Southampton Photo Gallery

Southampton comes to mind when you go on a cruise or have a shipping container of goods coming into the country.

Historically, it played a major role in British maritime history, being 1 of only 8 ports with export status in the 15th century, and seeing off the Mayflower in 1620 and the Titanic in 1912. While shipping remained important, the arrival of railways meant that the cargoes were loaded straight onto trains and left the city, so other industries could not take advantage and build on the port's activities.

Devastated by bombing during World War II, the city looks modern now although there are bits and pieces of historic landmarks in the centre.

From London Waterloo, South Western Railway's trains take as little as 75 minutes to reach Southampton.

The Civic Centre was designed by E. Berry-Webber and completed in 1939 with a clock tower that offers a panoramic view of the city after a 215-step climb.

The Bargate was the city's main entrance during medieval times and served other uses such as the Guildhall and bomb shelter during World War II. 2 lions stand guard outside the entrance, which are believed to represent the legend of Sir Bevois. They were recently repaired in 2020-2021 and have been repainted into their original colours from 1743. Bits and pieces of the city wall still remain, although some facing the backs of rather mundane buildings today.

Southampton Castle was home to the king and his court while they were en route to France. Built after the Norman conquest, it was rebuilt in 1805 but demolished only 10 years later.

The Arcades were built following an attack in 1338 by the French and Genoese, forcing more protective defenses to be built.

Away from the High Street, the neighbouring lanes are quiet with a sprinkle of historic buildings.

The Tudor House was built between 1491-1518 by a wealthy lad, Sir John Dawtrey, who built Henry VIII's fleet. It was owned by various wealthy merchants but fell into decline as the city was hit by a depression since the mid-18th century. The area became a slum and slated for clearance but the building was saved by William Spranger in 1886. Council approached him to buy the house for a museum in 1905, but didn't agree on the price until an interested American wanted to buy it and ship the buildings to the US. It opened as a museum in 1912.

Across the street, St. Michael's Church, whose history goes back to the 11th century shortly after the Norman conquest. The church was expanded and rebuilt over the centuries, and luckily escaped major damage during the war. This is the only one of 5 medieval churches in the centre that survived.

Continuing south, I soon reached the waterfront where a few cruise ships were parked as well as a ferry to the Isle of Wight.

Just across from the ferries is the Watergate ruin, the southern entrance to the medieval town. It is believed to be a 14th century construction, which came up with the west side's town walls, but did not survive the Blitz.

From the ruins, it is a short walk back north along High Street to Bargate.

Southampton has a surprisingly large assortment of Chinese restaurants for a city of its size. Although there is no official Chinatown with the typical arched gateway entrance, I was able to find some authentic dim sum.

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