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Andover is a town in the Englishmarker county of Hampshire. The town is situated on the River Antonmarker some 18.5 miles (30 km) west of the town of Basingstokemarker, 18.5 miles (30 km) north-west of the city of Winchestermarker and 25 miles (40 km) north of the city of Southamptonmarker. Andover is twinned with the towns of Redon in France, and Gochmarker in Germany. It has also been more recently twinned with Andover, Massachusettsmarker.


Early history

Andover's first mention in history is in 950 when King Edred is recorded as having built a royal hunting lodge there. In 962 King Edgar called a meeting of the Saxon 'parliament' (the Witenagemot) at his hunting lodge near Andover.

Of more importance was the baptism, in 994 of a Viking king named Olaf (allied with Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard). The identity of that man was either Olav Trygvason or Olof Skötkonung. The baptism was part of a deal with King Ethelred II of England (“The Unready”) whereby he stopped ravaging England and returned home. Olav Tryggvason became king of Norwaymarker in 995 and tried to convert his country to Christianity before his death in battle in 1000. Olof Skötkonung was already king of Swedenmarker and became its first Christian king and began c. 995 to mint Sweden's first coins with the help of English expertise.

At the time of the Domesday Book (1086) Andover had 107 male inhabitants and probably had a total population of about 500. It was quite a large settlement by the standards of the time. (Most villages had only 100 to 150 people). Andover also had 6 watermills which ground grain to flour.

In 1175 King Richard I sold Andover a charter granting the townspeople certain rights, forming a merchant guild which took over the government of the town. The members elected two officials called bailiffs who ran the town. In 1201 King John gave the merchants the right to collect royal taxes in Andover themselves. In 1256 Henry III gave the townspeople the right to hold a court and try criminals for offences committed in Andover. Andover also sent MPs to the parliaments of 1295 and 1302-1307. The town was ravaged by two serious fires, one in 1141 and another in 1435.

Andover remained a small market town. Processing wool appears to have been the main industry and street names in the area of the town known as “Sheep Fair” commemorate this. A weekly market, and an annual fair were held.

As well as the Church of St Mary the town had a priory and a hospital run by monks, dedicated to St John the Baptist, and also a lepers hostel to St Mary Magdalene. In 1538 during the Reformation Henry VIII closed the priory and the hospital. In 1571 a free school for the boys of Andover was established. This in time became Andover Grammar School, and is now John Hanson Community School. (Which has since been demolished and rebuilt not far from two primary schools in the town. The site which was once John Hanson, now acts as a housing district.)

In 1599 the town received a new charter from Elizabeth I. The merchants guild was made a corporation and the number of annual fairs was increased from one to three. Like other towns Andover suffered from outbreaks of plague. There were outbreaks in 1603-5, 1625-6 and 1636.

18th and 19th century

During the 18th century, being situated on the main ExetermarkerSalisburymarkerLondonmarker road Andover became a major stopping point on the stagecoach routes, more than 30 stagecoaches passing through the town each day. In 1789 a canal to Southamptonmarker was opened, though this was never a commercial success and closed in 1859. Andover was linked to Basingstoke and thus to London by railway when the Andover junction station was opened on 3 July 1854; this railway also linking the town to Salisbury. The town was also linked by railway to Southampton, built on the bed of the canal, but this was closed down in 1964. The land, together with the adjacent gasworks and P. M. Coombes woodyards, was then sold to the TSB Trust Company who later built their headquarters there.

During the 19th century the town acquired all the usual additions, a theatre in 1803, gas street lighting in 1838, a fire station and cottage hospital in 1877, a swimming pool opened in 1885 and a recreation ground opened in 1887. A water company was formed in 1875 to provide piped water to the town and a system of sewers and drains was built in 1899-1902. The public library opened in 1897. Despite this burgeoning of the amenities of the town in 1845 a notorious scandal involving the hardships endured by the inmates of the workhouse led indirectly to reform of the Poor Law Act. The town was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Reform Act 1835.

In 1846, the town came to public attention after an enquiry exposed the conditions in its workhouse. The Andover workhouse scandal brought to light evidence of beatings, sexual abuse and general mistreatment of workhouse inmates by the overseers.

The woollen industry had declined but new industries took its place. "Taskers Iron Works" opened at Anna Valleymarker in 1809 and flourished. Many examples of the machinery produced by Taskers can be seen at the Milestones Museummarker in Basingstoke.

Modern history

The town's largest employer is the Ministry of Defence. RAF Andovermarker was opened on Andover Airfield, to the south of the town, during the First World War and became the site of the RAF Staff College. During the Second World War it was the headquarters of RAF Maintenance Command, and gained a unique place in British history, as the first British military helicopter unit, the Helicopter Training School, was formed in January 1945 at RAF Andovermarker. The airfield is no longer in use although the RAF retains a link to the area through the presence of 1213 Squadronmarker, Air Training Corps. On the departure of the RAF, the Logistics Executive (Army) moved in; this later became the headquarters of the Quartermaster General who was responsible for Army Logistics. In 2001, the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) was formed and Andover became one of its major sites. Plans have recently been published for the bulk of the DLO staff to leave Andover; the site becoming the new home for a single Army Headquarters, replacing those currently at Wilton and Upavon. The Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre is based locally at Amport Housemarker, as is the Army Air Corps Centre and the Museum of Army Flyingmarker at Middle Wallop.

In 1932 Andover gained a new industry when the printers for Kelly's Directory moved to the town. Slowly the town grew from about 11,000 and by 1960 had a population of about 17,000. Due to the fact that already the some of Londoner's were being housed in the first of the council houses / flats being constructed.

