musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Woolston

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

Random Churchyards: Holy Trinity Church Weston.

A turn in the wrong direction led me to this beautiful church with attendant churchyard in Weston. It is roughly half way to Netley Abbey, and of course almost in view of Southampton Water. 

I have not been able to get into the church itself, in fact I thought that I would only visit there once, but it turns out I had to make a return visit as there is a CWGC grave in the churchyard as well as a Titanic related grave

The churchyard may still be in use because I saw a number of new headstones, and there is a portion laid out as a Garden of Remembrance. It is however a nice shady and peaceful part of this area, and it is well worth the detour away from the shoreline. 
As usual there is no real way of knowing how many graves there are, or when they started using this as a burial ground. The foundation stone for the church was laid on March 17, 1864 and it was consecrated on the 26th of  July 1865. (  
It is very possible that the founder and first vicar of the church are buried in this churchyard, certainly the third vicar is.
The grave of the third vicar of the church, George William Walter Minns (1879-1914)

The grave of the third vicar of the church, George William Walter Minns (1879-1914) 

Leaving behind the church, it is a quick walk back to the shorefront with its views along Southampton Water and the cruise ships berthed at the terminals, or down towards the Isle of Wight and Calshot.
DRW © 2013-2018. Images recreated 11/04/2016
Updated: 12/04/2018 — 13:14

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

The Spitfire Legacy

Southampton is Supermarine territory. That most famous of World War 2 fighters was born in this town and there are a number of references to it. I believe that the Supermarine assembly plant used to be on the one bank of the Itchen River where the Itchen Bridge currently is and  and it is possible that some of the original factory buildings are still there. Further up towards Southampton Airport is the South Stoneham Cemetery, and within its walls/hedges/fences is buried RJ Mitchel, the man who designed this iconic aircraft. 
There are a number of interesting references to the aircraft in and around Southampton, and I have not found all of them yet.  The most obvious one of course is the sculpture of the original K5054 that may be found on a roundabout at Southampton Airport. Formerly Eastleigh Aerodrome, it was the site of the first flight of the aircraft in March 1936.
Reginald Mitchell is buried in South Stoneham Cemetery, which is on the approach path to Southampton airport, and while he died in 1937, he never lived to see the formidable aircraft that it turned out to be.
A bit further away, near Hamble-Le-Rice, is the Air Transport Auxiliary Memorial, and its main artwork is yet another Spitfire in all its glory. 
Oddly enough, there is only one example of the real aircraft in Southampton, and that is at Solent Sky Museum close to the harbour. 
This particular aircraft, a MK24 (PK683), was one of twenty seven converted from MK22’s. It would have been powered by a Rolls Royce Griffon engine. Interestingly enough, the museum also houses Supermarine S6A.
Finally, the Spitfire is also remembered at a complex called “Spitfire Close” which is almost on top of where where the original Supermarine factory used to be on the Itchen River. A Spitfire has been laid out in paving bricks, and at ground level may not be too noticeable, but from the bridge that towers above it you can plainly see the iconic wing shape of the legendary aircraft. 
There is a Memorial Plaque in front of the paving.

The whole complex has a Supermarine motief.

Although the real cherry on the cake is outside the complex, and I would have missed it if I had not known it was there.

The plaque is not easy to read, but in essence it reads:

In Memory of the Designer of the Legandary Spitfire Aircraft
On this site the first Spitfire was built by The Supermarine Aviation
Works (Vickers) Limited. Spitfires and their pilots played a decisive 
Part in the Battle of Britain 1940. This plaque was unveiled by
Mr Alan Clifton M.B.E.  BSr  FRAES

I do know there is a Spitfire House somewhere in Southampton, as well as a harbour launch called Spitfire, although I suspect Seafire would have been more appropriate.
And there is this strange mural on a subway wall near the stadium.

But I wonder what it was like all those years ago when the first Spitfire took off from Eastleigh and soared in the sky above, I am sure nobody recognised that a legend had been born.  

© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 09/06/2016
Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:23

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. 
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



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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