musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Southampton Water

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

Heading down to Ryde

My ears pricked up when I read about the trip from Southampton to Ryde pier onboard the Shieldhall. I have done three trips on board her already, so she is not a new experience. However, there is something about this classic steamship that gets into your blood. Possibly because she is a real ship and not some floating gin palace? I did a general blog post about her in May last year, so there isn’t much to say about the ship that I haven’t said before. But, I usually find something new each time I go on board.
  
Southampton harbour was quiet, and the cruise ships in port were Independence of the Seas, Emerald Princess, Azura and Oceana. I was secretly hoping we would see them in Southampton Water on the way back. And, I was hoping to see lots of ships on the eastern Solent as we sailed along. The best surprise was the THV Galatea , she was berthed bow to bow with Shieldhall and was a very impressive vessel. 

And then we were off. Springing away from the quayside and turning our bows towards the stretch of water that reaches to the Solent. If you look at a map of that area you will see that with a lot of pushing the Isle of Wight would fit quite snugly into the area known as The Solent although the geology is a bit more complicated than that. The theory was that once we entered the Solent we would turn to port and sail towards Portsmouth. 

  
A major grouping of vessels is to be found at the refinery at Crawley, although mostly tankers, there is also a nice grouping of tugs to be found here.
 
These three (Ajax, Lomax and Phenix), are operated by Solent Towage Ltd. and are occasionally seen in Southampton Harbour assisting some of the cruiseships. The next important area is Calshot Castle and I believe it is quite a good ship spotting venue, especially for afternoon sailings.
  
Once past the castle, we headed towards Cowes before turning to Port and sailing towards our destination. 
 
I had done the trip to Cowes once before with the Red Funnel ferry, and it was an interesting trip so it was not new to me. However, I had only been to Cowes, so far the rest of the Isle of Wight had evaded me. Ryde is easily accessible from Portsmouth as there is a conventional ferry service to the island as well as a hovercraft that does the run rather quickly.
 
Shieldhall was not unaccompanied in her voyage though. A swarm of yachts and small boats kept pace with us or came in close for a second look. She is a very popular vessel and I suspect getting a chance to see her sailing is one that you do not pass by. The Solent is also a very popular boating area and there were a number of people doing things in small boats. Unfortunately there were also a lot of those unattractive modern power boats that always seem to have a blonde draped languidly somewhere on the deck. The only real traffic we passed was the Hapag Lloyd container ship London Express that was heading into Southampton. 
  
As we got closer to our destination the Spinaker Tower in Portsmouth started to take on more definition, as did the Spitbank Forts and the ferries passing across our bows. I was really hoping we would get close to the forts but unfortunately never did.
 
Eventually we arrived at our destination which was Ryde Pier  and frankly from where we were it was not really very visible, and if the Master had not sung happy birthday we would probably have missed it. I cannot even show a pic as I do not have one that I can positively identify as “that’s it!”. Suffice to say I need to physically go there and take pics on the spot, and that will give me an excuse to go on the hovercraft. 
 
And talking about hovercraft, that’s her, crossing our bows. 
  
We sailed a bit further to Bembridge , or I believe it was Bembridge, again I cannot be too sure. It didn’t really matter though because it is not always the destination that interests me, sometimes it is all about the trip to get there. At this point we turned around and headed back in the general direction of Calshot, which was a pity because I really would have liked to have gotten closer to the Spitbank Forts, there was a Brittany Ferries boat heading away from Portsmouth that I was hoping we would get to have a look at but she was moving quite quickly and we would have never caught her anyway.

Our trip back towards Calshot was taken at a leisurely pace, and there were two possible answers to that question. But, we will have to turn the page to find out what they are.

 
© DRW 2014-2018. Created 27/07/2014. Images recreated 19/04/2016
Updated: 30/12/2017 — 20:39

Netley Military Cemetery.

Following my previous post about Private Hollis and Netley Military Hospital, I decided to take a walk up to the cemetery once again, and to have a look at the chapel at what is now Royal Victoria Country Park. I also had to photograph as many of the 671 CWGC graves at the military cemetery for the British War Graves Project  
 
It is not too far from where I live, although the furthermost I had walked had been up to Netley Abbey. The Chapel is about a kilometre further.  The route I took was over the Itchen Bridge
down to Weston, then along Southampton Water until I ran out of road, 
then up to Netley Abbey
through Netley Village
  and finally the park and chapel itself.  
 
