musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Hamble

Retrospective: Woolston and Weston

This is yet another of my retrospective posts about my time in Southampton. and it really encompasses the area I lump together as Woolston/Weston/Southampton Water and of course the River Itchen. I grew up in a landlocked city so never really had the opportunity watch the tide come in; Southampton has an unusual phenomenon known as “Double High Water” and frankly I am not qualified to explain how this works because there are so many factors that come into play. If you are really interested please go read up at the Associated British Ports website where it is explained in detail. The important thing to know is that it results in unusually prolonged periods of high water which makes things easier for large ships (of which there are quite a lot) calling in Southampton.

My exif data has 4 separate dates for the images I took in this area, so I am really going to lump them together as one.  To understand where the images occur you really need to see the River Itchen from the bridge. The area I am dealing with is on the left of the image just past the pier that juts out from the land.  Southampton is to the right of the image. 

The ship underway is the Arco Dee, and I did a whole series of images about her transiting the Itchen Bridge en route to Southampton Water.  Our story really starts at Woolston Station, which is below.

Actually I cheated by crossing the bridge and not using the train.

The line extends all the way to Fareham and onwards to Portsmouth.  I then took Victoria Street to get to my destination. Woolston is really a village and is rich in maritime and aviation history, but unfortunately the Vosper Thornycroft yards closed in  2004 and when I was in the area the site of the yards was being redeveloped. ​


The Woolston Millennium Garden  was completed in 2002. Its focal point is a 10-metre tall metal and recycled glass feather intended to signify Woolston’s history of flight and sail. The garden is divided into three areas, signifying the earth, the sky and the sea. Many of the crew of the Titanic came from Woolston and there are bricks in the pathway through the garden that are inscribed with their names. Unfortunately I did not realise that the bricks did have those names otherwise I would have photographed them too. Many of those who died on the Titanic are remembered on graves in Southampton Old Cemetery.

The church I associate with Woolston/Weston is the Holy Trinity Church. there is one Second World War casualty buried in it’s churchyard. There is also the grave of Ada Maria and Charles Valentine Clarke,  2nd Class Passengers on board the Titanic. Ada survived while Charles was lost.  


Eventually you will come to a sewerage plant. You will probably smell it first though. Carry on a bit further and  you will run out of land unless you start following the road to the left. It was here that I spent some time observing the tide and exploring the area. This is also the route I took to reach Royal Victoria Country Park in August 2013

The Domesday Book has the following to say about Woolston:

  • HundredMansbridge
  • CountyHampshire
  • Total population: 6 households (quite small).
  • Total tax assessed: 1 exemption units (very small).
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 1 exemption units. Taxed on 0.12.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £0.5. Value to lord in 1086 £0.3.
  • Households: 3 villagers. 3 smallholders.
  • Ploughland: 1 men’s plough teams.
  • Lord in 1066Tovi.
  • Overlord in 1066King Edward.
  • Lord in 1086Reginald (Cnut).
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086Reginald (Cnut).
  • Phillimore reference: 59,1

It was a hot day, the sun was strong and the sky blue, that water looked very inviting. Fortunately I am not one of those who dash into the water flinging clothing aside and then doing a swan dive into it. 

The ship at Ocean Terminal was Queen Mary 2, and this image I took on a different occasion. (1500×443)

That is the Itchen Bridge in the distance.  I found the water fascinating, and the yellow boat was on the slipway when I arrived and was afloat and heading out to sea when I left. I wonder where it eventually ended up?

The movement of the water really transforms the shingle beach, it creates a whole new submerged environment that is inhabited by numerous critters that depend on the tide and the ecosystem around it. Dogs however are not included in that equation, like me they are casual visitors.

And of course the comings and goings of cruise ships do not affect the dogs but they do sometimes cause people to shade their eyes and stare, wishing that they were on board and looking at the shore. This is Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth in Southampton Water (1500×707). 

If you continued to walk and follow the road through to Weston you would see the buildings that comprise a housing estate. These buildings sufferer some of the problems that are associated with this type of housing, but Hampton TowersHavre TowersOslo TowersCopenhagen TowersRotterdam Towers and Canberra Towers are a very distinctive landmarks when viewed from Southampton Water. Just imagine what the view must be like from there…. The recent fire in a tower block in London has thrown the spotlight on fire safety in buildings like this, and I suspect a lot of rethinks will be required to sort out any potential issues in these buildings.  

