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Emsworth village centre
Emsworth shown within Hampshire
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Emsworth is a small town in Hampshire on the south coast of England, near the border of West Sussex. It lies at the north end of an arm of Chichester Harbour, a large and shallow inlet from the English Channel.
Emsworth has a population of approximately 10,000. In the 19th century it had as many as 30 pubs and beer houses. The village has a basin for small yachts and fishing boats, which fills at high tide and can be emptied through a sluice at low tide. The River Ems, which is named after the village (not, as often believed, the town being named after the river) flows into the Slipper millpond. The mill itself is now used as offices.
Adjacent to Emsworth is Thorney Island.
Emsworth began as a Saxon village. At first it was linked to the settlement of Warblington nearby. People from Emsworth worshipped at St Peter's Chapel or in the church at Warblington. Emsworth was not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. It was included with Warblington.
Emsworth grew to be larger and more important. In 1239 Emsworth was granted the right to hold a market. There was also an annual fair. In 1332 Emsworth (Empnesworth) was one of Hampshire's four Customs Ports. Wine was imported.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Emsworth was still a port. Emsworth was known for shipbuilding, boat building and rope making. Grain from the area was ground into flour by tidal mills. Flour from Emsworth was transported by ship to places such as London and Portsmouth. Timber from the area was also exported in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In the 19th century Emsworth had as many as 30 pubs and beer houses. Today, only nine remain. Emsworth's once famous oyster industry went into decline in the early years of the 20th century. Recently, Emsworth's last remaining oyster boat, The Terror, was restored and is now sailing again.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Emsworth had a population of less than 1,200 but it was still considered a large village for the time. By the end of the 18th century, it became fashionable for wealthy people to spend the Summer by the sea. In 1805 a bathing house was built where people could have a bath in seawater. Bath Road is named after it.
The parish Church of St James was built in 1840. Queen Victoria visited Emsworth in 1842, resulting in Queen Street and Victoria Road being named after her. In 1847 the railway came to Emsworth with the construction of the West Coastway Line, Emsworth railway station was built to serve the town. The arrival of the railway led to the growth of Emsworth.
By 1901 the population of Emsworth was about 2,000. It grew rapidly during the 20th century to about 5,000 by the middle of the century. (The 1,000th house in Emsworth was built in 1953). Today the population is about 9,500. In 1906 construction began on the post office, with local cricketer George Wilder laying an inscribed brick. The renamed Emsworth Recreation Ground dates from 1909 and is the current home of Emsworth Cricket Club, which was founded in 1811 and celebrated its Bicentennial in 2011. It was marked with a Grand Match against the MCC. Cricket in Emsworth has been played at the same ground, Cold Harbour Lawn, since 1761.
In the 20th century Emsworth became a resort for pleasure boats. The oyster industry declined after 1902 when sewage polluted the oysters, which resulted in some people dying after eating oysters from Emsworth. Fishing oysters at Emsworth ended until new sewers were dug, but the industry never completely recovered after pollution was prevented.
The harbour is now used almost exclusively for recreational sailing. During the Second World War, nearby Thorney Island was used as a Royal Air Force station, playing a role in the defense of the Battle of Britain. The north of Emsworth at this time was used for growing flowers and further north was woodland (today Hollybank Woods). In the run up to D-Day, the Canadian Army used these woods as one of their pre-invasion assembly points for men and materiel.
Today the foundations of their barracks can still be seen. In the 1960s large parts of this area were developed with a mix of bungalow and terraced housing.
In March 2008, Emsworth was hit by a storm which resulted in trees being uprooted and, in combination with a high tide, led to areas of the town being flooded. Both mill ponds, the lower part of Queen Street including the Lord Raglan pub, and other roads were flooded, making access to some of the town impossible.
The town is part of the Havant constituency, which since the 1983 election has been a Conservative seat. The current Member of Parliament is David Willetts MP. The town is represented at Havant Borough Council by Councillors David Gillett, Brendan Gibb-Gray and Richard Galloway. The local County Councillor is Ray Bolton. The town has branches of the Conservative Party, Liberal Democrats, the Labour Party and United Kingdom Independence Party.
For a few years (2001 to 2007), Emsworth held a food festival. It was the largest event of its type in the UK, with 55,000 visitors in 2007. In 2008 the festival was cancelled due to numerous complaints of disruption to residents and businesses in the proximity; it has been replaced by a series of smaller events.
- The Quay
- The Mill Pond
- The Slipper Mill Pond
- The Gasometer
- St James' Church
- Sir Peter Blake – Yachtsman, buried at nearby Warblington Church.
- Sub-Lieutenant Peter Danckwerts GC, MBE, FRS, Royal Navy bomb disposal officer awarded the George Cross in 1940. Later Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge.
- Nicholas Lyndhurst – Actor, best known for playing Rodney Trotter in Only Fools and Horses was born here.
- Denise Black – Actress, best known for playing Denise Osbourne in the ITV1 soap Coronation Street and Hazel in Queer as Folk in 1999/2000.
- Sir Mark Evelyn Heath – Diplomat, British Ambassador to Chad (1975–1978), the first British Ambassador to Holy See (1982–1985) and Head of Protocol for the Hong Kong Government (1985–1988).
- Lee Spencer – Musician, music theorist and record producer.
- Malcolm Waldron -Footballer, former Southampton, Burnley and Portsmouth player.
- William Whitcher – Former Hampshire cricketer.
- George Wilder – Former Hampshire and Sussex cricketer whose name is inscribed on a stone at Emsworth Post Office dated 1906.
- P.G. Wodehouse – Writer.
- Albert Finney – Actor
- General Sir David Richards – British Army Officer, Formerly the Chief of the Defence Staff,
- "Welcome to Emsworth". Emsworth Online. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- Whitfield, Robert. Emsworth: A History. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. Ltd., 2005, p. xiii. ISBN 1-86077-346-X
- The National Archives, Kew (UK), E 122/189/5
- "Industry". Emsworth Online. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- Emsworth Flooding, March 2008
- "Background". Emsworth Food Festival Consultation. Emsworth Online. 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- St Aubin – Emsworth Twinning Association
- Denbigh, K.G. (December 1986). "Peter Victor Danckwerts". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 32: 99. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1986.0004.
- Whitfield, Robert. Emsworth: A History. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. Ltd., 2005. ISBN 1-86077-346-X
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