Bitterne is an eastern suburb and ward of Southampton, Hampshire it derives its name not from the similarly named bird, the bittern, but probably from the bend in the River Itchen; the Old English words byht and ærn together mean "house near a bend" or possibly bita ærn; "house of horse bits", either most likely a reference to Bitterne Manor House. A reference from the late 11th century spells the name Byterne.
The focal point of Bitterne today is the former location of Bitterne Village (and is still occasionally referred to by that name), but the village is predated by the settlement at Bitterne Manor, the site of the original Roman settlement of Clausentum, the forerunner of today's City of Southampton.
Bitterne is not mentioned in the Domesday Book but first appears in a late 11th century entry in the Bishop of Winchester's register as Byterne. This is, however, a reference to Bitterne Manor, not to the settlement known as Bitterne today.
A new estate was built in 1760, known then as Bitterne Grove and today housing St Mary's Independant School. A number of workers' cottages were erected to support the estate and the farming activities at Bitterne Manor and Townhill Park; the cottages were in the Mousehole area of Bitterne. In the 1790s, frequent royal visits to Southampton encouraged a spate of land-buying in the area, and further estates were added to the Bitterne area, including Ridgeway, Sydney Farm and Midanbury Lodge. Townhill Park House was also built around this time, and Chessel House was built in 1796 by David Lance. Aware that access to his land was poor, Lance encouraged the building of a bridge over the River Itchen linking Bitterne Manor to Northam, and another bridge over the River Hamble at Bursledon, with a road linking the bridges meeting another new road, to Botley, at the location known as the centre of today's Bitterne. Construction of this new road and the bridges was completed in 1801. Although this new junction on an important communications route would eventually stimulate the growth of Bitterne Village, an account of 1826 mentions only the estate houses and not any hamlet or collection of cottages.
The station was opened in March 1866 as Bitterne Road railway station. The station itself is located a mile west of Bitterne village, although original plans for the railway line would have seen the railway pass right through the centre of the village.
The line was originally single-track between St Denys and Fareham, with Bitterne acting as a "crossing station", where trains travelling in opposite directions could pass one another. There were three crossing stations on this stretch, with Netley and Swanwick being the other two.
By the 20th Century, Bitterne Village was swallowed up by fast expanding Southampton. During the 1950s, Bitterne underwent extensive renovation, with the destruction of Victorian cottage housing areas to be replaced with flats and estates on the old farm land.
During the 1980s, work was carried out to bypass the bottleneck of the main high street by looping the A3024 from the top of Lances Hill eastwards through some of the poorer housing to a new junction with the Hedge End road and demolishing the old post office. This enabled the pedestrianisation of the old high street.
YOU WILL NEED TWEEZERS
PLEASE BECAREFUL AS THERE MAY BE A SMALL AMOUNT OF BROKEN GLASS NEAR THE GLASS RECYCLING BIN