About The Southampton Area

Overview of Southampton

With a population in excess of 280,000 Southampton is the main City on the South Coast. It covers a wide area stretching from the New Forest over to the Solent in the East and is divided into two distinctive areas (East & West) by the Itchen River. Located approximately 60 miles south of London, Southampton is home to one of the largest commercial ports in Europe and boasts good road, rail and air networks. There are two Universities, Southampton University and Solent University, which between them house over 40,000 students.


Southampton’s largest retail centre is the West Quay Shopping Centre. Opened in September 2000 and hosting major high street stores, it is one of the largest in the country. Other major shopping areas in the city centre include The Mall Marlands, the Bargate Centre and the East Street area, which has been designated for speciality shopping, with the aim of promoting smaller retailers. In 2007, Southampton was ranked 13th for shopping in the UK.


Southampton is the 3rd most densely populated city in the UK and has large Asian, Chinese, Polish and Irish communities. It’s estimated that 10% of the community are Polish, 4.6% Asian and 2.5% Chinese.


Currently unemployment is 2.4%, just below the national average. Just over a quarter of the jobs available in the city are in the health and education sector. A further 19 per cent are property and other business and the third largest sector is wholesale and retail, which accounts for 16.2 percent. During the latter half of the 20th century, a more diverse range of industry also came to the city, including aircraft and car manufacture, cables, electrical engineering products, and petrochemicals. These now exist alongside the city’s older industries of the docks, grain milling, and tobacco processing.

Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust

Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the city’s largest employers. It provides local hospital services to 500,000 people in the Southampton area and specialist regional services to more than 3 million people across the South of England. Other major employers in the city include Ordnance Survey, Ford, HSBC and Lloyds register.


Southampton’s history dates back to Stone Age times, however it’s in the Norman Conquest of 1066, when Southampton became the major port of transit between the then capital of England, Winchester, and Normandy. Southampton has a beautiful 12th century Castle. By the 13th century the city had become a leading port, particularly involved in the import of French wine in exchange for English cloth and wool. From 1904 to 2004, the Thornycroft shipbuilding yard was a major employer in Southampton, building and repairing ships used in the two World Wars.

The port was the point of departure for the Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower in 1620. In 1912 the RMS Titanic sailed from Southampton. It was home too to 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 to become one of the largest in Europe. The Supermarine Spitfire was designed and developed in the city. Heavy bombing of the factory in September 1940 destroyed it as well as homes in the vicinity. World War II hit Southampton particularly hard because of its strategic importance as a major commercial port and industrial area.


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 road 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.


The city’s rail network is used by both 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 and north to Winchester, the Midlands and London. Also, they run westwards to Bournemouth, Salisbury, Bristol and Cardiff. There is also a Coach Station near the West Quay Shopping Centre.

Southampton Airport

The Eastleigh-based airport offers flights to UK and near European destinations. There is a frequent rail service from Southampton Airport (Parkway) railway station, and plenty of bus services.

In addition, the city is also the terminus for three internal ferry services, all of which operate from terminals at Town Quay. Two of these, a Red Funnel operated car ferry and a fast catamaran passenger ferry, link to East Cowes and Cowes respectively on the Isle of Wight. The third ferry is the Hythe Ferry, providing a passenger service to Hythe on the other side of Southampton Water.

Buses now provide the majority of local public transport. The main bus operators are First and Bluestar. Other operators include Brijan Tours, Stagecoach, Velvet, Dorset Sprinter and Wilts & Dorset. The other large service provider is the Uni-link bus service (running from early in the morning to midnight).


A survey recently described the city as one of the best places to live in the UK for single people aged 18 to 30. This was owing to its “low cost of living, wide array of bars and clubs and cheap transport”. The largest theatre in the city is the 2,300 capacity Mayflower Theatre, which has hosted many West End shows. There is also the Nuffield Theatre at the University of Southampton’s Highfield campus. There are many innovative art galleries in the city. These include the City Art Gallery at the Civic Centre and the Millais Gallery at Southampton Solent.


The city is home to Southampton Football Club—nicknamed “The Saints”— who play 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.

The city hockey club is now one of the largest clubs in Hampshire. There are a number of Rugby teams around the city, the oldest of which is Trojans RFC. Other clubs include Millbrook RFC and Eastleigh RFC.


The city has a strong higher education sector. The Southampton and Solent Universities together have a student population of almost 40,000. THES – QS World University Rankings positioned the University of Southampton in the top 80 universities in the world. The university considers itself one of the top 10 research universities in the UK. There are 79 schools in the city.


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