Seven things you probably didn't know about Bath Road
Published 21:46 on 14 Jun 2022
- Spurred by plans for the platinum Bath Road street party, the road's longest resident and club member, Julia Oakley, became a historical sleuth. What were the stories behind the rural lane's transformation to today's residential road? Her months of research was revealed to all at the recent street party. Here Ben Oakley provides seven new insights.
- 1. It's
a long way to Warblington with a coffin. Newcomers trying to find Bath
Road for the first time often turn into the adjacent Warblington Road. This
former track used to be known as 'Coffin Lane' as the most direct route to
burials at Warblington Church across the fields.
2. A chapel pulpit ends up in the Millpond. As you enter Bath Road, you immediately pass the United Reformed Church (built 1929). A local preacher named Olivia Holloway (along with others) wanted to avoid the long trek along Coffin Lane and having to pay pew rents at Warblington Church, so in 1808 they set up their own congregational group Chapel in her Nile Street home.
Traditionalists were not impressed and she faced hostility including objectors breaking into the chapel and taking the pulpit and dumping it in the millpond. After marrying a vicar she moved away. The Nile Street room became no longer sufficient and the Bath Road Church became the new location. This nationwide 'United Reformed' denomination claims to have been the first to ordain women (1917).
3. The German Luftwaffe finds Bath Road (1943). The former fields at the top of the road were developed into housing in the late 1920s. However, at least two of these properties (nos. 5 & 6) were destroyed by a bomb in 1943.
4. The Bath Rd. brickworks, a place with more than mud. With the increased building in the town, an unknown entrepreneur struck a rich bed of clay halfway down the road. The former brickworks dominated the fields and was eventually sold in 1910 for housing. Now the row of Brickfield Cottages (26-35 Bath Road) - where the road is at its narrowest - and part of Watersedge Gardens (built in 1968) are the legacy.
5. The UK's first Sailing School (1959). From small seeds large companies grow. Just before Creek End was built Crab Searle placed a caravan in the field to the west of Bath Road and kept his new sailing school boats in an Emsworth boat yard (in King Street). In 1963 he purchased what is now 59 Bath Road and built a two-story building that later (in the 1980s) with new owners became the nascent Sunsail holiday company. The school building has since been rebuilt but Sunsail at Port Solent continues.
6. The bathing house and its hot water furnace (1810-1895). Two families tried to make a living from a commercial bathing enterprise in part of our ESC clubhouse.
At a time when public baths and wash-houses facilities were the only way of the public keeping clean, these families tried to make a living from a unique facility: hot water lounging at ESC. They had two indoor hot water baths with an associated furnace and plumbing somewhere in our building.
Later they converted the oyster bed that lay just offshore to a tidal bathing lake. The business did not take off perhaps not helped by a public health Act in 1846 encouraging local authority provision of baths. Our 'bathing house road' name stuck largely because these bathing buildings were the first in the lane in the 1830s.
7. Imagine if the Millpond wall was like Fisherman's Walk. It was so up until 1927. Early pictures show a rounded ridge of shingle and earth to contain the millpond and it was only through the generosity of a council leader who donated funds to build a masonry structure that we have the promenade and the sailing facility for youngsters that we know so well today.