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A33 - Main Road through the Villages

A33 - Main Road through the Villages

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The Popham to Winchester Road

The place name Stratton comes from the Latin ‘via strata’ meaning a paved way and indicates that a settlement is on, or near, a Roman road. The villages of East and West Stratton are located east and west of the Roman road between Venta Belgarum (Winchester) and Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester).  .

By the middle of the 18th century the old Roman road from Winchester to Silchester, passing through the Parish, was little more than a track, its stone robbed out over the centuries for other purposes. The route was often impassable and dangerous to travel on for fear of robbers.

In 1756 a Draft Agreement was drawn up between the local gentry for the construction of a road, using local labour, from Popham to Winchester. In 1759 Parliament passed the necessary Turnpike Act enabling the road to be built and a ‘toll’ to be levied for using the road.  Goods wagons and passenger coaches travelled the road in relative safety changing horses at the Wheatsheaf Inn and Lunways (formerly the New Inn).

In 1836, five passenger coaches were operating on the route, the Independent, Eclipse, Quicksilver, Alpha and Telegraph. The coaches were operated by large London firms running coaches to destinations throughout the country. The coaches carried four passengers inside, up to eleven outside and charged 5d per mile. The fare from London to Southampton was about £4.

The arrival of the railways in 1840 heralded the end of the toll road as, almost overnight, passenger and goods traffic transferred to the faster cheaper transport. The toll road struggled on for a few years catering for those who feared rail travel and by providing a local service. The Turnpike Trust was finally wound up in 1845 and Mr Chapman, who ran the ‘Independent’ with 115 coaches, became Chairman of the London & South West Railway.

The old toll road saw a revival in 20th century with the invention of motorised transport and was reborn again as the A33. During the Second World War, older residents recall seeing the road full of military vehicles carrying troops and equipment to ports on the south coast in preparation for the D Day landings.

By the last quarter of the 20th century road transport had overtaken rail transport and road transport on the A33 had exceeded the roads capacity. In the mid 1980s construction began on the section of the M3 motorway between Popham and Winchester, dissecting the Parish through Micheldever wood, and running parallel with, and to the east of, the A33. The route passes along the western side of Stratton Park cutting off Winchester, Middle and London Lodges from the park.

Archaeological excavations carried out before construction of the M3, revealed bronze age, iron age and Roman habitation along the route including a 2km section of Roman road on the western edge of Stratton Park. The 18th century Turnpike, A33, M3 and remains of the Roman road in Stratton Park mark 2000 years of road construction in the Parish.

Pat Craze                                                                                                                              2011

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