Bradwell’s Eclectica Southampton features a plethora of facts and information about the people and events that have helped to make the city so interesting. The title brings together dialect, humour, recipes, murder stories, local names, walks and maps, ghost stories, local customs, local sports, local history and famous locals in one 80 page softback publication.
Over the years, the city’s name has been abbreviated in writing to ‘So’ton’ or ‘Soton’, and so its residents are often referred to as ‘Sotonians’. Soton, the ‘cruise capital of Europe’, has over four million visitors a year; when you visit, you’ll understand why. It has a rich heritage as an important UK port, and today handles a large proportion of the UK’s national container freight, as well as world-famous cruisers, including the Queen Mary and the less fortunate Titanic.
It also has lots to offer those in search of culture, from museums, music venues and art galleries to award winning parks and the general hustle and bustle of a diverse city with top class shopping facilities.
Southampton is home to the longest surviving stretch of medieval walls in England, as well as a number of outstanding museums such as Tudor House Museum, Southampton Maritime Museum, the Medieval
Merchant’s House and Solent Sky.
The SeaCity Museum focuses on Southampton’s trading history and on the RMS Titanic, which embarked on its doomed maiden voyage from Southampton, carrying over 750 Sotonians, more than three-quarters of whom perished when the ship hit an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland. The town pays homage to the disaster through a series of memorials (see the ‘Walk’ section further on in this book).
The Southampton Boat Show is held in September each year, attracting thousands of visitors and exhibitors to the Mayflower Park on the city’s waterfront. The Boat Show itself is the climax of Sea City, which runs from April to September to celebrate Southampton’s links with the sea.
The city’s 2,300-capacity Mayflower Theatre is the largest outside London and has hosted West End shows such as Les Misérables, The Rocky Horror Show and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as frequent appearances from the National Opera and National Ballet companies.
The city boasts two universities and a range of impressive art galleries: Southampton City Art Gallery at the Civic Centre houses a nationally important collection, while the Millais Gallery can be found at Southampton Solent University, and the John Hansard Gallery at Southampton University.
In August 2009, work began on a huge project to create a Cultural Quarter in the city’s centre, on land adjacent to the Guildhall; this is due to be completed in 2015 and looks set to compete favourably with any of the UK’s other major cultural centres.
As well as boasting the country’s largest oil refinery at Fawley, the city is also the greenest in Southern England! Southampton Common has over 300 acres of flora and fauna, and has hosted a huge array of shows, festivals, concerts, BBC Springwatch, Race For Life, Sport Relief, circuses, the Ideal Home Exhibition, drive-in movies and regular holiday fairs and markets. In the city centre there are five interconnected parks. One of them, Watts Park, has a statue to its namesake, the famous hymn writer Isaac Watts, and his hymn ‘O God, our Help in Ages Past’ echoes across the park from the Civic Centre clock tower three times a day! East Park has a large memorial to the engineer officers of the Titanic, none of whom survived.
Over the years, the town has become a magnet for shoppers – West Quays is a huge complex with an array of retail outlets, while Ocean Village is amongst the largest and most impressive in the whole of the country, located close to the Red Funnel Ferry Terminal. Lovers of seafood will drool at the marina’s many restaurants, while coffee shops with impressive views, plenty of boats and yachts to be admired or hired, two large cinemas and the restored SS Shieldhall steamship keep the visitors entertained.
A book of this size can do no more than touch on some of the things that make Southampton the exciting and vibrant city that it is today, and scrape the surface of what makes its people ‘tick’. However, I hope that as you dip in and out of the book, your appetite will be whetted to find out more for yourself. Come along to cheer on the Saints at a football match, watch some world-class cricket or attend one of the city’s waterside events or activities.
Take part in the popular guided walks of the Old Town, discover the city’s rich history at the SeaCity Museum or Tudor House and Garden, and explore the city on the self guided trails - the Titanic Walk or the QE2 Mile.
Released: September 2014
Size: 160 x 160mm
Author: Linda Fernley