High Street and Union Street

Fareham's High Street is known for its Georgian (18th Century) architecture, much of it makes use of Fareham Red Bricks, and is now protected. This was the result of an extensive regeneration scheme to modernise the growing town. The casual curve along the majority of its length apparently suggests it is built over a much, much older route. It's also home to the earliest development within Fareham at all, as it provides the safety of high land while still being close to the river and the fording point at Wallington.

Its original name of North Street didn't last long, instead High Street was preferred as it made it out to be the most prestigious street in the town. Having always been a key transport route, it was designated A32 from 1922 until 1986, where its importance began to fade.

Union Street

Union Street in 1935Looking down Union Street - it's hardly changed! (1935, library photo)

The wide southern end of the High Street, at the junction with West Street and East Street, lends itself to market trading. The island buildings at the centre of the road would have been to facilitate this. Today, the narrower of the two roads is known as Union Street, taking its name from the Parish Union Workhouse, which was located at no 2, before it moved to Wickham Road. The workhouse made national news after two young boys were transferred their and took to it badly, wetting the bed and soiling their clothes, for which they were repeatedly shamed and starved, and then left in an outhouse. Eventually they were transferred back to Bishops Waltham where their deteriorating health had been noticed, and the workhouse was reported and investigated. This story is one of the main features of the Westbury Manor Museum.

In the Tudor period, there was an arch over the road, which was demolished in 1822. The proximity of a pub, which took up the old workhouse, a beerhouse, the Red Lion hotel on East Street, and a strong navy presence, made the area popular with unsavoury characters and in to the 20th Century Union Street was rife with drunkenness and prostitution, something which is difficult to imagine now. There is still a faded sign in one of the side alleys, asking men to refrain from engaging in these activites.

High Street itself

The period streetlighting used on the road dates back to 1897, the only columns in Fareham not to be replaced, but the lanterns have been completely changed.

Traffic signals were added in the 1960s and removed in the 1970s, and a change of layout in the 1990s gave the High Street priority over West Street, owing to the changes in the traffic patterns over the years. A grand furniture store and cycle store stood at the bottom of the road, opposite the island, while the island itself included A. E. Ayre estate agents Hampshire Driving Academy, Leighton Opticians and a Home Heating Centre in the 1960s.

Number 16 was, for many years, Wykeham House school, before it moved to East Street. Villa Romana is an old coach house, then a pub.

This section of the road is wide, and in the motoring heyday it was common for vehicles to park down the centre.

The houses on the east side of the street had gardens which dropped down to the Wallington floodplain, which would regularly flood. Lysees Path formed a shortcut down to East Street.

Lysees hotel was originally an elaborate house, while the house at number 15 has a timber roof dating back to the 14th Century.

The Civic Way junction was added in the late 1960s as part of Fareham's grand plans to redevelop the central area in place of a house. Curiously, the High Street now gives way to itself here, a remnant from the days where the shopping centre would attract people from all over the region.

Lysses House was built in the 1800s on the site of the White Horse pub.

Vicar's Hill

Former site of cottagesThe site of the former church cottages at the crossroads (tap to enlarge)

The road down the hill was known unofficially as Vicar's Hill, after the nearby church. Church Place provides access to it. The exact purpose of Church Place isn't clear, but it's likely that it's only a coincidence that it forms a straight-line route to Osborn Road, and that it merely provided side-access to the church. A derelict cottage was demolished in the 1980s to create the church garden.

The end of the High Street is now by Osborn Road (originally it would have been in this region, but a less formal affair), leading on to the wide junction with Wallington Hill. The no right turn here is to direct traffic leaving town on to Wallington Way. As the road fizzles out, Wickham Road takes over.