Originally an occupied site on the Northam peninsula named Nordhannwig from its relationship to the Saxon port of Hamwic. At the Conquest it rated one yardland. It continued as an isolated farmstead until the 18th century brought ship-building and related quayside developments.
John Winter's shipyard was established in Northam and Chapel in the 18th century. Wharves were built here in the early 18th century to land goods transported by the Itchen Navigation Canal. The gas works were built in the 1820s. From the 1830s housing was built for dock workers and seamen. Day, Summers and Co shipbuilders re-located to Northam from Millbrook in 1839. The 1840s, with the coming of the railway, saw Northam develop further as an industrial area.
In the early twentieth century local industries included:
Linseed Mills and Artificial Manure Works.
Soap and candle works next to Princes Street, followed by Le Dansk margarine factory.
Lime and cement works on the shoreline.
Ship building - Rubies and Summers Groves & Day.
James and Rosewall lead factory on George Street.
Sawmills, Millbank Street.
Tobacco factory on Albert Road / Blechynden Terrace.
By the end of the nineteenth century the area was overcrowded and there was considerable poverty (a new workhouse had been constructed in 1866). There was a continual problem with flooding from high tides, noted for example in Northam School logs in 1899. School logs also show problems with attendance because children did not have shoes so could not attend in bad weather (eg after a snowstorm in April 1907). The houses were mostly small with 5-7 rooms and often housed several families.
In 1956 Northam was declared a slum clearance area and the small Victorian terraced houses were replaced with blocks of flats.
Industrial Archaeology of Northam, L. M. King. (HS/h)
Changing Scene at Northam, by County Borough of Southampton. (HS/h)
Chapel and Northam, by Sheila Jemima. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman’, p29. (HS/h)
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