This spring, why not take a stroll around Worting Wood, part of Manydown? – It’s a surprisingly rewarding walk but on borrowed time for the coming development.
It’s been reported in the last couple of weeks that the popular ‘Manydown Family Fun’ park is not to re-open. A shame for many, (and us, with a little boy who loves it), but not a real surprise as we are resigned to the Manydown development.
Ok, so Its not going to be built overnight, but I would really urge locals to venture out one weekend to walk around Worting Wood on Manydown sooner than later… I’m always surprised how many people don’t really know of its existence, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the walk and the views it offers. When we lived in Winklebury, it was a great gateway into the countryside. I remember some great summer evening strolls, and we have gone back at weekends since.
Thankfully, according to the plans, The area from Wooton and Worting Wood are now going to be kept as a ‘country park’, which is the right thing, but I think it will act as more of a buffer for the village of Wootton St Lawrence. The views to the south will be housing estates.
I’m afraid my own photo’s of the wooded parts don’t do it justice, so I found these examples to show the variety. The seasons have their own qualities and some of the trees are very old.
Paths to explore…
There are several rights of way and bridleways to choose – the below map shows some of the options. From the Worting Village side, some of the paths can get quite muddy after rainful, so good shoes would be advisable. But the more north, the better the tracks.
I hope to make a film of the landscape at some point this year, which I’ll add here. If you’d like to know more about some of the History of Manydown, you can read my earlier blog here. We’re getting more detail to the development. Lets hope they are sympathetic. The fact is we are to loose some of this area’s richness, which always brings rewards for those who dare to venture…
A photo essay showing the changes when Junctions 7 & 8 of the M3 arrived…
So this one maybe a bit ‘niche’, but the story must be commonplace across the country. Motorways bulldozed their way through a landscape, and like the railways before them, changed the status quo of maybe hundreds of years. These two junctions are my nearest in terms of location, and for almost 15 years they marked the outpost of the M3.
As motoring increased as a means of transport, the traffic jams through Basingstoke on the A30 and A33 were notorious. Residents were curious and probably relieved when the ‘London to Basingstoke’ Motorway scheme was announced in the 60’s. The first Junctions to become ‘3 – 8’ opened in May and June 1971. At 7, whilst avoiding the village centre of Dummer, several access lanes from the A30 were effected by the construction.
A bit of background…
The Oakley to Dummer road passed through where Junction 7 was planned. It was also in effect the death knell for Kempshott House. (Read more on Kempshott House here.) The road from Oakley is called ‘Trenchards Lane’. It’s a narrow, windy lane which I use daily, (I shouldn’t really…) After the last sharp bend near Southwood Farm, the road comes to a junction on the A30.
There were, and still are very few properties along this road – Oakdown Farm being the exception I could see.
This is as far as the old road goes now. We’ll trace the original route as it carried on in a moment, but turning back, if a traveller was comming from Dummer, this would have been the view back towards Trenchards Lane.
The ‘lost’ Section
We now have to walk along the A30 a little and turn right onto the spur road toward the junction 7 to look for signs of the old lane…
The line of the trees from Oakdown Farm is the course of the lane.
When walking on the spur, which has a gradual rise, looking to the right, the last part of the lane is just about definable with the trees. I’m convinced this was its route.
But eventually, the lane runs into the edge where the Spur road was being built and no traces can be seen.
Looking ahead, the spur and roundabout at Junction 7 have wiped away all traces, but looking at the old maps, the lane carried on through the pine trees, pretty much in the middle. (The M3 is beneath out of view).
Out on the other side…
Walking around the junction is a bit hair rasing when crossing the fast slip lanes – but once on the other side, the road is as it was. Very quickly the feel of a country lane returns, as you walk away from the motorway noise towards Dummer.
Just on the left is a turning into Kempshott Park which would have been the entrance to the esate from the south. The name lives on for now, but with the development planned, the old golf course which has preserved the parkland will soon be change.
If you would like to read more about the M3 construction and data see the useful CBRD website here
Part 2 – Junction 8 – Popham
In some ways junction 8 has more of a ‘story’ to tell, partly because of its spiraling construction. When The M3 arrived, The Popham Interchange was joining 2 already historic routes, The A303 would arrive too, shifting their importance further.
