musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Itchen bridge

Retrospective: Northwards to Northam

As a follow up to my last retrospective post about Woolston and Weston I have decided to do the equivalent post about the other side of the Itchen bridge towards Northham, St Denys, Swanwick and Bitterne. Bear in mind that this all happened nearly 5 years ago so my memory may be wobbly when it comes to detail. To give you some idea of what I am waffling about; this is what it looks like north of the Itchen Bridge. I did a post about Northam Train Depot way back in 2013 and it is worth having a squizz there too. The pano below shows the view north of the bridge with the Griffon Hoverworks operating by the big structure on the right. (image is 1500×443)

If my memory serves me correctly whenever I did the major excursion in this direction I used the Northam Bridge by St Mary’s Stadium (on the left bank of the river). There are really 4 bridges involved in this area of the river: firstly there is the Itchen Bridge, then the Northam Road Bridge, then a railway trestle bridge and finally Cobden Bridge.  

Northam Road Bridge

Railway trestle bridge

The Cobden Bridge crosses the Itchen and joins the suburbs of St Denys and Bitterne Park. The present bridge dating from 1928, but there has been a bridge on this site since 1883.

Cobden Bridge

On the Bitterne side of the bridge is a triangle and that is where the you will find a monument in the image below that was designed by Kelway-Pope and bequeathed to Southampton by the late, Mrs Henrietta Bellenden Sayers, “In evidence of her care for both man and beast”. After 45 years in its original location in Above Bar it was then moved to its present site in 1934 when roadworks were being carried out in the city centre.  There are two plaques on the clock, as well as a small drinking fountain. The first plaque dates from when it was inaugurated way back in December 1889

Before the Itchen Bridge was built the vehicular and pedestrian traffic across the river was via the Woolston Floating Bridge, it operated from  23 November 1836 until 11 June 1977 but sadly that is now history, and although there is still a chain drawn ferry in Cowes I have still not been on one!

Moving even further back in time there used to be a village at this historic crossing point since before the middle ages, and with it being an important area because of the aircraft industry, it became a prime target for the Luftwaffe during the war and the area was heavily bombed. The end result was that the village was totally devastated and  never restored.   

(1500×869) looking south towards the Itchen Bridge

My one excursion into this area was to photograph South Stoneham Cemetery and I think I caught a train to St Denys as it was close to the cemetery.  The cemetery is very close to Southampton Airport and I had a strange encounter while I was there. One of the graves I was looking for was that of RJ Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire, I was standing at his grave when I heard an aircraft, it was unlike anything I had heard before and I looked up and flying overhead was a Fairey Swordfish of World War 2 fame. It was  a poignant thing to see while standing in front of the grave of the designer of such a successful aircraft. 

South Stoneham Cemetery also has a memorial commemorating those who were killed at the Cunliffe-Owen aircraft factory on 11 September 1940. 52 people were killed and 92 were injured in this incident. 

When war broke out the factory was used  to produce parts for the Spitfire and as such became a target for the Luftwaffe. Unfortunately the reflections from the glass really makes the Roll of Honour almost impossible to take decent photographs of.  

The cemetery has 66 CWGC identified casualties buried in it from both wars, as well as 79 casualties identified on a screen wall from the former Southampton Crematorium.

And, on a roundabout close to Southampton Airport is a large Spitfire replica on display. 

Southampton is Spitfire territory and I have documented a few of the Spitfire related references in the city. 

Heading back from South Stoneham I could walk along the cycle path that runs next to the railway line heading towards Southampton. The trains to Portsmouth and onwards trace a circuitous route to cross the river at the railway trestle bridge and then head back the way they came but on the opposite side of the river. The next station being Woolston. 

The one discovery I made in my walk was an area that was designated as Chessel Bay Local Nature Reserve, I suspect you would call it a tidal mudflat but I am no real expert. 

(1500×589)

Unfortunately there was not much to see apart from mud and slime and the opposite bank of the Itchen in the distance, although that in itself had some interesting things afloat (or on the hard). 

The other discovery I made was a series of derelict boats on the mud right up against a housing complex next to where the Itchen Bridge meets land. (50.916270°  -1.383975°)  The biggest wooden boat must be quite old, and I was fascinated by her. If only there was a way to find out her history. 

