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Bus in The Square - geograph.org.uk - 1464808.jpg
The Square, Hamble
Grid reference: SU479066
Population: 4,695  ((2011 Census))
Post town: Southampton
Postcode: SO31
Dialling code: 023
Local Government
Council: Eastleigh

Hamble-le-Rice is a village in Hampshire. It is best known for being an aircraft training centre during the Second World War and is a popular yachting location. The village and the River Hamble also featured in the 1980s BBC television series Howards' Way.

The village centre, known as The Square, Hamble, has a more traditional village aesthetic which differentiates it from the small industrial areas (mostly marinas) close to the village.

Hamble-le-Rice is on Hampshire's south coast, to the south-east of Southampton at the tip of the Hamble peninsula, bounded by Netley, Butlocks Heath, Bursledon, Southampton Water and the River Hamble.


Although previously known as "Hamble", "Hamelea", "Hammel", and "Ham-en-le-Rice", the village's official name is now Hamble-le-Rice.[1] The name "Hamble" is still in common usage. On 27 April 1992, the civil parish was renamed from "Hamble" to "Hamble-le-Rice".[2] To the south of the village, lies the site of an Iron Age promontory hillfort, Hamble Common Camp.

The place-name 'Hamble-le-Rice' is first attested in a French document of 1147, where it appears as Amle. It appears as Hamele in 1270, and as hamele in the Rys in 1404. The village takes its name from the River Hamble; the Rice is the Old English hris meaning 'brushwood' or perhaps by extension 'scrubland', and of which the modern form is the word rushes. Thus a modern form of the name might be 'Hamble-in-the-Rushes'.[3]

The area is home to the remains of a defensive structure dating to the reign of King Henry VIII.[4] Known as St Andrew's Castle, investigations suggest that it consisted of a rectangular structure fronted by a gun platform with a semi-circular layout.[4] The structure was protected by a moat, with a two gun platforms mounted on the counterscarp.[4] The structure was intact as late as the early 17th century.[5]


Hamble-le-Rice was the home of a major flying school before and during the Second World War for aircraft including the Spitfire, the Lancaster and the Wellington. Over 500 aircraft were built there including the prototype Armstrong Whitworth Ensign and Albemarle, which were first flown in 1938 and 1940. In 1960 the Air Corporations Joint Training Scheme (later, British Airways) fixed wing and helicopter training school was established there, as the Hamble College of Air Training. The south airfield has long since disappeared[6] and the north airfield has been partially developed as housing; the remainder is overgrown and owned by property developers Persimmon.

The aviation industry retains a large interest in Hamble-le-Rice, with the Hamble Aerostructures factory, now a subsidiary of the Spanish company Aernnova, in Kings Avenue.[7]

Industrial areas

Hamble-le-Rice is home to three main marinas offering marine services and goods to the boating industry. In addition, large factories and smaller industrial units off Ensign Way and Hamble Lane are used by CooperVision, BP, Hoyer, GE and others. Some of these businesses are 24-hour operations with large numbers of staff who commute to work. The fuel terminal itself is not visible from the B3397: there was extensive development in the early 2000s when wartime hangars were demolished and high density housing built next to the road, near the terminal. The Royal Yachting Association (RYA), a non-profit organisation, has its offices in Hamble.

The River and Environment

Hamble-le-Rice is a boating mecca: the nearby River Hamble is often packed with marine traffic and, during the summer, the whole village is crowded with people out enjoying the water, local restaurants and many pubs. The village and its river is one of the many locations that made up the fictional village of Tarrant, in the BBC television series Howards' Way, shown weekly on BBC One in the late 1980s.

There is a common by Hamble-le-Rice, and a variety of estuary wildlife, and other scenic walks.

