For such a small area – just over a mile long – Calshot Spit has an extremely varied history. This tiny pocket of Hampshire has seen plenty: from Saxon war chiefs to playing an important role in both WWI and WWII.
Used by King Henry VIII as the site for an artillery fort to defend Southampton Water, Calshot Spit saw plenty of action throughout the years, well into the 1900s. As the age of aviation took hold, warfare entered a new era and Royal Naval and Air Force hangars were constructed, adding to the 16th century Calshot Castle.
In 1913, the Royal Naval Air Station opened to support the Royal Naval fleet along the Channel. Winston Churchill visited the site – and made his first flight in a seaplane. Calshot played a pivotal role in both World Wars: defending the channel, training new pilots and boat crews, and repairing and maintaining marine craft. It also participated in both the Dunkirk evacuation and the D-Day landings.
Calshot’s RAF base closed on 1 April 1961. Three years later, Hampshire County Council took over the site and launched their first sailing course. 1965 saw HRH Prince Philip formally open Calshot Activities Centre.
Keen to find out more? Calshot Castle has a must-see exhibition that explores the whole story. Open from Friday 30 March to September, the castle has plenty to learn and discover. It’s ideal for any Hampshire resident looking to learn more about the area’s illustrious history.
Calshot’s café is also worth a visit. With delicious food and stunning views across the Solent, it’s a lovely place to chat, reflect, and relax.
More information about Calshot, the castle, and café.