|Follow the A326, Marchwood and Hythe
bypass down the Waterside and you will eventually arrive at Fawley which
is more or less dwarfed by the Exxon oil refinery that sits on the
western side of Southampton water. This is a huge complex that began
life in 1922 as the AGWI refinery in 1950 it was greatly enlarged to
become the Esso refinery.
As a youngster I was taken all over the refinery by my father who worked there for 39 years as a pipefitter and I was shown the cracker plants and taken up on top of the tanks. Today though with strict security in place even the local foxes have to have a pass!!
The refinery itself was built so that it could be hidden from the road and the residential areas by a belt of trees but you still know it is here with the low deep sounds and the occasional bad smell emitting form it.
The building of the refinery was met with a lot of opposition as they local people did not want such a hazardous place being their neighbour, but what helped to win them around was that it would mean a huge employer for the village as well as the surrounding towns and villages. Holbury and Blackfield became thriving communities and are still expanding with new people moving into the area to work here.
Still remembered though is the beautiful estate and manor of Cadland that stood here as home to the Drummonds a Scottish banking family which was established in the 18th century but the refinery encroached onto the land an both the house and the estate were demolished though the name still lives on. But not to be deterred the family built another house on a part of the Stanswood estate in 1930 on what was the foundations of an old fishing lodge, and renamed it Cadland House.
Cadland House encapsulates the original orné designed by Henry Holland in 1775 as a fishing cottage overlooking the Solent. In the 19th century the house was enlarged and walled gardens were added. In 1916 the house burnt down but was rebuilt in 1935 and Capability Brown's pleasure ground ws restored to its former glory, after the big storms of 1987 and 1990
One of the most respected personages who live in Fawley was Dr Eric Jones-Evans who came to the village in 1922 and as a young physician used to visit his patients on horseback as the majority of them lived in isolated areas of the New Forest around Fawley. Dr Jones-Evans passed away aged 92 in the 1980s.
Eaglehurst is another large house rectangular house that is mostly of one storey with a slate roof,that has commanding views over The Solent to the Isle of Wight and its most famous residence was Marconi (see Calshot).
It also has an entrance flanked by Doric columns of with a plain parapet. Two towers of two stories wi th embattle parapets on garden front. The house was to have been the home of Queen Victoria but instead she chose Osborne House on the Isle Wight. In the grounds can be found what is known as Luttrell's Tower which was named after Simon Temple Luttrell who was of Irish blood and a former owner of Eaglehurst. The Tower also known as Eaglehurst Tower, was built c 1780 and is a large yellow bricked rectangular building of three storeys and a cellar with a lead roof and a parapet which is embattled and a Gothic cornice below.
All along this bit of Coastline there is a history of smuggling and it is said that Luttrell's Tower is connected to some nearby caves by and underground passageway and that in Spratsdown which is still locally known as Lazy town smuggling was a favourite pastime because the inhabitants were said to rise early.
Marconi sent out his first radio signals from Luttrell's Towers to his yacht Electra which was at anchor in Cowes Roads
Fawley Parish Church is dedicated to All Saints and part of it date back to the Normans and like Dibden Church it was hit in the Second World War and a bombing raid in November 1940 but it has been carefully rebuilt to its former glory. The other "entertainment" in the village is its two pubs The Jolly Sailor and The Falcon, and it is said that on VE night in 194 5 the local lads got hold of the village policeman and lifted him up by his ankles and filled his trousers with beer, and the only thing he could say was 'No lads stand me the right way up'!!