collaborative work Variations on an Elizabethan Theme.