Southampton facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
City and unitary authority area
Montage of Southampton. Clockwise from top-left: Bargate; Guildhall; Top of west walls; Wool house and custom house; Southwestern house
"Soton/So'ton", The Gateway to the World
Southampton shown within Hampshire
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Region||South East England|
|• Type||Unitary authority, City|
|• Urban||28.1 sq mi (72.8 km2)|
|• City and unitary authority area||253,651 (Ranked 57)|
| • Ethnicity
(United Kingdom 2005 Estimate)
|85.9% White (77.7% White British)
2.4% Mixed Race
|Time zone||UTC+0 (Greenwich Mean Time)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (British Summer Time)|
|• Total||£9.7 bn ($15.7 bn) (12th)|
|• Per capita||£21,400 ($34,300) (15th)|
|GDP||US$ 51.6 billion|
|GDP per capita||US$ 37,832|
Southampton, on the south coast of England, is the largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire. It is 75 miles (121 km) south-west of London and 19 miles (31 km) north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest. It lies at the northernmost point of Southampton Water at the confluence of the Rivers Test and Itchen, with the River Hamble joining to the south of the urban area. The city, which is a unitary authority, has an estimated population of 253,651. The city's name is sometimes abbreviated in writing to "So'ton" or "Soton", and a resident of Southampton is called a Sotonian.
Significant employers in the city include the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University, Southampton Airport, Ordnance Survey, BBC South, the NHS, ABP and Carnival UK. Southampton is noted for its association with the RMS Titanic, the Spitfire and more generally in the World War II narrative as one of the departure points for D-Day, and more recently as the home port of a number of the largest cruise ships in the world. Southampton has a large shopping centre and retail park, Westquay. In 2014, the city council approved a follow-up from the Westquay park, WestQuay Watermark (now known as Westquay South) and construction began in January 2015.
In the 2001 census Southampton and Portsmouth were recorded as being parts of separate urban areas, however by the time of the 2011 census they had merged to become the sixth largest built-up area in England with a population of 855,569. This built-up area is part of the metropolitan area known as South Hampshire, which is also known as Solent City, particularly in the media when discussing local governance organisational changes. With a population of over 1.5 million this makes the region one of the United Kingdom's most populous metropolitan areas.
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Archaeological finds suggest that the area has been inhabited since the stone age. Following the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43 and the conquering of the local Britons in 70 AD the fortress settlement of Clausentum was established. It was an important trading port and defensive outpost of Winchester, at the site of modern Bitterne Manor. Clausentum was defended by a wall and two ditches and is thought to have contained a bath house. Clausentum was not abandoned until around 410.
The Anglo-Saxons formed a new, larger, settlement across the Itchen centred on what is now the St Mary's area of the city. The settlement was known as Hamwic, which evolved into Hamtun and then Hampton. Archaeological excavations of this site have uncovered one of the best collections of Saxon artefacts in Europe. It is from this town that the county of Hampshire gets its name.
Viking raids from 840 onwards contributed to the decline of Hamwic in the 9th century, and by the 10th century a fortified settlement, which became medieval Southampton, had been established.
11th – 13th century
Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, Southampton became the major port of transit between the then capital of England, Winchester, and Normandy. Southampton Castle was built in the 12th century and surviving remains of 12th century merchants' houses such as King John's House and Canute's Palace are evidence of the wealth that existed in the town at this time. By the 13th century Southampton had become a leading port, particularly involved in the import of French wine in exchange for English cloth and wool.
The Franciscan friary in Southampton was founded circa 1233. The friars constructed a water supply system in 1290, which carried water from Conduit Head (remnants of which survive near Hill Lane, Shirley) some 1.7 kilometres to the site of the friary inside the town walls. Further remains can be observed at Conduit House on Commercial Road.
The friars granted use of the water to the town in 1310.
