After living in England from 1996-1997 it is always wonderful to go back. On the Around the World Cruise we were going to stop in Liverpool and Southhampton. Never having been to either town I was eager to explore, eat fish and chips and have a great English Cider.
When arriving in Southhampton the notoriety of the Titanic leaving this port on April 10, 1912 loomed large. It is never wise to consider the sinking of an ocean going passenger vessel when following in it’s wake on an ocean going passenger vessel. This was going to be just the first reminder of the dangers of ocean travel!
Southhampton is a thriving modern city known for its sea port. The city has been a very important trading village since prehistoric times. There were Roman and Saxon settlements. Remains of the medieval wall can be seen throughout the city. There are sections as well where one can walk the wall and take tours of the wall.
Sadly the reason it seems more modern than other hamlets in England is due to it’s importance as a port city. Southhampton was bombarded mercilessly during WWII. The city had very few structures remaining after the war so majority of the buildings have that 1940’s to 1960’s aura to them. It is always surprising when in England to see this more modern architecture.
A few medieval structures have survived. The Wool House (Maritime Museum), Medieval Merchants House, God’s House Tower (Museum of Archaeology), Tudor House Museum and the previously mentioned town wall. Inside the Maritime Museum one can view the history of Southhampton as a trading and passenger port. There are many large model ships, one including the Queen Mary. The museum has many items relating to the Titanic disaster, especially since 500 or more members of the community were working on the ship and died when it sunk. This city felt that disaster intimately. If you are a Titanic junkie this would be a great stop.
We decided to take an English hike through the countryside. Taxiing from our ship we started in Riverside Park north of the city along the River Itchen. We walked south but was interrupted many times by condominiums complexes being built along the River and blocking the public walking path. Alas we walked through many urban communities, a bit by the River Itchen and arrived in Southhampton, 5 miles later and ready for a grand fish and chips and an English Cider at the Duke of Wellington Pub. Thinking this beautiful Tudor style building was an original we discovered by it’s boisterous owner Julian that it was rebuilt in the 1960’s as well. The company, Fish and Chips and the Cider all were satisfying. This was a great day in Southhampton for us. My suggestion if you would like to partake in an English hike just google, get a map and follow the Itchen Way.
Touring the town after lunch there were many tributes to the mariners of Southhampton. Knowing how dangerous this profession is it was gratifying to see the respect from the city to these noble voyagers. Anchors, markers on homes of Titanic victims as well as numerous monuments brought the solemnity of the profession to heart for visitors of Southhampton.
Before leaving don’t forget to visit the attractive Waterfront. One of the biggest developments in the UK is Southhampton’s Ocean Village. This development boasts of a 450 berth marina, undercover shopping, excellent restaurants and a 5 complex cinema. Other attractions are the steamship, SS Shield Hall and the Town Quay. The Town Quay offers a new marina and popular bars. Shamrock Quay is another picturesque port. Finally the Queen Mary 2 can be seen in the port at times as well. Finally if interested in the city of London it is 80 miles away and can be reached by train or bus. Traffic and strikes may be something to monitor. If not going there Southhampton is a wonderful place to have a pint and watch the boats go by!!