Town Quay

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Coordinates: 50°53′40″N 1°24′22″W / 50.89450°N 1.40620°W / 50.89450; -1.40620

Two Red Jet fast ferries at Town Quay in 2008

Town Quay is a quay in Southampton, England.[1] A quay is first recorded on the site in 1411, known as Watergate Quay.[1] This quay fell out of use in the 18th century and in 1803 was demolished and replaced with a new structure, used for goods and passenger services.[1] Overcrowding made it unsuitable for passenger services, resulting in most of them relocating when the Royal Pier opened in 1833.[2][1] Between 1829 and 1860, the memorial column raised to William Chamberlayne (MP) was located at the quay.[3]

A horse-drawn tramway, completed on the last day of 1847,[4] connected Southampton Terminus railway station to the quay.[1] This tramway was directly connected to the railway in 1871.[1] In 1876, upgrades to the tramway allowed a switch from horses to light locomotives.[1] For many years the quay was worked by several of the diminutive LSWR C14 class locomotives, numbers 741, 743, 744 and 745, as well as an assortment of other small locomotives.[5]

During the First World War the quay was used for military traffic, mainly barges, traveling across the English Channel while the railway lines to the pier were used as sidings by the main Southampton Docks.[4]

Construction and improvements in other parts of Southampton's docks in the 1930s resulted in much of the goods traffic moving away and the quay shifted to handling mainly passenger traffic.[1] The last major freight traffic was Scandinavian timber imported by Montague Meyer but increasing charges by British Rail in the late 1960s brought about a switch to road transport.[5]

Harbour Board Office

The railway ceased being used on 4 May 1970, although the lines remained in place for a further nine years.[4] Most of the warehouses on the quay were subsequently demolished, being replaced by offices and the Red Funnel ferry terminals. Also, a marina was constructed on the east side of the pier, inshore of the high-speed ferry pontoons. One of the last survivors of the original buildings, the Grade II listed Harbour Board offices,[6] was, until 2015, a gentleman's club; another survivor, the former Geddes Warehouse, also listed Grade II,[7][8]  has been converted into a boutique hotel and restaurant.

Currently the pier section is used by the Hythe Ferry and Red Funnel's Red Jet high speed service to West Cowes.[1] The QuayConnect bus service, free to ferry passengers, connects the quay to the town centre and Southampton Central railway station.[9] Red Funnel's vehicle ferries to East Cowes operate from the water frontage to the west of the pier.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Easdown, Martin; Sage, Linda (2011). Piers Of Hampshire & The Isle Of Wight. Amberley. pp. 68–70. ISBN 9781445603551.
  2. ^ Patterson, A. Temple (1966). A History of Southampton 1700–1914 Vol.I An Oligarchy in Decline 1700–1835. The University of Southampton. pp. 161–163.
  3. ^ Neal, Peter (2014). The Story of Southampton. The History Press. p. 106. ISBN 9781860776748.
  4. ^ a b c Moody, Bert (1997). Southampton's Railways. Atlantic Publishers. pp. 102–111. ISBN 0906899788.
  5. ^ a b Marden, Dave (2007). Southampton's Quayside Steam. Southampton: Kestrel Railway Books. pp. 99–108. ISBN 978-1-905505-02-9.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Harbour Board offices (1091981)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  7. ^ Historic England. "Geddes warehouse including medieval wall forming front of warehouse (1091979)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  8. ^ Orde, Tom (22 April 2019). "Iconic Southampton building - once a strip club - goes back on the market". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  9. ^ "Quayconnect Bus Service Southampton". Red Funnel. Retrieved 20 December 2016.

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