BRITAIN was in the grip of the industrial revolution, enjoying a time of prosperity driven by an abundance of factories and workhouses.

An expansive network of railways spread rapidly across the country, providing transport links to towns and cities. Sometimes the placement of a railway station even resulted in the birth of a new community.

Few places were more at the heart of social and economic change than Hampshire, with an extensive list of the county’s residents helping to define the era.

The most famous from the time was Queen Victoria – a monarch with an unwavering love for the South Coast whom, five years after her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840, purchased Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

In 1833, as Princess Victoria, she had visited Southampton to formally open the Royal Pier.

As the Crimean War drew to a close, it was Queen Victoria who ordered a military hospital be built in Netley to care for soldiers from the British Empire.

During her reign from 1837 to 1901, Queen Victoria was responsible for some of the most remarkable reforms undertaken by a monarch, including free education for children, increased powers to the House of Commons and the gradual establishment of a constitutional monarchy.

Florence Nightingale is known for nursing the sick and wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, and although the nurse was born in Italy, she grew up in Romsey. ‘The Lady of the Lamp’ lived with her parents in their winter home Embley, which today is Embley Park School.

Not only was she one of the first women allowed to help wounded soldiers, but she was adored by the British troops.

Upon her return home from the war, she was given a hero’s welcome.

Southampton’s entrepreneur Edwin Jones came from humble beginnings but went on to become one of the most influential businessmen of the time.

Jones opened his first shop in East Street in 1860, making enough money to buy much of the property opposite Houndwell Park. The shop he opened there – where Debenham’s stands now – became the largest and most important on the south coast.

He went on to become the mayor in 1973 and 1875, and Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire in 1890.

Romsey’s Broadlands Manor was the birthplace of politician Henry John Temple, also known as Lord Palmerston.

Palmerston became the MP for Newtown, Isle of Wight, at the age of 22. In 1932 he became MP for South Hampshire.

One of the great military leaders during Victorian times was General Gordon, who lived with his family in Rockstone Place, Southampton. He was sent to Khartoum on February 18, 1884, with vague instructions from the Gladstone Cabinet.

Gordon evacuated some 2,600 civilians and soldiers before the city was blockaded. A relief expedition failed to live up to its name and he was killed on the steps of the governor’s palace when the Mahdists stormed the place on January 26, 1885.

Charles Dickens was born in Landport, Portsmouth, in 1812 and provides insight into the Victorian era to this day through his books such as Great Expectations, Bleak House and Oliver Twist.

By 1850, Portsmouth-born Isambard Kingdom Brunel was arguably the world’s most renowned and pioneering engineer. He created the Great Western Railway, built more than 125 bridges, including the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and three groundbreaking steamships – including the SS Great Eastern – the Titanic of her day.

Lord Alfred Tennyson was widely regarded as the leading player in the field of poetry during Victorian times, and moved to the Isle of Wight after marrying Emily Selwood in 1850.

They purchased a house in Freshwater on the island – the downs above which were later named after Tennyson.

It’s often speculated his narrative poem The Charge of the Light Brigade was written while making the journey across the Solent.