Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Monday, June 3 2013
Brief History of Eastleigh
There has been a settlement at Eastleigh since Roman times. Late
in Saxon times it was known as Eastlea and later Eastley, which
means ‘a glade in a wood’. When the Domesday Book was written in
1086, it is recorded as ‘Eastleie’.
Eastleigh was a farmstead on the road between Southampton and
Alresford. It is situated on the River Itchen and at the end of the
12th Century the Bishop of Winchester restored the
navigable section of the river to allow barges to transport goods
from Alresford to Southampton. By the early part of the
18th Century locks and new bridges were built to improve
the Navigation. But the area remained unimportant until the coming
of the railways in 1839. Around this time a railway station was
built to serve the Winchester to Southampton line, and later other
lines linking Portsmouth and Salisbury. It was then known as
Bishopstoke Junction because Bishopstoke was much larger than
The Railway Works in the
Eastleigh did not grow slowly as many towns did. It was
one of the first planned towns, and was laid out on the American
‘grid iron’ system, with north-south roads and crossroads set at
right angles. The planning of the town was overseen by a local
board, and it was built to house the many railway workers who moved
to Eastleigh when the London and South Western Railway transferred
their Wagon and Carriage Works from London in 1889. Development was
rapid and by 1892 the new town was virtually completed. From being
a village with about 300 houses, Eastleigh became a town with a
population of about 6,000.
However, although the town’s streets had been planned, the
services for the people had not. There was no sewage disposal or
refuse collection, no highway supervision or fire fighting control.
As a result, the town quickly became filthy. It was not a very
healthy place to live. Because of their problems, the local people
asked the Local Government Board in London to form the Eastleigh
Local Board in 1893 to cope mainly with the sanitation of the town.
Later, in 1895, the Local Board became the Urban District Council
of Eastleigh and dealt with the other problems too. In 1899 the
Urban District Council joined with the Parish of Bishopstoke to
form the Urban District of Eastleigh and Bishopstoke.
Looking along Leigh Road from
Eastleigh Station 1900
The town continued to grow and between 1908 and 1910, 1,500
staff moved to the town with the transfer of the LSWR locomotive
works from London. The works were responsible for the
production of many famous steam locomotives including ‘King
Arthur’, ‘Schools’ and ‘Merchant Navy’ classes. In 1921, the
Pirelli Cable Works opened. In 1934 the town was allowed to have a
coat of arms, and in 1936 Edward VIII, the king who was never
crowned, granted Borough status to Eastleigh. But the heavy
industries have now declined and the town has had to build a new
identity based on high tech manufacturing.
Part of the new £25m
There is much regeneration planned for the town centre and the
development of a major employment site stretching from the town to
the Airport. Work has already started in the town with new cinema,
bowling centre and restaurants opening recently.
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