River Hamble

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The Hamble from Fosters Copse

The River Hamble is a river in Hampshire 16 miles long which flows down into Southampton Water. The Hamble rises near Bishop's Waltham and its course takes it through Botley, Bursledon and Swanwick before entering Southampton Water near Hamble-le-Rice and Warsash.

The Hamble is tidal for approximately half its length and is navigable in its lower reaches, which have facilitated shipbuilding activities since mediæval times. Leisure craft are still built there today.
One of these builders was Luke & Co, later Luke Bros, a reputed yard at Hamble from around 1890 to 1945.

The river, and its shipbuilding yards, have also been used for military purposes, particularly during the Second World War.

The lower reaches of the Hamble are very popular for boating; its shores are dotted with marinas and its waters with yachts and dinghies – this is known throughout the sailing world as The Heart of British Yachting.

Mediæval shipbuilding sites on the River Hamble
Site of the wreck of the Grace Dieu
The Hamble Estuary

Bishops Waltham to Botley (non-tidal)

From its source near Bishop's Waltham, the river flows in a generally southerly direction picking up several small tributary streams before reaching Botley, the site of an ancient watermill.

Botley to Bursledon (tidal) - historic sites

Below Botley, the river becomes tidal and navigable. It gains strength from adjoining streams, draining the surrounding areas of Hedge End, Curdridge, Shedfield and Burridge.

This section has been extensively used for mediæval shipbuilding, using timber grown locally in the neighbouring woods. Nearby Kings Copse, formerly Kings Forest,[1] indicates the former importance of this area.

The river's west bank can be accessed from Manor Farm Country Park, where it is possible to walk through Dock Copse[2] and Fosters Copse.[2] At extreme low tide, it is just possible to see the remains of the wreck of Henry V's 15th century warship Grace Dieu. This section of the river was also home to HMS Cricket, a shore establishment, during the Second World War.

Some 2 miles south of Botley, the river passes between the villages of Bursledon and Lower Swanwick and is crossed by the M27 motorway, the Portsmouth to Southampton railway line and the A27 road on three substantial bridges.

Bursledon to Hamble (tidal) – yachts' playground

A further 2 miles south of Bursledon, the river flows between the villages of Hamble-le-Rice and Warsash before entering Southampton Water.

A passenger ferry crosses the river between Hamble-le-Rice and Warsash, forming an important link in the Solent Way. The river is also the location for several large marinas, the largest being the Port Hamble Marina and boat yards, situated on both banks as far upstream as Bursledon.[3]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about River Hamble)


  1. Joyce Blyth. The changing face of Hedge End
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