Monday 28th September 2015 – Station Quarter Visit –
The kerbside artwork ‘Canal Shore‘, which is a vital part of the Station Quarter programme, is very nearly completed. Only a short section remains to be finished, once the Station Forecourt area is completed. ‘Canal Shore’ is a 205m long black basalt kerb with inset granite text, which traces the route of the former Southampton to Salisbury Canal and also happens to be the line of the historic shoreline of the River Test Estuary.
The narrative refers to places, people and events which have marked the development of this landscape. Importantly, the work is also a strategic part of the wayfinding and placemaking ambitions for the Station Quarter project, as it makes an emphatic statement along the main east to west pedestrian route to the Station from the Above Bar area of the city and the Cultural Quarter.
In researching this project I have engaged with many individuals, institutions and stakeholders in order to decipher the history of our site. I am immensely grateful to all those who contributed.
The purpose of taking this approach to research is twofold.
Firstly it fosters a sense of common ownership around the project. People have given their information and experience freely in order to see these improvement be made.
Secondly, the collaborative exchange of information has enriched the debate around the design outcomes, This can only be a positive step forward. The project now on the ground is all the better for this.
Thanks to all who have contributed thus far. The following is not an exclusive list – & I am adding to it all the time !
The following set of images – all credited – have been used to inform and influence the design process. They formed a brilliant & illuminating part of the contextual research, which has influenced the design process throughout the project – & which is quite frankly – ongoing …the research never stops !
Sailing near the walls of Southampton and the West Quay area on a stormy day in late Victorian times. The embayment (West Bay) is an old meander of the River Test, flooded by the rising sea levels of the Holocene (current epoch) following the last ice age. This image is a wide angle view from near the present site of Southampton Central Station and looks out towards Town Quay – the site of the West Quay Shopping Centre & John Lewis. Ian West & Tonya West 2008
The image ties in wonderfully well with a description of a great storm in West Bay in 1893
An extract from the Parish of St Peters Church, Commercial Road. Magazine No 5 January 1894 by Rev H C Percival
“We have had our share of the late terrific storm, as well as much of the sunshine of Christmas. It is not often that St Peters Parish and people see the usually placid Southampton water assume the appearance of the Bay of Biscay. But on Tuesday the 12th December (1893), we actually had a wreck on the shore in this parish and waves did much damage along the Western Shore. Our Church too suffered much more damage than is generally known. When the gale was at its height, about 3pm, some slates were carried a distance of about 3o yards and hurled with terrific force through one of the small stained windows of the Chancel. The iron guard outside was beat like thin wire and the lead & glass of the window were driven in and the window was smashed into thousands of fragments…one of our beautiful churchyard evergreen Oaks has been sadly damaged and now presents a very one sided appearance. In front of our school, slates were sticking in the ground, as though some giant from the opposite side of Commercial Road had been playing quoits all the afternoon”.
‘In the 1890’s Southampton Corporation sold an area of land for the construction of the new station. The land involved was partly field & partly shoreline and was therefore subject to tidal flooding’. ‘The new station was opened on 1st November 1895. The clock tower had been a landmark long before the Civic Centre was built in 1931. It was damaged by bombing in WWII and finally demolished to make way for the new station and Overline House in 1966/67.
A. St Peters Church, Commercial Road. Built 1845
B. Victoria Brewery, Commercial Road founded between 1863 & 1871 by Andrew Barlow, a business man & philanthropist who died in 1904 aged 84, the richest man to be buried in Southampton Cemetery!
C. Southampton Station of 1895
D. Emperia Building – Warehouses. Built around 1905, bombed out in 1940