There were quite a few derelict boats visible, and I have to admit I am puzzled why they have seemingly been abandoned, some appear to be in a reasonable condition too, they even have running water in them. The other odd thing I saw on my walks was bicycles that appear to have been dumped into the river. Why? Don’t ask me, but one possibility is that they had been stolen elsewhere and then dumped. Personally I think it is part of the national psyche to throw bicycles, prams, shopping trolleys and traffic cones into bodies of water. In the case below I can imagine a little girl hurling her bike into the water because it was not pink enough!

There are numerous boatyards on either bank of the Itchen and the river is very popular with leisure boaters and moorings extend for quite a distance.  Not everything was abandoned though as I did see a number of boats that appeared to be inhabited, or in regular service. This beauty is called Cymyran Bay  and she is an “Extreme Semi Swath (XSS) Offshore Support Vessel.”

One vessel that caught my eye was this small coaster that probably hasn’t been anywhere in years.

The boatyards on the river were fascinating places but they are also private property so I could not explore them properly, but could only admire them from a distance.

The Northam bridge is not the only bridge on that particular road. There is a nice railway bridge close to the train depot that affords a nice view of trains passing down the line towards to wherever they go, 

This trestle bridge has a makers plate on it from 1908, and was made by “Braithwaite & Kirk, West Bromwich”. In the years when boat trains used to run there is a good chance that this line connected to the pierside platforms. Trains also stop here when St Mary’s Stadium is in use and there is a dedicated line especially for them. 

 

My visit to this area would have been incomplete if I did not include Jesus Chapel in Pear Tree Lane.  It has the unique distinction of being the first new church to be built in England after the English Reformation, and is the oldest Anglican church anywhere in the world. 

It just goes to show how much history is all around if you really go looking for it, or bump into it by accident.  That pretty much covers a lot of my excursions north of the Itchen Bridge. I spent many a hot day up there looking for graves and of course admiring the view. The shipyards and aircraft industries on the Itchen are now history, yuppie pads have taken their place, and what were once working class areas are now the property of the rich, with access to the river rapidly closing as more and more complexes get erected. As I have said before: Southampton has changed; the war bringing about enough disruption that the character of the city was lost, and successive politicians have wreaked havoc on its ancient fibre. Its maritime heritage revolves around a ship that sank on its maiden voyage, and floating blocks of flats have replaced the ships of commerce and migration. It is still a fascinating place to visit though, and if I was able I would quite happily live there, because I consider Southampton to be my home town. 

DRW © 2013-2018 Retrospectively created 02/05/2018

Updated: 23/05/2018 — 12:19

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, (Opendomesday.org)

Updated: 13/04/2018 — 08:38

View from a bridge.

Bridges: love them? or loathe them? Personally I love a good bridge, and I don’t only mean the type found on board ship either. One of my dreams was to photograph a ship going under a bridge, and that is a problem on it’s own because there are not too many navigable bridges in my area. The one exception is the Itchen Bridge, which has a height of  28 metres.  

(1500×576). The Itchen Bridge  

I have seen a number of ships on the Itchen River and I expect there are a few limitations to taking a largeish vessel under the bridge without running into it. For maximum clearance you should go under at low tide, but then your vessel must not be heavily laden or you would run aground. You could go through at high tide too, but then you must be down on your marks, you also need to aim for the middle of the centre span. Oh, and it does not help if your vessel is higher than 28 metres. 
 
I watched my handy vessel movements website for a number of weeks, trying to find a chance to catch a ship going under the bridge, and that came on the 20th of July when a dredger; Sand Harrier, was due to transit from American/Burnley Wharf to Southampton Water. I was due to go shipwatching at Weston that afternoon and hoped to be back in time to see this happen.
 
On my way to Weston I spotted the vessel alongside, and just hoped that I would be back in time, or that she did not sail early. 
 
Shipwatching from Weston can be fun, but somedays there are certain ferries that are determined to ruin the photography. Once I was completed I headed up to the bridge. Sand Harrier had not passed me at Weston so she was still upriver, but anything could happen between my leaving where I was at Weston, and arriving on the bridge. By the time I got to the bridge she had not sailed, but by the looks of she was about ready to go. 
 
It is not a long distance to sail, although you do have to be careful of small craft or the odd kayak that may be oblivious to what is bearing down on them. You also need to steer towards the centre span of the bridge almost immediately after clearing the channel. Interestingly enough the vessel is able to turn at the berth, and she does so without the help of a tug. 
 
