Area Three

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Phoebe Merrick

Look at Romsey

Town Design Statement for Romsey

Tadburn Valley

Prepared by a team of volunteers in the area under the auspices of the
Romsey and District Society.

Area Map

Area Setting and landscape

Tadburn Lake, the heart of the valley
Tadburn Lake, the heart of the valley
Tadburn Valley is situated on the south east side of Romsey, roughly mile from the town centre. It is a mainly residential area, of mixed styles and sizes, including flats, maisonettes, bungalows, semi- and detached houses. Growth began slowly in the 1920s and gathered pace in the post-war years, its population now being approx 900.
It finds favour with its inhabitants for its proximity to the town, to local schools and to the wider area of Southampton and the New Forest. It is considered, on the whole, to be a safe and quiet area in which to live, with particular features such as the Tadburn stream (Tadburn Lake) and Tadburn Meadows much appreciated. This is reflected in the fact that the average length of residence from our questionnaire respondents (25% of total) worked out at 21 years.

Views of special interest are from the top of Cemetery Hill (and from the maisonettes in Nightingale Close) where one can see across the town to the Abbey and beyond to Pauncefoot Hill and the Salisbury Road. Residents of Chambers Avenue and Hillside Avenue benefit from the view of Cemetery Hill crowned by poplars, while Field Close and Eight Acres are enhanced by the backdrop of trees beyond the railway line at the back of the hospital.

One of two chapels in the cemetery
One of two chapels in the cemetery

External Boundaries

Tadburn Valley is bordered to the south by Botley Road and to the west by the Southampton/Romsey railway line.

To the north, the boundary is formed by the Romsey/Eastleigh railway line, which since 1969 had been carrying mainly freight, until the building of a new station at Chandlers Ford and the re-instatement of a passenger service between Romsey and Eastleigh in 2003.

To the east we have designated the boundary as being Tadburn Meadows/ Chambers Avenue/Allen Grove where they abut Halterworth.

Access: Most streets in the area connect directly into Botley Road and from there into Romsey and all other routes. Queens Close, Field Close and Eight Acres are cul de sacs which link into those streets. Footpaths come into the area from Winchester Road by the Sun Arch and from Botley Road along the river path. There are currently no designated cycle paths.

The earliest reference to the area goes back to the Middle Ages. In the Patent Rolls of 1317 and 1334, there is a description of the old Spittle or Hospital of St Mary Magdalene, an almshouse which is said to have cared for lepers and probably stood on the land now taken up by the railway and the houses on the west side of Botley Road. In 1539 the building was converted into a residence for the Crown Bailiff. In later years, there was a tollhouse at the junction of Winchester Road and Botley Road.

The lower end of Botley Road, at least as far as Cemetery Hill, is known to have existed as early as the Middle Ages and was previously known as Portsmouth Road. A minor diversion at its junction with Winchester Road was needed when the railway was built in 1864-65 and, in the late 1920s, the Highways Authorities acquired sufficient extra land to straighten the alignment at the foot of the hill. A humpback bridge (Spittal Bridge) over the Tadburn Lake was replaced in about 1947 by the present flat bridge.

From 1919 until 1960 the road was classed as the A27, at which time through traffic from Southampton was diverted via Ashfield to the Romsey bypass and Botley Road was re-classified as a local road. In contrast, the development of Queens Close in the 1970s finally put paid to a long held plan to link the Romsey bypass with the (then) A31 Winchester Road (now A3090) to the east of Romsey.

Botley Road flooded in 1909
Botley Road flooded in 1909
The Tadburn Lake (from the Old English lacu, a small slow-moving stream) is a sub-catchment of the River Test. It rises to the east of Romsey and extends from Crampmoor to Broadlands where it joins the main river. The stream overflowed its banks in 1909, 1928 and 1960, causing damage to homes. There is evidence that the floods occurred when there was a combination of sudden heavy rainfall and especially high tides in Southampton Water.

The Tadburn was channelled around 1961, when its course was also slightly altered just upstream of Spittal Bridge. Although the river has been close to overflowing its banks on several occasions since, only one property in the area is known to have been affected by flooding.

The concrete liner, whilst detracting from the natural beauty of the stream, would therefore seem to have proved its worth and continues to allow for ease of silt clearance when this is necessary.

Design Recommendations

Arrow Consideration should be given to the use of materials more in keeping with the surroundings, when the concrete lining the river channel begins to deteriorate
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Area Setting and Landscape
External Boundaries Area 3