Itchen Ferry Village Details

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Sea Otter emerging from Supermarine Factory before it was bombed

floating bridges southampton

L.S Lowry painting of the Itchen Ferry, Southampton
Woolston shore, where we used to wait for the ferry before the Itchen Bridge was built.

Further reading on my post The Woolston Ferry

In response to the weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Details

35 thoughts on “Itchen Ferry Village Details

  1. Pingback: Details (Boat) | What's (in) the picture?

  2. I remember the Vickers building in a dilapidated state. The ramp shown behind the Sea Otter is still there. There is a concrete memorial to the Spitfire and the site of the aircraft factory under the arches of the New Bridge.
    I am a Jane Austen fan. She lived in Southampton for just over two years in Castle Square. In a couple of letters she writes about making friends with the Lance family. She went to balls at The Dolphin Hotel and probably the Georgian Assembly Rooms that were situated below ,”the walls,” behind Castle Square with the Lances. She took the Itchen Ferry with her friend Martha Lloyd on one occasion and with one of her brothers on another occasion and walked past Peartree Church and up to Bitterne to visit the Lances. Lances Hill and Little Lances Hill are road names commemorating the Lances. They had a large estate overlooking the Portsmouth Road.

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  4. Crews for the 1920s J-boats? Oh, what a world that was! i love that they called them “floating bridges” on the one card. That’s a perfectly descriptive name. There used to be such a ferry here, where Clear Creek emerges into Galveston Bay. There was a town on either side, and they still compete with one another.

    Once, I was sitting in an auto shop waiting for repairs to my car to be done, and I started chatting with an older gentleman. It turned out that his grandfather was one of the ferrymen, long before our bridge was built.

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    • It is great to chat to people – you never know who you might be talking to. We always called in the ‘floating bridge’ it had been called the ‘Itchen Ferry’ and the ‘Woolston Ferry’ – when it was disbanded one was turned into a nightclub for a while called ‘Floaters’. It is now a summer restaurant. Woolston is part of Southampton so no competition, but Southampton and Portsmouth have a history of fierce competition (especially with our football teams).


  5. Hi Sol. In Jane Austens day it wouldn’t have been the Floating Bridge. The people living in Itchen Ferry rowed people across the river. Jane Austen wrote a lot of letters while living in Southampton. In one letter she tells about taking care of two nephews, her brother Edwards children. Their mother had died . She rowed them up the Itchen to Northman Bridge which was a wooden construction in those days. It is quite something thinking that Jane Austen rowed a boat on the Itchen River.She took them to see a 75 gunner, man of war, undergoing repairs near the bridge. She and her family also went to Netley Abbey for picnics. They also took a ferry to the Isle of Wight on occasions and visited Hythe and the New Forest. In Jane’s days, where the Docks are, would have been part of Southampton Water. There is a park next to Gods House Tower with a path angled across it. The path marks the edge of what would have been a beach. Jane writes about going skating from “The Beach,” when the river there was frozen over.
    (My blog is called London Calling. If you type London Calling Tony Grant, you will get it. If you just put London Calling you will get the Clash!!!!) My name above links to a Virginia Wolf blog I began. I have not worked on that for a while now. I might get back to it one day.
    All the very best Sol. Tony

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  6. I’ve just come across a 16th century reference to Itchen Ferry, and if I hadn’t read this post and learnt it was a place as well as a means of getting people across the river I would have been confused!

    The reference is part of the evidence given in a murder/manslaughter investigation. Or, more exactly, an investigation into how the miscreants managed to get away. “On the 9th [Wednesday, 9 October 1594] about four of the clock in the afternoon, he [the witness] heard a shot from St. Andrews Castle, even as a boat came on shore at Calshot Castle, which was of Itchen Ferry…”

    So it seems the boats from Itchen Ferry didn’t only take people across the river, but also across Southampton Water?

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  7. I can only remember going on the Floating Bridge once, but our relatives who lived on the other side of the river were close to Northam and Cobden bridges, so there was no need to go to Woolston. I can count on the fingers of both hands the number of times I’ve been over the new bridge.

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    • That is unusual for a Sotonian. I think it is alway best to go over the ‘new’ bridge on the top of a double-decker bus, the high sides give no view otherwise. I do love the Cobden Bridge area – I think it is a lovely part of Southampton.

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  8. Talking about Jane Austen in Southampton, Is there anybody who is reading this brilliant post up for a bit of literary subversion? Back in February I went to The Juniper Berry pub in Castle Square, which is the site of Jane Austens home when she lived in Southampton.I was taking photographs for an article I was writing for my friends in the Jane Austen Society of North America. I noticed there is a mistake on the plaque commemorating Jane Austen. It describes Austen and her families residence. Half way down there is sentence that reads, ” The Austen’s garden stretched back to the town walls.” The sentence refers to all the Austen family who lived there and should read “The Austens’ garden….etc” I took a piece of light grey duct tape and using a permanent marker corrected the punctuation. I took photographs of before and after for my American friends. They were delighted. A couple of weeks ago I was back visiting my parents in Woolston and went over to town and checked the sign. The duct tape has gone. Is there anybody up for using duct tape to correct the mistake again for me? Maybe we could have a rota going to make sure the correct punctuation is kept? Don’t worry I am not usually that bothered about miner punctuation mistakes. The Council should have got it right but I thought it might be a bit of fun to keep the correction. All the best, Tony

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  9. I have been having a think about the Vickers building in Woolston. It was a great example of Art Deco. It is a real shame it could not have been kept and renovated. Also the 1930’s Art deco Ocean Terminal. has been replaced by a glass,” airport lounge.” The old Ocean terminal was fantastic. Why can’t they keep the shells of these buildings and modernise the interiors? I have finished my rant now!!!!!!!

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    • Oh! Please continue.I assumed that that Vickers building was raised to the ground with the bombing Blitz in 1940! I was sooo upset when they pulled down the old Ocean Terminal. I was part of a group who campaigned to keep it in the early 80s. They had an auction and all those amazing terminal chairs covered with leopard skin and a phone shelf one side went for £1 each! Art Deco was only just making a come-back then.


  10. Not quite, Sol. The picture of the Sea Otter shows one end of the factory complex. I think they were drawing offices and design studios. The other end of the factory abutting the Floating Bridge was of similar Art deco Design and that survived the Blitz. I remember it as dilapidated , broken windows and flaking paint but it was structurally intact. The Bridge, when it was built cut a swathe through Woolston and changed the character of Woolston. The remaining Art Deco part of Supermarine was demolished when the bridge was built. However they seem to have found room for a small housing estate under the bridge. I would have thought the remaining part of Vickers/Supermarine could have been saved.

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  11. You have got me on a roll now Sol. I also remember the Imperial Airways buildings in the docks still intact well into the 60s possibly the 70s. The great flying boats taking the administrators of the Empire and their wives and families out to India, South Africa, China, Australia and New Zealand left from those buildings. They could have been turned into restaurants or hotels. I suppose you can’t keep everything but you can adapt and renovate and change the use of beautiful iconic buildings.

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    • I have seen photos of it, but don’t recall ever going to see it. There is a group of architects campaigning to save some of the 50s concrete structures. I suppose people view those the same way as people viewed art deco a few decades ago. Do you remember those V shaped roofs that were on the shelters in Mayflower Park?


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