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Southampton - United Kingdom

Southampton (/saʊθˈ(h)æmptən/ (About this sound listen)) is the largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire, England. It is 69 miles (111 km) south-west of London and 15 miles (24 km) west north-west of Portsmouth Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest. It lies at the northernmost point of Southampton Water at the confluence of the Rivers Test and Itchen, with the River Hamble joining to the south of the urban area. The city, which is a unitary authority, has an estimated population of 253,651. The city's name is sometimes abbreviated in writing to "So'ton" or "Soton", and a resident of Southampton is called a Sotonian.

Significant employers in the city include Southampton City Council, the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University, Southampton Airport, Ordnance Survey, BBC South, the NHS, ABP and Carnival UK. Southampton is noted for its association with the RMS Titanic, the Spitfire and more generally in the World War II narrative as one of the departure points for D-Day, and more recently as the home port of a number of the largest cruise ships in the world. Southampton has a large shopping centre and retail park, Westquay. In 2014, the city council approved a neighbouring followup Westquay South which opened in 2016–2017.

In the 2001 census Southampton and Portsmouth were recorded as being parts of separate urban areas; however by the time of the 2011 census they had merged apolitically to become the sixth-largest built-up area in England with a population of 855,569. This built-up area is part of the metropolitan area known as South Hampshire, which is also known as Solent City, particularly in the media when discussing local governance organisational changes. With a population of over 1.5 million this makes the region one of the United Kingdom's most populous metropolitan areas.

Prior to King Henry's departure for the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the ringleaders of the "Southampton Plot"—Richard, Earl of Cambridge, Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham, and Sir Thomas Grey of Heton—were accused of high treason and tried at what is now the Red Lion public house in the High Street. They were found guilty and summarily executed outside the Bargate.

The city walls include God's House Tower, built in 1417, the first purpose-built artillery fortification in England. Over the years it has been used as home to the city's gunner, the Town Gaol and even as storage for the Southampton Harbour Board. Until September 2011, it housed the Museum of Archaeology. The walls were completed in the 15th century, but later development of several new fortifications along Southampton Water and the Solent by Henry VIII meant that Southampton was no longer dependent upon its fortifications.

During the Middle Ages, shipbuilding had become an important industry for the town. Henry V's famous warship HMS Grace Dieu was built in Southampton and launched in 1418.

The friars passed on ownership of the water supply system itself to the town in 1420.

On the other hand, many of the medieval buildings once situated within the town walls are now in ruins or have disappeared altogether. From successive incarnations of the motte and bailey castle, only a section of the bailey wall remains today, lying just off Castle Way.

The Supermarine Spitfire was designed and developed in Southampton, evolving from the Schneider trophy-winning seaplanes of the 1920s and 1930s. Its designer, R J Mitchell, lived in the Portswood area of Southampton, and his house is today marked with a blue plaque. Heavy bombing of the Woolston factory in September 1940 destroyed it as well as homes in the vicinity, killing civilians and workers. World War II hit Southampton particularly hard because of its strategic importance as a major commercial port and industrial area. Prior to the Invasion of Europe, components for a Mulberry harbour were built here. After D-Day, Southampton docks handled military cargo to help keep the Allied forces supplied, making it a key target of Luftwaffe bombing raids until late 1944. Southampton docks was featured in the television show 24: Live Another Day in Day 9: 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

630 people lost their lives as a result of the air raids on Southampton and nearly 2,000 more were injured, not to mention the thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed.

Pockets of Georgian architecture survived the war, but much of the city was levelled. There has been extensive redevelopment since World War II. Increasing traffic congestion in the 1920s led to partial demolition of medieval walls around the Bargate in 1932 and 1938. However, a large portion of those walls remain.

A Royal Charter in 1952 upgraded University College at Highfield to the University of Southampton. Southampton acquired city status, becoming the City of Southampton in 1964.

The geography of Southampton is influenced by the sea and rivers. The city lies at the northern tip of the Southampton Water, a deep water estuary, which is a ria formed at the end of the last Ice Age. Here, the rivers Test and Itchen converge. The Test—which has salt marsh that makes it ideal for salmon fishing —runs along the western edge of the city, while the Itchen splits Southampton in two—east and west. The city centre is located between the two rivers.