Motorway etiquette was still quite a new thing for most in the early 70’s, and meant that how you a joined a motorway mattered and had to be controlled affair.
Historic Locations – Where the A30 and A33 divided…
For centuries, ‘Popham Fork’ as I’ve seen it refered to, was where 2 main roads met. The West road to Salisbury, Yeovil, Exeter and onto Cornwall, and a South road, to Winchester & Southampton, and The New Forest. When these became numbered they were the A30 and A33 respectively.
Around these parts, our connections to Jane Austen are rightly commented on. The Wheatsheaf pub on the A30 in Dummer, would have been known to Jane and her family, as it was the coaching stop closest to the family home in Steventon, 2 miles away.
Historic Locations – A33 Fork, North & Southbound
The A33 slip circa 1973
The original junction
Originally when The M3 motorway opened in 1971 it started & finished at Popham, barely a quarter of a mile away. When the M3 was to be extended south in 1985, the slip roads were to alter again, but in the original plan, The A33 was split into 2 lanes, which I’ve tried to explain beneath…
Northbound A33 traffic carried on the old route. But the southbound traffic would filter off to the left, go under the motorway before rejoining the A33, as the motorway ended. (see below).
Today a T- exists into Popham Court lane. It’s great we still have this little bit of this motorway history preserved, so we can visualise it quite well as the old slip lane is still in use, but not for its original purpose!
Below shows were the slip road used to join the A33. When The motorway was extended in 1985, the southbound slip could no longer rejoin at the A33.
Instead, the road was extended alongside the motorway, to join into with Popham Court Lane.
Historic Locations – A30 Fork, North and Soundbound.
So to the other leg of the Junction, off the A30 route. In effect, the A30 which is signposted from Basingstoke with some reverence is about to ‘give way’ to the mighty A303 – the replacement Tunk road to the West, and for several miles after the A30 is lost. But originally when the Motorway was opened it was for A30.
I had to check out where I could access safely on foot. I did find there was a footpath that would take me right through the middle of the lanes! But first off the A30, I passed these cottages which I found to be one of the most striking views of the exercise. I wonder how the original occupants felt when they knew the motorway was coming and then when the bridge was opened?
Through the tunnel the footpath comes out into a green field, but between 4 lanes of the motorway lanes merging… If you look at the map, The M3 starts off before dividing quickly. Surprisingly, Its not as noisy at this spot as I thought it might be.
The footpath comes up to the A33 (top) and M3 feeder to A303 (below)
At the old A30 route near the Crematorium, the road divides in the same way as we saw on the A33. The left fork, southbound will join the A303 after the M3 ceases.
I take a quick look on foot along the southbound section – Here the M3 from London runs overhead, feeding onto the A303…
This image below from the A30, looking North, shows this stretch of road pretty much the same as it has been for centuries, with North Waltham to the left.
Locations – The M3 Intruder?
Not so easy to get imagery unless from a moving vehicle, and I have wanted my focus to be on the original roads perspective or the arrival of the Motorway, but we can’t ignore the Elephant in the room! The M3 sends its tentacles in all directions dividing up the surrounding land. But when you isolate it, something rather different appears…
I think it’s design looks quite elegant. The slip roads, which are needed add the complexity.
So these roads are here now and almost 50 years on and we can’t turn back the clock. On maps it doesn’t look like anything could live within the web of roads – houses or wildlife, but it does. In the midst of these roads, I also found several pockets of quiet I wasn’t expecting. The villages of North Waltham and Dummer were preserved, but for those on the route I’m sure the arrival of the M3 did in some cases seriously effected their ways of life. Any one moving to the area since wouldn’t have the same shock to contend with and would be choosing to live there.
The ‘Sitting with Jane‘ initiative has been one of this summers great success stories for Basingstoke & Deane, as it caught the publics imagination comemerating the 200th anniversary of the Death of our most famous resident.
A big well done to ‘Desination Basingstoke‘ for organising the project to place commissioned benches by different artists, around the North of Hampshire sites connected to Jane Austen. As a creative, I particularly ejoyed the broad range of artistic styles there were from the ornate to some fun eyecatching submissions. I think they all help the public interact with them. I believe our friend, below visited them all!
