2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Geography of Great Britain

City of Southampton
Status: Unitary, City (1964)
Region: South East England
Ceremonial County: Hampshire
- Total
Ranked 301st
49.84 km²
Admin. HQ: Southampton
Grid Ref.: SU 42 11
ONS code: 00MS
Post Office and Telephone
Postcode span: SO14-SO19
Dialling Code: 023
- Total (2005 est.)
- Density
Ranked 54th
4,454 / km²
Ethnicity: 92.4% White
3.8% S.Asian
1.0% Afro-Carib.
Southampton City Council
Leadership: Leader & Cabinet
Executive: Liberal Democrats (council NOC)
MPs: John Denham, Sandra Gidley, Alan Whitehead

Southampton is a city and major port situated on the south coast of England. It is the closest city to the New Forest, situated approximately halfway between Portsmouth and Bournemouth. Southampton lies at the northern-most point of Southampton Water where it is joined by the River Test and River Itchen, with the River Hamble joining to the south of the urban area. The city represents the core of the Greater Southampton region. A resident of Southampton is called a Sotonian.


Civic Centre, Southampton
Civic Centre, Southampton
The Cenotaph
The Cenotaph
The medieval city wall
The medieval city wall
Southampton High Street in 1839.
Southampton High Street in 1839.
The memorial to the engineers of the RMS Titanic.
The memorial to the engineers of the RMS Titanic.

Although Stone Age settlements are known to have existed in the area, the first permanent settlement was established by the Romans. Known as Clausentum, it was an important trading port for the large Roman towns of Winchester and Salisbury.

The Anglo-Saxons moved the centre of the town across the River Itchen to its present location, and it remained an important port. At the time, it was centered around what is now the St Mary's area, and the settlement was known as Hamwic. This name was later to evolve into Hamtun, and later still to Hampton.

The Viking King Canute the Great is supposed to have defeated the Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred the Unready here in 1014 and been crowned here, and his fabled attempt to "command" the tide to halt may have taken place in Southampton. However, its prosperity was assured following the Norman Conquest in 1066, when it became the major port of transit between Winchester (then the capital of England) and Normandy.

By the 13th Century, Southampton had become a leading port, and was particularly involved in the wool trade. The Wool House was built in 1417 as a warehouse for the medieval wool trade with Flanders and Italy. This building is today used as the Maritime Museum, and can be found near Town Quay. It includes an exhibition concerning the RMS Titanic.

Bowls was first played regularly on the Southampton Old Bowling Green adjacent to God's House Hospital in 1299. It is the world's oldest surviving bowling green.

The town was sacked in 1338 by the French, including the pirate Grimaldi, who used the plunder to help found the principality of Monaco. After this attack, the city walls were built, some of which remain as ruins today. The city walls include God's House Tower, built in 1417, the first purpose-built artillery fortification in England. Today, it is open as the Museum of Archaeology.

The 12th century Red Lion pub on the High Street below the Bargate within the old walls is where in 1415, immediately prior to King Henry V of England's departure from Southampton to the Battle of Agincourt, the ringleaders of the " Southampton Plot", Richard, Earl of Cambridge, Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham and Sir Thomas Grey of Heton, were tried and found guilty of high treason, before being summarily executed outside the Bargate.

During the Middle Ages, shipbuilding became an increasingly important industry, which was to remain for centuries to come. The city became a county corporate in 1447.

King Edward VI Grammar School was founded in the city near God's House Tower as a school for poor clergyman in 1553 by William Capon. Isaac Watts, one of its locally born alumni, wrote the words of the hymn O God Our Help In Ages Past, the melody of which forms the four-hourly peal of the Civic Centre clock chimes. King Edward's survives as a selective independent co-educational secondary school. The Watts memorial in the city's West Park - also known as the Watts Park - was unveiled in 1861.

The port was the original point of departure for the Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower in 1623. A memorial can be found on Town Quay. Since that time it has been the last port of call for literally millions of emigrants who left the Old World to start a new life in the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and other parts of the world.

The painter John Everett Millais was born in the city. Southampton Solent University's art gallery is named Millais Gallery in his honour.