Town Quay is the original public quay, and dates from the 13th century. Today's Eastern Docks were created in the 1830s by land reclamation of the mud flats between the Itchen & Test estuaries. The Western Docks date from the 1930s when the Southern Railway Company commissioned a major land reclamation and dredging programme. Most of the material used for reclamation came from dredging of Southampton Water, to ensure that the port can continue to handle large ships.

Southampton Water has the benefit of a double high tide, with two high tide peaks, making the movement of large ships easier. This is not caused as popularly supposed by the presence of the Isle of Wight, but is a function of the shape and depth of the English Channel. In this area the general water flow is distorted by more local conditions reaching across to France.

The city lies in the Hampshire Basin, which sits atop chalk beds.

The River Test runs along the western border of the city, separating it from the New Forest. There are bridges over the Test from Southampton, including the road and rail bridges at Redbridge in the south and the M27 motorway to the north. The River Itchen runs through the middle of the city and is bridged in several places. The northernmost bridge, and the first to be built, is at Mansbridge, where the A27 road crosses the Itchen. The original bridge is closed to road traffic, but is still standing and open to pedestrians and cyclists. The river is bridged again at Swaythling, where Woodmill Bridge separates the tidal and non tidal sections of the river. Further south is Cobden Bridge which is notable as it was opened as a free bridge (it was originally named the Cobden Free Bridge), and was never a toll bridge. Downstream of the Cobden Bridge is the Northam Railway Bridge, then the Northam Road Bridge, which was the first major pre-stressed concrete bridge to be constructed in the United Kingdom. The southernmost, and newest, bridge on the Itchen is the Itchen Bridge, which is a toll bridge.

Southampton's largest retail centre, and 35th-largest in the UK, is the Westquay Shopping Centre, which opened in September 2000 and hosts major high street stores including John Lewis and Marks and Spencer. The centre was Phase Two of the West Quay development of the former Pirelli undersea cables factory; the first phase of this was the West Quay Retail Park, while the third phase (Watermark WestQuay) was put on hold due to the recession. Work resumed in 2015, with plans for this third stage including shops, housing, an hotel and a public piazza alongside the Town Walls on Western Esplanade. Southampton has also been granted a licence for a large casino. A further part of the redevelopment of the West Quay site resulted in a new store, opened on 12 February 2009, for Swedish home products retailer IKEA.[8] Marlands is a smaller shopping centre, built in the 1990s on the site of the former bus station and located close to the northern side of Westquay. In October 2014, the city council approved a follow-up from the Westquay park, WestQuay Watermark. Construction by Sir Robert McAlpine commenced in January 2015. Its owners, Hammerson, aim to have at least 1,550 people employed on site at year-end 2016. Opened in 2016–2017, it has been renamed Westquay South.

Southampton had two disused shopping centres: the 1970s Eaststreet mall, and the 1980s Bargate centre. Neither of these were ever commercially successful. The former was demolished and the site earmarked for redevelopment as a Morrison's supermarket. It was announced in January 2017 that the Bargate Centre is also scheduled for demolition, to be replaced by retail premises, student accommodation and apartments. Included are also proposals to open access to a section of the medieval city wall in that area. There is also the East Street area which has been designated for speciality shopping, with the aim of promoting smaller retailers, alongside the chain store Debenhams. In 2007, Southampton was ranked 13th for shopping in the UK.

Southampton's strong economy is promoting redevelopment, and major projects are proposed, including the city's first skyscrapers on the waterfront. The three towers proposed will stand 23 storeys high and will be surrounded by smaller apartment blocks, office blocks and shops. There are also plans for a 15-storey hotel at the Ocean Village marina, and a 21-storey hotel on the north eastern corner of the city centre, as part of a £100 m development.

According to 2004 figures, Southampton contributes around £4.2 bn to the regional economy annually. The vast majority of this is from the service sector, with the remainder coming from industry in the city. This figure has almost doubled since 1995.

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