Southampton Port:  Beyond the horizon of history

By Patrick Austen-Hardy

Let’s explore the history of our famous Southampton Port. For many of us the potential queasiness of sea sickness would never overpower the allure of an luxurious, all-inclusive cruise.

Those of us who are able to endure the waves, will have likely started their sea adventure at the Southampton Port.

However, the Port is one of the most historic and prestigious landmarks in the United Kingdom, let alone Southampton.

According to the Maritime Heritage Project, Southampton Port’s first notable use is believed to have been around 70AD by the Romans, who saw its centralised location between Hampshire and London as the perfect area to receive and ship goods.

After the Romans left in 407AD the Saxons depended on the Port to ship wool and wine, and thrived under its continued utilisation, before the Vikings invaded Britain and decimated and bled the country of resources.

Not only has the Port been essential to trade, it was also important for the transportation of military personnel throughout the centuries.

Similarly, to that of the Romans, the Port was of paramount importance in the transportation of soldiers and supplies during the Hundred Years War (1337 to 1453) with its size and strategic geographical location making it the third most important Port behind Bristol and London.

Its importance lessoned between the 16th and 17th centuries, but it reclaimed its influence during the 1800s when ‘P & O’ moved their offices from London to Southampton – the Cruising company’s main HQ is still in Southampton today.

From receiving Roman goods and transporting military personnel during the Middle Ages, to sending 1.7 million cruise passengers on their way around the World and becoming Europe’s leading turnaround cruise port – according to Associated British Ports – the influence of the port has resonated throughout all of British history, and will continue for centuries to come.  

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