IN former times, Swaythling was the name of a manor and farm which straddled the two parishes of North and South Stoneham and was a quiet rural backwater lying to the west of the River Itchen.

The former listed farmhouse has long gone and the area is now a busy suburb on the northern outskirts of the city having been absorbed into the borough of Southampton in 1920.

A reminder of Swaythling’s agricultural past can be seen in the restored Channels Farm House in Channels Farm Road off Stoneham Lane.

This ancient farmhouse was rescued from demolition and restored in the 1960s.

It has interesting quadrupled chimney stacks and the timber frames are believed to date from around 1600.

In 1820 the village was on the crossroads of two important coaching routes. Up to ten stagecoaches a day passed through the village, having left Portswood heading north via Allbrook and Brambridge to Twyford and on to Alton for London.

Swaythling in 1910.

Swaythling in 1910.


Stagecoaches to London had travelled this route from the early 1600s.

Travelling East to West through the village at the same time was the stagecoach taking passengers from Brighton to Bath via Romsey and Botley following the route of the modern day A27 and A 36.

Two famous coaches that passed through the village were the Telegraph and the Red Rover.

By 1900 Swaythling had become a favoured suburb of Southampton. It soon grew rapidly with the building of the ‘Flower Estate’, local authority homes north of Burgess Road.

Channells Farm in 1900.

Channells Farm in 1900.

The well known and respected local architect Herbert Collins played an important part in the development of Swaythling with the construction of the Bassett Green Estate of private houses and as a founding member of the Swaythling Housing Association with the building of social housing along Mansbridge Road and Wessex Lane.

Collins was also responsible for the construction of the former Methodist church in Burgess Road as well as the Market Buildings off Stoneham Lane and shops at Westfield Corner.

He was a prime mover in the Garden City movement and his house designs and landscaping reflect his earlier work at Welwyn Garden City and at Letchworth in the 1920s. There he came under the influence of the important architect Ebenezer Howard who has a road at Mansbridge named after him.

Further local authority housing was constructed to the north of Bassett Green Road after the Second World War initially with prefab homes and then later with modern brick houses and flats.

Swaythling Station in 1910.

Swaythling Station in 1910.

The main London to Waterloo railway line passes through the area today with travellers boarding and alighting at Swaythling Station which was opened in 1883 and built in the Dutch style with brick and terracotta.

A plaque on the wall reminds travellers of the Swaythling Remount Depot which was located nearby and where hundreds of thousands of horses were prepared for transportation to the front in the First World War. The horses were better able to transport troops and supplies over the muddy shell-pocked land of the Western Front than motorised vehicles.

Nearly a million horses passed through the remount depot and were transported via the docks to France.

Adjacent to the railway station is Eric Meadus Close, a reminder of the local artist who was born in Rigby Road, Portswood in 1931 and later lived in Lobelia Road in Swaythling. Many of his paintings feature scenes around Swaythling from the 1950s and 1960s.

Swaythling Station.

Swaythling Station.

His work is often likened to that of LS Lowry, a well known contemporary and acquaintance.

Eric died in 1970.

In the 1930s the University of Southampton constructed neo Georgian styled halls of residence in Wessex Lane on the site of the walled garden and orchard of South Stoneham House. These were added to in the 1960s with the construction of Montefiore House.

South Stoneham House itself had been used as a male hall of residence from 1920 until 2012 and at one time was used as a School of Navigation.

Wessex Lane Halls of Residence.

Wessex Lane Halls of Residence.

With the expansion of the University the student accommodation increased with more halls in Wessex Lane.

Daily Echo:

Godfrey Collyer is a tour guide with .

  • Visit next Wednesday's for the second part of SeeSouthampton's look into Swaythling's history.