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To think Southampton city centre is disappointing?

(129 Posts)
Perplexing Wed 26-Mar-14 08:40:08

I visited yesterday for first time in about 21 years. Apart from the West Quay centre which, unless I missed a lot of it, I found underwhelming, there didn't seem to be much else. And what little else there is seems to close at 5.30. The place felt rather soulless and almost seedy, even at 6pm. The top end of town is now pretty derelict (where Tyrrell & Green used to be) and unless I've gone deaf in the intervening tears, the civic centre clock has stopped chiming. There were also lots of people swearing in public, I mean you expect to hear a few, but it seemed literally every other person was saying F-this or that (very loudly) confused

Tommy Sun 30-Mar-14 19:04:57

hear hear nunsarepeopletoodougal smile

NunsArePeopleTooDougal Sat 29-Mar-14 17:59:21

I'm a big upset with the slagging off Southampton's getting! Everyqhere has its good and bad points, and the Mayflower and Sea City museum are certainly good! I don't care about shopping abd town has everything I need.
Anyway, on a football related note, WTFILN Pompey? smile smile smile

BMW6 Sat 29-Mar-14 17:01:12

Well I love Southampton and have for the entire 56 years of my life! It went through a bad patch in the Nineties (or was it the Eighties?) but massive changes for the better since then.

Why do I love it? The History, multiculturalism, fantastic parks, short drives to beauty spots, trains to anywhere, great hospitals (spent a LOT of time in them as a child)..... I could go on.

Oh look, Saints have beaten Newcastle 4-0

Poor old Skate......grin

TiggyKBE Sat 29-Mar-14 16:45:08

Good green spaces in the city centre. Big Mall with all the big shops you could want. No tourist/sightseeing things. Poor small shopping. There's no waterfront.

Waitingaround Sat 29-Mar-14 15:00:13

Quite agreemadamehooch I also find the op rude. As someone who lives between Southampton, Winchester and Portsmouth I shop at all them.
I like Southampton for west quay and knowing that if I want something I will find it there. The shops are open till 9pm and the food market outside west quay on a weekend has a good vibe. Southampton has regular music events as well as several theatres. The parks are great as are the city walls etc..
I also enjoy Winchester to mooch and relax but don't like Portsmouth it's generally filthy and appears down trodden except for gun wharf quays. OP YABU!!

kernowal Fri 28-Mar-14 18:01:18

I'm with you Madame, except for the bit about football, which I have no interest in at all. West Quay has everything I want from a large shopping centre and I'm a huge fan of John Lewis. I go to Lymington or Romsey for independent shops. I moved "up country" to Southampton and I just don't think some people know how lucky they are having the whole caboodle on their door step.

madamehooch Fri 28-Mar-14 16:56:58

Southampton girl born and bred here.

Will not bite at being told I live in 'Scumhampton'. Will not bite at being told I live in 'Scumhampton'.

Sod it. How's your football team doing Pompey dwellers?

Perplexing. I find your OP a little bit offensive so far as the swearing in public is concerned. I certainly do not hear 'every other person saying F this or that very loudly' and I work in the city centre. If I'm perfectly honest, you do sound a bit snobby.

Fair enough, Southampton does not have many independent shops. However, West Quay does seem to have everything a lot of people need and there are very few empty units.

The insinuation that there is a lack of culture is incorrect. We have two amazing theatres (Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is currently on at the Mayflower with West Side Story, the Lion King, Dirty Dancing, and Wicked scheduled for the rest of the year), a fantastic concert venue for jazz, classic and traditional music (Turner Sims), an art gallery which has a permanent collection that spans eight centuries, and two very popular museums - Sea City and Tudor House. The old town area is very pleasant and I would recommend that you walk the walls. There are three cinemas in the city centre, including the Harbour Lights (a Picture House cinema). Oxford Street has some great restaurants. In addition, Southampton is ideal for accessing the New Forest and the Isle of Wight.

I'm not saying it's perfect. There are some very deprived areas but I think that's the case in most cities. I'm obviously defensive over my home city but I don't think it deserves the bad press it's getting, especially from those who haven't visited in a while.

I do admit the current extensive road works are annoying though!

kernowal Thu 27-Mar-14 17:03:38

Someone at work has been to the burger place. They said the service was dire but the burgers were huge & lush.

lainiekazan Thu 27-Mar-14 09:31:28

I agree with Cory that Portswood seems to be improving. It went through a phase of being... awful now there's a Waitrose - the surest sign of a place being on the up.

Have any Sotonites tried that 7Bone gourmet burger restaurant in Portswood that was featured on The Restaurant Man?

Btw just off to Beastly Eastleigh shortly. For some reason I like Eastleigh. You can get anything there.

TheSkiingGardener Thu 27-Mar-14 08:16:12

PowerPants a get-in is literally where they get the sets and stuff in to the theatre for the shows. So massive articulated lorries turn up and need to get it all in the back of the theatre.

furlinedsheepskinjacket Thu 27-Mar-14 00:45:58


I think generally the hotels are filled by cruise passengers and business trips.the docks are still a massive employer.

PowerPantsRule Wed 26-Mar-14 23:50:47

"skiinggardener" - what is a 'get-in' - you said it about the Mayflower?

One word on bad shopping centres - Poole. The Dolphin Centre has to be the one of the worst shopping malls on the south coast. Just depressing. Bournemouth's not bad, but it's frustrating as the shops are not that big, so you get a limited selection. Castlepoint is good for the big M and S and Waterstones but that's it.

TheZeeTeam Wed 26-Mar-14 23:34:21

Re-reading the thread, things must have really changed. In the 90's, Portsmouth was awful!

