A WALK along The Avenue, Southampton provides myriad tales of history and nostalgia.

The best place to start is at the Barrack Block which, strictly speaking, is in London Road.

Here, if you look down, you will see a small pillar which was part of the Ordnance Survey (OS) triangulation system.

The OS arrived here in 1841 after fire destroyed their headquarters in the Tower of London.

Previously the building had housed trainee troops and then had been an asylum, not for the insane, but for military orphans. That accounts for the name of the open space in the middle of the Avenue – Asylum Green.

This was the site, until the 1860s, of the tree-shaded Padwell Pond which provided a welcome drink for four-footed animals after a tiring journey.

Unfortunately, by around the mid-19th century, after the coming of the railway, it was less used and became the source of a most unwelcoming smell.

Captain Yolland, Director of the Ordnance Survey at the time, complained vociferously that “it had for the last six years been a repository in which bodies of unwanted infants were deposited, and where cats, dogs and other animals were drowned and subsequently became exposed in a putrid state”.

Fortunately, Councillor Ransome offered to provide a drinking fountain, which was inaugurated in 1865, and so, after the pond had been filled, refreshment could still be obtained at this meeting of routes.

For many years the left-hand lane of The Avenue was the main north /south route.

The Inner Avenue, up until the 1960s was a private service road for the Italianate villas that lined it.

Half of Asylum Green was fenced off and provided extra gardens for the lucky residents.

A little further up is a monument that was “Presented to the town by a lifelong resident on the occasion of his 60th birthday”.

JD Haysom, who lived close by in Brighton Road, was one half of Garrett and Haysom, monumental masons, who had produced many of the town’s landmarks including the Mayflower Memorial, the Titanic Crew Memorial (which originally stood at the entrance to the Common) and many of the most imposing memorials in Southampton Old Cemetery.

They had even been given the royal seal of approval having undertaken work for Queen Victoria at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

On the left, set a little way back from the main thoroughfare, is a walled garden. On closer inspection, it is the Quaker Graveyard dating right back to 1662.

This peaceful, secluded spot is usually closed to the public but if you are fortunate enough to pass by when the gardener is working there, he is usually welcoming to visitors.

A little further up, at the entrance to Lodge Road, stood the Stag Gates. These were built by Samuel Betts when he owned the Bevois Mount Estate.

Unfortunately, as traffic increased at the beginning of the twentieth century, they created a bottle neck between Lodge Road and The Avenue and, according to the council, a danger. Therefore in 1919, after standing for less than seventy years, they were demolished.

The stone – including the ornate stag statues which proudly sat atop the pillars of the gates – was used to create the rock gardens in Andrews Park.

On the corner of The Avenue and Banister Road was Wadham’s Garage.

During The Second World War, after the Supermarine factory in Woolston was destroyed by bombing, many sites in and around Southampton were requisitioned and used as dispersal facilities. This garage was one of these and Wadham staff were trained to make the Spitfire parts vital for the war effort.

Nowadays such places have become known as Shadow Factories.

Further up on the right-hand side is Avenue St Andrews Church.

During both world wars the congregation of this church played an important role in supporting troops which were camped on the Common.

They provided hot meals, cigarettes, fruit and help with writing last letters home. They even handed out cups of tea to the men as they marched down the Avenue.

Ally Hayes is a tour guide with SeeSouthampton.co.uk .