Nick Saunders ‘A brief History of New Milton’.
From Domesday to the present day.
The November meeting of the Society was addressed by Nick Saunders who took as his subject ‘A brief History of New Milton – from Domesday to the present day’ which with the use of a series of maps, drawings and photographs provided a most interesting and informative talk.
Milton is mentioned in the Domesday Book (1087) as are many other locations in the surrounding area. John Speed’s map of 1610, clearly shows the location of the village. By 1811, familiar roads are beginning to be discerned and the OS map of 1872, reveals more details showing the church, the cluster of cottages, shops, inns and farms. The church, dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, is first recorded in the late 13th century as a chapel served by Christchurch Priory. The oldest surviving part is the tower, late 16th century, but it was substantially rebuilt in 1831-2 providing a pleasing modernised Georgian interior. The many houses, cottages, shops and inns mainly date from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Bournemouth Direct Line constructed between 1883 and 1888 cut through the agricultural land north of the village of Milton. This uninhabited area soon drew the attention of building speculators who laid out roads and began the construction of both residential and commercial properties which saw the birth of an entirely new settlement. The line between Brockenhurst and Bournemouth was of major importance but had been built with great difficulty due mainly to the wet, sticky yellow and blue clays which made up the area around Sway and Hordle. During construction, land slippage was endemic and little use could be made of machinery. The working conditions were pitiable and the clay clung to the navvies’ clothing and tools which made them look as if they had been working in treacle. This soon gave rise to saying the men must have been working in treacle mines. Tragically, several of these ‘excavators’ died or were badly injured during the construction.
The name New Milton was adopted to distinguish it from the ‘old’ village. The name change was due to Mrs Newhook who obtained permission from the postal authorities to rename her business as ‘New Milton Sub-Post Office:’ the ‘New’ distinguished it from the Milton sub-post office in the original village. In 1897 the L&SW railway followed suit and renamed the station, adding ‘for Barton-on-Sea and Milford-on-Sea,’ a clear plug for the anticipated resort status. Construction continued apace and by the turn of the century the rudiments of a commercial town had been built, largely on the western side of what became Station Road. The Milton Hotel (now demolished) was built near the station and provided decent accommodation and in the village which became known as Old Milton the old George was replaced by a much grander building in 1905 (it remains but no longer a hostelry). The National School built at the junction of Lymington Road and Old Milton Road remained until 1931. Several large houses were converted into private schools and in 1900 the West Hants Water Company built the water tower, which is still functioning.
Both World Wars had a direct impact on the town. During World War I, Barton Court Hotel was converted into a convalescent home for Indian troops. A memorial obelisk, erected in 1917, stands in Barton-on-Sea recording their presence and their sacrifice. World War II brought hostilities closer to home. The town suffered three aircraft attacks, when in total 30 civilians were killed.
Between the wars, development and change continued apace. Station Road was improved and the area to the west developed with businesses and housing reaching down to Old Milton.
Following World War II New Milton extended into Ashley, where the large secondary school was opened in 1939. Bungalow development swamped most of the remaining open spaces in Barton-on-Sea. Today the original Milton is hardly distinguishable to either the resident or the casual visitor.
This talk was much enjoyed by members and visitors and was a fitting conclusion to the first half of the winter programme. The next meeting of the Society will be held on Friday, 29 January when the speaker will be Dr Cheryl Butler whose subject is ‘Itchen Ferry Village’ which will the area of the River Itchen which was important both locally and nationally. Visitors are always welcome.