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The White Hart and Bridge Street, Andover - - 280339.jpg
The White Hart and Bridge Street
Grid reference: SU3645
Location: 51°13’0"N, 1°28’0"W
Population: 52,000
Post town: Andover
Postcode: SP10, SP11
Dialling code: 01264
Local Government
Council: Test Valley
North West Hampshire

Andover is a town in Hampshire. It stands on the River Anton some 18½ miles west of Basingstoke and 18½ miles north-west of the city of Winchester and 25 miles north of Southampton. The town is of ancient origin, but it was bombed during the Seciond World War and redeveloped after it, leaving little to be found there of any great charm.


Early history

Andover's first mention in history is in 950 when King Edred is recorded as having built a royal hunting lodge there. In 962 King Edgar called a meeting of the English parliament, the Witenagemot, at his hunting lodge near Andover.[1]

In 994 a Viking king named Anlaf (Olaf) whose fleet had occupied Southampton, was invited to Andover and was baptised in Andover; part of an agreement with King Ethelred II of England (“The Unready”) whereby Olaf stopped ravaging England and returned home. Olaf was allied with Sweyn Forkbeard, King of the Danes, but whether the man received into the church that day was Olaf Trygvason, King of the Norwegians, or Olof Skötkonung, is unknown. The baptism was. Olaf Tryggvason became king of Norway in 995 and tried to convert his country to Christianity before his death in battle in 1000. Olof Skötkonung was already king of Sweden and became its first Christian king and began in about 995 to mint Sweden's first coins, with the help of English expertise.

At the time of the Domesday Book of 1086, Andover had 107 male inhabitants and probably had a total population of about 500. It was quite a large settlement by the standards of the time as most villages had only 100 to 150 people. Andover also had 6 watermills which ground grain to flour.

In 1175 King Richard I sold Andover a charter granting the townspeople certain rights, forming a merchant guild which took over the government of the town. The members elected two officials called bailiffs who ran the town. In 1201 King John gave the merchants the right to collect royal taxes in Andover themselves. In 1256, Henry III gave the townspeople the right to hold a court and try criminals for offences committed in Andover. Andover also sent MPs to the parliaments of 1295 and 1302-1307.

The town was ravaged by two serious fires, one in 1141 and another in 1435.

Andover remained a small market town. Processing wool appears to have been the main industry and street names in the area of the town known as “Sheep Fair” commemorate this. A weekly market, and an annual fair were held.

St Marys Parish Church

As well as the Church of St Mary, the town had a priory and a hospital run by monks, dedicated to St John the Baptist, and also a lepers hostel to St Mary Magdalene.

In 1538 during the Reformation, Henry VIII closed the priory and the hospital. In 1571 a free school for the boys of Andover was established. This in time became Andover Grammar School, and is now John Hanson Community School. (Which has since been demolished and rebuilt not far from two primary schools in the town. The site which was once John Hanson, now acts as a housing district.)

In 1599 the town received a new charter from Elizabeth I. The merchants’ guild was made a corporation and the number of annual fairs was increased from one to three. Like other towns Andover suffered from outbreaks of plague. There were outbreaks in 1603-5, 1625-6 and 1636.

18th and 19th century

During the 18th century, Andover prospered from standing on the main road between Exeter and Salisbury and London and it a major stopping point on the stagecoach routes; more than 30 stagecoaches passing through the town each day. In 1789 a canal to Southampton was opened, though this was never a commercial success and closed in 1859.

Andover was linked to Basingstoke and thus to London by railway when the Andover junction station was opened on 3 July 1854; this railway also linking the town to Salisbury. The town was also linked by railway to Southampton, built on the bed of the canal, but this was closed down in 1964. The land, together with the adjacent gasworks and P. M. Coombes woodyards, was then sold to the TSB Trust Company who later built their headquarters there.

During the 19th century the town acquired all the usual additions, a theatre in 1803, gas street lighting in 1838, a fire station and cottage hospital in 1877, a swimming pool opened in 1885 and a recreation ground opened in 1887. A water company was formed in 1875 to provide piped water to the town and a system of sewers and drains was built in 1899-1902. The public library opened in 1897. Despite this burgeoning of the amenities of the town in 1845 a notorious scandal involving the hardships endured by the inmates of the workhouse led indirectly to reform of the Poor Law Act. The town was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Reform Act 1835.

Andover workhouse

In 1846, the town came to public attention after an enquiry exposed the conditions in its workhouse. The Andover workhouse scandal brought to light evidence of beatings, sexual abuse and general mistreatment of workhouse inmates by the overseers.

