Southampton

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Southampton (/saʊθˈhæmptən/) is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated 120 kilometres (75 mi) south-west of London and 30 kilometres (19 mi) north-west of Portsmouth and has a population of 239,700 (2010) Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest. It lies at the northernmost point of Southampton Water at the confluence of the River Test and River Itchen, with the River Hamble joining to the south of the urban area. The local authority is Southampton City Council, which is a unitary authority.

Significant employers in Southampton include the University of Southampton, Southampton Airport, the Ford Transit factory, Ordnance Survey, the BBC through Radio Solent and South Today, the NHS and one of the largest commercial ports in Europe. The city represents the core of the Greater Southampton region, and the city itself has an estimated population of 234,600 (MYE 2008). Southampton combines with Portsmouth to form a single metropolitan area stretching from Salisbury to Bognor Regis. With a population of 1,547,000 this is the United Kingdom’s eighth most populous metropolitan area. The city’s name is sometimes abbreviated in writing to “So’ton” or “Soton”, and a resident of Southampton is called a Sotonian. Southampton is noted for its association with the RMS Titanic, the Spitfire and more recently a number of the largest cruise ships in the world.

Archaeological finds suggest that the area has been inhabited since the stone age. According to the Chronicle of the Britons the Ancient Britons had called the place Porth Hamon after a certain Lelius Hamo, a traitor who had murdered king Togodumnus during the early stages of the Roman invasion of Britain. Following the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43 and the conquering of the local Britons in 70 AD the fortress settlement of Clausentum was established. It was an important trading port and defensive outpost of Winchester, at the site of modern Bitterne Manor. Clausentum was defended by a wall and two ditches and is thought to have contained a bath house. Clausentum was not abandoned until around 410.

The Anglo-Saxons formed a new, larger, settlement across the Itchen centred on what is now the St Mary’s area of the city. The settlement was known as Hamwic, which evolved into Hamtun and then Hampton. Archaeological excavations of this site have uncovered one of the best collections of Saxon artefacts in Europe. It is from this town that the county of Hampshire gets its name.

Viking raids from 840 onwards contributed to the decline of Hamwic in the 9th century, and by the 10th century a fortified settlement, which became medieval Southampton, had been established.

Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, Southampton became the major port of transit between the then capital of England, Winchester, and Normandy. Southampton Castle was built in the 12th century and by the 13th century Southampton had become a leading port, particularly involved in the import of French wine in exchange for English cloth and wool.

Surviving remains of 12th century merchants’ houses such as King John’s House and Canute’s Palace are evidence of the wealth that existed in the town at this time. In 1348, the Black Death reached England via merchant vessels calling at Southampton.

The town was sacked in 1338 by French, Genoese and Monegasque ships (under Charles Grimaldi, who used the plunder to help found the principality of Monaco). On visiting Southampton in 1339, Edward III ordered that walls be built to ‘close the town’. The extensive rebuilding—part of the walls dates from 1175—culminated in the completion of the western walls in 1380. Roughly half of the walls, 13 of the original towers, and six gates survive.

The city walls include God’s House Tower, built in 1417, the first purpose-built artillery fortification in England. Over the years it has been used as home to the city’s gunner, the Town Gaol and even as storage for the Southampton Harbour Board. Today, it is open as the Museum of Archaeology. The walls were completed in the 15th century, but later development of several new fortifications along Southampton Water and the Solent by Henry VIII meant that Southampton was no longer dependent upon its fortifications.

On the other hand, many of the medieval buildings once situated within the town walls are now in ruins or have disappeared altogether. From successive incarnations of the motte and bailey castle, only a section of the bailey wall remains today, lying just off Castle Way. The last remains of the Franciscan friary in Southampton, founded circa 1233 and dissolved in 1538, were swept away in the 1940s. The site is now occupied by Friary House.

Elsewhere, remnants of the medieval water supply system devised by the friars can still be seen today. Constructed in 1290, the system carried water from Conduit Head (remnants of which survive near Hill Lane, Shirley) some 1.7 kilometres to the site of the friary inside the town walls. The friars granted use of the water to the town in 1310 and passed on ownership of the water supply system itself in 1420. Further remains can be observed at Conduit House on Commercial Road.