The town was sacked in 1338 by French, Genoese and Monegasque ships (under Charles Grimaldi, who used the plunder to help found the principality of Monaco). On visiting Southampton in 1339, Edward III ordered that walls be built to 'close the town'. The extensive rebuilding—part of the walls dates from 1175—culminated in the completion of the western walls in 1380. Roughly half of the walls, 13 of the original towers, and six gates survive.
In 1348, the Black Death reached England via merchant vessels calling at Southampton.
Prior to King Henry's departure for the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the ringleaders of the "Southampton Plot"—Richard, Earl of Cambridge, Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham, and Sir Thomas Grey of Heton—were accused of high treason and tried at what is now the Red Lion public house in the High Street. They were found guilty and summarily executed outside the Bargate.
The city walls include God's House Tower, built in 1417, the first purpose-built artillery fortification in England. Over the years it has been used as home to the city's gunner, the Town Gaol and even as storage for the Southampton Harbour Board. Until September 2011, it housed the Museum of Archaeology. The walls were completed in the 15th century, but later development of several new fortifications along Southampton Water and the Solent by Henry VIII meant that Southampton was no longer dependent upon its fortifications.
The friars passed on ownership of the water supply system itself to the town in 1420.
On the other hand, many of the medieval buildings once situated within the town walls are now in ruins or have disappeared altogether. From successive incarnations of the motte and bailey castle, only a section of the bailey wall remains today, lying just off Castle Way.
16th and 17th centuries
The friary was dissolved in 1538 but its ruins remained until they were swept away in the 1940s.
The port was the point of departure for the Pilgrim Fathers aboard Mayflower in 1620. In 1642, during the English Civil War, a Parliamentary garrison moved into Southampton. The Royalists advanced as far as Redbridge in March 1644 but were prevented from taking the town.
Southampton engineer Walter Taylor's 18th century mechanisation of the block-making process was a significant step in the Industrial Revolution.
Southampton has been used for military embarkation, including during 18th-century wars with the French, the Crimean war, and the Boer War. Southampton was designated No. 1 Military Embarkation port during the Great War and became a major centre for treating the returning wounded and POWs. It was also central to the preparations for the Invasion of Europe in 1944.
Southampton became a spa town in 1740. It had also become a popular site for sea bathing by the 1760s, despite the lack of a good quality beach. Innovative buildings specifically for this purpose were built at West Quay, with baths that were filled and emptied by the flow of the tide.
The town experienced major expansion during the Victorian era. The Southampton Docks company had been formed in 1835. In October 1838 the foundation stone of the docks was laid and the first dock opened in 1842. The structural and economic development of docks continued for the next few decades. The railway link to London was fully opened in May 1840. Southampton subsequently became known as The Gateway to the Empire.
In his 1854 book "The Cruise of the Steam Yacht North Star" John Choules described Southampton thus: "I hardly know a town that can show a more beautiful Main Street than Southampton, except it be Oxford. The High Street opens from the quay, and under various names it winds in a gently sweeping line for one mile and a half, and is of very handsome width. The variety of style and color of material in the buildings affords an exhibition of outline, light and color, that I think is seldom equalled. The shops are very elegant, and the streets are kept exceedingly clean."
From 1904 to 2004, the Thornycroft shipbuilding yard was a major employer in Southampton, building and repairing ships used in the two World Wars. In 1912, the RMS Titanic sailed from Southampton. Four in five of the crew on board the vessel were Sotonians, with about a third of those who perished in the tragedy hailing from the city. Southampton was subsequently the home port for the transatlantic passenger services operated by Cunard with their Blue Riband liner RMS Queen Mary and her running mate RMS Queen Elizabeth. In 1938, Southampton docks also became home to the flying boats of Imperial Airways. Southampton Container Terminals first opened in 1968 and has continued to expand.