You may not have liked them all, but that didn’t matter as you would soon find one you did. Over the summer, people didn’t need much encouragement to investigate where the benches were placed, with the children equally excited, and once they started they wanted to find out where the others were – It seems a bit snide to begrudge Winchester and Chawton their own benches, as part of the scheme, (but Winchester often wants to grab the Jane glory – look at that new £10 note!), so for once it was great the majority of these benches where around the places she grew up in. This story is drawing to a close with a the chance for groups and individuals to bid at an auction of the benches – Its clear there is an appetite for keeping them.
We also have a permanment statue of Jane in the Basingstoke Town centre. It was a good story to let the World know. I also enjoyed this article by Rupert Willoughby.
In the latter 20th Century most of the farms around Basingstoke was sold off to make way for housing.
Their names live on in some of the districts, but what I didn’t expect to find was that many of the farm houses still survive…
Oakridge, South Ham, Buckskin, Brighton Hill, Hatch Warren, Merton, Chineham & Viables are all areas with names taken from the farms they were built on. We can extend this further to farms known as at Popley Field, Bury (Winklebury), Binfields and Lickpit, which is now know as Lychpit.
The case for Park Prewett Farm is slighly different, as the site was selected for the Hospital way before the post war development of Basingstoke, and besides the farm would still have a role tp play in recouperating the patients.
Hatch Warren Farm
The Farm buildings are still part of Portsmouth Estates, the historic land owner in the area. And whilst all traces of farming have gone and the surrounding land was sold to developers in the 1980’s, these buildings are still in use as offices. Several design studios have located there for its location.
Its worth mentioning that Hatch Warren Farm was where the pioneering farmer
Rex Paterson O.B.E. based himself and developed his practices in grassland diary farming that have widely influenced the industry post war. (I found this history quite fascinating it its own right, and how important it was to modern farming).
Richard W Hoyles book ‘The Farmer in England”‘ 1650 -1980 has more detail here
Merton Road gets its name from the farm that was here till the 1950’s. Merton Farm was named after a previous farm, which was closer to town and the ancestral home of Walter de Merton, later a Bishop and Chancellor of England, and founder of the Oxford College.
If you are interested in finding out more about one of Basingstoke’s famous sons see
Rupert Willoughby’s article on his website here…
Farms North of Basingstoke
There was a cluster of neighbouring farms to the north of Basingstoke, where the ‘Oakridge’ and ‘Popley’ estates are now, and a couple of the farm sites still survive.
With the creation of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston, Houses were needed for the new staff, and in 1952 the first estates in Basingstoke were built. This plan predated Basingstoke being designated as a ‘London Overspill’ town, but was the start of rapid change for the borough.
There was also a ‘North Ham Farm‘ South of Poplar Farm. Its footprint can still be seen in the corner of the Merton Junior/ Infants School.
Poplar Field Farm (Popley)
Notice the 1896 map above shows a farm called ‘Poplar Field Farm’ I can’t see a Popley anywhere around on this map, but by 1912 the farm was called ‘Popley’. As with Hatch Warren, there are now businesses based in and around the old farm buildings.
What I assume is the Farmhouse now looks a private residence. I could only glimpse the side of the property in the image below.
By the 1950’s Oakridge Farm had vanished from the maps, and the A339 Ring Road goes right through where it would have been anyway!
Chineham House and Farm
Easily the biggest selection of farm buildings were alongside Chineham House.
Although some suffered the same fate making way for housing, there is still a collection
of farm buildings to see, alongside the listed house. Its quite amazing how these have survived next to the estate, but I’m glad they have…
Chineham House is 17th Century, but most of the farm buildings are 18th Century structures – but still impressive.
Lickpit / Lychpit Farm
With its proximity to Old Basing, the old farm buildings of Lychpit exist around community use, and are therefore much restored in the context of the modern
housing estates. A ‘farm’ was part of a manor dating from the 10th Century,
but the buildings preserved here are 17th Century.
The farmhouse is now Lychpit House – a private residence, in the background
of the photo below.
South and West of Basingstoke
Another cluster of farms that were sold to make way for the growing town amongst others included Buckskin and South Ham farms.
The farm was created late 18th Century from South Ham Farm. Today the farmhouse survives, hemmed in by its neighbours, and whilst the property looks ‘safe’ it appears to be in a state of flux with its usage. I think out of all the farms visited this one looks the most ‘isolated’ with it surroundings.
