The people of Hamble share what they love most about the village

PUBLISHED: 12:07 15 January 2016 | UPDATED: 12:07 15 January 2016

Photo by Antony Ashton

Photo by Antony Ashton


Whatever the season, the thriving village of Hamble extends a warm welcome both to visitors and residents who come to soak-up the charms of its characterful centre and riverside says Viv Micklefield

Nestling at the tip of a peninsular between the Hamble River and Southampton Water, Hamble, or Hamble-le-Rice as it’s also known, is much more than just a picture postcard village.

Whether you’ve driven in from Botley or sailed over from Bermuda, the mesmerising waterfront with its big skies and views across the water to Warsash no longer resounds to the hundreds of craft that left here for the D-Day landings, or of its pioneering role in the history of aviation, including the sea-plane. Instead, the rhythmic clinking of a multitude of masts signals one of the south coast’s busiest marina and yachting centres, offering everything needed by its sea-faring community.

Regardless of your mode of transport, no compass is needed to navigate from the foreshore up the cobbled High Street to The Square. When it comes to satisfying hunger pangs or a thirst, there’s plenty of choice from cheerful cafés for breakfast and a cappuccino to cosy pubs serving-up local brews and home cooked fare. Or perhaps push the boat out and book a restaurant table at The River Rat. Whilst art galleries, clothing and homeware emporium also provide a chance to treat yourself, everyday basics from having a haircut to buying a pint of milk are on the doorstep. And a refreshing parking policy means that it’s possible to stay for free, for a limited time, in several areas... and you’ll want to linger, because these independent businesses ensure that a return visit or, perhaps, even more permanent shore leave might well be on the horizon. 

Philip Beach, Blue Star Café

With its huge picture windows and the water lapping just metres away, warming soups and homemade pies provide the perfect winter tonic for all the café’s customers, whether young or old.

“My brother Richard and I bought the existing business in April 2014, it actually started life as a wooden shack on the beach 30 years ago,” says Philip.

Originally from the Isle of Wight he’d previously run another Hamble eatery called Wellies, and goes on to describe the latest venture as “like a homecoming”.

Open seven days a week from 9am (02380 453542), and serving as many as 1000 covers plus take-outs in the peak season, Phillip has plans to build on this success.

“We want to offer value for money all-year-round and, with one of our team being a master baker, shall soon be launching our own bakery to supply both this café and other local businesses.”

Favourite part of Hamble: “I love the whole village centre, it’s so close to Southampton yet it’s just unique. The local pubs are great too.” 

Susie Houser, Sea Sky Design

Ex-theatre designer and former Winchester resident, Susie moved down to this area four years ago and in February took over artist Sandy Curry’s High Street gallery. Now, as well as continuing to showcase the work of Hampshire’s Peter Dixon, Kate Richardson and Shelagh Williams, to name a few, Susie and her business partner Debbie Phillips stock a range of gifts, homeware and cards in the adjoining shop.

“One-offs are what I’m most interested in,” says Susie. “Lots of people visit the village during the summer months but I’m also keen to encourage more locals to come in. These days I think it’s all about offering more of an experience, so the New Year will see us running sketching workshops and other creative events (check out the SeaSky Gallery Facebook page).

“What I like about being here is that it’s a really vibrant community - there are so many local characters that you meet. And when one business opens this often sees another start up.”

Favourite part of Hamble: “I love being down on the marshes in the early morning, it’s absolutely gorgeous.”

Paula O’Reilly, The Bugle Inn

“We’ll be having a really big Burn’s Night celebration at the end of January which will bring people together in a different way,” says Paula, who having worked in Hampshire for nine years has been the manager of the historic 300-year-old village pub ( since last summer.

With the bar just a stone’s throw from Hamble’s famous slipway, she knows that it’s always been at the heart of the community and as a dog owner herself, the door is open to four-legged companions too.

“A decade ago local people fought to save The Bugle - that doesn’t surprise me because this is such a friendly place and everyone here is so helpful.”

And with Hampshire fayre featuring strongly on the menu, Paula is keen that the business supports small suppliers such as Jude’s Ice Cream. She adds: “We always try and source locally, in a village like this, that’s appreciated.”

Favourite part of Hamble: “I do like the little pink ferry that takes you over to Warsash, it’s great fun and the ferryman is lovely.” 

Vicky Siou, Hamble Estate Agency

“Being right here in the centre of the village we get to know everybody and locals drop by all the time, if they are not well we soon get to know,” says manager Vicky who’s been at the independent High Street agency ( since 2001. “Popping out to get a sandwich at lunchtime I always bump into someone I know,” she laughs.

“Hamble has a holiday vibe throughout the year so ‘selling’ it as a place to live is not difficult. Lots of people move down here having been drawn by the river. Some are downsizing, others want a bolthole, while a lot work from home or at one of the marinas.

“I actually like it best when it snows because everyone hangs out together in the village. All of my friends like coming here too to go to the pub after work or to call into one of the cafés.”

Favourite part of Hamble: “The walks on the peninsular are wonderful, you wouldn’t believe it...I’ve even seen sight of a seal in the river.” 


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