Thursday, 25 June 2009

Hampshire: Hamtun / Southampton ****


Southampton (pronounced /saʊθˈhæmptən/ ( listen)) is the largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire, on the south coast of England, and is sited around 100 km (62 mi) south-west of London and 30 km (19 mi) north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest. It lies at the northernmost point of Southampton Water at the confluence of the River Test and River Itchen, with the River Hamble joining to the south of the urban area. The local authority is Southampton City Council, which is a unitary authority.
Significant employers in Southampton include the University of Southampton, the Ford Transit factory, Ordnance Survey, the BBC through Radio Solent and South Today, the NHS and one of the largest commercial ports in Europe. The city represents the core of the Greater Southampton region, and the town itself has an estimated population of 231,200. The city's name is sometimes abbreviated in writing to "So'ton" or "Soton", and a resident of Southampton is called a Sotonian. Southampton is noted for being the home of the RMS Titanic, the Spitfire and more recently a number of the largest cruise ships in the world.

History
Archaeological finds suggest that the area has been inhabited since the stone age. According to the Chronicle of the Britons the Ancient Britons had called the place Porth Hamon after a certain Lelius Hamo, a traitor who had murdered king Togodumnus during the early stages of the Roman invasion of Britain.
Following the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43 and the conquering of the local Britons in 70 AD the fortress settlement of Clausentum was established. It was an important trading port and defensive outpost of Winchester, at the site of modern Bitterne Manor.
Clausentum was defended by a wall and two ditches and is thought to have contained a bath house. Clausentum was not abandoned until around 410.
The Anglo-Saxons formed a new, larger, settlement across the Itchen centred on what is now the St Mary's area of the city. The settlement was known as Hamwic, which evolved into Hamtun and then Hampton. Archaeological excavations of this site have uncovered one of the best collections of Saxon artifacts in Europe. It is from this town that the county of Hampshire gets its name.
Viking raids from 840 onwards contributed to the decline of Hamwic in the 9th century, and by the 10th century a fortified settlement, which became medieval Southampton had been established.
Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, Southampton became the major port of transit between the then capital of England, Winchester, and Normandy.
Southampton Castle was built in the 12th century and by the 13th century Southampton had become a leading port, particularly involved in the import of French wine in exchange for English cloth and wool.
Surviving remains of 12th century merchants' houses such as King John's House and Canute's Palace are evidence of the wealth that existed in the town at this time.
In 1348, the Black Death reached England via merchant vessels calling at Southampton.


Part of the medieval walls

The town was sacked in 1338 by the French, including the pirate Rainier Grimaldi, who used the plunder to help found the principality of Monaco. After this attack, the city's walls—part of which dates from 1175—were extensively added to and reinforced.

A large part of the town's walls remain today.

The city walls include God's House Tower, built in 1417, the first purpose-built artillery fortification in England.
Over the years it has been used as home to the city's gunner, the Town Gaol and even as storage for the Southampton Harbour Board. Today, it is open as the Museum of Archaeology. The walls were completed in the 15th century, but later development of several new fortifications along Southampton Water and the Solent by Henry VIII meant that Southampton was no longer dependent upon its fortifications.
In 1642, during the English Civil War, a Parliamentary garrison moved into Southampton. The Royalists advanced as far as Redbridge in March 1644 but were prevented from taking the town.
During the Middle Ages, shipbuilding became an important industry for the town. Henry V's famous warship Grace Dieu was built in Southampton. Walter Taylor's 18th century mechanisation of the block-making process was a significant step in the Industrial Revolution. From 1904 to 2004, the Thornycroft shipbuilding yard was a major employer in Southampton, building and repairing ships used in the two World Wars.
Prior to King Henry V of England's departure for the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the ringleaders of the "Southampton Plot" - Richard, Earl of Cambridge, Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham and Sir Thomas Grey of Heton - were accused of high treason and tried at what is now the Red Lion public house in the High Street.


They were found guilty and summarily executed outside the Bargate.

Southampton has been used for military embarkation, including during 18th century wars with the French, the Crimean war, and the Boer War. Southampton was designated No. 1 Military Embarkation port during the Great War and became a major centre for treating the returning wounded and POWs. It was also central to the preparations for the Invasion of Europe in 1944.
Southampton became a spa town in 1740. It had also become a popular site for sea bathing by the 1760s, despite the lack of a good quality beach. Innovative buildings specifically for this purpose were built at West Quay, with baths that were filled and emptied by the flow of the tide. The town experienced major expansion during the Victorian era. The Southampton Docks company had been formed in 1835. In October 1838 the foundation stone of the docks was laid and the first dock opened in 1842. The structural and economic development of docks continued for the next few decades. The railway link to London was fully opened in May 1840. Southampton subsequently became known as The Gateway to the Empire.

The memorial to the engineers of the RMS Titanic.

The port was the point of departure for the Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower in 1620. In 1912 the RMS Titanic sailed from Southampton. Many of the crew on board the vessel were Sotonians, with about a third of those who perished in the tragedy hailing from the city. Southampton was subsequently the home port for the transatlantic passenger services operated by Cunard with their Blue Riband liner RMS Queen Mary and her sister ship RMS Queen Elizabeth. In 1938, Southampton docks also became home to the flying boats of Imperial Airways. Southampton Container Terminals first opened in 1968 and has continued to expand.

