The 16-storey extension to South Stoneham House
Swaythling shown within Southampton
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Today, Swaythling has a large student population thanks mainly to Wessex Lane Halls, one of the largest halls of residence in Europe, and the proximity of the University of Southampton. It borders (clockwise from South) Portswood, Highfield, Bassett, Eastleigh, Mansbridge and Townhill Park.
Recorded as Swæthelinge in 909 AD, the origins of the name Swaythling are uncertain. It is widely thought that the name originally referred to the stream that runs through the area, now known as Monks Brook; the Old English word swætheling is believed to mean "misty stream".
Swaythling originally formed part of the Parish of South Stoneham, which encompassed Eastleigh and almost all of the land between Swaythling and the Bargate, in Southampton City Centre. The parish church was St. Mary's; the present building is one of Southampton's two medieval churches. It is accessible from Wessex Lane, down a short track between Connaught Hall and South Stoneham House (both now halls of residence serving the University of Southampton).
Woodmill is an ancient watermill site located in Swaythling at the highest tidal point of the River Itchen, where it is joined by the Itchen Navigation. The industrialist Walter Taylor moved there after 1770, but his mill burned down in 1820 to be replaced by the present structure which is now used as an activity centre.
With the construction of the "Flower Roads" council estate, St. Alban's church was erected in 1933. St Alban's remained a separate parish until 1992, when the parish of Swaythling came into being, with both St. Alban's and St. Mary's church buildings being used for worship. In 1931 Connaught Hall was built, to accompany South Stoneham House as a hall of residence for the University. The University acquired South Stoneham House in 1921 and subsequently added the tower block that now dominates the Wessex Lane area.
Much of the Swaythling landscape and its architecture was captured in the 1950s and 1960s by local artist Eric Meadus.
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Swaythling is now very much urbanised, with much of the area used for residential housing. High Road, which was the village's high street, has waned in popularity recently with several established businesses, such as Dunning's grocery store, having shut down. The popularity of the shopping area in neighbouring Portswood, out-of-town supermarket developments at Chandler's Ford and Hedge End, and the building of the Thomas Lewis Way bypass to the city centre are all possible causes of this demise.[original research?] High Road today is dominated by take-away food outlets and a couple of newsagents. The Old Black Cat (The Hampton Park Hotel) pub was turned into a McDonald's restaurant in the late 1990s.
The stream that gave the area its name is largely hidden from view as it runs through Swaythling, although it can still be seen next to the Fleming Arms pub (now owned by Gales Brewery, the Fleming Arms used to be a Beefeater restaurant until a fire led to the sale of the property). The Shell petrol station serving Thomas Lewis Way stands on the site of a cinema that fronted onto High Road.
The ward has a population of 13,394, consisting of 6,835 males and 6,559 females. 63.4 per cent of the population of Swaythling are Christian, 22.7 per cent have no religion, 2.6 per cent are Muslim and 1.3 per cent Buddhist. 70.5 per cent of Swaythling's population are in good health, a figure which is above the averages for Southampton and England. A further 21.9 per cent are in fairly good health, while 7.56 per cent are classified as "not good".
There are 4,727 households in Swaythling, of which 17.9 per cent are owner occupied and owned outright, 25.1 per cent are owner occupied with a mortgage or similar loan, 1.6 per cent are shared ownership, 18.4 per cent are rented from the Council, 13.8 per cent are rented from a housing association, 20.1 are rented from a private landlord or letting agency, and 3.1 per cent rented from elsewhere.
The Ford Southampton plant was a motor vehicle assembly plant, located in Mansbridge. It was the western European home to the production of the Ford Transit van. The plant, purposefully located on a 44-acre (180,000 m2) site near to Southampton Airport, was built as a shadow factory to assemble aircraft components for engineering firm Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft, opened by the Mayor of Southampton on 2 February 1939. At the outbreak of World War II, its whole supply chain was switched to produce parts for the Supermarine Spitfire. Recognised as an important part of the British war effort, it was bombed on a number of occasions by the Nazi Luftwaffe, the first in September 1940. In the latter years of the war, the site was used to assemble the Spitfire.
After Cunliffe-Owen was placed in receivership in 1947, the factory was bought in 1949 by Briggs Motor Bodies, who supplied Ford of Britain with bodies for their vehicles. In 1953 Ford acquired Briggs, and hence gained control of the 630,000 square feet (59,000 m2) Southampton plant. From 1965, Ford had started to produce the Ford Transit in Great Britain, with bodies from Swayling shipped up the M3 motorway to be mated with chassis at the Langley, Berkshire factory, near Slough. In 1972, Ford of Britain invested £5M in the Southampton plant, enabling it to make the complete Transit van. The first Transit rolled off of the production line in the same year, given to the mayor to be used as a gift for a local charity. From this point until the mid-1980s was the height of production, with the factory employing 4,500 workers.
In 1983 with construction of the M27 motorway starting, the site was permanently cut-off from Southampton Airport. In 2002, Ford stopped producing passenger cars in the UK, leaving the Southampton made Transit as their only British-made vehicle. In 2009, with the new Kocaeli, Turkey, plant in full production, Ford reluctantly halved production at Southampton and reduced the workforce to just over 500.
Swaythling railway station is on the main line between London and Bournemouth, and was opened in 1883. Originally Swathling Station, the "Y" was added in 1895 at the request of the squire, Sir Samuel Montagu, who became the first Baron Swaythling in 1907.
On 24 August 1988 Swaythling was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the site of the largest street party in the world when the A335 (Thomas Lewis Way) was first opened. This route allows traffic to bypass Swaythling and the neighbouring suburb of Portswood when travelling from the M27 to Southampton's city centre. Around 3000 people were present at the event.
Swaythling Athletic Football Club was established in 1946 in the Fleming Arms public house and played its early games on the field at Walnut Avenue. The club changed its name to Swaythling FC shortly afterwards, playing at Ten Acres in North Stoneham from 1957. In 1980 the club changed its name again to its current form, Eastleigh F.C..
- "Key Figures for 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics – Area: Swaythling (Ward)". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
- Mills, A. D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280074-4.
- Coles, R.J. (1981). Southampton's Historic Buildings. City of Southampton Society. p. 14.
- "South Stoneham House". The Willis Fleming Historical Trust. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- The Times, 13 June 1804
- Pannell, John Percival Masterman (1967). "Nelson's Boffins – the Taylors of Woodmill". Old Southampton Shores, Newton Abbott. David and Charles. pp. 51–71. ASIN B0000CNGOE.
- "Ford Transit Southampton". factorytour.co.uk. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- Matt Treacy (30 April 2010). "How Southampton became 'home' to the Ford Transit van". BBC Hampshire & Isle of Wight. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- Glynn Williams (16 September 2011). "Ford Transit plant in Southampton given good news over future". ThisIsHampshire.net. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- "BBC News – Last shift at Ford's Transit van factory in Swaythling". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- "B&Q Website – Company History". Diy.com. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- Brown, Jim. The Illustrated History of Southampton's Suburbs. Breedon. ISBN 1-85983-405-1.
- Mann, John Edgar. The Book of The Stonehams. Halsgrove. ISBN 1-84114-213-1.
- Meadus, Eric. Not a Day Wasted: An Eric Meadus Sketchbook, (Southampton: First Gallery, 1991) ISBN 0-9512947-2-5
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