While it may seem strange to create a portrait of a port, Southampton on the south west coast of England is not just a simple port. This is a steep departure from the usual sunny and tropical destinations we feature here at Vagobond, but the port and the city of Southhampton are worth considering. First of all, Southhampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Second, just 75 miles from London, it is a major holiday destination for Brits. In addition, Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest. Cruises from Southhampton are a major tourism industry in the UK.
The city itself lies at the northernmost point of Southampton Water at the confluence of the River Test and River Itchen, with the River Hamblejoining to the south of the urban area. All of these names make me jittery with the way they sound like they belong in the Shire or off among the misty mountains.
With a quarter of a million residents and nearly a million in the greater metropolitan area, it is a very significant city in the UK. The city’s name is sometimes abbreviated in writing to “So’ton” or “Soton”, and a resident of Southampton is called a Sotonian. Not to be confused with Satanists who are something else entirely. As are Sodomites. This is not Sodom or Satan, it’s Soton (though with the population being so large it is likely you can find Satanists and sodomy or even a combination of the two if you really want to look for them.
Southhampton has the longest surviving stretch of medieval walls in England, and a number of museums such as Tudor House Museum, Southampton Maritime Museum, God’s House Tower, an archaeology museum about the citys heritage and located in one of the tower walls, the Medieval Merchant’s House and Solent Sky, which focuses on aviation.
And, the real Titanic launched from Southhampton. A Titanic Memorial Museum is planned for 2012. This year will be the 100th Anniversary of the tragedy. The Mayflower also launched from Southhampton, but no memorial is planned for the crew or passengers of that vessel though they all perished (eventually). The Mayflower Theatre though is a famous landmark and well worth a visit even if the Rocky Horror Picture Show is still on there.
The annual Southampton Boat Show is held in September each year, with over 600 exhibitors present and is a big draw for tourism. 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.
Southhampton has a lively pub and club scene and is filled with young people who want to party like it’s 2007. Part of the reason for that is because it is a cheap place to live or have a holiday.