Been to Southampton beach yet?

“Been to Southampton beach yet?” – is a common joke older students ask Freshers when they arrive to start their new course at University. Most of the beaches in the UK are pretty, so many coming to study assume that as Southampton on the very edge of the sea in the south must have a good beach.

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This is not our beach, it is a make-do place at the Town’s quay to see a glimpse of water and sunbathe

If they did their research they would realise that Southampton is one of the biggest industrial ports there is. Its coast is taken up with docks, crammed with shipping vessels and harbours boxed up with metal containers that arrive and depart all over the world. Residents are blocked off from a view of the sea, apart from a few spaces to get a glimpse of light dazzling on the waves of Southampton Water, such as Mayflower Park (SO14 2AQ).

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The Port of Southampton is one of the worlds most productive and busiest

There were attempts in the early 1980s to boost tourism. A sand beach was built near Mayflower Park to welcome Carnival Line and to tempt cruise liner passengers to stay for a day. The cash injection did not work and landed us in debt, so it was not kept up. For any day trippers today there is an excellent walk around the old city walls (guided by volunteers even) lined with ancient pubs, five stunning parks – the odd museum and ancient plaques stating what or who used to be here.

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Southampton’s artificial beach at the town quay in the 1980s

In Jane Austen’s time Southampton was a fashionable spa town. Most of Southampton’s elegant buildings were Blitzed during WW2 and being an important financial hub and port, white concrete architectures was quickly thrown up. Most of the tourism to Southampton today is for its diverse range of live music and arts and festivals. West End theatre shows that tour usually start here. Sadly the city no longer worries about holiday-makers and has no tourist office – (though you can get info online and leaflets from the library) – but provides excellent transport links for cruise ship passengers to get to other more desirable destinations quickly, whether its London (70 minutes) the New Forest (10 minutes) or Stonehenge.

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The Jurassic coast line that stretches from Hampshire to Cornwall © Southampton Old Lady

We tend to swim at a pool or in one of our rivers. As for beaches Southampton is surrounded by the most beautiful beaches, so why compete?  It would not take you long to get anywhere along the Jurassic Coastline. You can take a short ferry ride to the Isle of Wight , a train to  Bournemouth a taxi to Southsea. Not to far by car you can visit Lepe, Hayling Island, Brownsea Island, Sandbanks (29 miles), Hengisburty Head (21 miles), Barton on Sea or Highcliffe (Click on the Beach Guide and look under Hampshire and Dorset). 

Greater Southampton does have beaches though, but these are not as pretty and take just as long to get to as those outside of its boundary.

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Weston Shore, as seen from Victoria Country Park, Southampton

Our beaches are mainly used for water-sports, as Southampton Water and the Solent are incredible tests for such enthusiasts. They are of pebble, not sand, they have views of residential or factory blocks, even an oil refinery.

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Another view of Weston Shore across to the oil refinery

There is Weston Shore in Netley and Calshot Beach (officially in Southampton and on Southampton Water but part of the New Forest) SO45 1BL.

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Calshot Beach is excellent for sailing, windsurfing and has an olympic sports centre. It is one of the best place to see ocean-liners arrive and depart and has a fort built by Henry VIII

Click Discover for what to see and do in Southampton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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36 thoughts on “Been to Southampton beach yet?

  1. Pingback: Been to Southampton Beach yet? -via snips and snaps! | Hart Residents Community Website

  2. Weston Shore on the Woolston side was a well used beach during WWII and well into the 1950s and early 1960s. I suppose not many people could afford to travel for their holidays and during the war not at all. Weston shore had ice cream booths dotted all along it and St Johns Ambulance first aid booths. I learned to swim along the shore. They use to hold sailing and rowing regattas just off the shore and there used to be angling competitions all along the shore too.

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    • Thanks for that bit of history Tony. I like the fact that the 1930s bus shelters are still along the road. I used to often walk along the shore in the 1970s and meet up with friends at the Seaweed pub that was built over a fisherman’s hut. I learned to swim at the old swimming baths that have also been built over.

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  3. Strange to say but Weston Shore helped and also hindered the Luftwaffe during their bombing raids on Southamptom. Weston Shore and Southampton Water was the Luftwaffes route, straight to the docks and the Supermarine and Thorneycroft sites on the Itchen River. They used it as a guide. But Weston Shore also acted as a formidable defence. If you go for a walk from Hamble , to Netley and then.on to Woolston along the shore there are still the concrete remains of antiaircraft gun sites. There were lots of them. So as the Luftwaffe used Southampton Water and Weston Shore as their run in to Southampton they had to pass through a hail of antiaircraft fire thrown up from all along Weston Shore and probably from the Fawley and New Forest side too.

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  4. If you had beaches as well as all the other attractions of which Southampton boasts, you’d be inundated with visitors. It’s fine as it is and I always enjoy my days out in your city, especially the walk around the walls and the interior.

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  5. I love love love reading posts about places I know, or places I’ve been to. Great post! I never knew about the artificial beach though. Our favourite beaches are Lepe beach for a great afternoon drive, also we had a nice drive to Calshot, great chance to get beach hut photos!

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    • I can remember that our family would set out for Bournemouth in the school summer holidays – we would be so excited, but there would be so much traffic on the road that more often than not we would turn off and go to Lepe. Lepe is a lovely day out nowadays and I look back at it fondly, but I remember how disappointed me and my brother were at having to go to a stone, rather than sand beach.

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  6. I still remember the almost visceral shock I felt when I first arrived in England — the first place where I came in contact with history that extended back into centuries that far pre-dated the establishment of the US,or even its earliest explorations. As for the beach, it’s interesting to see how it resembles ours. We don’t have that lovely white sand, either. Because of all the rivers draining into the Gulf, we have more gravelly beach. it’s only in south Texas that real sand beaches can be found.

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    • Nowadays I prefer pebble beaches – I don’t sunbathe just walk. They are far more interesting. I prefer the view of the land from sea now. And yes people often do not realise how old and small England is.

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  7. I know when I was fresher coming to Southampton, I was excited about living near the coast, then soon realising there was no beach! I do still enjoy the coastline, even if it is a port mostly, especially with all it’s history! I feel though as a fresher I was told there’s a beach!

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