I couldn’t find a photo of the farm, but I believe the above photo shows the hedged lane up to the farm, (to the right), looking towards Fiveways and Kempshott.
South Ham Farm
Now one of the largest estates in Basingstoke. South Ham was also the main farm in the area. Like Oakridge, there is no traces visable as the farm was demolished, but this and Buckskin are in living memory for some. At South Ham, land had been slowly sold off for housing projects for a while, so when in the 1950’s the demand for housing grew, that was it for the farm. Whilst located close to Worting Road there is nothing to see now.
Viables, with its history around it just being off the ancient Harrow Way and The Alton Light Railway, ceased being farmed in the 1960’s. It had been part of the Portsmouth Estateand it was known for its pedigree milking cattle. By the 1970’s the council and local campaigners saved the farm from demolition and now is a complex of arts & crafts units and businesses. Many of the old farm buildings are in use. The farmhouse built in 1939 was renovated.
Not so much an area, but an important road for businessses is named after the farm so gets an honourable mention…
So you can see there are some fine examples of old farm architecture still surviving around Basingstoke. When I started this project I thought I would be just be a case of highlighting the link between the names to the areas of Basingstoke. However, when looking there was a lot more surviving than I thought, and have since found there were and are even more farms out there! It shouldn’t therefore be a surprise that Basingstoke had a Cattle Market until the 1960’s and its industry supported agriculture. Basingstoke changed a lot in the 1950-60’s from a market town to an overspill town for London. Sadly some of the past has been erased, but with closer examination much of the farming past is still in touching distance and brings the countryside very close to the heart of the town.
I Should have gone back earlier, but on a glorious Sunday evening out for a cycle, I decided to look in to see whats becoming to the site of Kempshott House.
Also, as hearing about the Canadian 150th Anniversary yesterday, maybe it reminded me about the former Governor who had lived there in the late 18th Century when he retired.
So there is a lot of development carrying on around the Beggerwood area anyway, and this tract next to the golf course is part of that. When I first visited the site, you could wander on the site of old factory units that had been cleared, and by the time of my last blog the site was closed off. The pictures beneath show the same spot, 2 years apart.
The houses are up and people have moved in. I just feel a tinge of sadness most people living there will have no idea what their houses have been built over. Please see my previous blog for a fuller history, but just to summerize for any newcomers, Kempshott Manor was an estate The Prince Regent, Later George IV, (1762 – 1830), was very fond of, and he could conduct his ‘affairs’ in relative privacy. The house was occupied by several prestigous owners through the years, but by the early 20th century upkeep was expensive, and the property was divided up, and eventually became a grain store. The building of the M3 didn’t help matters as it split through the grounds, but by then it’s prestige was faded.
Anyway, whilst I’m there, I want to take one more look at some of the old house outbuildings which still exist. The M3 cuts through the grounds, but footbridge takes you over the motorway. The most prominent building left are the old Stables.
If you carried on walking by the wall it opens out into what would have been the parkland. It lookes lovely on an evening like tonight. Back across the bridge, on the way back, I glanced through what would been the gardens behind the house, and I can see a structure. I can’t get near it this side, but I go back onto the new estate to see if I can find some better access.
The fencing around the edge of the new development suggests to me sadly it’s temporary and they will shoe horn some more houses at a later date. But there is gap (where the white car is parked on the right), where I see something hidden away, and I just wonder if its the last remains of the house, or an outbuilding. Ok, so Its not a wonderful example of archictecture, but it could be our last visable piece of the old house left!
I have said before, Its a pity not more has been done to make residents aware of their local history. Land use changes, but I find it dissapointing that no one would have any idea of of the past unless they do some digging. Examples I have seen include The detailed Kempshott Manor site or the Lost Heritage site.
I don’t have to swipe at the new builds there. Judging by the cars, these properties are a desirable location, but I wish Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council would make more effort to raise awareness to highlight the history! They could have at least made some attempt with the road naming, if not a plaque. The list of owners of Kempshott House, have played a part in wider history beyong Basingstoke and to have it recorded would benefit the town.
The original A30 By-pass in Basingstoke has since been by-passed by a newer A30, but much of it is still in use. This photographic essay travels along its post-war route.