In common with most of the luxury liners of the time, the RMS Titanic sailed from here, and it is still an important ocean liner port frequented by luxury ships such as the RMS QE2, the MV Oriana, and most recently the Queen Mary 2. A memorial to the engineers of the Titanic may be found in Andrews Park, on Above Bar Street. There is a memorial to the musicians who played on the Titanic just opposite the main memorial. Also, the Maritime museum in Wool Hall includes an exhibition related to the vessel. Most of Titanic's crew lived in Southampton; 549 Sotonians died in the sinking.

The city is home to Sir Edwin Lutyens' first permanent cenotaph, a memorial to the city's dead of World War I. When it was unveiled on 6 November 1920, it was 1800 names, later raised to 2008. It can be found in West (Watts) Park, opposite the Titanic memorial.

The Second World War hit Southampton particularly hard, partly because of its strategic importance as the major industrial area on the South Coast and partly because of the city's links to the Supermarine Spitfire fighter aircraft, which was invented and manufactured in Southampton. Pockets of Georgian architecture remain, but much of the city was levelled. The accuracy of the locally-based Ordnance Survey's maps did not go unrecognised by the Luftwaffe: the German bomber pilots used them to bomb Southampton. One notable building to survive the bombings was Southampton's oldest, St. Michaels Church. Thought to have been commenced in 1070 , the building has been added to many times over the centuries but its central tower dates from Norman times. The spire was an important navigation aid for the German pilots and consequently they were ordered to avoid it .

The Spitfire was developed and initially manufactured in the suburb of Woolston. Its designer, Reginald Mitchell, grew up in Stoke-on-Trent, then had a house in Russell Place in the suburb of Highfield near the university (now identified by a memorial plaque). The plane was a direct descendant of experimental aircraft built by Supermarine that competed in the Schneider Trophy in the 1930s. Supermarine was taken over by Vickers in 1928. Mitchell's short life is documented in the film The First of the Few. On Sept 24th 1940, the Woolston factory was bombed, killing 100 workers, though not damaging the factory. Two days later, the factory was heavily damaged by bombing, and thirty more workers died, which interrupted production of the Spitfire for many weeks at a critical time of the UK's survival.

There were many aircraft companies based around Hamble, to the east of the city, from the 1930s to 1950s, including Folland Aviation, started by Henry P Folland, the former chief designer of Gloster Aircraft. Folland was taken over by Hawker Siddeley in 1960, and later as British Aerospace, the factory built the Hawk and Harrier. The history of the area's contribution to aviation is celebrated at the Southampton Hall of Aviation, near Itchen Bridge, and opposite the erstwhile site of the Woolston Supermarine factory. BOAC had a flying boat base in the docks serving British colonial possessions in Africa and Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. It closed in 1950 when land based aircraft became dominant. Nearby, Calshot Spit was a base for the military flying boat services.

Southampton was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and contained the parishes of All Saints, Holy Rood, St John, St Lawrence, St Mary, St Michael, and part of South Stoneham. The town became a county borough under the Local Government Act 1888. In 1894, under the Local Government Act 1894, the part of South Stoneham within the borough became the parish of Portswood, and in 1895 the parish of Shirley was added. In 1920, Bitterne, and part of the parishes of North Stoneham and South Stoneham were added. The area of the Itchen Urban District was added in 1925. In 1967 it took in part of the Nursling and Rownham parishes added. The boundaries have been largely unchanged since then, despite the loss of county borough status under the Local Government Act 1972, and subsequent regaining of unitary authority status with the Banham Review.

Southampton was awarded city status in 1964 by Letters Patent.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Southampton with Darwen at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 2,656 - 674 1,982
2000 3,190 - 672 2,518
2003 3,944 - 781 3,163

  includes hunting and forestry

  includes energy and construction

  includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

  Components may not sum to totals due to rounding

Southampton today

Bargate, Southampton
Bargate, Southampton
The dockyards on the River Test
The dockyards on the River Test
Containers being loaded at the docks
Containers being loaded at the docks
The Ocean Village marina
The Ocean Village marina
Council tower blocks in Weston
Council tower blocks in Weston

In common with many British towns and cities, Southampton was heavily bombed during the Second World War. Many historic buildings were lost as a result, but the old city walls remain, as does the Bargate, formerly the main gateway to the city at the northern end of the walls (Southampton has England's second-longest stretch of surviving Medieval wall, the longest being in York). The Bargate is often used as a symbol of the city, and is a prominent part of the city council's corporate identity. There are numerous large parks in the city centre. Most of Southampton's municipal services, including the library and the well-endowed art gallery are to be found in the Civic Centre.

