A history of Bitterne Park

Read part one of Jason A. Jenkins' history of Bitterne Park.

Bitterne Park — A Liberal History

Part One


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They say that those who do not learn from history, are destined to repeat it.  I believe that this is the case, but I would add that those who do not know history are not likely to learn from it.

We all have an interest in history in some way, even though we may not realise it.  This could range from an interest in learning about famous people or from learning about what created the world in which we live in today.  In this short history, I will not be looking at either but, instead, will be looking at our small part of the world and seeing how it became what we know today.

The residential development of Bitterne Park began in the late 19th century, being promoted by the National Liberal Land Company, whose plaque can still be seen on either end of Cobden bridge.  They bought a section of land in 1882 for Ł26,415, the size of which was 317 acres, 1 rood and 17 perches and laid west of Middenbury Lane, as it was spelt at that time.  It extended on from Bitterne railway station and almost to Woodmill.

As Lords of the Manor, the Bishops of Winchester owned Bitterne Manor Farm; this was then transferred, in 1869, to the Ecclesisatical commissioners who owned it until 1878.

After its purchase, four years later, the Land Company instantly spent Ł11,500 on an iron bridge to connect the estate to St Denys.  This became known as the Cobden Free Bridge and was opened officially on June 27th 1883 by Professor J.E. Thorold Rogers MP, chairman of the Land Company.  It was then handed over to the mayor for the free use of the inhabitants forever.  Since that time, the bridge has gone through two major changes, being reconstructed between 1926-1928 and renovated in 1979/80.

The reason for its name was the toll bridge in operation until 1929 on Northam Bridge: the owners of this bridge opposed the free bridge as it affected their revenue, but were later to drop this complaint.

Jason A Jenkins

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