The Supermarine Spitfire was designed and developed in Southampton, evolving from the Schneider trophy-winning seaplanes of the 1920s and 1930s. Its designer, R J Mitchell, lived in the Portswood area of Southampton, and his house is today marked with a blue plaque. Heavy bombing of the Woolston factory in September 1940 destroyed it as well as homes in the vicinity, killing civilians and workers. World War II hit Southampton particularly hard because of its strategic importance as a major commercial port and industrial area. Prior to the Invasion of Europe, components for a Mulberry harbour were built here. After D-Day, Southampton docks handled military cargo to help keep the Allied forces supplied, making it a key target of Luftwaffe bombing raids until late 1944. Southampton docks was featured in the television show 24: Live Another Day in Day 9: 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
630 people lost their lives as a result of the air raids on Southampton and nearly 2,000 more were injured, not to mention the thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed.
Pockets of Georgian architecture survived the war, but much of the city was levelled. There has been extensive redevelopment since World War II. Increasing traffic congestion in the 1920s led to partial demolition of medieval walls around the Bargate in 1932 and 1938. However a large portion of those walls remain.
The geography of Southampton is influenced by the sea and rivers. The city lies at the northern tip of the Southampton Water, a deep water estuary, which is a ria formed at the end of the last Ice Age. Here, the rivers Test and Itchen converge. The Test—which has salt marsh that makes it ideal for salmon fishing—runs along the western edge of the city, while the Itchen splits Southampton in two—east and west. The city centre is located between the two rivers.
Town Quay is the original public quay, and dates from the 13th century. Today's Eastern Docks were created in the 1830s by land reclamation of the mud flats between the Itchen & Test estuaries. The Western Docks date from the 1930s when the Southern Railway Company commissioned a major land reclamation and dredging programme. Most of the material used for reclamation came from dredging of Southampton Water, to ensure that the port can continue to handle large ships.
Southampton Water has the benefit of a double high tide, with two high tide peaks, making the movement of large ships easier. This is not caused as popularly supposed by the presence of the Isle of Wight, but is a function of the shape and depth of the English Channel. In this area the general water flow is distorted by more local conditions reaching across to France.
The city lies in the Hampshire Basin, which sits atop chalk beds.
The River Test runs along the western border of the city, separating it from the New Forest. There are bridges over the Test from Southampton, including the road and rail bridges at Redbridge in the south and the M27 motorway to the north. The River Itchen runs through the middle of the city and is bridged in several places. The northernmost bridge, and the first to be built, is at Mansbridge, where the A27 road crosses the Itchen. The original bridge is closed to road traffic, but is still standing and open to pedestrians and cyclists. The river is bridged again at Swaythling, where Woodmill Bridge separates the tidal and non tidal sections of the river. Further south is Cobden Bridge which is notable as it was opened as a free bridge (it was originally named the Cobden Free Bridge), and was never a toll bridge. Downstream of the Cobden Bridge is the Northam Railway Bridge, then the Northam Road Bridge, which was the first major pre-stressed concrete bridge to be constructed in the United Kingdom. The southernmost, and newest, bridge on the Itchen is the Itchen Bridge, which is a toll bridge.
Areas and suburbs
- See also: Category:Areas of Southampton
Southampton is divided into council wards, suburbs, constituencies, ecclesiastical parishes, and other less formal areas. It has a number of parks and green spaces, the largest being the 148 hectare Southampton Common, parts of which are used to host the annual summer festivals, circuses and fun fairs. The Common includes Hawthorns Urban Wildlife Centre on the former site of Southampton Zoo, a paddling pool and several lakes and ponds.
In the 2006/07, 1,267 residential dwellings were built in the city—the highest number for 15 years. Over 94 per cent of these properties were flats.
There are 16 Electoral Wards in Southampton, each consisting of longer-established neighbourhoods (see below).
Settlements outside the city are sometimes considered suburbs of Southampton, including Chartwell Green, Chilworth, Nursling, Rownhams, Totton, Eastleigh and West End. The villages of Marchwood, Ashurst and Hedge End may be considered exurbs of Southampton.
