John Avery Heritage
Member Southampton Heritage Federation
 Sharing local history with the community
In 1967 the Queen Mary set off on her final voyage to Longbeach, California. This watercolour by Eric Crompton records the farewell.A stone carving on the RSH Hospital Chapel.An afternoon stroll on Plymouth Breakwater
John Avery is a Fellow of the Huguenot Society of Britain and Ireland, a member of Southampton
Heritage Federation, City of Southampton Society [Honorary Life Member], Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery [Honorary Life Member],  Friends of  Town Quay Park, National Federation of Cemetery Friends, The Southampton Fryatt Plaque, Devon Family History Society, West Country Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust , Landmark Trust, National Trust
Copyright 2018

   Home      Southampton Waterfront Consultation
Submission by John Avery
The loss of the ability to drive to the water's edge particularly for elderly or disabled persons or cars with young families is a major disadvantage on the new site. I know people in ill health or not able to walk far see sitting by the river with an ice cream as a small treat. [Reply from consultant at the Consultation Exhibition: There will be limited disabled parking at the hotel/housing end of the park with possible access to a wheelchair] - this however as I pointed out is not a substitute to sitting in a car on the waterside against wheeling a wheelchair on a cold or windy day from the car park near the hotel which in itself must limit the viewing time and comfort of the occupant.
The park has been extended and re-designed mainly to accommodate the annual Boat Show. Heavy tractor units will be used to bring in and later take away stands, yachts and motor cruises and many stallholders will have vans and trailers [eg generators etc]. This will mean a lot of damage to the grassland as there are virtually no access roads as such. We only have to look at Southampton Common when fairgrounds and concerts vacate the site. As much of the park will house an underground car park it will need exceptionally strengthened roof to take the weight of tractor tugs and mobile cranes.
Hopefully the underground car park will copy the car park at Gun Wharf Quay and use overhead LED "dots" above each parking bay showing red or green which helps motorists to drive right away to a vacant bay [Reply from consultant: agreed this would be a very worthy project] 
  Whilst I accept the introduction of the casino has been approved by the council, in towns with large casinos prostitution increases dramatically, cocaine dealers zone in on the locality and there is minimal economic advantage to adjoining shops and boutiques as the money goes into the casino. Southampton is already adequately served by casinos and night clubs and the future misery on families brought through gambling addiction should not be underestimated.The view of SCC that we needed the input of a casino otherwise the project could not be funded is a very weak one.
The oval shaped building marked on the plans as civic/conference use in the front of the Mayflower Memorial is dreadful style of architecture - firstly as we approach 2020 we need the Mayflower Memorial to be instantly recognisable from the river traffic of cruise ships as well as the roadway and not partly obscured by a big ugly oval shaped shaped building. When asked how the building would be used there are as yet no firm plans but it was suggested as a] information centre for tourists/ heritage [pointed out to the consultant that SCC closed down its tourist centre so that was probably a non starter but if re designed it could have some merit as a heritage centre as most of the material reflecting our heritage is stored in local warehouses away from public view] b] possible conference centre or used for art exhibitions etc [pointed out if used as a conference centre the car park would soon be full up preventing local people from visiting the park].
On the view looking to the river as seen between the Mayflower Memorial and the Stella Memorial the centre axis is tree lined pathway but in my view instead of a 90 degree pathway it should be a V shaped avenue gradually extending width ways to emphasise the full vista of the river. Whilst appreciating trees in respect of their environmental advantages we have to carefully balance the fact that as the trees mature they would begin to decrease or even block the scenic view of the river and possibly shrubs of a limited height instead of trees would help in maintaining the view to the river.
  The publicity boards claim there will be public toilets pointed out to the consultant that our council closes such amenities and would they in turn face closure? By public toilets did they mean customers of a restaurant or shoppers in shops [ie limited access] or really open to the public. The consultant said all the amenities would be under the management of the site occupier [not SCC] and the toilets would be open to all park users.
Whilst appreciating the publicity boards were artistic impressions there do not appear to be any lifebelts posted on the walk ways next to the water. We do not necessarily want to copy other towns but on Plymouth Hoe promenade they have stainless steel bollards every 15/20 feet apart with names of famous historical personages. At Salisbury at sites of historic interests they have life size "dressed" figures on a polycarbon media with a small display board giving information, ideal for the promenade along the waterfront here would be figures representing our history facing the river eg RJ Mitchell, Jane Austen, Isaac Watts etc? It seems a lost opportunity not to have either a restored tram [or if not a replica] travelling the length of the waterfront around to the berth for heritage ships and unless I missed it would there be any facility for a water taxi?
  Mayflower Park to be used for the Boat Show. I asked the consultant as to whether there would be any restriction on the use as an open public park during the rest of the year. Consultant said that control would rest with the council who for commercial reasons may wish to allow a funfair, charity event such as a fun run or temporary exhibition to be on the park area. Possibly CoSS/SCAPPS could take this on board to have "use" days restricted similar to The Common. For example a music festival or loud pop music would interfere with peace and quiet expected by residents in the flats and hotel.
  The extremely tall lighting posts along the quay side in front of the shops and restaurants host vertical banners with images we would see in Blackpool or Benidorm. We have these all around the city the majority looking in hope for subscribers to advertise thereon so commercially are usually only used by SCC to advertise the failing SeaCity Museum as few firms see their advantage. We need sensibly sized light posts not huge unsightly advertising signs every few yards.
Whilst we could not match The Spinnaker at Portsmouth what a great shame there is no viewing platform for the public to safely enjoy an enhanced view of river traffic, even a chair lift system running parallel with the river would have been an attraction. To quote a local historian [Blue Badge Guide] speaking to the consultant "It is so boring and nothing to make Southampton stand out".
  One aim of SCC is to get cruise companies to encourage a day in Southampton at the beginning or end of their cruise. What are we offering? Going from a giant floating casino with a variety of restaurants to a land based giant casino with a variety of restaurants hey it is off to Salisbury with its streets full of character then to Stonehenge.
The Calshot Spit Light Vessel was moved from Ocean Village at great expense to the Trafalgar Dock area in the Eastern Docks. It was to be a centre piece of a dockside heritage display but the port owner ABP unexpectedly changed its mind and offered the site to Red Funnel. Would it be too much to ask of the Waterfront developer to move it as a feature at Mayflower Park?
We sadly lack landing sites in the city for the air ambulance but it would be a great opportunity to make a landing site and emergency vehicle park up area at the 101 berth end of the Park.
John Avery 11th July 2015

