With an estimated population of 243,651 in 2013, the city sometimes called So’ton is the largest in the ceremonial county of Hampshire. As UK’s leading passenger port since the 1930s, Southampton has seen hundreds of thousands of sea vessels leave her docks including The Mayflower and the tragic maiden voyage of the majestic RMS Titanic, while giant liners such as the Queen Mary were built in the city’s local shipyards. It is where Richard the Lionheart embarked for the Crusades, and where King Henry V set off for the Battle of Agincourt. Many ancestors of Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, and South Africans consider Southampton as their last view of England, earning the moniker “Gateway to the World.”
Archaeological evidence from Priory Avenue, St. Denys, suggests that Stone Age settlements existed in Southampton. Stone Age tools have also been discovered in several gravel pits. Bronze Age artifacts have been uncovered at Southampton Common and near Cobden Bridge, while Iron Age works and buildings have been found at the City Centre, Lordswood, and Aldermoor.
The Romans conquered Southampton in 43 AD and established the fortress town Clausentum in 70 AD, which served as a trading and defensive outpost. The streets were designed using a grid layout. Wealthy people during the Roman occupation built stone houses with murals, glass windows, and mosaic floors while the poor resided in wood and plaster huts. The Roman army left in 407 AD, and Clausentum was soon abandoned by around 410 AD.
The Saxons replaced the Romans when Ine, the Saxon king, built a new settlement called Hamwic or Hamtun at around 670-700 AD. The population grew to an estimated number of 4,000-5000 residents as the town became a dominant port located on the other side of the river Itchen.
During the Saxon settlement, various crafts and trades flourished such as blacksmithing, carpentry, leatherwork, pottery and weaving, among others. Wool became the main export alongside wine and fine pottery. By the 9th century, a royal mint was established in Southampton. However, the town suffered from numerous Danish raids until the 10th century, when Southampton fell into a decline, forcing residents to move to new settlements near the Test river. Soon, in 1016 AD, the Saxon parliament Witan declared Canute as King of England at Southampton, where he defeated Ethelred the Unready.
Following the Norman Conquest, medieval Southampton monopolised the ship building industry and became the major port of transfer between Winchester and Normandy. In the 12th century, the Southampton Castle was built. The town’s port became involved with the import of French wine in the 13th century, which was traded for English wool and cloth. However, in the late Middle Ages, Southampton prospered via Italian trade, bringing in luxurious goods such as perfume, silk, and spices. Southampton also flourished during the Hundred Years War, when construction of ships intended for the navy were in high demand, and France-bound armies made the town as their primary departure point.
The town lost the Italian trade monopoly in 1531 when the Italian trade declined and ceased, but the port recovered in the early 19th century when Baltic timber, grain from Eastern England and Ireland, slate and stone from Scotland, and wine and fruit from Portugal and Spain were imported through Southampton. Life in town continued to improve when the town council had the streets cleaned and sewers enlarged and developed. In 1888, an electricity generating station opened in Back of the Walls, and by 1889, the first electric streetlights were turned on.
North Atlantic trade also grew, and White Star transatlantic liners transferred to Southampton in 1907. The first of the motor buses in Southampton appeared in 1919, and flying boats were built in the town. By 1934, the town became the third most dominant airport in service in Britain. All throughout the 1950s and ‘60s, Southampton acted as the foremost passenger port in England where ship building and engineering became part of their overall dominance in the shipping industry. Southampton obtained city status in 1964.
Jane Austen, renowned author of the novel Pride and Prejudice, lived in Southampton in an area now known as Old Town from 1806 to 1809. The Jane Austen Trail was launched in 2006 to honor the 200th anniversary of her residence.
King Canute, from whom the Canute Road is named, was said to have rebuked his courtiers through his legendary “ordering back the waves” act on the shores of Southampton. According to the narrative, King Canute demonstrated to his applauding courtiers that he has no power over natural elements ? in this case, the incoming tide ? in an attempt to explain the disparity between secular powers and the supreme power of God.
Reginald Joseph Mitchell, aeronautical engineer and designer of the Supermarine Spitfire, was a Southampton local. The Spitfire played a crucial role in Britain’s victory during the Second World War. Roy Chadwick also resided in Southampton, known as the designer of the Lancaster bomber used by Britain against Germany in the Second World War. Sir John Everett Millais, the world-famous artist best known for his work Ophelia, was born in Portland Street, Southampton. The Millais Art Gallery on Southampton’s East Park Terrace was named after him.
Other prominent Sotonians include RnB singer and popstar Craig David, Football Club legend Matt Le Tissier, Olympic diver Pete Waterfield, The Black Prince Edward Prince of Wales, film director Ken Russell, comedians Tommy Cooper and Benny Hill, and WWI British fleet commander Admiral Jellicoe.
A Thriving Modern City
Southampton serves as one of the most dynamic, friendly and lively cities in southern England with its historic flair, inspiring attractions, and several cultural events such as its annual international boat show. Renowned for its rich maritime heritage and being home to the world’s best natural harbour between the rivers Test and Itchen, the city remains as England’s main port for cruise ships and trans-Atlantic passenger travel and boasts its capacity to handle the world’s biggest ships.
Even the roads in Southampton are progressing. The third section of A33, one of England’s major thoroughfares, runs through the city’s centre before running west to the M271. The city infrastructure and its road networks are frequently well-kept, courtesy of government maintenance programmes which include high profile infrastructure schemes, priority inspections, and structural repairs. And as the city acts as the leader of sustainable travel, Southampton has been readily equipped for electric cars since 2011 with several charging bays scattered around the region.
If you intend to sell your existing car in Southampton so you can join picturesque bicycle rides for fitness and a better environment, we will be glad to help. Simply enter your registration number in our online valuation tool and receive your valuation for free! We can even collect your car from anywhere in and around Hampshire, and we will buy your car fairly, swiftly & securely.