As with the rest of the UK, Southampton experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb). Its southerly, low lying and sheltered location ensures it is among the warmer, sunnier cities in the UK. It has held the record for the highest temperature in the UK for June at 35.6 °C (96.1 °F) since 1976.
|Climate data for Southampton, elevation 3 metres (9.8 feet), 1981–2010|
|Average high °C (°F)||8.4
|Average low °C (°F)||2.9
|Rainfall mm (inches)||81.4
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)||12.2||9.2||10.1||8.8||8.2||7.7||7.4||7.7||8.7||11.5||11.5||11.8||114.7|
|Source #1: Met Office (normals)|
|Source #2: Calculated from Met Office Data|
|9.5 °C (49.1 °F)||9.0 °C (48.2 °F)||8.6 °C (47.5 °F)||9.8 °C (49.6 °F)||11.4 °C (52.5 °F)||13.5 °C (56.3 °F)||15.3 °C (59.5 °F)||16.8 °C (62.2 °F)||17.3 °C (63.1 °F)||16.2 °C (61.2 °F)||14.4 °C (57.9 °F)||11.8 °C (53.2 °F)||12.8 °C (55.0 °F)|
The centre of Southampton is located above a large hot water aquifer that provides geothermal power to some of the city's buildings. This energy is processed at a plant in the West Quay region in Southampton city centre, the only geothermal power station in the UK. The plant provides private electricity for the Port of Southampton and hot water to the Southampton District Energy Scheme used by many buildings including the Westquay shopping centre. In a 2006 survey of carbon emissions in major UK cities conducted by British Gas, Southampton was ranked as being one of the lowest carbon emitting cities in the United Kingdom.
At the 2001 Census, 92.4 per cent of the city's populace was White—including one per cent White Irish—3.8 per cent were South Asian, 1.0 per cent Black, 1.3 per cent Chinese or other ethnic groups, and 1.5 per cent were of Mixed Race.
Southampton had an estimated 236,900 people living within the city boundary in 2011. There is a sizeable Polish population in the city, with estimates as high as 20,000.
There are 119,500 males within the city and 117,400 females. The 20–24 age range is the most populous, with an estimated 32,300 people falling in this age range. Next largest is the 25–29 range with 24,700 people and then 30–34 years with 17,800. By population, Southampton is the largest monocentric city in the South East England region and the second largest on the South Coast after Plymouth.
Between 1996 and 2004, the population of the city increased by 4.9 per cent—the tenth biggest increase in England. In 2005 the Government Statistics stated that Southampton was the third most densely populated city in the country after London and Portsmouth respectively. Hampshire County Council expects the city's population to grow by around a further two per cent between 2006 and 2013, adding around another 4,200 to the total number of residents. The highest increases are expected among the elderly.
Culture, media and sport
The city is home to the longest surviving stretch of medieval walls in England, as well as a number of museums such as Tudor House Museum, reopened on 30 July 2011 after undergoing extensive restoration and improvement; Southampton Maritime Museum; God's House Tower, an archaeology museum about the city's heritage and located in one of the tower walls; the Medieval Merchant's House; and Solent Sky, which focuses on aviation. The SeaCity Museum is located in the west wing of the civic centre, formerly occupied by Hampshire Constabulary and the Magistrates' Court, and focuses on Southampton's trading history and on the RMS Titanic. The museum received half a million pounds from the National Lottery in addition to interest from numerous private investors and is budgeted at £28 million.
The annual Southampton Boat Show is held in September each year, with over 600 exhibitors present. It runs for just over a week at Mayflower Park on the city's waterfront, where it has been held since 1968. The Boat Show itself is the climax of Sea City, which runs from April to September each year to celebrate Southampton's links with the sea.
The largest theatre in the city is the 2,300 capacity Mayflower Theatre (formerly known as the Gaumont), which, as the largest theatre in Southern England outside London, has hosted West End shows such as Les Misérables, The Rocky Horror Show and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as regular visits from Welsh National Opera and English National Ballet. There is also the Nuffield Theatre based at the University of Southampton's Highfield campus, which is the city's primary producing theatre. It was awarded The Stage Award for Best Regional Theatre in 2015. It also hosts touring companies and local performing societies (such as Southampton Operatic Society, the Maskers and the University Players).
