I am now entering my fourth month in Southampton, and it has been a lot of fun. I am fortunate that I was able to see so many cruise ships in so short a time, and I hate to admit it but have become quite blasé about it, rarely going down to the harbour to see anything come or go. Granted though, the weather has not been all that spectacular, and on the days when it is great I am either working or head out and go explore somewhere new.
Last weekend, was one of the nicer weekends and I decided to head in the general direction of the bridge near Northam that crosses the River Itchen. Ideally I was looking to go as far upriver as I could. There was no real final destination in mind, just looking around.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to find St Mary’s Church had open doors and I really wanted to go inside to see the Titanic Musicians Plaque. The church itself is really beautiful on the outside, but is actually surprisingly plain on the inside. Some rooting around revealed that the current church had only been erected between 1954 and 1956, and was the 6th church to be erected on that site. The previous St Mary’s being almost completely destroyed during the Blitz.
Task completed I headed towards the bridge that crosses the railway just before the Northam Rail Depot and next to the stadium.
The bridge is marked 1908 and is a nice functional steel construction with open railings.
A bit further down is the bridge over the Itchen, and it was here where I got bogged down once again. The tide was out and there was a large expanse of mudflats with several boats high and dry. What really fascinated me were the many wrecks that were stranded on the mudflats.
Granted, not all boats sitting high and dry were wrecks, but there were some there that really seemed as if they were now “part of the furniture”. In the one corner was a largeish wooden vessel, possibly a barge or some sort of short sea sailing ship.
She has to be to be tidal though, and I was quite surprised that she had not been removed years ago. I was very tempted to go down to her, but that mud did not look too inviting.
Close by another lighter sat on the mud, and while she does seem sound there is a hole in her hull, which means she too is tidal. I could have spent hours checking this lot out, but decided to go further, roughly parallel with the river where possible. The causeway that runs to St Denys was on my left, but I headed right instead, hoping to find a boat yard or two. Alas there did not seem to be too much there so I headed towards the causeway which was now on the opposite bank of the river.
The best find of a derelict boat had to be at this spot, a large rowing boat was mouldering alongside the quay, she was big enough to almost be a ships boat, and made for quite an attractive photographic subject.
I went as far as I could for this trip, before heading back to where I hoped the boatyards were.
After quite a longish walk I came across Chessel Bay Local Nature Reserve which was a wetland/mudflat section situated on the East Bank of the Itchen. The reserve has a largish bird population comprising Kingfishers, Bullfinches, Ashers and Curlew. I only saw seagulls and pigeons. The reserve is also bounded on one side by the railway line and that means you have to return to the start of the reserve before going any further.
Having seen the reserve I crossed the line at the railway bridge and walked up to what would become Peartree Lane
That name rang a bell as this was where the Jesus Chapel with its magnificent graveyard was. I decided to pause there and grab some additional pics. I returned to the chapel a bit later in the month and did a separate blog post about it.
A bit further on and I found a road that would finally take me to the east bank of the Itchen where I hoped to find the boathouses and the hovercraft works. The first stop however was at what is now known as “itchen Ferry”.
At one time a chain drawn ferry used to cross here before they erected the Itchen Bridge.
I followed the road to see whether I could discover anything interesting, but most of it was closed off and the hovercraft, while visible, was only visible through 4 fences. The images I took from Itchen Bridge previously reveal much more about this area.
If you look Southwards along the Itchen Bridge you get a pretty good view of anything sailing from the harbour, although it can be a very blustery viewing point and is a bit far. Two ships sailed on this day, namely Oceana and Queen Victoria, and I watched them both sail.
That concluded the days exploration. I am still pursuing Hamble and a cemetery near West End, but for today that was it. Home James!
© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 09/04/2016