Submission by Steuart Thompson


1. Waterfront parking has been lost

2. The park area does not seem to have been designed to accommodate people of limited mobility, but who are not necessarily registered disabled or do not have powered mobility

3. Access across the dual carriageway has not been improved

4. Buildings (as illustrated) show no relation to Southampton or its heritage.

5. The parking capacity only seems to match the proposed employment numbers

6. There is no connection to the other waterfront recreational facilities

7. The remoteness from the current retail centre of the city and the apparent lack of any truly distinctive feature which marks it out as emblematic of one of Great Britain’s greatest ports, and a ‘must see’ destination for visitors,  brings in to question its viability and long term future

8. The traffic access to the car park via Herbert Walker Avenue is likely to seriously impede the north westerly flow of traffic around the roundabout at peak periods.

9. Issues with the actual displays

The area identified by a red perimeter, which is currently a car park located between the Carnival offices and the Grand Harbour Hotel – the significance of this site was not identified as far as I could see.

The various building were apparently identified by groups of letters eg: WCA, RPC2, TCA etc but these were not explained and it was an issued raised by a number of people at the exhibition.

Trafalgar Dock was mentioned in the text but it was not identified on the plans.

Detailed comments

1. Waterfront parking has been lost

 The exhibition includes the following statements

“800 metres of attractive waterfront with full public access”

            “Providing more access to the water itself”

“Creating facilities for all ages”

Currently the waterfront parking is used 365 days per year. Personal observation suggests that the profile of users includes visitors, ferry travellers waiting for their scheduled Isle of Wight ferry connection, local parents taking advantage of the open space and play area, and retired, or disabled, people wishing to sit and observe the traffic on river. However for much of the year the majority appears to be in the last category – the “grey users”. Admittedly the low parking charge provides little revenue to Southampton City Council (SCC), but it does encourage the use of the park.

Without significant waterfront, casual, parking I am suggesting that during winter months ie: October to May the magnificent park area will be virtually unused because few people are going to park in the underground car park to then go up and sit in the rain and / or cold wind. Without a waterfront parking facility, of at least the current capacity, a significant proportion of the current usage will cease.

It will also render much of the area of the park inaccessible or at least unattractive to a significant proportion of current users, especially in the winter months.

2. The park area does not seem to have been designed to accommodate people of limited mobility but who are not necessarily registered disabled or do not have powered mobility

Details of exits from the underground car park seem to be almost absent from the illustrations and are certainly not obvious. However it seems clear that all exits are at the perimeter of the park itself. If this is what is intended it will discourage a large proportion of current, off-season, users of the park and the waterfront parking.  

