History of Hedge End
Hedge End has been the fastest growing town within the Borough of Eastleigh over the last twenty years. The town now has a population of over 20,000 across some 693 hectares. Yet for most of its existence, Hedge End has been little more than a small village on the outskirts of its close neighbour, the parish of Botley.
‘Hedge End’ first appeared on the Southampton and district map in 1759. At that time, it was a mere hamlet, housing seasonal workers who were employed by the local strawberry farms in Botley. Forty years later, a new road was constructed from the Northam Bridge in Southampton through to the lowest crossing point of the River Hamble. The 1799 ‘Northam Road’ gave rise to a toll gate and with the few farms in the area, over the next 70 years a small new settlement emerged.
Coupled with the enclosure of Botley Common in 1863, the ‘Hedge End National (mixed) School’ opening in 1864 (now the Youth and Community Centre), St Johns Church dating from 1874, the election of a Parish Council in 1894 and the first permanent post office being established in the same year, the new village (population 802) grew up chiefly around the junction of Bursledon and St John’s Roads.
Hedge End was finally established as a formal Civil Parish in 1894, within South Stoneham District, with six Parish Councillors led by the Reverend Payne as Chairman.
Hedge End Parish Council was renamed as Hedge End Town Council in 1992 to recognise its increasing role in the community.
Hedge End Town Council Chairperson Table[...]
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Hedge End During WWII 1939-1945
Hedge End was classified as a safe area, suitable for the reception of evacuees from the more vulnerable cities. Plans had been made and the population prepared. Air raid wardens and billeting officers had to be appointed. Children from Gosport were received in the village. The arrived bewildered, clutching their hurriedly packed cases and with a brown cardboard box containing their gas masks slung around their necks. On each child's lapel was a label giving name and brief personal details. The children and their teachers were led into the nearest church hall to receive refreshment and to await their turn to be taken by the billeting officer, to their new homes.
The school log book records the first air raid warning in the village on 14 June 1940.
As the raids on Southampton intensified in 1940, Hedge End was ordered to accept 129 evacuees from the town. Women were temporarily accomodated in St John's Room, whilst the men had the misfortune to sleep on the far from comfortable pews of St John's Church. The Methodist school room was also used nd accommodated up to 100 people a night.
Some bombs failed to explode on Hedge End and it is recorded that in 1947 an unexploded bomb was detonated by army sappers on Netley Hill Estate. As late as 1973, an unexploded incendiary bomb was unearthed in the grounds of the old Vicarage.
As D-Day approached in 1944, Hedge End became a hive of activity with soldiers camped on the recreation ground and convoys of tanks and lorries parked in the shelter of tree lined roads awaiting their turn to embark on the armada of invasion craft assembled in and around Southampton Water and the River Hamble. A canteen for the troops was available in the Methodist School Room.