Hampshire Life - - Winchester - IL­LUS­TRA­TION: Lucy Atkin­son

A mecca for sail­ing en­thu­si­asts, this water­side vil­lage has been likened to Devon or Corn­wall by Pevs­ner him­self. Here FAITH ECKERSALL

un­earths more in­ter­est­ing facts


Sit­u­ated on a penin­sula be­tween the Ham­ble River and Southamp­ton Wa­ter, Ham­blele-Rice is served by one ac­cess road, the B3397 Ham­ble Lane. It’s got its own sta­tion, Ham­ble Halt, which links to Portsmouth and Southamp­ton. The Num­ber 6 bus will take you to and from the vil­lage from Southamp­ton city cen­tre, but per­haps the best trip of all is to be had on the ‘Lit­tle Pink Ferry’ which has been tak­ing foot pas­sen­gers across the river to Warsash since 1493!


Ar­chi­tec­tural his­to­rian Niko­laus Pevs­ner took a shine to Ham­ble, de­scrib­ing it in his Build­ings of Eng­land se­ries as an ‘in­tri­cate, en­gag­ing place, sur­pris­ingly un­self­con­scious’ and felt it best ap­proached by wa­ter. Its church cer­tainly caught his eye but that’s un­der­stand­able, when you con­sider it was built in 1128. He also high­lighted a house, Syd­ney Lodge, de­signed by Sir John Soane, the man who de­signed the Bank of Eng­land.


Thanks to the train­ing ship Mer­cury, run by C B Fry, the clas­si­cal scholar and crick­eter, a new youth move­ment was born. Sir Robert Baden Pow­ell, a friend of Fry and founder of the Scout­ing move­ment reg­is­tered the first Sea Scout troop at Ham­ble in 1910. Billed as the orig­i­nal Sea Scouts, the Ham­ble troop now has around 200 mem­bers.


For some­where that didn’t ap­pear on the map un­til 1725, Ham­ble, as it’s gen­er­ally known, has done very well for it­self, once ri­valling Portsmouth as a naval dock­yard. One of Eng­land’s most fa­mous ships, the Grace Dieu, was built here for Henry V. The men of Ham­ble also built Nel­son’s Ele­phant and King Ge­orge II com­mis­sioned a num­ber of war­ships from the yard. In later years the in­dus­try turned to leisure craft and Ham­ble be­came a magnet for the yacht­ing com­mu­nity, which in turn lead it to be­com­ing fa­mil­iar via the BBC pro­gramme, Howards

Way fea­tur­ing Kate O’Mara, Nigel Davenport and a theme tune that many can still hum to­day...


For some­where so as­so­ci­ated with sail­ing, it’s a sur­prise to learn how im­por­tant Ham­ble was to Bri­tain’s air­craft in­dus­try. In 1912 a pro­to­type sea­plane was pro­duced at Ham­ble Point and three years later, Fairey Avi­a­tion es­tab­lished a fac­tory to build. Civil and mil­i­tary plots were trained at Arm­strong Whit­worth Air­craft, who es­tab­lished the Air Ser­vice Train­ing (AST) and Ham­ble’s air­field played a proud part in World War II. Spit­fires were re­paired at the fa­cil­ity and Amy John­son, who flew solo from Eng­land to Aus­tralia, joined a fly­ing course at the air­field in 1932.


Well sail­ing, ob­vi­ously! There’s the Ham­ble River Sail­ing Club, the Royal South­ern Yacht Club, and the Royal Air Force Yacht Club as well as the Speed­bird Off­shore Yacht Club. The sports com­plex at Ham­ble School has a large swim­ming pool and a num­ber of fit­ness classes. Ham­ble Foot­ball Club cel­e­brates its 50th birthday next year and Fol­land Cricket Club al­ways wel­comes new mem­bers. Ham­ble Vil­lage Mar­ket is held ev­ery Fri­day from 9.30-10.45am in Ham­ble Me­mo­rial Hall and there is a vil­lage so­cial club open ev­ery evening un­til 11pm.

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