If, as seems possible, much of the parking is taken up by staff employed in the development, or by residents, unless special arrangements are put in place, most car-bourne visitors will be forced to walk some distance across the underground car park in order access the retail and catering facilities. Not an inviting prospect!

3. Access across dual carriageway has not been improved

The exhibition includes the following statements

“Connecting the city with its waterfront”

“Make it easy to cross Town Quay Road”

“Creating facilities for all ages”

“Highways Impact and Benefits - The site has numerous pedestrian access


It appears from the diagrammatic plans that only 3 pedestrian crossings across the dual carriageway between the roundabout and the junction with High Street are intended. As an occasional user of the crossing from the bottom of Bugle Street to the Royal Pier entrance, I can say that it is not an attractive or easy means of transiting from the ‘Old Town’ to the Royal Pier area. If this is intended to encourage shoppers to come to the new complex I would regard it as totally inadequate and discouraging. Also even modest volumes of pedestrians will seriously impede the flow of traffic along the dual carriageway, negating all the recent work to improve access along Platform Road.

High level bridges, possibly of the sort between the two sections of old walls to the west of Bargate Street, with possibly the seaward pier/ abutment constructed in stone and linked to the upper levels of the development, would seem to be desirable to make the link to the Old Town and the West Quay complex a realistic and welcoming one.

 4. Buildings (as illustrated) show no relation to Southampton or its heritage.

The exhibition includes the following statement

“Celebrate local heritage in the uses, park, streets and quaysides”

I accept that this exhibition relates to the concept and initial planning, and agreements with the various land and stake holders and that changes may be made at the detailed planning stage but the elevations seem to be indistinguishable from similar developments across the world. Some integration to the historic elevations of the Old Town and waterfront would seem necessary.


5. The parking capacity only seems to match the proposed employment numbers

The exhibition quotes the underground car park capacity as 2000. However it also suggests a possible 4450 jobs may be created. It is not clear if these are all to be within the development or include consequential jobs linked to the trade generated by the development. If even only a proportion of these employees find it necessary to travel by car either the car park will be full of their vehicles, leaving little space for customers or visitors, or considerable pressure will be put on all adjacent parking facilities.   

6. There is no connection to the other waterfront recreational facilities

Not only is there no link to the current commercial district of the City but there is no link to Ocean Village.  Without the co-operation of ABP and possibly other land owners this is apparently impossible. One of the plans shows a ‘Shuttle Bus’ stop on the road into the development but no other information seems to have been provided. It would seem to be an essential requirement for a free shuttle to be provided to link the station, West Quay, this development, Ocean Village and possibly Above Bar.   

7. The remoteness from the current retail centre of the city and the apparent lack of any truly distinctive feature which marks it out as emblematic of one of Great Britain’s greatest ports, and a ‘must see’ destination for visitors  brings in to question its viability and long term future

There seems to be nothing to draw shoppers from West Quay and Above Bar to this development. In my view Shoppers need a continuous thread of retail or catering outlets to lead them from one location to another. That is lacking. As an attraction the epicurean market seems to be an enormous gamble. I can imagine a couple, possibly with children in tow, standing in West Quay and asking one another if they should go down to the Royal Pier complex and quickly deciding that it is a step too far.

Also there seems to be nothing to show any visitors on approaching cruise ships that this is distinctively Southampton. If the Pier End hotel were faced with stone elevations to resemble a castle and with a roof top restaurant, that might strike a cord with visitors and residents alike. I do not think that a large, elevated model of a Spitfire has any particular commercial pulling power. 

8. The traffic access to the car park via Herbert Walker Avenue is likely to  seriously impede the north westerly flow of traffic around the roundabout at peak periods.

I have witnessed the problems that can occur at that roundabout. Three pedestrian crossings, right turning traffic into the development at the Royal Pier entrance and traffic coming from the north west / West Quay and entering via Herbert Walker Avenue will make Platform Road a virtual perpetual parking lot at busy times of the year. This route is meant to give free flowing access to the Cruise Terminal accessed via Dock Gate 4.  I find it hard to believe that this has been modelled correctly.