There are many innovative art galleries in the city. The Southampton City Art Gallery at the Civic Centre is one of the best known and as well as a nationally important Designated Collection, houses several permanent and travelling exhibitions. The Solent Showcase at Southampton Solent University, the John Hansard Gallery at Southampton University as well as smaller galleries including the Art House in Above Bar Street provide a different view. The city's Bargate is also an art gallery run by the arts organisation "a space". A space also run the Art Vaults project, which creatively uses several of Southampton's medieval vaults, halls and cellars as venues for contemporary art installations.
In August 2009, work began on a significant project to create a Cultural Quarter in the city centre, on land adjacent to the Guildhall.
Southampton has two large live music venues, the Mayflower Theatre (formerly the Gaumont Theatre) and the Guildhall. The Guildhall has seen concerts from a wide range of popular artists including Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Delirious?, Manic Street Preachers, The Killers, The Kaiser Chiefs, Amy Winehouse, Lostprophets, The Midnight Beast, Modestep, and All Time Low. It also hosts classical concerts presented by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, City of Southampton Orchestra, Southampton Concert Orchestra, Southampton Philharmonic Choir and Southampton Choral Society.
The city also has several smaller music venues, including the Brook, The Talking Heads, The Soul Cellar, The Joiners and Turner Sims, as well as smaller "club circuit" venues like Hampton's and Lennon's, and a number of public houses including the Platform tavern, the Dolphin, the Blue Keys and many others. The Joiners has played host to such acts as Oasis, Radiohead, Green Day, Suede, PJ Harvey, the Manic Street Preachers, Coldplay, the Verve, the Libertines and Franz Ferdinand, while Hampton's and Lennon's have hosted early appearances by Kate Nash, Scouting for Girls and Band of Skulls. The nightclub, Junk, has been nominated for the UK's best small nightclub, and plays host to a range of dance music's top acts.
The city is home or birthplace to a number of contemporary musicians such as R'n'B singer Craig David, Coldplay drummer Will Champion, former Holloways singer Rob Skipper as well as 1980s popstar Howard Jones. Several rock bands were formed in Southampton, including Band of Skulls, Creeper, The Delays, Bury Tomorrow, Heart in Hand, Thomas Tantrum (disbanded in 2011) and Kids Can't Fly (disbanded in 2014). James Zabiela, a highly regarded and recognised name in dance music, is also from Southampton.
Local media include the Southern Daily Echo newspaper based in Redbridge and BBC South, which has its regional headquarters in the city centre opposite the civic centre. From there the BBC broadcasts South Today, the local television news bulletin and BBC Radio Solent. The local ITV franchise is Meridian, which has its headquarters in Whiteley, around nine miles (14 kilometres) from the city. Until December 2004, the station's studios were located in the Northam area of the city on land reclaimed from the River Itchen. That's Solent is a local television channel that began broadcasting in November 2014, which will be based in and serve Southampton and Portsmouth.
Southampton also has 2 community FM radio stations, the Queens Award-winning Unity 101 Community Radio (www.unity101.org) broadcasting full-time on 101.1 FM since 2006 to the Asian and Ethnic communities, and Voice FM (http://www.voicefmradio.co.uk) located in St Mary's, which has been broadcasting full-time on 103.9 FM since September 2011, playing a wide range of music from Rock to Dance music and Top 40. A third station, Awaaz FM (www.awaazfm.co.uk), is an internet only radio stations also catering for Asian and Ethnic community.
Commercial radio stations broadcasting to the city include The Breeze, previously The Saint and currently broadcasting Hot adult contemporary music, Capital, previously Power FM and Galaxy and broadcasting popular music, Wave 105 and Heart Hampshire, the latter previously Ocean FM and both broadcasting adult contemporary music, and 106 Jack FM (www.jackradio.com), previously The Coast 106. In addition, Southampton University has a radio station called SURGE, broadcasting on AM band as well as through the web.