The woollen industry had declined but new industries took its place. Taskers Waterloo Ironworks opened at Anna Valley in 1809 and flourished. Many examples of the machinery produced by Taskers can be seen at the Milestones Museum in Basingstoke.

Twentieth century

RAF Andover was opened on Andover Airfield, to the south of the town, during the First World War and became the site of the RAF Staff College. During the Second World War it was the headquarters of RAF Maintenance Command and the airfield from which many bombing raids were flown against the Germans. Andover was itself heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe during the War, notably a heavy raid on 13 August 1940.

RAF Andover gained a unique place in British history, as the first British military helicopter unit, the Helicopter Training School, was formed in January 1945 at RAF Andover. The airfield is no longer in use although the RAF retains a link to the area through the presence of 1213 (Andover) Squadron, Air Training Corps.

On the departure of the RAF the site became the Headquarters of the Quartermaster General and later Logistics Executive (Army). In 2001, the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) was formed and Andover became one of its major sites. Since September 2010, the site has been the home of Headquarters Land Forces. The Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre is based locally at Amport House, as is the Army Air Corps Centre and the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop.

In 1932 Andover gained a new industry when the printers for Kelly's Directory moved to the town. Slowly the town grew from about 11,000 and by 1960 had a population of about 17,000. Due to the fact that already the some of Londoners were being housed in the first of the council houses / flats being constructed.

In 1951 the Town Council decided it would be a good idea to add fluoride to the drinking water to improve dental health. This provoked a furious public response, and a strong anti-fluoridation campaign started. In the 1958 local elections anti-fluoridation candidates swept the board, turning out many established members, and the idea was dropped.

In 1950s the Borough Council was approached by the Greater London Council to become an overspill town, to build houses and take people and industry relocated from the overcrowded capital. Some contend that had the old Borough Council still been in charge this would never have been agreed. But it was, and in 1961 the plan was drawn up to expand to a population of some 47,000 by 1982, with 9,000 new homes to be built.

The first new council houses were ready by 1954 and by 1981 the population had risen to 51,000. A bypass, industrial estates and a new shopping centre in the town centre, called the Chantry Centre, were all built and the town’s character changed completely. The new council houses proved to be very badly built. It seemed that the local council would have to foot the enormous bill for reconstruction, but after starting legal action against the Greater London Council a settlement was achieved, in which the GLC paid a large sum of money to the local council, which started a programme of refurbishment that finished in 1995.

The tensions between town and country and the “old” and “new” still exist in some measure, and in the future more expansion is planned. Today the population of Andover is over 52,000 and it is one of four Major Development Areas in Hampshire, identified for large housing growth. Plans are in place to build 2,500 homes to the northeast of the town.


The Town Museum, based in the old grammar school, had a Museum of the Iron Age added in 1986 which houses the finds from excavations at nearby Danebury Hill Fort. In 2002 Andover received the first cango bus network. Leisure facilities are improving. The council has recently refurbished the local College auditorium as "Lights", a new live entertainment centre. A new four screen cinema above the recently built Asda supermarket has opened in the town centre.

In May 2008 a brand new radio station was launched in the town called Andover Sound. It broadcasts across North West Hampshire on 106.4FM and online at from studios based in East Street in the town. The radio station has picked up a number of awards since launching including a New York Festivals Radio Award, the Radio Academy South Station of the Year award and the Arqiva Commercial Station of the Year award.[2] In April 2010 the radio station was nominated for two prestigious Sony Radio Academy Awards for Station of the Year (300,000) and News Journalist of the Year and came away from the ceremony with a silver in the journalist category.[3]


Major industries include Twinings the tea and coffee firm, Ducal Pine Furniture (until they closed in 2003), Thompson International Publishers, who produce the Pitkin Guides to be found in many churches and other notable buildings, financial institutions such as Simply Health (formerly the HSA) and Scottish Widows Lloyds TSB, and The Stannah Group, whose HQ is also in the town.

Unemployment is very low at 1% of the working population and among the proposals in the council's plans are those to develop the former site of RAF Andover to Class B1, B2 and B8 uses.[4]

Mills and milling

Rooksbury Mill & Mill House

Watermills have played an important part in Andover's history. The Domesday Book of 1086 provides the earliest record of watermills in Andover, which identifies six mills.[1]

Rooksbury Mill is one of the few surviving mill buildings in Andover. The existence of Rooksbury Mill is first recorded by name in the 17th century. Functioning as a flour mill, it has passed through a succession of owners. Milling ceased in the early 20th century, after which the mill building went through a series of uses including being used as a small theatre. The building was sold in 2002, shortly after it had been devastated following an arson attack. The new owners, Anthony and Sarah de Sigley, restored the building in 2003, rebuilding much of the original structure.


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Andover)