History of Eastleigh

history eastleigh

A Brief History of Eastleigh

The known history Eastleigh begins in Roman times with a village called Eastlea (later Eastley), a saxon word meaning a 'clearing in the forest'.

In 1086 when the Domesday book was written, it was known as Eastleie. in the 12th Century the Bishop of Winchester restored a section of the River Itchen to allow barges to transport goods. The 18th Century saw locks and bridges built to improve navigation.  The small Eastley hamlet continued to be relatively unimportant up until 1838 when the London and SouthWestern Railway Company built a railway linking Southampton and Winchester.

The train station was named Bishopstoke Junction, as Bishopstoke was larger and more important than Eastleigh. In 1839 the railway was extended to Basingstoke and London and the first train passed through Bishopstoke Junction. The station was renamed Eastleigh and Bishopstoke in 1889. The train station wasn't renamed Eastleigh until 1923.

History of Eastleigh

History of Eastleigh

The railway company began to build cottages for its employees by the new station and by 1851 Barton had a population of 194 and Eastley had a population of 213. In 1852 a cheese market was opened by the railway station which soon became Hampshire's leading cheese market. The town grew faster than many other towns of that time, and was one of the first planned towns adopting the American grid iron system.

In 1861 much of the land near the station was purchased by a man named Thomas Chamberlayne, hence Chamberlayne Road. Thomas lived on an estate called Cranbury Park which Cranbury Road was named after. Chamberlayne leased the land by the railway station for building.

In 1868 the two villages of Barton and Eastley were combined into one parish. The new Church of the Resurrection was built after a woman named Charlotte Yonge from Otterburn donated the huge sum of £500 towards the cost of building. It was Charlotte who decided to name the town Eastleigh, a more modern way of spelling.

The first school in Eastleigh opened in 1870.  In 1871 the new parish of Eastleigh had a population of 515 and over the next 10 years grew rapidly to a population of just over 1,000. In 1892 the railway company built a Railway Institute for its employees recreation.

By 1892 Eastleigh had a population of about 6,000 and the new town was virtually completed. The town had no sewage system, refuse collection or fire fighting control.  It was filthy.

Due mainly to sanitation, a Local Board was formed in Eastleigh in 1893 and set about creating drains, street lights and built pavements and kerbs, (the actual roads were not made up until the 20th century) and a fire brigade was formed. In 1895 the Local Board was replaced with an Urban District Council and in 1899 Eastleigh and Bishopstoke were merged into one community.

In 1896 the council obtained Recreation Field and laid it out as a park.

The first cinema in Eastleigh opened in 1911.

Market Street, Eastleigh

Market Street, Eastleigh

By 1901 Eastleigh had grown into a small town with a population of over 9,000 and in 1909 a locomotive works was built.  Between 1908 and 1910, 1,500 staff moved to the town with the transfer of the LSWR locomotive works from London.

The airport began life in 1910 when an early aviator called Eric Moon flew an aircraft called the Moonbeam from a farms fields. In 1917 the farm was made into a military airfield and in 1929 it became Southampton Municipal Airport. The spitfire made its maiden flight from the airport in 1936.

The first council houses were built in Winchester Road and Derby Road in the 1920's.

In 1921 the Pirelli Cable Works factory opened in Eastleigh and the new industry boosted the growth of the town again.

The Town Hall was built in 1928. In 1934 Eastleigh was allowed to have it's own coat of arms.  Edward VIII granted Borough status to Eastleigh in 1936.

More council houses were built after 1945 including the Aviary estate.

In the 1960's came the unwelcome closure of the wagon and carriage works in Eastleigh and only the locomotive works remained. The council built industrial estates to encourage other industries.

The original parish church in Eastleigh was damaged by fire in 1985, the same year Hampshire Fire Brigade built a new headquarters in the town.

Fleming Park leisure centre opened in 1975.

The Swan Shopping Centre was built in 1989.

A new library was built in 1990 and the Eastleigh Lakeside Railway began operating in 1992.

In 1994 Southampton airport was refurbished and expanded. The Point Theatre opened in 1996.

Today the population of Eastleigh is 55,000 and boasts major new developments and regeneration projects.