Southampton is, without doubt, one of the most fascinating cities in the UK.
The identity and character of the Southampton we see today is very much defined by a history brimming with innovative achievements.
Thanks to the city’s wonderful museums, and the age of the internet, people have come to know and love the place the more they have discovered. However, there are still some lesser-known facts that are fun to read up on.
Check out our guide to 10 things you perhaps didn’t know about Southampton.
1. Southampton once hosted Hit TV show “24”, predominantly filmed in the USA throughout its original eight-series run, made its way to the city in 2014!
Kiefer Sutherland (AKA Jack Bauer) and co. became temporary Sotonians during the production of spin-off 24: Live Another Day.
2. There are nearly 500 listed buildings in Southampton, with that number seemingly growing by the year.
They date as far back as the 12th Century in the case of the Medieval Merchants’ House on French Street, while others are as recent as the 1960s-built block of flats opposite Central Railway Station.
3. Southampton’s maritime history is well-established, but did you know the city’s local authority has records of seafarers and mariners from centuries ago?
The maritime heritage archives include crew lists for Southampton-registered vessels 1863-1913, the Central Index Register of Merchant Seamen, and records of disaster funds.
4. Legendary novelist Jane Austen spent two years of her life living in Southampton. The critically-acclaimed author, who wrote the likes of Pride and Prejudice and Emma, resided in the city between 1807 and 1809.
To this day, there is a Jane Austen Trail through Old Town, the area in which she was based all those years ago.
5. The long-running rivalry with Portsmouth, which is 30 miles away from Southampton, can be attributed to maritime issues.
Sailors from Southampton refused to work on The Titanic’s sister ship, The Olympic, due to a lack of lifeboats. Dockers from Portsmouth stepped in to take their place, much to the displeasure of their Southampton equivalents.
6. Singer Craig David grew up on Southampton’s Holyrood estate. He attended Bellemoor School and Southampton City College before his rise to fame.
David, an avid supporter of Southampton FC, returned to the limelight in 2017 with his ‘The Time is Now’ album, following several years away from the mainstream scene.
7. Southampton was once named Fittest City in the UK by Men’s Fitness magazine. According to researchers, the city’s residents consumed less alcohol and junk food than any of its counterparts in 2006.
It also had a higher percentage of gym memberships and less heart disease, earning significant plaudits in the magazine’s feature article.
8. A national survey revealed that Sotonians watched less television than anyone else in England!
The research, carried out in 2007, determined that Southampton was home to so many nice green spaces and parks, many of its residents would rather be outdoors than stuck in front of the box.
9. Southampton resident RJ Mitchell designed the iconic Second World War fighter plane, The Spitfire. The aeronautical engineer, who worked at the Supermarine Aviation Works in Southampton, won widespread praise for his pioneering work.
A statue of Mitchell was installed at London Science Museum in 2005, 12 months after a sculpture of The Spitfire was unveiled at Southampton Airport.
10. The ever-popular fish fingers were first tested on shoppers in Southampton. Clarence Birdseye, the founder of the modern frozen food industry, commissioned the research after the Second World War.
The lucky taste-testers voted in favour of the ‘cod sticks’ when compared to herring.