SUNDAY nights wouldn’t have been the same for fans of TV Soaps in the mid-1980s without Howard’s Way.

Many will remember the cheesy theme tune Always There, based on the ballad by Marti Webb.

The show was set around the great Hamble and Bursledon boatyards and the BBC saw it as their answer to Dynasty.

This saga of a boatbuilding family was first broadcast in 1985 and the scriptwriters endeavoured to serve up a rich platter of intrigue, double-dealing, fast cars, glamorous yachts and gorgeous women in shoulder pads.

When you look back over a hundred years at Bursledon, as our pictures reveal, it looks more like a scene from a Thomas Hardy novel than home to the high-powered fast-living yachtie set.

There was a time when most Hampshire villages celebrated their own, unique customs – and Bursledon was no exception.

After thrashing the first wheat of the season local farmers took it to the mill on their horses decorated with scarlet rosettes and sets of bells attached to the bridle.


Bursledon at the end of the 19th century.

The event also included football, cricket and tug o’ war.

But it wasn’t just wheat that Bursledon traded in. It also played its part in the sale of strawberries in the area.

Although the sleepy stations of Bursledon seemed abandoned for the majority of the year - the coming of the strawberry season turned it into one of the busiest in the country. It became a buzzing hive of activity as the little red fruits were transported into London and distributed to the rest of the country.

At one time the areas surrounding Bursledon, Hedge End, Swanwick, Wickham, Titchfield and Sarisbury were Great Britain’s primary growing areas for the fruit, so much so it could rightly be called an industry.

Bursledon Bridge, circa 1900

Bursledon Bridge, circa 1900.

It is said that the strawberry harvest was of paramount importance, so much so that the celebration of the coronations of both Edward VII and George V were postponed until the harvest was completed.

Residents would take to the streets, watching on as all manner of transport snaked their way down Bridge Road from Oak Hill before turning into Station Road to gain access to the trains.

Porters would busily load up wagons with produce as the sweet aroma of fresh strawberries wafted across the platforms and lingered in the surrounding area.

Another trade Bursledon has been particularly known for is brickmaking.

Bursledon Brickworks was founded in 1897 by the Ashby family of brick makers from Chandler’s Ford.

Strawberry loading at Bursledon station in 1910.

Strawberry loading at Bursledon station in 1910.

The site was innovative in its approach at the time which allowed production to continue all year round at its peak, producing 20 million bricks a year.

But due to difficulty in extracting clay and out-of-date machinery the brickworks became unviable and closed in 1974.

Being the last surviving steam-powered brickworks in Britain, the site was saved from development and sold to the Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust.

Bursledon Brickworks Museum Trust was registered in 2015 and a team of volunteers and part-time staff now run the venue as a museum.

But Bursledon’s history reaches back much further than bricks, Howard’s Way or the wheat and strawberry trade. In the 12th century the area was known as Brixendona or Brixenden. By the 14th century it was Burstledon and Bristelden in the 16th century.

Bursledon Bridge, circa 1905.

Bursledon Bridge, circa 1905.

Bursledon was the perfect location for shipbuilding due to its positioning next to the water and being surrounded by woodland. Many ships were built for the Royal Navy.

A ferry operated across the river before a bridge was built of wood in around 1800. The bridge had a tollgate on the Swanwick side and was eventually replaced by a concrete structure in the 1930s. 

Shipbuilding disappeared from the area entirely by the 1870s at which point trade focused on agricultural efforts.