The major Port-town of Southampton is the largest City in the County of Hampshire and is known worldwide as one of the most significant UK and European cruising bases, housing some of the largest cruise ships in the world. Up to 450 cruise ships dock in Southampton each year equating to approximately 1.5 million passengers passing through the city. This, in addition to the cities approximate 256,000 residents makes for a vibrant and busy area.
Southampton’s nautical fame long surpasses modern cruising as it was the departure point for the ‘Unsinkable’ Titanic’s maiden voyage to New York in 1912. The ship hit an iceberg and sank four days into the crossing and the disaster was eventually depicted in the 1997 hit film Titanic. Tourists today can enjoy the Titanic Trail Tour to uncover the history of the ship and its departure location. The famous Mayflower ship (which took the Pilgrim Fathers to America) also set sail from Southampton in 1620.
The city’s major history isn’t only linked to shipping though – in 1936 the Spitfire flew for the first time from Southampton Airport and Southampton was also one of the key departure points for D-Day, the turning point for ally forces in World War II. Whilst triumphant in these areas, Southampton was the seventh heaviest bombed UK city during World War II requiring a great deal of re-building and restoration works to take place.
Southampton was the birthplace of famous Comedian Benny Hill and was also inhabited by Jane Austen, who celebrated her 18th Birthday in the city, and her family for two years following the passing of their father. Another impressive household name is the family mealtime favourite Clarence Birdseye, the creator of fish fingers who market tested the product in Southampton as well as South Wales.
A unique point of interest is the British Consulate for the Kingdom of Redonda, the only one in the UK, found in the unlikely location of The Wellington Arms Pub on Park Road. Southampton is also the location of the only geothermal power station in the UK.
Visitors with an interest in the city’s history can head to Bargate – the remnants of the Medieval City Walls, a restored 4th century Tudor Merchant’s house, or the Solent Sky Museum. The Art Gallery plays host to interesting exhibits that can be visited year-round and Sea City Museum is also a great day out for the whole family so there an abundance of daytime activities to do in and around the city.
Southampton University is a Global top 100 University attracting 23,000 students worldwide to undertake studies at the 150-year-old institution. Like all university cities, Southampton has a bustling social scene with plenty of bars, restaurants, and other social venues.
The City is one of two main departure points for Ferries to the Isle of Wight so travellers will either find themselves heading through Southampton to get to their final destination or may look to head for a day out on the Isle.