Southampton-built Spitfire Mk XIX
The Supermarine Spitfire was designed and developed in Southampton, evolving from the Schneider trophy winning seaplanes of the 1920s and 1930s. Heavy bombing of the factory in September 1940 destroyed it as well as homes in the vicinity, killing civilians and workers. World War II hit Southampton particularly hard because of its strategic importance as a major commercial port and industrial area. Prior to the Invasion of Europe, components for Mulberry Harbour were built here. After D-Day, Southampton docks handled military cargo to help keep the Allied forces supplied, making it a key target of Luftwaffe bombing raids until late 1944.
Pockets of Georgian architecture survived the war, but much of the city was levelled. There has been extensive redevelopment since World War II. Increasing traffic congestion in the 1920s led to partial demolition of medieval walls around the Bargate in 1932 and 1938. However a large portion of those walls remain, leaving Southampton with one of the longest surviving remnants of medieval walls in the country.
A Royal Charter in 1952 upgraded University College at Highfield to the University of Southampton. Southampton acquired city status, becoming the City of Southampton in 1964.

Government Civic Centre, Southampton
Southampton used to be a County Borough within the county of Hampshire, which in the past was known as the County of Southampton or Southamptonshire. This was officially changed to Hampshire in 1959 although the county had been commonly known as Hampshire or Hantscire for centuries. Southampton became a non-metropolitan district in 1974. However, the city became administratively independent from that county as it was made into a unitary authority in a local government reorganisation on 1 April 1997 - a result of the 1992 Local Government Act. The district remains part of the Hampshire ceremonial county.
Southampton City Council consists of 48 councillors elected by thirds. After the 2007 local council elections on 3 May 2007, there were 18 councillors each for the Labour and the Conservative Party, each having gained two, and 12 for the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives took control in May 2007, after a Liberal Democrat resigned from her group to become an independent and voted for the Conservative leader Alec Samuels. During the budget setting meeting on 20 February 2008, a no confidence motion was passed and Labour and the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition.
In the local elections on 1 May 2008, the Conservatives took overall control of Southampton, winning 15 of the 17 seats being contested. Both the Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders lost their seats to young Conservative challengers.

Maison- Tudor House

Culture
The city is home to the second longest medieval walls in England that are still standing, as well as a number of museums such as Tudor House, The Maritime Museum and Solent Sky, which focuses on aviation. A Titanic Memorial Museum is in the process of being constructed. Having received half a million pounds from the National Lottery and interest from numerous private investors, the 28 million pound project is anticipated to open in 2012 - the 100th anniversary year of the tragic maiden voyage. The annual Southampton Boat Show is held in September each year, with over 600 exhibitors present. It runs for just over a week at Mayflower Park on the city's waterfront, where it has been held since 1968. The Boat Show itself is the climax of Sea City, which runs from April to September each year to celebrate Southampton's links with the sea

Southampton Water is a stretch of the sea north of the Isle of Wight and the Solent, in England. The city of Southampton lies at its most northerly point. Along its saltmarsh-fringed western shores lie the New Forest villages of Hythe and "the waterside", Dibden Bay, and the Esso oil refinery at Fawley. On the slightly steeper eastern shore are the Southampton suburb of Weston, the villages of Netley and Hamble-le-Rice, and the Royal Victoria Country Park.
Together with the Solent, Southampton Water is world-renowned for yachting.
Geographically, Southampton Water is classified as a ria, or drowned valley, of the English Channel. It was formed by the rivers Test, Itchen and Hamble which flow in to it, and became an inlet of the sea at the end of the last ice age when sea levels rose, flooding many valleys in the south of England.
Southampton's emergence as a major port, and particularly as a port handling very large vessels, depended partly on certain geographical features of Southampton Water. Its depth, even in its undeveloped state, was generous; this depth of water has been increased over the years with comparative ease since the soft silt of the river-bed allows for easy dredging. An additional factor is the phenomenon of the "double tide", which results in unusually prolonged periods of high water. This greatly facilitates the movements of very large ships.
Southampton Water is an estuary with major potential for land use conflicts. An area of urban development (the Waterside) runs in the narrow band of land between Southampton Water and the New Forest National Park. Villages such as Marchwood, Hythe, Dibden Purlieu, Holbury and Fawley have all experienced significant growth.
Dibden Bay
Between Hythe and Marchwood, an area of undeveloped land - Dibden Bay - was the site of a proposed port expansion by Associated British ports. This was argued to be essential for the continued economic development of the Port of Southampton but the development was vigorously opposed by conservation groups. The intertidal marshlands of Dibden Bay have international significance (Ramsar status).
The planning enquiry eventually rejected the application from Associated British Ports recommending that the environmental value of the site could not be over-ruled when there were alternative sites for port expansion in southern England which had not yet been fully explored. The government accepted the recommendations of the planning inspector in April 2005

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