In 1951 the Town Council decided it would be a good idea to add fluoride to the drinking water to improve dental health. This provoked a furious public response, and a strong anti-fluoridation campaign started. In the 1958 local elections anti-fluoridation candidates swept the board, turning out many established members, and the idea was dropped.

In 1950s the Borough Council was approached by the Greater London Council to become an overspill town, to build houses and take people and industry relocated from the overcrowded capital. Some contend that had the old Borough Council still been in charge this would never have been agreed. But it was, and in 1961 the plan was drawn up to expand to a population of some 47,000 by 1982, with 9,000 new homes to be built.

The first new council houses were ready by 1954 and by 1981 the population had risen to 51,000. A bypass, industrial estates and a new shopping centre in the town centre, called the Chantry Centre, were all built and the town’s character changed completely. The new council houses proved to be very badly built. It seemed that the local council would have to foot the enormous bill for reconstruction, but after starting legal action against the Greater London Council a settlement was achieved, in which the GLC paid a large sum of money to the local council, which started a programme of refurbishment that finished in 1995.

Major industries include Twinings the tea and coffee firm, Ducal Pine Furniture (until they closed in 2003), Thompson International Publishers, who produce the Pitkin Guides to be found in many churches and other notable buildings, financial institutions such as Simply Health (formerly the HSA) and Scottish Widows Lloyds TSB, and The Stannah Group, whose HQ is also in the town. Unemployment is very low at 1% of the working population and among the proposals in the councils Borough Local Plan 2006are plans to develop the former site of RAF Andovermarker to Class B1, B2 and B8 uses

The Borough Council and Andover Rural District Council were abolished in the local government reorganisation of 1974, and replaced by Test Valley Borough Council, which included the land down to the edge of Southamptonmarker in the south, quite a rural area apart from Andover. Light industry is still the main employer. Situated about 1 hour 20 minutes from London by trainmarker there are also quite a few who commute to the capital to work. The tensions between town and country and the “old” and “new” still exist in some measure, and in the future more expansion is planned. Today the population of Andover is over 52,000 and it is one of four Major Development Areas in Hampshire, identified for large housing growth. Plans are in place to build 2,500 homes to the northeast of the town. Andover is now an unparished area in Test Valley although there is a new drive for a town council to be established as Andover has never had a town or parish council before

The Town Museum, based in the old grammar school, had a Museum of the Iron Age added in 1986 which houses the finds from excavations at nearby Daneburymarker Hill Fort. In 2002 Andover received the first cango bus network. Leisure facilities are improving. The council has recently refurbished the local College auditorium as "Lights", a new live entertainment centre. A new four screen cinema above the recently built Asda supermarket has opened in the town centre.

Mills and milling

Watermills have played an important part in Andover's history. The Domesday Book of 1086 provides the earliest record of watermills in Andover, which identifies eleven mills.

Rooksbury Millmarker is one of the few surviving mill buildings in Andover. The existence of Rooksbury Mill is first recorded by name in the 17th century. Functioning as a flour mill, it has passed through a succession of owners. Milling ceased in the early 20th century, after which the mill building went through a series of uses including being used as a small theatre. Test Valley Borough Council sold the building in 2002, shortly after it had been devastated by fire following an arson attack. The new owners, Anthony and Sarah de Sigley, restored the building in 2003, rebuilding much of the original structure.

Notable people

People born in the town include a pair of notable footballers. Nigel Spackman was a local player who began his career for Andover before moving to AFC Bournemouth. From there, he enjoyed a successful career culminating with winning the English league championship with Liverpool, and numerous Scottish league and cup winners medals with Rangers. Since retiring, he has ventured into club management as well as becoming a television football pundit.

Like Spackman, Bill Rawlings was another Andoverian who began his career at the club. He went on to join Southampton in 1919 where he enjoyed a successful career scoring 175 goals in 327 league appearances (making him their third all-time goalscorer behind Mick Channon and Matthew Le Tissier), as well as earning two England caps in 1922 against Wales and Scotland respectively. He also played for Manchester United and Port Vale.

Lucinda Green, champion equestrian and journalist who won a silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics as well as two world titles, was born in Andover in 1953.

Chris Britton, Ronny Bond, Pete Staples and Reg Presley of The Troggs, a rock band who had a number of hits in Britainmarker and the United Statesmarker such as Wild Thing and Love Is All Around, were all born in Andover, as was Mike Hugg from the band Manfred Mann.

The eminent 19th century surgeon William Morrant Baker was also born in the town. He was best known for describing the condition Baker's cyst as well as being a lecturer, surgeon and governor at St. Bartholomew's Hospitalmarker.

Author and winemaker Cyril Berry lived in the town and served as its mayor in 1972-73.Also the well known singer James Blunt grew up in a small village in Andover called St Mary Bournemarker. James Blunt set to fame in 2005 with his Number 1 single You're Beautiful which stayed at the number 1 spot in the uk for 6 weeks and made him a global phenomenon right across the world and was the first British artist to reach the number 1 spot in America for many years. In 2007 James Blunt's sister was married in the small village of St Mary Bournemarker and was pictured in the local paper Andover Advertiser. James Blunt won two BRIT Awards and two Ivor Novello Awards, and was nominated for five Grammy Awards in 2006. He released his second album All The Lost Souls, in 2007.


Cultural References

See also


  1. Ordnance Survey (2004). OS Explorer Map 131 - Romsey, Andover & Test Valley. ISBN 0-319-23600-5.
  2. Twinnings
  3. Andover Business Park section of Borough Local Plan 2006

External links

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