Wickham Road

With all the urbanisation which occurred along the south coast in the 20th Century, Wickham Road is now the one (or only important road), which allows you to truly escape the urban area. Or until Wickham, at least.

It was designated A32 in 1922, and most of it still holds that status today.

Forgotten Section

A short, overlooked section is the bit at the southern end which stopped being part of the A32 in 1986. When the name Wickham Road was adopted, it extended along this previously unnamed road down to where it picks up from the High Street by Osborn Road and Wallington Hill, outside Ivery House. A short row of terraced housing exists here, which would have probably belonged to potters. The Traveller's Rest pub is now a house. The alleyway provided access to what was the County Primary School (closed in 1978 when its virtually unchanged 100 year old buildings were rebuilt, previously a girls' board school which cost 2p a day) and Church Path. There was an alehouse here.

The junction with Southampton Road was added in the 1870s, which became the Wickam Road roundabout in 1986, at which point it was made exit-only, presumably to prevent rat-running. The addition of Wallington Way took over some playing fields and a caravan site, part of which became the business park which is used by a solicitor's today.

London Road

A tollgateThe London Road tollgate, with North Road passing out of shot (1880, library photo)

Serpentine Road is a 1930s addition.

Originally, the road would have bared left here, on to what is now Old Turnpike. In 1872, or thereabouts, the new road to London was built to provide a more direct route which avoids the difficulty of North Hill. At this point, the turnpike was moved from the top of Old Turnpike to where it splits away from the new road. The turnpike building sold refreshments, and stood roughly where the Turnpike Garage is today. It would have been removed not long afterwards as the railway had made the turnpike unprofitable and it was adopted by the council.

The terraced housing was added fairly early on, shortly after the Fareham Union Workhouse moved here from Union Street, becoming a council office in the 1930s. There was an on-site church which remained here until it became St. Christopher's hospital in 1948, which recently closed. St Christopher's Avenue was built in the 1990s.

The west side of Wickham Road was a large brickworks, closing in the 1950s and is now an industrial estate and The Potteries. The cemetery was added at the end of the 19th Century and grew in to neighbouring fields. Giles Close was an Edwardian villa owned by the Giles family, split in to plots of land in the 1950s and demolished altogether in 2000.

From here the road gets a bit more leafy, as it was mostly clay pits. One of these, part of the Furze Hall Brickworks became a builder's yard, then part of the cemetery. A gap between this and Furze Hall Farm formed the entrance to Furzehall Avenue in the 1990s. The farm itself is now Furze Court. Another became a café and petrol forecourt, now a car dealer.

Wickham Road under the M27The road bends round under the new motorway junction. Trees were yet to grow and houses yet to be built (1975, tap to enlarge)

After this the road turned north, merging with North Hill. With the arrival of the motorway in 1976, what is now the underpass was dualled, and North Hill was plugged in to the side. The roundabout was added when Furze Court opened in the '90s. The original alignment of North Hill can clearly be seen, and Wickham Road joined roughly where the bus stop was.

At the very bottom of North Hill was a swamp (formerly a clay pit), called Mitcherer's Pond, which was popular for skating during the winter, which was punctuated by five tall trees. It was lost when the motorway was built, and the associated change to the drainage caused Wickham Road to flood for several years. This amused residents, who had argued against the new road anyway.

The odd layout at J10 may not last much longer, but it was deliberately created to allow the motorway to serve as a northern bypass for Fareham, without other traffic exploiting the junction so they can use Wickham Road to gain direct access to the town centre. This still happens to an extent, with a heavily used crossover point in the dual carriageway allowing Portsmouth-north Fareham movements.

Even so, the highly specific nature of the junction and random burst of dual carriageway leads to claims that more was planned for the A32, although these are unsubstantiated. In any case, the long straight dual carriageway with various side-turnings has a poor accident record, and is mostly painted down.

Speaking of M27 J10, the official name of this complex was (during construction) Roche Court Interchange. That name fell out of favour, and online databases recently suggested the name North Hill Interchange, which is now what most people go for.

Onwards To Wickham

Hunt members, beagles and bystandersA hunt gathering outside the Old Vine (1901, library photo)

The road to Wickham was regarded as dangerous, mainly because of highwaymen. The motorway forms a social boundary for Fareham, and only now is it starting to be penetrated. North of here is much more rural.

Pook Lane, which now has a slightly diverted course, formed an alternative and undesirable route to Fareham for people not wishing to use the turnpike. Roche Court is a 13th Century property that is now heavily modified and used by Boundary Oak School.

The area here is mostly old chalk and clay pits. In the 1980s, the road was straightened, with the old alignment surviving as Chalk Lane, now served by the Knowle Roundabout which was built in the 2000s as part of the development on the site, that was accessed off Mayles Lane.

The Old Vine Pub - now a house - dates back to the 18th Century and is situated on Crocker Hill and is sadly best known for the murder which occurred there in 1924, when the landlord shot himself and his family.

Crossing in to Wickham, the road becomes Hoad's Hill, gained houses in the 1930s. Much of this hasn't changed, although the three-lane climbing hill arrangement isn't set to last for much longer. Until the 1980s, the road met what was the A333 Fareham Road at an angled junction. Much of Wickham grew in the 1980s. There were plans to signalise the Southwick Road junction, but these never materialised.

From here onwards, the A32 once continued to High Wycombe. Despite its important-sounding number, this doesn't ever appear to have been a trunk road.