It was around 1932 That the new road was opened by passing the town centre. I find this in interesting in itself as the demand for cars would not have been as great as it was to come. (Who could own a car in 1933?) However, congestion in the town was such a problem that councilors acted quickly. The ancient Harrow way/ Pack Lane was utilized as the solution. The first part built off Black Dam roundabout is still in use as the current A30 but now a dual carraigeway. Its not a perfect fit, but this montage shows a ‘then and now’ where the Bypass started.
When the newer A30 was built, it veered away to the right. To continue and find the original by-pass route, I have to start in the bushes…
Grove Road gets its name from ‘The Grove’, as marked on O.S six inch maps around 1880s, but on later editions seems to be known as ‘Skippets House’
Cliddesden Road is another old road I could write more on. The M3 Motorway effectively severed its purpose, and later was closed off at the new A30 end. The houses along the road are quite grand, a testemant to its importance.
After this roundabout, the Road is named ‘The Harrow Way’ Also known as ‘Harroway’ is one of the oldest Wessex routes dating from the Neolithic Period part of ‘The Old Way’
If you liked to know more about this ancient route read here
Viables was an old farm and most of the buildings are still there. Its now divided into units for craft makers, small businesses and cafes. There is a also a miniture railway society based there with a track, which is regulary open to the public at weekends.
12). We approach Viables Roundabout. Talking of railways, The Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway used to cut across the road, towards the end of its 12 mile journey, and it still would have been outside the town when the by-pass arrived. In the modern roundabout and subways they have preserved a section… If you want to know more about the history of The Basingstoke and Alton Railway click here.
Brighton Hill Roundabout
Brighton Hill is one of the busiest roundabouts in Basingstoke as the town developed in the 70’s & 80’s. The old road met at a junction opposite the White House, a farm, (Now Pizza Express). The roundabout still carried the A30 from the right.
I have also found out there was an Italian Prisoner of War camp on the site where the Halford Store is.
16). From Brighton Hill in Winchester Road, (on the what is now the old A30), next to the Shell Garage and where Home Bargains is now, was a restuarant called the ‘Pied Piper’.
The motorist was catered for with several pubs around this junction. And it was here The Beatles stopped for some refreshment on their way to Southampton in 1967, It may not be a cultural highlight for them, but its the only known Photo’s of the Fab Four in Basingstoke! You can read more and see the photos on this fascinating musical footnote in RazRazzle’s blog here. (And more besides… a really good read and local history).
I’m not sure when the Road was diverted, but on my O.S. 1973 Landranger map this stretch is still classed as The A30. The new road construction looks around the 80’s to me.
Incidently Pack Lane carries to Oakley and picks up the Original Great West Road. (You can read more about the history of The Great West Road around Basingstoke on my blog here).
From Brighton Hill Roundabout, the A30 route was diverted and joined back on to the existing Winchester Road. This feels a bit like how we started – the old road is overgrown and closed off- You also wouldn’t want to loiter too long after dark around there!
So there it is. In time the By-pass was surpassed by a new A30. I feel a bit sorry for it especially how it literally finishes a bit undistinguished. But The Harrow Way / Pack Lane which were central in its development, are of course are much older routes and we still use them today to get around Basingstoke.
My connection (and proximity) to the A30 road has been there most of my life. The road begins near Hounslow in South West London, where I was born, and as the historic main coaching route all the way to Land’s End, it’s served me and family for numerous holiday trips.
My in-laws in Devon live off an old stretch now bypassed, and now I find myself in a village in Hampshire, along its traditonal route.
Despite these roads being used for centuries, what I’ve discovered is that nothing really stays the same for long. And this includes the stretch around Basingstoke. The ‘A30’ has been diverted more than once from its original course, and for good reason – the increase in traffic. Indeed these days the M3 and A303 are the more important routes for the motorist.
I was also surprised to find out the road numbering in The U.K. is a relatively recent affair. The Government began to look at solutions for numbering the road network around 1912, but the First World War severley disrupted the project, and it wasn’t till the ‘1936 Trunk Roads Act’ was passed there was a joined up system where the country roads were numbered.
By this stage this historic stretch of A30 as it would have been, was about to begin the process of being diverted away!