Fuel terminal

Wartime Anti-Aircraft emplacement on Hamble Common

Hamble fuel terminal was opened by Shell in 1924, whilst BP was still afloat using a converted passenger liner as a fuel tender. In 1930 the two companies formed a joint venture and BP moved to Hamble. This partnership was dissolved in 1976, with the Hamble terminal passing to BP.[8] A 2016 attempt to sell off the terminal was unsuccessful; however Hoyer now handles BPs bulk fuel road transport operation.[9]

A pipeline runs under Southampton Water from the Fawley oil refinery which supplies the BP fuel terminal at Hamble. This fuel terminal was used to supply PLUTO, during the invasion of Europe in Second World War.[10] The PLUTO pipeline started at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight and was supplied by ship from Hamble.[10] The jetty at this fuel terminal was extended in 1943/44 so that more ships could be loaded simultaneously.[10]

Fuel is transported from this depot both day and night, in particular early mornings (between 3am and 6am), by 44 tonne road tankers along the B3397, as well as by pipeline to major industry and airports. Markers showing the route of the pipeline can be seen at various points in neighbouring Botley. A now disused branch line ran from the terminal to the Portsmouth to Southampton railway. This is now the scenic Strawberry Trail.

Sport and leisure

The main sporting activity in the village is sailing with it being the centre of British offshore sailing and a hub for inshore yacht and keelboat racing. This is partly due to its mainland location and closeness to Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

There are three sailing clubs within the village:

  • Hamble River Sailing Club was founded in 1919[11]
  • RAF Yacht Club open its Hamble club house in 1952[12]
  • Royal Southern Yacht Club opened in the 1930s, with the club one of the oldest in the world being established in 1837[13]

In addition Warsash Sailing Club based on the other side of the river also contributes significantly to sailing activities within the village hosting the annual spring series championship and other regattas. Together with offshore racing primarily organized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Junior Offshore Group.

The Royal Yachting Association, the sport’s national governing body, has had its headquarters in the village since the early 2000s, when it moved from Eastleigh to a new purpose-built building.

  • Football:
    • Folland Sports F.C.
    • Hamble Club F.C.

A speedway training track used to operated at Hamble in the early 1950s. There is now a sports college in Hamble to provide recreation and leisure.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Hamble-le-Rice)


  1. "A brief history of Hamble". http://www.hamblelocalhistory.hampshire.org.uk/bhistory.htm. 
  2. "Southampton Registration District". UKBMD. https://www.ukbmd.org.uk/reg/districts/southampton.html. Retrieved 7 November 2021. 
  3. Ekwall, Eilert, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 4th edition, 1960. p. 214 ISBN 0198691033
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Osborne, Mike (2011). Defending Hampshire The Military Landscape from Prehistory to the Present. The History Press. p. 57. ISBN 9780752459868. 
  5. Osborne, Mike (2011). Defending Hampshire The Military Landscape from Prehistory to the Present. The History Press. pp. 58–59. ISBN 9780752459868. 
  6. "Hamble Airfields". http://www.hamblelocalhistory.hampshire.org.uk/Airfield.htm. 
  7. "AERNNOVA TO ACQUIRE GE AVIATION'S HAMBLE BUSINESS UNIT". Aernnova Aerospace S.A.. 4 October 2019. http://www.aernnova.com/en/aernnova-to-acquire-ge-aviations-hamble-business-unit/. 
  8. "BP in Hamble". http://www.hamble.net/BP.html. 
  9. Martin, Ben (20 July 2016). "BP eyes sell-off of UK oil terminals and pipeline stake". The Daily Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/07/20/bp-eyeing-sell-off-of-uk-oil-terminals-and-pipeline-stake/. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Hampshire and D-Day. Martin Doughty. 1994. ISBN 1-85741-047-5
  11. "Hamble River Sailing Club : Club History". https://www.hrsc.org.uk/the-club/club-history-1. 
  12. "RAFYC Home - The Royal Air Force Yacht Club". https://rafyc.org.uk/. 
  13. "Royal Southern Yacht Club : Club History". https://www.royal-southern.co.uk/about-us/club-history.