What a moment it was. The funnel gases and sound and sheer thrill of seeing something like this for the first time! I was so enthralled I forgot to press the shutter on the video camera. But, I did manage to get some video of the event. 
 

And then she was on her way towards Southampton Water, and I was on my way home. A happy puppy indeed. However, I needed to do this again. On 22 August I made an interesting discovery (which I should have noticed the first time around). Sand Harrier has a hinged mast! I feel cheated!!
Anyway, this is what she looks like from ground level. As you can see she is riding quite high, and the tide was out too, so she did not have a problem going under the bridge at all. I also managed to capture this sequence on video.
A further opportunity came a few days later when the dredger Arco Dee was due to transit from the same place and I was ready and waiting 30 minutes before sailing time. 

 
The same circumstances were involved with relation to harbour traffic, tide, draft and weather.
 
 
And then she was past. This time around I did much better with the video but did loose a bit as I had to cross the street and the traffic was hectic. 
 
 

Satisfied? not really. I now needed to see this from the bottom of the bridge. As luck would have it the trailing suction dredger City of Chichester was due to transit. But the weather was gross, and the images were really not up to scratch, so I stuck around waiting for the next opportunity which happened on 15 August.

It was a late afternoon, same ship, but better weather. For some reason I shot mostly video, but do have a screen cap that will help.
It was difficult to know how much clearance there was between the tip of her mast and the bottom of the span, But by the looks of it there was quite a bit. The tide was high too.
And finally, the clincher.
As stated previously though, it really does depend on tide, draft, ship height and that you are in the centre of the span. I expect there may be leading marks out Weston Area or possibly at Hythe for guidance and I must check up next time I am there.

And that concluded three very interesting ship transits under the Itchen bridge. I now feel kind of lost, having completed my observations. The video is available on YouTube too, as are the video’s shot from above. Come to think of it, I haven’t managed to get this dredger from above yet……

DRW © 2013-2018. Images recreated 10/04/2016 

Updated: 12/04/2018 — 13:09

Random Churchyards: Jesus Chapel, Pear Tree Lane.

 

Once again an accidental discovery, and one that has a surprisingly interesting history. Jesus Chapel is situated close to Scholing, Woolston and Bitterne, although I came through Scholing to get to it. It has the unique distinction of being the first new church to be built in England after the English Reformation, and is the oldest Anglican church anywhere in the world. 
 
The original buildings date to 1618 and it was dedicated in 1620. although in its current form it is difficult to know what is original and what was added over the many years that it has been in existence. There is quite a large graveyard surrounding the church, and that was really where my interest was. However, the church does tie in with St Mary’s in Southampton, as well as the famous Holy Rood Church. It was not destroyed during the blitz either and while not exactly a massive cathedral is really quite famous in its own right
 
I visited the graveyard on two separate occasions, and it was very overgrown the first time around. However, it does have some very nice headstones although their legibility is not very good. 
Jesus_chapel49
 
 
The back on the church is still being used as a Garden of Remembrance, although I suspect burials today are carried out at St Mary’s Extra Cemetery, South Stoneham Cemetery, or even Hollybrook. 
 
The one interesting memorial found within its grounds is one dedicated to Richard Parker, who was part of the crew of the yacht Mignonette which sank in 1884. He holds the dubious distinction of having been eaten by his fellow castaways. The case made legal history, and Richard Parker went down in the history books. Recently his name was used in the movie “Life of Pi” which also features a shipwreck as well as a hungry tiger. 
 
One of the more impressive monuments in the graveyard is that of the Rosoman family. It somehow does not really fit in with the graveyard. It is the sort of memorial I would have expected to find in Southampton Old Cemetery.
 
 
My one regret is not being able to see inside the building, and given its age I expect it could prove to be very interesting. It is always nice to find little gems like this hidden away, and to know that in spite of their age there is enough documented to give more than a glimpse into the life and times of the people who lived in this area.
 
  
Sadly, the Blitz did a lot of damage to the history of Southampton, the devastation of what was known as “Itchen Ferry” caused the loss of a whole village, and one of the reasons for this church arose from the dangers associated with crossing the Itchen River. 
 
 
©DRW 2013-2018. Images replaced 09/04/2016
 
Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:24

Month 4.

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. 
northam 079
 
 
 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. 
West Bank of the Itchen

West Bank of the Itchen

Griffon Hoverworks

Looking upriver from Itchen Bridge

Looking upriver from Itchen Bridge

 
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.
Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria

Oceana

Oceana

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

Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:26
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