In 1642, during the English Civil War, a Parliamentary garrison moved into Southampton. The Royalists advanced as far as Redbridge, Southampton in March 1644 but were prevented from taking the town.

During the Middle Ages, shipbuilding became an important industry for the town. Henry V’s famous warship HMS Grace Dieu was built in Southampton. Walter Taylor’s 18th century mechanisation of the block-making process was a significant step in the Industrial Revolution. From 1904 to 2004, the Thornycroft shipbuilding yard was a major employer in Southampton, building and repairing ships used in the two World Wars.

Prior to King Henry’s departure for the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the ringleaders of the “Southampton Plot”—Richard, Earl of Cambridge, Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham and Sir Thomas Grey of Heton—were accused of high treason and tried at what is now the Red Lion public house in the High Street. They were found guilty and summarily executed outside the Bargate.

Southampton has been used for military embarkation, including during 18th century wars with the French, the Crimean war, and the Boer War. Southampton was designated No. 1 Military Embarkation port during the Great War and became a major centre for treating the returning wounded and POWs. It was also central to the preparations for the Invasion of Europe in 1944.

Southampton became a spa town in 1740. It had also become a popular site for sea bathing by the 1760s, despite the lack of a good quality beach. Innovative buildings specifically for this purpose were built at West Quay, with baths that were filled and emptied by the flow of the tide.

The town experienced major expansion during the Victorian era. The Southampton Docks company had been formed in 1835. In October 1838 the foundation stone of the docks was laid and the first dock opened in 1842. The structural and economic development of docks continued for the next few decades. The railway link to London was fully opened in May 1840. Southampton subsequently became known as The Gateway to the Empire.

The port was the point of departure for the Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower in 1620. In 1912, the RMS Titanic sailed from Southampton. Four in five of the crew on board the vessel were Sotonians, with about a third of those who perished in the tragedy hailing from the city. Southampton was subsequently the home port for the transatlantic passenger services operated by Cunard with their Blue Riband liner RMS Queen Mary and her running mate RMS Queen Elizabeth. In 1938, Southampton docks also became home to the flying boats of Imperial Airways. Southampton Container Terminals first opened in 1968 and has continued to expand.

The Supermarine Spitfire was designed and developed in Southampton, evolving from the Schneider trophy-winning seaplanes of the 1920s and 1930s. Its designer, R J Mitchell, lived in the Portswood area of Southampton, and his house is today marked with a blue plaque. Heavy bombing of the factory in September 1940 destroyed it as well as homes in the vicinity, killing civilians and workers. World War II hit Southampton particularly hard because of its strategic importance as a major commercial port and industrial area. Prior to the Invasion of Europe, components for a Mulberry harbour were built here. After D-Day, Southampton docks handled military cargo to help keep the Allied forces supplied, making it a key target of Luftwaffe bombing raids until late 1944.

630 people lost their lives as a result of the air raids on Southampton and nearly 2,000 more were injured, not to mention the thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed.

Pockets of Georgian architecture survived the war, but much of the city was levelled. There has been extensive redevelopment since World War II. Increasing traffic congestion in the 1920s led to partial demolition of medieval walls around the Bargate in 1932 and 1938. However a large portion of those walls remain.

A Royal Charter in 1952 upgraded University College at Highfield to the University of Southampton. Southampton acquired city status, becoming the City of Southampton in 1964.

After the establishment of Hampshire County Council following the Act in 1888 Southampton became a County borough within the county of Hampshire,which meant that it had many features of County but the governance was shared now between the Corporation in Southampton and the new County Council. There is a great source of confusion in the fact that the ancient Shire County, along with its associated Assizes, was known as the County of Southampton or Southamptonshire. This was officially changed to Hampshire in 1959 although the county had been commonly known as Hampshire or Hantscire for centuries. Southampton became a non-metropolitan district in 1974.

