The Boat House, Cobden Avenue, Southampton. Geoarchaeological Assessment and Historic Building Assessment (SOU1608) (OASIS ID: wessexar1-130228)

Wessex Archaeology, 2018

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Wessex Archaeology (2018) The Boat House, Cobden Avenue, Southampton. Geoarchaeological Assessment and Historic Building Assessment (SOU1608) (OASIS ID: wessexar1-130228) [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]


The Boat House, Cobden Avenue, Southampton. Geoarchaeological Assessment and Historic Building Assessment (SOU1608) (OASIS ID: wessexar1-130228)

Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by CgMs Consulting Ltd., acting on behalf of McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyles, to undertake a geoarchaeological borehole survey in advance of redevelopment works at the Boat House, Cobden Avenue, Southampton, centred on National Grid Reference (NGR) 443900 114030.

Four boreholes were drilled on the Site, on an east-west aligned transect to the south of the Boat House. The lower/earlier part of the sampled sequence, around 6.5-7m below ground level (bgl) consists of a relatively thick terrestrial soil (0.4m) of early Post-glacial date (9150-8790 cal. BC), which developed on an a slight gravel high, which is a likely relic of a Devensian braided channel system. The post-glacial to late Mesolithic alluvial deposits alternated between organic-rich and mineralogenic silts, representing well-vegetated channel margins and more open (although slowmoving) aquatic environments. These changes could be due to either fluctuations in water level or slight channel migration. Above these 3m of alluvial deposits, a thin peat layer (0.08m) at 3.4m bgl was dated to the late Mesolithic (6480-6390 cal. BC). Plant remains and pollen indicate that this formed within a alder carr wetland environment, similar to slightly earlier dated deposits at Testwood Lakes 6 miles to the west. Pollen shows that oak and hazel forests continue to dominate the drier parts of the valley. Sealing the thin late Mesolithic peat were around one metre of soft sticky alluvial deposits with abundant horizontal waterlogged reed remains (Phragmites).

Historic building recording was required as a condition of the planning permission granted by Southampton City Council (Planning Reference 10/01041/FUL). A record of the building was made commensurate with an enhanced Level 1 as defined by the English Heritage guidance document Understanding Historic Buildings: a guide to good recording practice. The building recording was carried out in accordance with a Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI) which was agreed in advance by the Planning Archaeologist of Southampton City Council.

Cartographic evidence has established that the Site lay undeveloped on the east bank of the River Itchen until the late 1930s, when the land was reclaimed and a Boat House and two terraced properties (numbers 1 and 2 Whitworth Road were constructed on the Site. Proposed plans of the Boat House survive dating to April 1937, indicating that the property was constructed shortly after this date, although there are slight differences between the plans and the present building with regard to window openings and the layout of the Loft floor.

Around the same time as the Boat House was constructed there appears to have been an expansion in the boat building industry in the vicinity of Cobden Bridge with a larger boat house depicted to the south of the Site in the 1933-1946 map. This was followed by two more boat houses on the west side of the river along with numerous landing stages and slipways by the time of the 1948-1949 map.

An examination of the Boat House has indicated that the building was constructed in two phases with the main Boat House built during the late 1930s with a small extension over an existing open yard situated at the eastern end of the building occurring by 1954.