The city is home to the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University and West Quay shopping centre, which was the biggest city-centre shopping mall in Europe when it was opened. It is also the headquarters of Ordnance Survey, the UK's national mapping agency, and the location of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the focus of Natural Environment Research Council-funded marine research. The Lloyd's Register Group has announced plans to move its London marine operations to a specially developed site at the University of Southampton. The local newspaper for the city is the Southern Daily Echo, a Newsquest publication.

Southampton has always been strongly connected with maritime history and developments. In particular, it is a primary port for cruise ships, its heyday being the first half of the 20th century, and in particular the inter-war years, when it handled almost half the passenger traffic of the UK. Today it remains home to many luxury liners, as well as being a very important container port.

The outstanding harbour means it is the principal port on the south coast, and one of the largest in the UK. Sailing is a popular sport here. Much of this is centred around the Ocean Village development, a local marina which includes one of the South Coast's major independent cinema complexes, Harbour Lights. From 1977 to 2001 the famous Whitbread Around the World Yacht Race (now known as the Volvo Ocean Race) started in Southampton

The area of Swaythling is home to Ford's Southampton Assembly Plant, where the majority of their Transit models are manufactured.

Southampton is named the 'Green City' as it is graced with many green spaces and parks. Standing in any area of Southampton, if you turn 360 degrees you will see at least one form of greenery. The largest green space is Southampton Common, parts of which are used to host the annual summer festivals, circuses and funfairs. The Common covers a larger area than Hyde Park in London and includes a Wildlife Centre on the former site of Southampton Zoo, a swimming pool and several lakes and ponds. The city also boasts the Southampton Sports Centre which is the focal point for the public's sporting and outdoor activities and includes an Alpine Centre, Theme Park and Athletics Centre used by professional athletes. As with most cities there are several council estates such as those in the Weston district.

Southampton Football Club (nicknamed the "Saints") is also based here, at St Mary's Stadium which was built in the early 2000's on the site of the old gasworks. It has a capacity of 32,000 and cost £32 Million to build. In 1976, "The Saints" won the FA Cup Final beating Manchester United 1-0. It was a Southampton team member, Charles William Miller, who founded Brazil's first football club.

Hampshire's county Cricket ground is the Rose Bowl, Southampton, in nearby West End. Both the SFC stadium and the Rose Bowl have recently played host to concerts from Bon Jovi to Billy Joel.

Southampton has a vibrant nightlife and thriving cafe culture. Music is an important aspect of the city and there are several stadiums and outlets for this. The city is home to R'n'B soulstar Craig David, Coldplay drummer Will Champion, and was the birthplace of comedian Benny Hill.

There is a large Polish population in Southampton, with estimates as high as 20,000, or 1 in every 10.

Government and politics

Formerly a County Borough within the county of Hampshire (to which it gave its name, the County of Southampton or Southamptonshire - this was officially changed to Hampshire in 1959 though the county had been commonly known as Hampshire or Hantshire for centuries), it became a non-metropolitan district in 1974. However, the city became independent administratively from that county as it was made into a unitary authority in a local government re-organisation on 1 April 1997. The district remains part of the Hampshire ceremonial county.

Southampton City Council consists of 48 councillors elected by thirds. After the 2006 local council elections on May 4, 2006 the Council is split evenly 16 seats each to the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Conservative Party. Currently the council is run by the Liberal Democrats with Labour support.

There are three members of parliament for the city: Rt Hon John Denham ( Labour) for Southampton Itchen (constituency for the east of the city), Dr Alan Whitehead (Labour) for Southampton Test (the west of the city), and Sandra Gidley (Liberal Democrat) for Romsey (which includes a portion of the north of the city).