Southampton as a Port and city has had a long history of administrative independence of the surrounding County; as far back as the reign of King John the town and its port were removed from the writ of the King’s Sheriff in Hampshire and the rights of custom and toll were granted by the King to the burgesses of Southampton over the port of Southampton and the Port of Portsmouth; this tax farm was granted for an annual fee of £200 in the charter dated at Orival on 29 June 1199. The definition of the port of Southampton was apparently broader than today and embraced all of the area between Lymington and Langstone. The corporation had resident representatives in Newport, Lymington and Portsmouth. By a Charter of Henry VI granted on 9 March 1446/7 (25+26 Hen. VI, m. 32), the mayor, bailiffs and burgesses of the towns and ports of Southampton and Portsmouth became a County incorporate and separate from Hampshire.

The status of the town was changed by a later charter of Charles I by at once the formal separation from Portsmouth and the recognition of Southampton as a county, In the charter dated 27 June 1640 the formal title of the town became ‘The Town and County of the Town of Southampton’. These charters and Royal Grants, of which there were many, also set out the governance and regulation of the town and port which remained the ‘constitution’ of the town until the local government organisation of the later Victorian period which from about 1888 saw the setting up of County Councils across England and Wales and including Hampshire County Council who now took on some of the function of Government in Southampton Town. In this regime, The Town and County of the Town of Southampton also became a County Borough with shared responsibility for aspects of local government. On 6 March 1964 the status changed again by a Charter of Elizabeth II,creating the City and County of the City of Southampton. The city has undergone many changes to it governance over the centuries and it once again,became administratively independent from Hampshire county as it was made into a unitary authority in a local government reorganisation on 1 April 1997—a result of the 1992 Local Government Act. The district remains part of the Hampshire ceremonial county.

There are three members of parliament for the city: Rt. Hon. John Denham (Labour) for Southampton Itchen, the constituency covering the east of the city; Dr. Alan Whitehead (Labour) for Southampton Test, which covers the west of the city; and Caroline Nokes (Conservative) for Romsey and Southampton North, which includes a northern portion of the city.

The geography of Southampton is influenced by the sea and rivers. The city lies at the northern tip of the Southampton Water, a deep water estuary, which is a ria formed at the end of the last Ice Age. Here, the rivers Test and Itchen converge. The Test—which has salt marsh that makes it ideal for salmon fishing—runs along the western edge of the city, while the Itchen splits Southampton in two—east and west. The city centre is located between the two rivers.

Town Quay is the original public quay, and dates from the 13th century. Today’s Eastern Docks were created in the 1830s by land reclamation of the mud flats between the Itchen & Test estuaries. The Western Docks date from the 1930s when the Southern Railway Company commissioned a major land reclamation and dredging programme. Most of the material used for reclamation came from dredging of Southampton Water, to ensure that the port can continue to handle large ships.

Southampton Water has the benefit of a double high tide, with two high tide peaks, making the movement of large ships easier. This is not caused as popularly supposed by the presence of the Isle of Wight, but is a function of the shape and depth of the English Channel. In this area the general water flow is distorted by more local conditions reaching across to France.

The city lies in the Hampshire Basin, which sits atop chalk beds.

The River Test runs along the western border of the city, separating it from the New Forest. There are bridges over the Test from Southampton, including the road and rail bridges at Redbridge in the south and the M27 motorway to the north. The River Itchen runs through the middle of the city and is bridged in several places. The northernmost bridge, and the first to be built, is at Mansbridge, where the A27 road crosses the Itchen. The original bridge is closed to road traffic, but is still standing and open to pedestrians and cyclists. The river is bridged again at Swaythling, where Woodmill Bridge separates the tidal and non tidal sections of the river. Further south is Cobden Bridge which is notable as it was opened as a free bridge (it was originally named the Cobden Free Bridge), and was never a toll bridge. Downstream of the Cobden Bridge is the Northam Railway Bridge, then the Northam Road Bridge, which was the first major pre-stressed concrete bridge to be constructed in the United Kingdom. The southernmost bridge on the Itchen is the Itchen Bridge, which is a toll bridge.

There are 120,305 jobs in Southampton, and 3,570 people claiming job seeker’s allowance, approximately 2.4 per cent of the city’s population, as at March 2007. This compares with an average of 2.5 per cent for England as a whole.

As of June 2006, 74.7 per cent of the city’s population are classed as economically active.