Steuart Thompson 11th July 2015

 Letter to The Echo by R.R. Swann Having visited the Royal Pier Waterfront exhibition on July 11, I came away with mixed feelings.I thought that the development should and would present a showcase of Southampton's strengths to visitors, especially visitors approaching the city from the sea.If so, I think there is something seriously lacking.Where is the iconic feature that will make visitors think instantly 'it's Southampton'? See the Spinnaker Tower or its picture and one thinks 'Portsmouth'.See the Liver building or its picture and one thinks 'Liverpool'.See some block of flats and an hotel and a casino and one thinks 'where am I?'Nothing in the exhibition said 'Southampton' to me. But there was a hint of hope in the developers' 'our visitors', which I quote:"The spirit of discovery; an urban waterside experience encapsulating Southampton's spirit of discovery...and celebrating the city's relationship with land, sea and air.Presumably, at the waterfront the emphasis will be on the sea, although the rivers Test and Itchen have some fame too. There is no shortage of subject matter such as transport, oceanography and fishing. A visitor attraction by the water telling the visitors more about the watery world around them would certainly match the developers' vision and it should be possible to find an architect to create an iconic building to house it.For me there are certainly some pleasing aspects of the scheme, such as the bigger (and better?) Mayflower Park. But it does not need the shops: there is a spare shopping mall at the Bargate.It does not need a casino. However, it does need something to say 'this is Southampton'If not, I think it will be Ocean Village markII, bigger, better, but still nothing to write home about.    R. R. Swann
 Submission by the City of Southampton Society
Members of CoSS who attended this event were impressed with the design quality of the realigned Mayflower Park. 
Many of the features presented will realise CoSS’s aspirations for Southampton’s Waterfront. The Society acknowledges that many of the suggestions we have put forward at past meetings over the last 18  months have been incorporated in the proposals.  The views down Bugle Street and French Street have been respected, and your awareness that the RPW scheme needs to be linked to West Quay/Watermark is welcomed.The Society does, however, have several concerns and observations to make.  I have summarised these below but not necessarily in order of priority.1 Disabled Drivers.  We support the free pedestrian access to the water’s edge, but some access for cars driven by disabled and elderly people should be allocated – say 25 spaces.2 Underground Car Park.  In the underground car park a system of LED green/red lights to identify whether a parking bay is vacant or not should be installed. 3 Linkage/Connections to West Quay.  RPW and West Quay/Watermark need to be connected for their mutual success. The public should be attracted to move from one to the other, whether by using the old trams along Western Esplanade or some other travel system.  RPW need to liaise with Hammersons because CoSS strongly believe that the failure to link these two developments from the start will result in low footfall, and therefore economic and social stagnation. 4 Public Toilets.  These should be installed for all to use at all times, not just to users of the cafes or other retail outlets.                                                                                                                                                 5.The Oval Building (WQA).  This building in the north-east corner of the new park seems to be squeezing the children’s play area into insignificance.  In the Planning Application more details should be available about its function.                           6 Boat Show.  Since the new park will be 19% larger than the present one, areas of it, particularly the children’s play area, should be open to the public throughout the Boat Show period in September. 7 Public Viewing Platform.  The plan states one of the tall hotels includes a viewing platform to observe the     port’s activities, with views across to the New Forest.  This platform should be accessible to the general public, not just to hotel customers.                                       8 Construction Timings.  CoSS seeks reassurance that the realigned Mayflower Park will be virtually completed before the apartment blocks are built.                             9 Town Arena & Environs.  We welcome this concept in front of the Gatehouse.  Small public performances and displays will add, on a daily basis, to the convivial atmosphere of this location.  However, there is a strong need for inclusiveness of this scheme with its immediate surroundings, namely, the Wool House [now called Dancing Man], Southampton Royal Yacht Club building, Town Quay Park, Cuckoo Lane open space and the  Mayflower and Stella Memorials, and, most of all, Town Quay itself, the only pier left once this proposed scheme is completed. 10 The Casino Question.  Can this scheme proceed without the casino being built? 11 Access to the Water.  Citizens will need a public hard to launch their small boats.  A small pontoon for fishermen will be most welcomed.  Blue Funnel and water taxis will need access (for water taxis, see Southampton Football Club’s plans to develop a service to and from Itchen Quay adjacent to St Mary’s Stadium).  Whether this service operates from Mayflower Park or the Marine Basin is open to discussion. We gather RPW will submit a Planning Application in a few weeks time.  We look forward to scrutinising it.

Arthur Jeffery Chair of CoSS 16 July 2015


snowfall Southampton Old Cemetery courtesy FoSOCSeamen's strike at Southampton 1966Royal Blues at Bournemouth c 1949 photo by Derek Amey local historians Jim Brown and John Avery deep in thought. Image Ann MacGillivray Veronica Tippetts addressing Court Leet Oct 2nd 2012. Image Will TempleJohn Melody Southampton Town Crier at Court Leet 2012. Image Will Temple