Southampton is a seaport standing on the peninsula between the mouths of the rivers Test and Itchen. The Romans built a port at Southampton in the 1st century AD. The port was developed by William the Conqueror who used it to transport goods between England and Normandy. William also arranged for Southampton to be protected by walls and towers. The walls were mainly destroyed by the French in 1338 but the towers remain.

English kings used Southampton when launching an invasion of the French coast and Richard the Lionheart sailed from Southampton on the way to the Crusades. In 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers embarked for America from Southampton.

Southampton was in decline until it was revived by the coming of the railways. The London & Southampton Railway Company was formed in 1831 but it took several years to persuade the House of Commons to give permission for the line to be built. Joseph Locke was recruited as chief engineer and trains began transporting people and goods between Southampton and London in 1837. Five years later the Southampton Dock Company built the first dock in the city.

Primary Sources

(1) Daniel Defoe, A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724)

Southampton is a truly ancient town, for it is in a manner dying with age; the decay of the trade is the real decay of the town; and all the business of moment that is transacted there, is the trade between us and the islands of Jersey and Guernsey.