Visit Hythe 2019

T he settlement of Hythe dates back to Anglo Saxon times and has a fascinating history. Its name derives from ‘Hyth’ an Old English word for a permanent landing place on a river or sheltered estuary; the position of Hythe definitely fits that description. With many waterfront places to sit and enjoy watching the shipping on Southampton Water, and a pleasant and friendly village, a visit to Hythe is certain to be a delight to all. It’s most famous landmark, the historic Pier, includes Britain’s oldest continuously operating pier train. The Pier itself opened on January 1st 1881, when a hand propelled truck carried luggage and goods along its 700 yards (640m) length. In 1901 a truck running on narrow gauge railway lines was introduced, then in 1922 rails were laid and electricity supply provided to run a passenger train. Information boards along the pier tell more about its history and some of its famous visitors. Around the village along the High street, buildings and facades date back to Georgian times; although parts of The Lord Nelson pub building date back to the mid 1600’s. Look upwards at the windows above Hythe Marina © Ali Lansley some of the shops to see the character buildings. In St. John’s Street, behind The Grove which houses the Parish offices, delightful gardens offer uninterrupted views across the water, and a stone commemoration to the pioneering work of Sir Christopher Cockerell, the inventor of the hovercraft, who lived in the village until shortly before his death in 1999. The sculpture, depicting the inventor and his work, was erected close to the former site of his company, Hovercraft Development Ltd. Evidence of another famous Hythe resident can be found a little further along at the bottom of South Street, where a blue plaque fixed to a picturesque cottage, announces that T. E. Lawrence lived there from 1931-32. The gentleman was better known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. Not far from the Pier is Ebenezers, a former chapel built in 1845, now restored and converted into a friendly, family run pub whilst retaining many of its original features. Nearby the three distinctive white cottages at the end of The Marsh; Pylewell Cottages, date between the mid-17th century and early 19th century. Opposite, the white brick building, now occupied by BeBe’s Café, was built in 1883 for tourists coming by ferry from Southampton looking for refreshments. It served as Hythe’s Post Office between the wars, before returning to its original use as a café. Next door the distinctive building, previously the Anchor and Hope pub, with its arched windows, is now the home of a local community magazine and also the National Park Authority Local Information Point for Hythe and The Waterside. The imposing former Drummond Arms, now converted into apartments, stands opposite the Pier entrance. Being close to the departure point, made it ideally located for travellers and has been used as a public house since the mid-17th century. The present building was built in 1840. Guided Walks around Hythe giving more information about its interesting history are available during the summer season, details of which can be obtained from the Hythe Ferry office. The Waterside Heritage Centre, located at the old Hythe Train Station, just outside of the village centre is open three days a week, see the map for more details. Looking out from Prospect Place Green © Hannah Parrish Daymark on Hythe Promenade © John Broomfield