This large open area would have been where the military hospital stood, with a similar wing on the other side of the chapel. It was a large building as can be seen from the model below.  
 
The chapel is the blue object on the centre of the model, and today is all that is left of the building, and it stands surrounded by the green fields that used to be where the hospital building stood.  
 
It is a glorious wedding cake of a building, beautifully proportioned and dominated by its tower. Unfortunately though it was closed, but I did manage a few pics of the interior.  
  
 
But, I did not get to see it all, as they do not have funds to allow it to remain open. So, I did not see all that I wanted to. The park is a very large space that even boasts a miniature railway, and quite a few public facilities, although my interest did not really extend to places like a BBQ area.

 
With that completed I headed off to the military cemetery, which is not too far away, close to Hamble Station. I had been there twice before, but this time I had over 600 graves waiting for me. The cemetery can be broken up into two major halves, The older part is set on a hill, with the newer section laid out in a linear CWGC pattern, with a Cross of Sacrifice.  The sections are also divided into RC, Non Conformist and Anglican/COE 
Older part of the cemetery (WW1)

Older part of the cemetery (WW1)

The newer part of the cemetery (WW2)

The newer part of the cemetery (WW2)

Interspersed with these sections are a lot of much older graves of members of the military who died at the hospital, as well as staff members and their families that may have died here too. Many are illegible, and there are large areas that have graves but no headstones.
There are also a number of graves for the children of staff who died at the hospital,  sadly, a large portion do not have headstones, but they are poignant reminders of those young lives that never came to fruition.
Darling Bobbie, Fell Asleep February 19th 1929, Aged 15 Months

Darling Bobbie, Fell Asleep February 19th 1929, Aged 15 Months


There are also graves of men that died as a result of disease that they had picked up in South Africa during the Boer War.  It took nearly 3 hours to photograph the graves, and by the time I was finished I had drained 2 sets of batteries and taken over 1000 photographs. But, in the end it is worthwhile doing. There are 6 South Africans buried at this cemetery, all of them needless casualties of the slaughter on World War 1.
There is a lot written about the hospital and those who were treated there, but we will probably never know all the stories behind the pain and suffering, and the courage of the nurses who had the unenviable job of taking care of the patients.
FGO Stuart Postcards of the hospital

FGO Stuart Postcards of the hospital


 

The cemetery is covered extremely well in the wonderful website dedicated to the Royal Victoria Hospital and Military Cemetery, Netley

 
Then it was time to head home, taking the same route except for a pause at the waterfront area of the park which is roughly midway between the Solent and Southampton.  Three rivers (The Test, Itchen and Hamble) flow in to this area that we know as “Southampton Water”, and it is a pretty area with a lot of potential for development. However if that development means heaps of yuppie flats then that will definitely ruin the the shoreside that I was walking upon.  

I did discover a pathway between Netley Castle and Netley Abbey so was able to get a better look at the castle, although you cannot really see the whole thing. It was largely built with material taken from Netley Abbey, and today it is used as private apartments. My view of the castle from Southampton Water is a much better indicator of the extent building.

Calshot, Isle of Wight and the Solent from Royal Victoria Country Park

Calshot, Isle of Wight and the Solent from Royal Victoria Country Park

Netley Castle

Netley Castle 

Netley Castle from Southampton Water

Netley Castle from Southampton Water


With the castle behind me I was over halfway home, just a few more random pics and that would conclude my outing, although I would still have to sort, label and queue the military grave images.
The harbour had three cruise ships in on that day. Queen Elizabeth at QEII, Azura at Ocean Terminal,
and Celebrity Eclipse at City Terminal.
I had originally considered catching the train through to Hamble, but had taken this walk instead, and I am glad I did because this is probably the last time I will be able to walk along Southampton Water. My days in Southampton are coming to an end, and while I have not been able to see everything that I wanted to, at least I have seen this much.

It had been an interesting morning, and I hope that it will remain in this unchanged state for a very long time. It is a unique place, with a lot of maritime history that sailed past this area. It’s just a pity that I did not get to see it all.
© DRW 2013-2018. Images replaced 10/04/2016
Updated: 17/01/2018 — 06:25

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
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