Just over a quarter of the jobs available in the city are in the health and education sector. A further 19 per cent are property and other business and the third largest sector is wholesale and retail, which accounts for 16.2 percent. Between 1995 and 2004, the number of jobs in Southampton has increased by 18.5 per cent.

As of January 2007, the average annual salary in the city was £22,267. This was £1,700 lower than the national average and £3,800 less than the average for the South East.

Southampton has always been a port, and the docks have long been a major employer in the city. In particular, it is a port for cruise ships; its heyday was the first half of the 20th century, and in particular the inter-war years, when it handled almost half the passenger traffic of the UK. Today it remains home to luxury cruise ships, as well as being the largest freight port on the Channel coast and fourth largest UK port by tonnage, with several container terminals. Unlike some other ports, such as Liverpool, London, and Bristol, where industry and docks have largely moved out of the city centres leaving room for redevelopment, Southampton retains much of its inner-city industry. Part of the docks has been redeveloped and the Ocean Village development—a local marina and entertainment complex—built. Southampton is home to the headquarters of both the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport.

During the latter half of the 20th century, a more diverse range of industry also came to the city, including aircraft and car manufacture, cables, electrical engineering products, and petrochemicals. These now exist alongside the city’s older industries of the docks, grain milling, and tobacco processing.

Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the city’s largest employers. It provides local hospital services to 500,000 people in the Southampton area and specialist regional services to more than 3 million people across the South of England. The Trust owns and manages Southampton General Hospital, the Princess Anne Hospital and a palliative care service at Countess Mountbatten House.

Other major employers in the city include Ordnance Survey, the UK’s national mapping agency, whose headquarters is in the city. The Lloyd’s Register Group has announced plans to move its London marine operations to a specially developed site at the University of Southampton. The area of Swaythling is home to Ford’s Southampton Assembly Plant, where the majority of their Transit models are manufactured.

Southampton’s largest retail centre is the WestQuay Shopping Centre. Opened in September 2000 and hosting major high street stores, it is one of the largest in the country. The centre was Phase Two of the West Quay development, the first phase of which was the West Quay Retail Park, while the third phase may begin in 2010, now to be called Watermark Westquay. The plans include shops, housing, an hotel and a public piazza with a planned opening date of 2012. Southampton has been granted a licence for a large casino.

Swedish home products retailer IKEA opened a store on 12 February 2009. near West Quay. Other major shopping areas in the city centre include The Mall Marlands, the Bargate Centre and the East Street area, which has been designated for speciality shopping, with the aim of promoting smaller retailers. In 2007, Southampton was ranked 13th for shopping in the UK.

Southampton’s strong economy is promoting redevelopment, and major projects are proposed, including the city’s first skyscrapers on the waterfront. The three towers proposed will stand 23 storeys high and will be surrounded by smaller apartment blocks, office blocks and shops. There are also plans for a 15-storey hotel at the Ocean Village marina, and a 21-storey hotel on the north eastern corner of the city centre, as part of a £100m development.

Southampton is the only city in the UK with a geothermal power station. The station provides hot water to a city centre district heating scheme. In a recent survey of carbon emissions in major UK cities conducted by British Gas, Southampton was ranked as being one of the lowest carbon emitting cities in the United Kingdom.

According to 2004 figures, Southampton contributes around £4.2 bn to the regional economy annually. The vast majority of this is from the service sector, with the remainder coming from industry in the city. This figure has almost doubled since 1995.

The city is home to the longest surviving stretch of medieval walls in England, as well as a number of museums such as Tudor House Museum, recently re-opened on 30 July 2011 after undergoing extensive restoration and improvement, Southampton Maritime Museum, God’s House Tower, an archaeology museum about the citys heritage and located in one of the tower walls, the Medieval Merchant’s House and Solent Sky, which focuses on aviation. A Titanic Memorial Museum is planned. Having received half a million pounds from the National Lottery and interest from numerous private investors, the £28 million project is anticipated to open in 2012 – the 100th anniversary year of the tragic maiden voyage. The museum is planned to be inside the western wing of the civic centre, where the old magistrates courts and the police station are currently located

The annual Southampton Boat Show is held in September each year, with over 600 exhibitors present. It runs for just over a week at Mayflower Park on the city’s waterfront, where it has been held since 1968. The Boat Show itself is the climax of Sea City, which runs from April to September each year to celebrate Southampton’s links with the sea.

