THE main entry from the north into old Southampton gained its name in the early days after the construction in the 12th century of the Bargate.

So it was that Buffe the Barr, Bove Barre, Boave Barr Streate, became, at length, Above Bar.

It was for centuries flanked by fields and nursery gardens, with here and there a farm or so and a few cottages.

In the 18th century Southampton began to expand rapidly beyond its ancient, encircling walls, and today Above Bar is at the heart of the city centre.

The narrow winding street known as Canshut Lane, which was an important link with the west, had for some time the distinction of being the site for the town windmill.

Then in the early part of the 19th century it acquired the distinguished name of Regent Street, when Southampton was “an elegant watering place and a spa’’ patronised by royalty.

On the opposite side of Above Bar, Pound Tree Lane led off to the east through, the then town fields, gaining its name on account of the Town Pound, with its tree, which gave shelter to animals found wandering on common land.

It was sometime between 1812 and 1814, that Portland Street began to be developed on the site of a house in Above Bar, which had a long garden stretching down to give a fine view over the old Western Shore.

The houses in nearby Portland Terrace had great architectural distinction and dignity, were constructed at about the same time.

Fortunately these properties survived the bombing of the Second World War and during the 1950s and 1960s were mainly used as solicitors’ offices.

An old street directory from the 1830s shows that there were 21 inhabited houses in Portland Street, while in Portland Terrace only number one had a tenant, while numbers two to nine were described as “unfinished’’.

Portland Street was the birthplace of the famous artist, Sir John Millais in 1829, then later, in the 1880s, number 12 was the home of the gifted musical family of the Vernes.

Mr Verne was the organist of St.

Jospeph’s church in Bugle Street and his daughters, Mathilde and Adela achieved fame in the world of music.

Mathilde gave piano lessons to the late Queen Mother as a child and her school of music became renowned, while Adela became one of the foremost pianists of her day.

Alongside the former Daily Echo offices at 45, Above Bar was a narrow thoroughfare, which was called Spa Road, which at one time led to the Southampton’s old Spa Gardens opened by the young Princess Victoria in 1830.

At one time this small road would echo to the footsteps of the men carrying sedan chairs, then in later times there was the clatter of hoofs on market days when cattle were driven along the street to an abattoir in the nearby area.

During the Second World War, Above Bar suffered great destruction as a result of enemy bombing in 1940.

King George VI came a few days later, a visit which was seen by local people at the time as an example of how the Royal Family maintained its close connection with communities as they battled against the odds.

There are many other names which were once synonymous with Above Bar; the Palace of Varieties, destroyed in the war, the impressive Yacht Club building, the pubs and hotels as well as small individually owned shops.

Tanner’s umbrella shop, Gilbert’s first bookshop, Gutteridge’s toy shop, and the smell of roasting coffee from Caplen’s.