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Town Quay and Royal Pier

Town Quay

A trading place for centuries, discover Town Quay, the heart of Southampton's maritime heritage. The town's pier was the departure point for ferries to the Isle of Wight. The area was also home to flying boats and Southampton's floating dock.

View this story in pictures

The Town Quay And Gas Column
Southampton has been a centre for shipping and trade for centuries. Watergate Quay is first recorded in 1411. Standing at the foot of the High Street on the site of today's Town Quay, it was bordered by the Town Walls. French wine was imported here for the Norman kings; wool was exported to the continent from Town Quay - a 15th century wool storage house still stands on Town Quay.

Town Quay
Small wharves extended either side of Watergate Quay. To the east they reached 'the platform', an area built in the 13th century area for defence of the town, and on towards the oyster beds where the Eastern Docks lie today. Faced with competition from London, continental trade from Southampton declined after 1700, leaving Watergate Quay derelict.

Harbour Board Offices, Town Quay
In 1803 the newly-formed Harbour Commissioners demolished Watergate and began to build a new quay on the site. New wharves were being built on the River Itchen at this time and in 1893, the Commissioners took steps to stop foreign goods landing at the Itchen wharves, fearing a loss of income. A new Customs House was built in 1847 and six years later, the first jetty was built at Town Quay. The jetty was later extended to provide nine berths. The railway line reached the pier and Town Quay in 1871, having been extended from Terminus station.

Town Quay
The Southampton Harbour Board chose Town Quay as the site for their imposing new offices, opened in 1925. The Royal Southern Yacht Club opened their clubhouse by the Quay in 1846. Situated on the Town Quay at the bottom of Bugle Street, it was built in 1846 by T.S. Hack and described as "the finest piece of early Victorian architecture in the city".

Cowes Castle: Passenger Ferry And Shearwater 4: Hydrofoil At Town Quay
At the beginning of the 20th century, Town Quay was still heavily used for coastal trade. However, much trade moved to the Eastern and Western Docks because of the better facilities they provided. Today, the Town Quay is the base for vehicle ferry and catamaran services to the Isle of Wight and the ferry to nearby Hythe. Offices and leisure facilities have been built on the jetty and the nearby area is used as a marina.


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