At home in Dibden and Hythe
PUBLISHED: 14:04 18 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:40 20 February 2013
Between Southampton Water and the New Forest, the Hythe area, known as Waterside, is ideal for commuters, sailors and lovers of the countryside, says Jill Belcher
Hythe likes to think of itself as the place where the New Forest meets the sea and that might give the impression its a quiet little area, tucked away and suitable only for the retired. This couldnt be further from the truth. This is a thriving, vibrant community with one of the most convenient and longest-running commuter links in the world.
Since the 16th century, the Hythe-to-Southampton ferry has been regularly and reliably plying its way up and down Southampton Water. Even when its Victorian pier was damaged by a dredger in 2003, the ferrys intrepid staff had the service operating from a nearby pontoon only hours later.
Only 15 minutes after alighting from the 1917 vintage train which has trundled them down the Victorian pier, passengers can find themselves in Southampton. Its a service much appreciated by commuters, saving them the hassle of traffic jams and parking costs. Travellers can get to London by rail in less than 80 minutes from Southampton Central.
Hythes prosperity long depended on the sea. The towns boatmen prospered in the Middle Ages when they acted as lightermen, taking cargo from ships moored in Southampton Water to the citys quaysides. In the 18th century shipbuilding was thriving, an industry which continued into the 1930s, when T.E. Shaw, later to become Lawrence of Arabia, was seconded from the RAF to the British Power Boat Company at Hythe.
Motor torpedo boats built in Hythe played a decisive part in World War II and many troops trained and left from here for D-Day. In 1960 Sir Christopher Cockerell moved his Hovercraft Development Company to the town and Hythe Marina Village, with its 209 berths, waterside homes, shops, bars and restaurants was the first marina village to be built in the UK.
Some homes date from the 16th century but there is a wide variety of property to choose from, including several modern developments.
Hythe itself is small but theres a great deal going on in this outgoing community, which has an active parish council, serving a population of 20,000 in Hythe, Dibden and Dibden Purlieu and it is twinned with the French town of Mauves-sur-Loire. It has its own cinema, which shows films every month and the lively Waterside Theatre Company regularly presents plays and shows Beauty and the Beast this month.
Calshot Activities Centre, one of the largest outdoor adventure centres in Britain, is close by with opportunities for watersports, snowsports, climbing and cycling.
Theres an excellent shopping centre with a good mix of national names as well as local retailers. A popular market is held every Tuesday in Hythes St Johns Street car park and the market tradition is also observed in Dibden Purlieu, with the indoor Waterside Country Market on Friday mornings in the St Andrews Centre.
The whole area is now known as Waterside and Dibden Purlieu and Hythe are now really contiguous. With the New Forest literally within walking distance, a strong community spirit, excellent sports facilities and easy commuting, its an area that is deservedly becoming a property hotspot.
Hythe Primary School is rated good by Ofsted, while local secondary Noadswood School, a specialist sports college, was graded good with outstanding features. Independent King Edward VI School in nearby Southampton, for 11-18-year-olds, has a very high reputation.
Hythes ferry will take you into the heart of Southampton in 15 minutes. A train will speed you into Waterloo in less than 80 minutes. By car, its about 20 minutes to Southampton centre or the A27 at Cadnam.
Good for commuting
New Forest close by
Superb for sailors
Huge variety of properties