Lymington

Street MapOur Photos

Lymington is a port on the west bank of the Lymington River on the Solent, in the New Forest district of Hampshire, England. It is to the east of the South East Dorset conurbation, and faces Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight which is connected to it by a car ferry, operated by Wightlink. The town has a large tourist industry, based on proximity to the New Forest and the harbour. It is a major yachting centre with three marinas. According to the 2001 census the Lymington urban area had a population of about 14,000.

The earliest settlement in the Lymington area was around the Iron Age fort known today as Buckland Rings. The hill and ditches of this fort still remain, and an archaeological excavation of part of the Walls was carried out there in 1935. It has been dated to around the sixth century BC. There is also another supposed Iron Age site at nearby Ampress Hole. Evidence for later settlement (as opposed to occupation) however is sparse before Domesday. Lymington itself began as an Anglo-Saxon village. The Jutes arrived in what is now South West Hampshire from the Isle of Wight in the 6th century and founded a settlement called limentun. The OE word tun means a farm or hamlet whilst Limen is believed to be a corruption of a Celtic word *lemana meaning elm-tree.

The town is recorded in the Domesday book of 1086 as “Lentune”. About 1200 the lord of the manor, William de Redvers created the borough of New Lymington around the present quay and High Street whilst Old Lymington comprised the rest of the parish. He gave the town its first charter and the right to hold a market. The town became a Parliamentary Borough in 1585 returning two MPs until 1832 when its electoral base was expanded. Lymington continued to return two MPs until the Second Reform Act of 1867 when its representation was reduced to one. On the passage of the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 Lymington’s parliamentary representation was merged with the New Forest Division.

From the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century Lymington was famous for making salt. Saltworks comprised almost a continuous belt along the coast toward Hurst Spit.

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century Lymington possessed a military depot that included a number of foreign troops – mostly artillery but including several militia regiments. At the time of the Napoleonic Wars the King’s German Legion was based here. As well as Germans and Dutch, there were French émigrés and French regiments were raised to take part in the ill fated Quiberon bay expedition (1795), from which few returned.

From the early nineteenth century it had a thriving shipbuilding industry, particularly associated with Thomas Inman the builder of the schooner Alarm, which famously raced the American yacht America in 1851. Much of the town centre is Victorian and Georgian, with narrow cobbled streets, giving an air of quaintness. The wealth of the town at the time is represented in its architecture.

Lymington particularly promotes stories about its smuggling history; there are unproven stories that under the High Street are smugglers’ tunnels that run from the old inns to the town quay.

Lymington was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. In addition to the original town, 1932 saw a major expansion of the borough, to add Milton (previously an urban district) and the parishes of Milford on Sea and Pennington, and parts of other parishes, from Lymington Rural District – this extended the borough west along the coast to the border with Christchurch.

Under the Local Government Act 1972 the borough of Lymington was abolished on April 1, 1974, becoming an unparished area in the district of New Forest, with Charter Trustees. The area was subsequently parished as the four parishes of New Milton, Lymington and Pennington, Milford-on-Sea and Hordle.

Due to changes in planning legislation, many traditional areas of the town have been redeveloped; older houses have been demolished and replaced with new blocks of flats and retirement homes. In a Channel 5 programme, Lymington received the accolade of ‘best town on the coast’ (in front of Sandbanks) in the UK for living, due to its beautiful scenery, strong transport links and low crime levels.

The high street has seen rapid change over the last few years, with an increasing presence of chain stores and coffee shop franchises. There is a local market, part of the New Forest producers markets held at the Masonic hall once a month in game season. In the cobbled street leading down to the quay are several maritime outfitters.

Lymington has a wide range of shops and a large street market on the High Street, as well as three supermarkets: Waitrose, Tesco, and M&S Simply Food. Local campaigns have resulted in the rejection of proposals for the opening of branches of the Argos retail and in 2010 the Wetherspoon’s pub chains.

The town’s leisure amenities include several parks, a 9-hole golf course, a rowing club, a community centre, a library, the St Barbe Museum and Gallery, two swimming pools (one of which is Lymington Open Air Sea Water Baths built in 1833), a sports centre and a very small cinema/theatre. There is also a Skatepark (skateboards), several tennis courts and Youth Football pitches

Located near the New Forest, Lymington is also a good location for walking, cycling and riding.

Lymington is famous for its sailing history, and in recent years has been home to world famous regattas such as the Royal Lymington Cup, Etchells Worlds, Macnamara’s Bowl, and Source Regatta. The strong tides make it a challenging race track, and together with the shallow depth of the river has resulted in Lymington losing a lot of regattas to the Central Solent, principally run from Cowes. Nevertheless, Thursday Evening Racing takes place with up to 100 boats registered to race every Thursday night during the summer, hosted by the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. Started in the 1990s, it has become increasingly popular.

There are two Sailing Clubs in the town, both active. The Royal Lymington Yacht Club, founded in the 1920s as the Lymington River Sailing Club, now has over 3000 members, and now plays host to major keelboat and dinghy events. The Lymington Town Sailing Club, founded in 1946, plays host to the popular Lymington Winter Series known as the Solent Circuit.

Lymington has two railway stations: Lymington Pier (the terminus), on the east side of the river near the ferry terminal, and Lymington Town. These stations are connected to the national rail network by a branch line to Brockenhurst. Services are currently operated by South West Trains, and are unofficially known as the Lymington Flyer.

The A337 road links Lymington to Lyndhurst and the M27 motorway to the north, and to New Milton and the South East Dorset conurbation to the west.

Three Wightlink ferries have run from Lymington to Yarmouth since the 1970s, named after Anglo Saxon Kings: Cenred, Cenwulf and Caedmon. In February 2009 they were replaced by larger vessels built in Croatia, Wight Light, White Sky and White Sun. These ferries are owned by the company that also owns the M6 Toll. They run on average every hour, from a port south east of the old town on the far side of the Lymington River.

Lymington is mentioned in The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat. It also features in the historical novels of local writer Warwick Collins (namely The Rationalist and The Marriage of Souls) and The Forest by Edward Rutherfurd.

In Tom Clancy’s Patriot Games, a Wightlink ferry heading from the Lymington ferry terminal is intercepted and a prisoner is extracted in heavy seas. Several men on board the ferry are murdered.The 1980 Christmas special of the ITV children’s show Worzel Gummidge was filmed in the town during the summer of that year. During filming a sudden wind blew the titanium dioxide that was being used as a replica of snow into homes, shops and businesses, causing damage and a large compensation bill for the producers, Southern Television.Lymington was also occasionally featured in the 1980s BBC series Howard’s Way. 

Lymington is twinned with Vitré, France; Mosbach, Germany; and Almansa, Spain.

No reviews yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.