Monday, 2 July 2012

I have been to ... Eastleigh, Winchester, and Southampton

It was my wife's birthday last Thursday so we decided to celebrate by going away for a few days. On a previous occasion we had visited the area around Winchester and Southampton, and my wife had expressed a wish to go back there, so we did. This time we stayed in a hotel in Eastleigh, which is situated between Winchester and Southampton and which has excellent road links to both.

In many ways Eastleigh is a rather unremarkable town, but its history goes all the way back to the Anglo-Saxon period, and possibly earlier. It began to grow in importance when the London and South Western Railway Company moved their Wagon and Carriage Works to the town in 1891, followed – in 1909 – by their Locomotive Works. These works shut in 2006 but have since reopened and the town still remains a small but significant centre for the manufacture of railway rolling stock.

Eastleigh is also the site of Southampton’s airport (formerly Eastleigh Aerodrome). The airport’s main claim to fame is that it was the location of the maiden flight of the Supermarine Spitfire on 5th March 1936. (The Spitfire was built at the Supermarine Works in nearby Woolston.) A near full-size model of the prototype Spitfire is on display at the roundabout at the entrance airport.

My wife and I spent several hours shopping and generally walking around Eastleigh, but I must admit that there was nothing particularly memorable about the town. It struck us as quite a pleasant place to visit, but otherwise it was rather unremarkable.

Winchester is a small cathedral city and former capital of Saxon England. It is the county town of Hampshire and besides the Cathedral, it is the home to Winchester Castle (whose Great Hall houses a ‘replica’ of King Arthur's Round Table), Winchester College (one of the foremost public schools in the UK), the University of Winchester, and five(!) military museums.

The latter comprise:
  • HorsePower, the Regimental Museum of The King’s Royal Hussars
  • The Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum
  • The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum
  • The Gurkha Museum
  • The Guardroom Museum, the Museum of the Adjutant-General’s Corps
The entrance to The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum.

A statue of Sir John Colborne dominates the square outside The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum.

We had visited the The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum on a previous occasion and this time we made a special point of going to The Gurkha Museum. Unfortunately the building was shrouded in scaffolding during our visit as all the windows were being replaced. Furthermore photography is not allowed inside the Museum, so I am unable to give my regular blog readers any idea what this small but excellent museum’s exhibits look like. This is a great pity as I found it very impressive.

After visiting the The Gurkha Museum my wife and I went for a drink in the Peninsular CafĂ©. This is located in the Old Guardhouse …

… which is also the location of the Museum of the Adjutant-General’s Corps. The latter was set up in 1992 and incorporates the following former military Corps:
  • Army Legal Corps
  • Corps of Royal Military Police
  • Military Provost Staff Corps
  • Royal Army Educational Corps
  • Royal Army Pay Corps
  • Part of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps
  • Part of the Women's Royal Army Corps
This was another excellent small museum, and its exhibits illustrate the varied roles and history of the Corp’s predecessors.

Having spent quite some time doing things military, my wife wanted to do some serious retail therapy … and Winchester’s High Street proved to be an ideal place for her to do this.

The West Gate, Winchester.

Winchester High Street, looking toward the West Gate.

Winchester High Street, looking towards the statue of King Alfred.

We both like Winchester, and hope to return there in the near future. It is a place that works well on a human scale, being neither too large nor too small, and it is not surprising that it was voted ‘Best Place in the UK to Live’ in 2006.

My wife and I pass through Southampton every time we go on a cruise, but until last year we had never spent any time there. On our last visit we concentrated on Southampton’s links with the RMS Titanic (my wife had a relative who served as a crew member aboard the ship, and who died as a result of the tragedy.) This time my wife wanted to spend her time indulging in one of her favourite pastimes, shopping!

Above Bar Street, Southampton is one of the main retail areas in the centre of the city.

In fact we both managed to buy quite a lot during our visit and felt that the range of retailers was as good – if not better – than a lot of similar-sized places we have visited in the past.


  1. So you didn't get to the Solent Sky Museum, a really great museum.

  2. ...and don't forget Cheriton next time you're near Winchester...

  3. Fire at Will,

    Perhaps we will make it there next time ... I hope!

    All the best,


  4. Steve-the-Wargamer,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I will add it to the list of places in the area we can visit. All I have to do then is to persuade my wife that it will be a good place to go to next time we are near Winchester!

    All the best,


  5. A lovely walk followed by slap up lunch here...

    ....*might* swing it...

  6. Steve-the-Wargamer,

    That sounds like it could clinch the deal!

    All the best,


  7. Bob

    My dad lives on the Hamble (between Portsmouth and Southampton). When I visit him, I normally try to wangle a trip to Winchester as it is one of my favourite spots in the UK. I've been to the Ghurka museuma nd it is well worth a poke.



  8. Peter Douglas,

    I must admit to having taken an instant liking to Winchester, and I am looking forward to going back there sometime soon.

    The fact that there are five military museums in the city adds to its attractiveness.

    All the best,


  9. Conrad Kinch,

    Sue sends her regards, and thanks you for your best wishes.

    All the best,