IT WAS once part of a thriving shipyard, where hundreds of local people were employed and dozens of sea-going craft were built. Now, the waterside site in Southampton which once formed part of the Vosper Thornycroft shipyard lies empty, without so much as a clue to its illustrious past. But the days of shipbuilding and jobs could be about to return to the site in Woolston, as JAMES FRANKLIN finds out

Could shipbuilding return to Southampton?

Plans for Centenary

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Centenary Quay in Woolston

POTENTIAL: The Centenary Quay marine employment quarter highlighted in red outline

First published in News

SHIPBUILDING was an integral part of life in this corner of Southampton for well over a century.

There had already been shipyards in Woolston when John I Thornycroft & Company chose it as the site of its new base in 1904.

The company merged with Vosper & Co in 1966 to form Vosper Thornycroft, and the factory became a familiar sight for generations of Sotonians and an employer for thousands of residents until the decision to close it and relocate to Portsmouth ten years ago.

Since then the factories have been knocked down, and work has started on the £500 million Centenary Quay development which takes up most of the former factory site.

The Centenary Quay project at the former shipyard is the city’s biggest new development and hundreds of flats and houses have shot up since work started on the site in 2010.

When it is complete, the site will contain more than 1,600 homes, restaurants, cafes, offices and businesses as well as a new Morrisons supermarket.

But a 3.49 hectare site still lies empty – and there are now hopes it will become the base for a revitalised city shipbuilding industry.

The site, which is currently being marketed by Savills, already has planning permission for three large buildings to be used for boat production.

US superyacht builder Palmer Johnson had previously been lined up to move on to the site, but that collapsed during the global financial downturn.

But bosses at Poole-based superyacht giant Sunseeker told the Daily Echo earlier this year they had looked at the site, although there are no imminent plans for the move.

The firm, which builds yachts as long as 155ft and which retail for up to £22 million, employs 2,300 staff at its Poole site, which would be unaffected by a new factory.

When contacted about the site by the Daily Echo, Sunseeker said there was “no update”.

Labour city council leader Simon Letts had previously said his team would do “anything we can” to bring Sunseeker to Southampton.

The site is being jointly marketed by estate agents Savill and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

A spokesman for the HCA said: “This project provides a really good opportunity for development at an iconic site which forms part of the successful Centenary Quay project which is already delivering strong interest in new homes for people in Southampton.”

And Cllr Letts added: “Southampton leads the way in the UK and is at the heart of the Solent marine and maritime economy.

“We seek to champion the city as the home of this sector; it’s fundamental to the city’s success that we promote our natural environment and our employment, skills and knowledge assets, to new and existing marine sector markets.”

Anyone interested in the site should contact Martin Hastelow at Savills on 023 8071 3900 or mhastelow@savills.com.

Comments (4)

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1:27pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Jonny7oma says...

After building 1600 homes, obviously the ideal partner to this development is to put some shipbuilding industry right next door. Hang on a minute, isn't that exactly what happened to Woolston when Vospers expanded only the other way round? That fell apart in the end causing an entire area to slowly die.
The days of shipbuilding are gone. What next, resurrect Mullards and start producing transistors again? How about building a cable making plant next to west quay?
For once, plan something that will give something back to the people of Southampton. An Arena for example, just something that will be in a nice setting next to the river and is probably going to provide just as many jobs as a small time boat builder or two of which there used to be some further up the river but guess what........
After building 1600 homes, obviously the ideal partner to this development is to put some shipbuilding industry right next door. Hang on a minute, isn't that exactly what happened to Woolston when Vospers expanded only the other way round? That fell apart in the end causing an entire area to slowly die. The days of shipbuilding are gone. What next, resurrect Mullards and start producing transistors again? How about building a cable making plant next to west quay? For once, plan something that will give something back to the people of Southampton. An Arena for example, just something that will be in a nice setting next to the river and is probably going to provide just as many jobs as a small time boat builder or two of which there used to be some further up the river but guess what........ Jonny7oma
  • Score: 9

1:31pm Mon 1 Sep 14

SNUGGLES 78 says...

Jonny7oma wrote:
After building 1600 homes, obviously the ideal partner to this development is to put some shipbuilding industry right next door. Hang on a minute, isn't that exactly what happened to Woolston when Vospers expanded only the other way round? That fell apart in the end causing an entire area to slowly die.
The days of shipbuilding are gone. What next, resurrect Mullards and start producing transistors again? How about building a cable making plant next to west quay?
For once, plan something that will give something back to the people of Southampton. An Arena for example, just something that will be in a nice setting next to the river and is probably going to provide just as many jobs as a small time boat builder or two of which there used to be some further up the river but guess what........
all the flat dwellers will love the noise of a working shipyard , lol.
[quote][p][bold]Jonny7oma[/bold] wrote: After building 1600 homes, obviously the ideal partner to this development is to put some shipbuilding industry right next door. Hang on a minute, isn't that exactly what happened to Woolston when Vospers expanded only the other way round? That fell apart in the end causing an entire area to slowly die. The days of shipbuilding are gone. What next, resurrect Mullards and start producing transistors again? How about building a cable making plant next to west quay? For once, plan something that will give something back to the people of Southampton. An Arena for example, just something that will be in a nice setting next to the river and is probably going to provide just as many jobs as a small time boat builder or two of which there used to be some further up the river but guess what........[/p][/quote]all the flat dwellers will love the noise of a working shipyard , lol. SNUGGLES 78
  • Score: 5

5:04pm Mon 1 Sep 14

browntrousers says...

this is so wrong. Closure of portsmouth docks ship building and the suggestions for this in southampton.
this is so wrong. Closure of portsmouth docks ship building and the suggestions for this in southampton. browntrousers
  • Score: -5

8:51pm Mon 1 Sep 14

lastminmoran says...

WHERE once Great Britain plc had the interests of the nation as a whole,now a city calls in the dark! until the region puts its silly pathetic hatred to one side and joins as one, fighting for joint contracts and shared work!!!the like of labour doing anything to secure a boatbuilder who will be waiting for the best incentives from any willing council!!!! like wake -up !!under our great leadership we have gone from an industry to be proud of to do-it yourself coracles in your back garden!!!to all party's we want someone to represent us as a whole not fifedom fiddlesticks which is what you have given us. pompey and saints united against hatred and lies!!!WE ARE THE SAME PEOPLE! SOUTH COAST UNITED.
WHERE once Great Britain plc had the interests of the nation as a whole,now a city calls in the dark! until the region puts its silly pathetic hatred to one side and joins as one, fighting for joint contracts and shared work!!!the like of labour doing anything to secure a boatbuilder who will be waiting for the best incentives from any willing council!!!! like wake -up !!under our great leadership we have gone from an industry to be proud of to do-it yourself coracles in your back garden!!!to all party's we want someone to represent us as a whole not fifedom fiddlesticks which is what you have given us. pompey and saints united against hatred and lies!!!WE ARE THE SAME PEOPLE! SOUTH COAST UNITED. lastminmoran
  • Score: 3

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