TODAY most of the people who take a stroll along Southampton's London Road are there to look for a new home, as the street is well known for its large number of estate agents but there was a time when it was all very different.

Two world wars, bombing and reconstruction have done much to change the appearance of London Road.

Some of the older buildings still remain, but most of its history is lost behind modern facades.

Way back in the early part of the 1800s the highway from the Bargate up The Avenue was the responsibility of the Southampton-Winchester Turnpike Trust, and a dusty old road it seems to have been.

It became so bad that two cast-iron pumps were installed so that the road could be watered regularly between March and September.

For many years one of these stood at the corner of Cumberland Place and London Road,with its spout facing the busy street.

These days it is placed not far away in Watts Park.

As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, the area was thriving and was home to many fine buildings, including the Central Library and art gallery, which were later transferred to the Civic Centre.

At the top of London Road, where it meets The Avenue, stood the elegant buildings that were formerly the home of Ordnance Survey and which today formed part of the Crown Court complex.

Built as barracks for cavalry troops and later adapted to house the orphans of military men, the Ordnance Survey took over the property around 1840.

London Road was also home, at one time, to what was claimed to be Southampton's "cosiest" cinema, the Carlton, which stood at number 45.

It showed films up to the early 1920s, offered afternoon teas, featured music from an organist and pianist and was a favourite spot for youngsters for Saturday morning shows.

Over the years many shops have come and gone and, according to a street directory of just before the Second World War, it was an area that had plenty to offer.

The Pilgrims' Tearooms (Miss Swanson proprietress), David Greig the provisions store, Mary Wren who sold gowns, coats and sportswear, the millinery shop of Miss Frances Legg and William Tickle, coal merchants were all based in London Road.