That said, last time we were there, Soton had changed a lot too, and we didn't get any further south than Portswood! DH and I were laughing that the students of today must be way more sophisticated than when we were there! Still loved the Common and had a minor panic attack when we realised that we were now the paying parents at the Cowherds. IT seemed not very long ago when that was where we would take our parents when they visited for a meal!

TheSkiingGardener Wed 26-Mar-14 22:34:43

Soithampton's interesting from a social mix point of view. Used to be huge manufacturing/manual labour (docks etc.) with housing estates built for that income level but that work has massively reduced. Containerisation in the docks, Pirelli shutting, vosper thorny croft shutting, ford shutting and so on, so very little of that work, but it now has a surprising amount of businesses based there. The hotels are always nearly full and they keep building more. So the money is there, but not for the type of work an ex docker can get usually.

Cue pockets of massive unemployment and little prospects. The town planners then put social housing right in the centre of town, so no room for the commercial centre to grow organically. And whoever put a bloody tower block on Castle Hill should be locked up for cultural vandalism.

It's a mess, but hopefully things are moving the right way.

And this thread has reminded me to go back to the Pig, which us very useful.

Perplexing Wed 26-Mar-14 20:09:42

Gah BUY not egg, thus iPad is truly shit for autocorrect

Perplexing Wed 26-Mar-14 20:08:57

I guess it does depend why you are visiting somewhere. If I need to egg something specific, I am likely either to order online or visit a purpose built shopping centre - eg Brent Cross, Cribbs Causeway.

If, on the other hand, I want a day to "mooch", wander, explore and generally enjoy being somewhere and discovering a place, maybe to - fir example- 'buy a new pair of shoes if I see any but not crucial' kind of expedition .... then yes the shops are a factor, a bit of retail therapy never goes amiss. But it's the general ambience which is then more important I think.

Winchester has a really efficient Park and Ride which I use on weekdays, but we drive in and park easily enough at weekends (except December). Takes a while to get used to the one way system but I'm fine with it now.

ilovechips Wed 26-Mar-14 19:53:55

I'm surprised so many people rate Chichester for shopping. To me it's always seemed a very small, quaint kind of place - nice to have a mooch about and a coffee, but if you actually need something in particular not the best place. There are a variety of shops yes but all very small, with limited stock. As I say, nice for a mooch though.

I avoid Winchester like the plague as I think it has the worst traffic/road layout I have ever encountered in my life - it's almost impossible to get out once you're in!

Portsmouth v Southampton - well, both are typical city centre shopping to me. I live near Fareham midway between the two. For me, Southampton has the edge, Portsmouth feels shabby and run down somehow.

Perplexing Wed 26-Mar-14 19:45:19

Fur lined, thank you, I think a trip is definitely on the cards :-)

Perplexing Wed 26-Mar-14 19:44:23

Skiing- interesting, I forgot about the Pig in the wallshock how could I ?!

I didn't realise it was a deprived area tbh. But that does make sense given the general feel yesterday.

Agree that the traffic in Guildford is horrible and the parking isn't great, but I like that most of the shops are out in the open and that there's a House of Fraser. The rest of the town may be a shit-hole, I don't know, I never go anywhere except the shops.

furlinedsheepskinjacket Wed 26-Mar-14 19:41:41


loads of lovely shops in chich although bit pricey,long streets and outside seating to sit and watch the world go by
loads of lovely café type places but we didn't find any nice pubs for evening meal more restaurants.we go by train its about ten min walk from station.

take lots of spending £s though

juliacharles2013 Wed 26-Mar-14 19:38:47

Thanks Londonrach, I think Basingstoke is nice for shopping but as I don't drive it takes 2 trains & I can't be arsed to lug my 15 month old in his buggy on 2 trains just to go shopping (hubby drives so I normally go there with him). Woking is quite good for shops, although since they re did the Wolesley & Peacocks centres it's got loads of poncy high end shops too that I'd never afford in a million years & you can only buy from if you're a size 10 or under.

TheSkiingGardener Wed 26-Mar-14 19:38:15

I moved to Southampton 7 years ago from Oxfordshire. It's never going to be a big historic character town because they bombed the hell out of it in the war and the town planners in the 30 years after that need to be put against a wall and shot.

I also agree that a few years back it was pretty soulless and uninspiring, but it's changing. The parks people have discovered childrens playgrounds that aren't built out of dodgy mdf, the council have started granting planning permission for stuff and actually showing some imagination. I think it's a shame Tyrell and Greens went but the changes that are happening in civic centre square are good. The Italian restaurant/cafe is fantastic as is the ice cream parlour round the corner. When they finish the arts complex it looks good.

For food you have to head away from the chains in Wedt quay, the new boulangerie at the bottom of town is phenomenal and I defy you to get a better lunch than at the Pig In The Wall. The new restaurants in Ocean Village start opening this summer too.

As for theatre, The Mayflower has one of the biggest get-ins outside of London, so all the West End productions tour there. As do Welsh National Opera twice a year and various national ballet companies. Add in the stuff at the Nuffield and the Turner Syms and your spoilt for choice.

Anyway, I also know it has some of the most deprived areas in the country in the city, I was an alcohol councillor and the deprivation in some parts is huge, but the affluence around the corner is also huge. It's a very diverse city, which makes things interesting.

All in all I can think of far worse places to live and am very optimistic about how things are changing. I also love Gunwharf Quays and Southsea though over in Portsmouth, but the rest of Portsmouth is distinctly dodgy from the areas I've seen.

SmileAndNod Wed 26-Mar-14 19:38:09

Agree that the market square in Salisbury is now lethal. And the price of parking shock. Love Winchester however, and still like Southampton for my JL and Ikea fix.

Keep toying with the idea of a trip to Portsmouth but the driving there is scary!

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