The final oddity I wanted to add in here is called “Fox’s Monument” and it may be found in Mayberry Park.

This memorial is a tall unadorned obelisk on a square base commemorating Whig politician Charles James Fox. It was erected in 1810 in the grounds of Mayfield House by his admirer and friend William Chamberlayne of Weston Grove. Charles Fox’s name does not appear on the memorial but there is an inscription that reads: “The Earth is the Lord’s, and the Fullness Thereof“. 

That concludes this disjointed diatribe, it did not quite turn out the way I would have liked, but I hope it does leave some sort of impression on what the opposite bank of the Itchen River looks like. I am hoping to do a similar sort of post about Northam, but not today. Bits and pieces will be added to as and when I get the urge. 

DRW © 2013-2018. (Domesday image and data available under the CC-BY-SA licence, with credit to Professor John Palmer and George Slater, (

Updated: 13/04/2018 — 08:38

Time to go.

I am now in my last month in Southampton; from next month I will be living in Salisbury, and to be honest I am not looking forward to leaving this city. I have been here since April and have made it my home from home. I have enjoyed looking at the ships and visiting the cemeteries. I have walked many kilometres, seen many things, and experienced “life at the seaside”. 
It is not a perfect place, if anything it is somewhat of a tired, worn out place. Full of old buildings, strange road layouts, and peculiar idiosyncrasies.
Somewhere in its history it tried to throw away the old and bring in the new, and in doing so lost a lot of its own heritage. World War 2 also caused a lot of havoc with the city, destroying a lot of the heritage with as much gusto as the politicians who made the decisions as to what to destroy and what to keep.  The harbour today is a mere shade of its former busy self, although it is still a working and effective harbour. Possibly it is a much more efficient harbour? 
I had a unique glimpse into what goes on inside it, and experienced the seemingly chaotic period between when a cruise ship arrives and when it sails.
I have been cold, wet, hot, sticky, and almost blown off the quayside by the wind. I have seen pigeons and seagulls, often in strange situations…..
I have seen people of all ages, races and persuasions.  I have walked where the Titanic sailed into history, 
and seen the effects of the disaster in the many monuments and plaques scattered around the city. I have often heard the soft echo of a church bell on a Sunday, and explored some of the interiors of these grand old places of worship, 
I have heard the noisy whine of the street sweeping machine, and the muted rumble of a ships engines, and the roar of aircraft flying overhead. All around me people have gone hither and thither, often caught up in the mindless pre-occupation of their cell phones. I have seen children laugh and  play and cry and sulk, with parents that are often indifferent to the small munchkins that are growing up in front of them. I have almost been run over by people on bicycles and mobility scooters. Cars have tried to run over me, and large trucks have almost bowled me over with their slipstream.
I have seen the season change from spring to summer, and the sun rising earlier in the morning, and setting later at night. 
And, as I prepare to leave the city that cycle is reversing and soon winter will be upon us and the glorious sunny days will be gone for another year. I have seen the women go from drab clothing to almost full on nudity, and I still shake my head at the fake tans and abundant tatoos. I have seen the after effects of a nights drinking in the park, and the detritus left behind after a festival. I have stood on the quayside till late at night, waiting for a ship to sail, watching the scudding clouds as they evolve and move onwards.
I have seen the tide come in, and watched the waves lap on the shore, in the timeless way that they always have.
I have stood where the mighty Itchen River meets the River Test, and seen the effect that these two rivers have on the city, and how important they are to commerce and leisure.
I have walked the ancient walls of the city and questioned myself as to what it must have been like so many centuries ago.
I have stood beneath the Bargate, once the gateway to the city, and today a mere ancient building with no function except as a landmark.
I have remembered those who died in wars at the cenotaph, 
and I have visited the old cemetery where Southampton buried it’s dead.
I have seen and done many things since April, and when I finally ride the train for the last time I will be closing off this period of my life and will be starting a new one. I have not had full time employment since May 2011, and on Monday I am starting my first new job since then. Its going to be hard to make that adjustment to my life once again.
So, if things do quieten down a bit on this blog, you will know why, and you will understand that I have left the city I always wanted to see and am now in another, and hopefully will find much there to interest me, just as I did in Southampton.
Many of the places I visited were with my landlord, he was a true friend who helped me at a point where I hit rock bottom, if it had not been for him I would probably not be here today. Thank you Bob, I will never forget what you did for me. 
As they say in the classics: It has been quite a ride…
© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 11/04/2016
Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:38
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