The Roads links to history
The older term ‘The Great West Road’ could be seen as a bit misleading as Bristol is in the West and I imagine the A4 could claim that title too. But as a major coaching route to the South West that is what the A30 was know as from London.
Even with better roads, conditions would vary how much time a journey would take.
So from 20 – 40 miles with a coach could be a realistic days travel. The need for inns (and stables), grew around these clusters into some of the communities we have today such as Overton, and Hartley Witney, but many old inns are evident in lone spots, (to me locally), such as Water End, Hartford Bridge and Deane, so it was well serviced route for the traveller. I lived in Mapledurwell for a couple of years just off the A30, and joining the road at Water End on a misty Autumn morning could feel as remote a place as probably it ever was!
The Deane Gate Inn in Deane, is still standing but sadly been closed for several years. Jane Austen and her family would have known it well as the village she grew up in Steventon is signposted from the inn and was a dropping off point for Coaches. It even gets a mention it in a letter to her sister. Read more here. Lets hope the inn is purchased again and carries on a tradition of serving the traveller .
Laverstoke Mill owned by Henry Portal, produced the paper for the Bank of England’s Bank notes. Their current plant at Quidhampton is situated next to the railway, but originally based in Laverstoke, between Overton and Whitchurch, paper would have been transported by road before the railway arrived in 1854. (Read more about the history of the mill in my blog here…) Laverstoke and neigbouring Freefolk are great villages to visit and easy to walk around. As well as the old mill buildings, (now Bombay Saphire), there are attractive mill workers cottages, Flint facaded cottages and in Freefolk, a conserved church of historic interest (St Nicholas), and one of the best examples of thatching in Hampshire you’ll see… All nestled by the River Test. I’ll no doubt be writing a blog about these gems at a future date…
The Trafalgar Way
Perhaps its single most important historical event connected with the road occured when ‘dispatches‘ from Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar used the route in 1805 for speed to get the messages between The Admiralty in London, and scene of Battle. Royal Navy Schooners could dock at Falmouth and then with 22 changes of horses, along the 271 mile trip, and an approx 37 hour journey time. Soon after the good news of victory in battle was shared, it was followed swiftly by the tragic news of Nelson’s passing. To mark the Bi-centenury in 2005, events were held and plaques were unveiled at the staging towns. In our case, at nearby Overton. This route has become know as the ‘Trafalgar Way’.
As with so many aspects of life, The arrival of the motor car quickly undid centuries of travelling convention. Before, coaches would be catered for with regular stopping posts, (inns and hotels), as it was generally easy to estimate a days travel. The car soon slashed journey times and as their popularity grew the roads faced new demands. For a while it may have been a novelty, but the old roads weren’t always fit to accommodate the new mode of transport.
By the time my parents were driving, they were by-passing the town centres but the photos of traffic jams from the period still show the mayhem!
Changes west of Basingstoke
In 1932 the A30 was diverted out from Basingstoke with a by-pass, and to the west of the town in 1933, the old route become the B3400, which it is to this day… The traveller would no longer need to navigate an increasingly windy route to Andover, countless of how pretty the view was. (Read more about the first A30 bypass on my blog here).
The A303 arrives…
The A303 is a funny road. Today it offers the motorist a schizophrenic journey, taking over the role as the Primary route to The South West. Initially fast and helpful, it then just peters out in Devon, and gives way back to the A30 at Honiton. The traffic around Stonehenge is a problem that blights most journeys. However a couple of years back, the BBC made an affectionate documentary about it and worth seeing. I suppose the dream of a dual carraigeway the whole length through some wonderful countryside was never an option. The A303 starts as a shoot off the M3 junction 8. As the map beneath shows, it was built on older exsisting roads. Part of the ‘new’ A30 was used, but in effect with road numbering system caused a gap to appear between North Waltham and Sutton Scotney, (near the A34).
This nicely brings my journey along the lost stretches of the A30 full circle. The keen eye will see above, it is still possible to drive this old A30 route if you know where to exit near popham, and have quite a nostalgic (and very traffic free) journey!
The first two parts of the A30’s story are still very much intact and can be driven on and enjoyed. Maybe I’m wrong to think of the original road west of Basingstoke to Andover as the original A30, as its tenure with this title was so short lived. But its importance as The Great West Road has a much richer story.
We have some amazing history, places and curiosities right on our doorstep…