In July 2007, the Daily Echo quoted a survey which described Southampton one of the best places to live in the UK for single people aged 18 to 30. This was owing to its “low cost of living, wide array of bars and clubs and cheap transport”. Women voted it second best behind London, while men rated it as seventh.

The largest theatre in the city is the 2,300 capacity Mayflower Theatre (formerly known as The Gaumont), which has hosted West End as well as regular visits from Welsh National Opera and English National Ballet. There is also the Nuffield Theatre based at the University of Southampton’s Highfield campus, which provides a venue for the Nuffield Theatre Company, touring companies, and local performing societies such as Southampton Operatic Society, The Maskers and The University Players.

There are many innovative art galleries in the city, including the City Art Gallery at the Civic Centre, the Millais Gallery at Southampton Solent University and The Art House in Above Bar Street. The city’s Bargate is also an art gallery run by the arts organisation “a space”. A space also run the Art Vaults project, which creatively uses several of Southampton’s medieval vaults, halls and cellars as venues for contemporary art installations. In August 2009, work began on a significant project to create an Arts Quarter in the City Centre, on land adjacent to the Guildhall.

Bevis of Hampton, a legendary English hero and the subject of a number of medieval romances, is said to be the founder of Southampton.

Southampton has two large live music venues, the Mayflower Theatre (formerly the Gaumont Theatre) and the Guildhall. The Guildhall has seen concerts from a wide range of popular artists. It also hosts classical concerts.

The city is deeply connected to the Cunard Line and their fleet of ships. The people of Southampton showed their strong connection with Cunard on 11 November 2008 when the Cunard Liner RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 departed the city for the final time amid a spectacular fireworks display after a full day of celebrations. Proudly continuing the tradition of luxury cruising that began in 1840, Queen Victoria was successfully launched in December 2007 and was named by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in a spectacular ceremony in Southampton. In the spring of 2009, a fourth Cruise Terminal was opened in Southampton and Carnival Corporation & plc moved the headquarters of Carnival UK to Southampton. Many of the world’s largest cruise ships (including record-breaking vessels operated by P & O – Cunard’s sister company based in the UK – Royal Caribbean and Cunard) can regularly be seen in Southampton Water

The world’s oldest surviving bowling green is the Southampton Old Bowling Green, which was first used in 1299.

Southampton is a major UK port which has good transport links with the rest of the country. The M27 motorway, linking places along the south coast of England, runs just to the north of the city. The M3 motorway links the city to London and also, via a link to the A34 (part of the European route E05) at Winchester, with the Midlands and North. The M271 motorway is a spur of the M27, linking it with the Western Docks and city centre.

Southampton is also served by the rail network, which is used both by freight services to and from the docks and passenger services as part of the national rail system. The main station in the city is Southampton Central. Rail routes run east towards Portsmouth, north to Winchester, the Midlands and London, and westwards to Bournemouth, Poole, Dorchester, Weymouth, Salisbury, Bristol and Cardiff.

Southampton Airport is a regional airport located in the town of Eastleigh, just north of the city. It offers flights to UK and near European destinations, and is connected to the city by a frequent rail service from Southampton Airport (Parkway) railway station, and by bus services.

While Southampton is no longer the base for any cross-channel ferries, it is the terminus for three internal ferry services, all of which operate from terminals at Town Quay. Two of these, a car ferry service and a fast catamaran passenger ferry service, provide links to East Cowes and Cowes respectively on the Isle of Wight and are operated by Red Funnel. The third ferry is the Hythe Ferry, providing a passenger service to Hythe on the other side of Southampton Water.

Southampton used to be home to a number of ferry services to the continent, with destinations such as San Sebastian, Lisbon, Tangier and Casablanca. A ferry port was built during the 1960s. However a number of these relocated to Portsmouth and by 1996, there were no longer any car ferries operating from Southampton with the exception of services to the Isle of Wight. The land used for Southampton Ferry Port was sold off and a retail and housing development was built on the site. The Princess Alexandra Dock was converted into a marina. New car reception areas now fill the Eastern Docks where passengers, dry docks and trains used to be.

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