Southampton is home to Southampton Football Club—nicknamed "The Saints"—the club plays in the Premier League at St Mary's Stadium, having relocated in 2001 from their 103-year-old former stadium, "The Dell". They reached the top flight of English football (First Division) for the first time in 1966, staying there for eight years. They lifted the FA Cup with a shock victory over Manchester United in 1976, returned to the top flight two years later, and stayed there for 27 years (becoming founder members of the Premier League in 1992) before they were relegated in 2005. The club was promoted back to the Premier League in 2012 following a brief spell in the third-tier and severe financial difficulties. In 2015, "The Saints" finished 7th in the Premier League, their highest league finish in 30 years, after a remarkable season under new manager Ronald Koeman. Their highest league position came in 1984 when they were runners-up in the old First Division. They were also runners-up in the 1979 Football League Cup final and 2003 FA Cup final. Notable former managers include Ted Bates, Lawrie McMenemy, Chris Nicholl, Ian Branfoot and Gordon Strachan. There is a strong rivalry between Portsmouth F.C. ("South Coast derby") which is located only about 30 km (19 mi) away.
The two local Sunday Leagues in the Southampton area are the City of Southampton Sunday Football League and the Southampton and District Sunday Football League.
Hampshire County Cricket Club play close to the city, at the Rose Bowl in West End, after previously playing at the County Cricket Ground and the Antelope Ground, both near the city centre. There is also the Southampton Evening Cricket League.
The city hockey club, Southampton Hockey Club, founded in 1938, is now one of the largest and highly regarded clubs in Hampshire, fielding 7 senior men's and 5 senior ladies teams on a weekly basis along with boys’ and girls’ teams from 6 upwards.
The city is also well provided for in amateur men's and women's rugby with a number of teams in and around the city, the oldest of which is Trojans RFC who were promoted to London South West 2 division in 2008/9. A notable former player is Anthony Allen, who played with Leicester Tigers as a centre. Tottonians are also in London South West division 2 and Southampton RFC are in Hampshire division 1 in 2009/10, alongside Millbrook RFC and Eastleigh RFC. Many of the sides run mini and midi teams from under sevens up to under sixteens for both boys and girls.
The city provides for yachting and water sports, with a number of marinas. From 1977 to 2001 the Whitbread Around the World Yacht Race, which is now known as the Volvo Ocean Race was based in Southampton's Ocean Village marina.
The city also has 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 which is used by professional athletes. With the addition of 11 other additional leisure venures which are currently operate by the Council leisure executives. However these have been sold the operating rights to "Park Wood Leisure."
Southampton was named "fittest city in the UK" in 2006 by Men's 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. In 2007, it had slipped one place behind London, but was still ranked first when it came to the parks and green spaces available for exercise and the amount of television watched by Sotonians was the lowest in the country. Speedway and racing took place at Banister Court Stadium in the pre-war era. It returned in the 1940s after WW2 and the Saints operated until the stadium closed down at the end of 1963. A training track operated in the 1950s in the Hamble area. Greyhound racing was also held at the stadium from 1928-1963.
Southampton is also home to one of the most successful College American Football teams in the UK, the Southampton Stags, who play at the Wide Lane Sports Facility in Eastleigh.
The world's oldest surviving bowling green is the Southampton Old Bowling Green, which was first used in 1299.
Southampton is a major UK port which 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, via a link to the A34 (part of the European route E05) at Winchester, with the Midlands and North. The M271 motorway is a spur of the M27, linking it with the Western Docks and city centre.
Southampton is also served by the rail network, which is used both by 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. Rail routes run east towards Portsmouth, north to Winchester, the Midlands and London, and westwards to Bournemouth, Poole, Dorchester, Weymouth, Salisbury, Bristol and Cardiff. The route to London was opened in 1840 by what was to become the London and South Western Railway Company. Both this and its successor the Southern Railway (UK) played a significant role in the creation of the modern port following their purchase and development of the town's docks.