As befits Southampton's role as a major port, the city has good transport links with the rest of the country. The M27 motorway, linking places along the south coast of England, runs just to the north of the city. The M3 motorway links the city to London and also, by linking to the A34 road at Winchester with the Midlands and North. The M271 motorway links the M27 with the Western Docks and city centre.

Southampton is also well served by the rail network, used by both freight services to and from the docks, and passenger services as part of the national rail system. The main station in the city is Southampton Central. Routes run eastwards to Portsmouth and Brighton, north-east to Winchester and London, north to Reading, Birmingham and beyond, north-west to Salisbury, Bristol and Cardiff and west to Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth. Southampton Coach Station was refurbished recently, and the range and frequency of services offered by the National Express Group increased to make use of the new facilities.

Southampton Airport is a regional airport located in the town of Eastleigh, just north of Southampton. It is connected to the city by a frequent rail service, and hosts flights to UK and near European destinations.

Whilst Southampton is no longer the base for any cross-channel ferries, it is the terminus for three internal ferry services, all of which operate from terminals at Town Quay. Two of these, a car ferry service and a fast catamaran passenger ferry service, provide links to Cowes on the Isle of Wight and are operated by Red Funnel. The third ferry is the Hythe Ferry, providing a passenger service to the town of Hythe on the other side of Southampton Water. Town Quay is linked to Southampton Central station by a free bus service.

Local transport is largely road based, with significant peak hour congestion in the city. The main bus operators are First, Solent Blue Line (who also operate the BlueStar service) and Uni-link, although other operators also run services into the city, including Stagecoach and Wilts and Dorset.There is also a door to door minibus service (Southampton Dial a Ride) for residents who cannot access public transport, this is funded by the City Council and operated by SCA Support Services. However, local train services do operate in the central, Southern and Eastern sections of the city, serving Swaythling, St. Denys, Millbrook, Redbridge, Bitterne, Sholing and Woolston.

The Uni-link bus service was commissioned by the University of Southampton to provide access to students who are studying at the university to all parts of the city. The buses run from early in the morning to midnight meeting demands of students who wish to get to the city during the day and leisure places in the evening.

Districts and suburbs

Map showing the districts and suburbs of Southampton. The city centre area is highlighted in red.
Map showing the districts and suburbs of Southampton. The city centre area is highlighted in red.

Within Southampton there are several districts and suburbs, including:

  • Bassett, Bassett Green, Bevois Valley, Bitterne, Bitterne Park, Bitterne Manor
  • Chartwell Green, Chilworth Coxford
  • Freemantle
  • Harefield, Highfield
  • Lordshill Lordswood
  • Mansbridge, Maybush, Midanbury, Millbrook
  • Northam, Nursling, New Town
  • Old Town
  • Polygon, Portswood
  • Redbridge, Rownhams
  • Shirley, Sholing, St. Denys, St. Mary's, Swaythling
  • Thornhill, Townhill Park
  • Weston, Woolston

Notable people

Notable current and former residents of Southampton include:

  • Will Champion ( Coldplay drummer)
  • Craig David (R&B singer)
  • Benny Hill ( comedian)
  • John Jellicoe ( admiral; commander of the British fleet at the Battle of Jutland)
  • Scott Mills (Radio 1 DJ)
  • Wally Masur (former tennis player)
  • Chris Packham ( naturalist)
  • Juan Manuel de Rosas (dictator of Argentina; spent his last years in exile in Southampton)
  • Matthew Le Tissier (footballer)
  • Isaac Watts (writer of hymns, notably the King Edward's VI school hymn)


Southampton is twinned with:

  • France Le Havre, France (since 1973)
  • Germany Rems-Murr-Kreis, Germany (since 1991)

Southampton is also a sister city of:

  • United States Hampton, Virginia
  • People's Republic of China Qingdao, China (since 1998)


  • Southampton was named "fittest city in the UK" in 2006 by Mens Fitness magazine. The results were based on the incidence of heart disease, the amount of junk food and alcohol consumed, and the level of gym membership.

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