Local train services operate in the central, southern and eastern sections of the city and are operated by South West Trains, with stations at Swaythling, St Denys, Millbrook, Redbridge, Bitterne, Sholing and Woolston. Plans were announced by Hampshire County Council in July 2009 for the introduction of tram-train running from Hythe (on what is now a freight-only line to Fawley) via Totton to Southampton Central Station and on to Fareham via St. Denys, and Swanwick. The proposal follows a failed plan to bring light rail to the Portsmouth and Gosport areas in 2005.
The town was the subject of an attempt by a separate company, the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway, to open another rail route to the North in the 1880s and some building work, including a surviving embankment, was undertaken in the Hill Lane area.
Southampton Airport is a regional airport located in the town of Eastleigh, just north of the city. It offers flights to UK and near European destinations, and is connected to the city by a frequent rail service from Southampton Airport (Parkway) railway station, and by bus services.
Southampton's tradition of luxury cruising began in the 1840s, one of the pioneers being P&O who advertised tours to Egypt.
Many of the world's largest cruise ships can regularly be seen in Southampton water, including record-breaking vessels from Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corporation & plc. The latter has headquarters in Southampton, with its brands including Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises and Cunard Line.
The city has a particular connection to Cunard Line and their fleet of ships. This was particularly evident on 11 November 2008 when the Cunard liner RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 departed the city for the final time amid a spectacular fireworks display after a full day of celebrations. Cunard ships are regularly launched in the city, for example Queen Victoria was named by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in December 2007, and the Queen named Queen Elizabeth in the city during October 2011. The Duchess of Cambridge performed the naming ceremony of Royal Princess on 13 June 2013.
At certain times of the year, The Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria may all visit Southampton at the same time, in an event commonly called 'Arrival of the Three Queens'.
The importance of Southampton to the cruise industry was indicated by P&O Cruises's 175th anniversary celebrations, which included all seven of the company's liners visiting Southampton in a single day. Adonia, Arcadia, Aurora, Azura, Oceana, Oriana and Ventura all left the city in a procession on 3 July 2012.
While 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 East Cowes and Cowes respectively on the Isle of Wight and are operated by Red Funnel. The third ferry is the Hythe Ferry, providing a passenger service to Hythe on the other side of Southampton Water.
Southampton used to be home to a number of ferry services to the continent, with destinations such as San Sebastian, Lisbon, Tangier and Casablanca. A ferry port was built during the 1960s. However, a number of these relocated to Portsmouth and by 1996, there were no longer any car ferries operating from Southampton with the exception of services to the Isle of Wight. The land used for Southampton Ferry Port was sold off and a retail and housing development was built on the site. The Princess Alexandra Dock was converted into a marina. Reception areas for new cars now fill the Eastern Docks where passengers, dry docks and trains used to be.
Buses now provide the majority of local public transport. The main bus operators are First Southampton, Bluestar, Xelabus and Wheelers. The other large service provider is the Unilink bus service (running from early in the morning to midnight), which was commissioned by the University of Southampton to provide transport from the university to the town. Previously run by Enterprise, it is now run by Bluestar. Free buses were provided by City-link', but the subsidy provided by Southampton City Council was pulled in 2014 and the service now charges passengers £1 flat rate single fare, with Red Funnel ticket holders continuing to travel free. The service was rebranded as QuayConnect in May 2016, with a red and white livery on the bus instead of blue. It runs from the Red Funnel ferry terminals at Town Quay to Central station via Westquay and is operated by Bluestar. There is also a door-to-door minibus service called Southampton Dial a Ride, for residents who cannot access public transport. This is funded by the council and operated by SCA Support Services.
There are two main termini for bus services. First uses stops around Pound Tree Road and Vincent's Walk, except the X4 to Portsmouth and X5 to Gosport, which start and end their journeys from Westquay. This leaves the other terminal of West Quay available for other operators. Uni-link passes West Quay in both directions, and the Salisbury Reds X7 service to Salisbury drops passengers off and pick them up there, terminating at a series of bus stands along the road. Certain Bluestar services also do this, while others stop at Bargate and some loop round West Quay, stopping at Hanover Buildings. There was a tram system from 1879 to 1949.
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