TODAY we marvel at the way the city’s skyline is changing as new developments appear and roads change to reflect modern needs. But, it’s always been this way.

During the 1920s and 1930s the town’s layout was modified to accommodate the needs of the then new Civic Centre and the expanding docks.

In the 1940s, new development plans were implemented after the Second World War to repair and replace the damaged homes and businesses.

During the mid 1800s, Southampton underwent changes that dramatically transformed the town.

The Royal Pier was opened in 1833 to support the growing cross channel trade as well as ferries to the Isle of Wight and leisure cruises.

The newly opened original Royal Pier.

The newly opened original Royal Pier.

The railway arrived at a new terminal constructed outside the town across the Marsh.

The docks opened and shipping trade to the Americas rapidly increased.

The Marsh was drained and sold for housing and the money used to purchase the Lammas lands which formed central parks and the Ordnance Survey moved to the town.

In 1836 the Floating Bridge to Woolston began operating, opening up a quicker a route to Portsmouth and Brighton.

The Red Rover on the new road to the Floating Bridge.

The Red Rover on the new road to the Floating Bridge.

The rapidly increasing population of Southampton needed to be housed and this led to new suburbs such as Northam, St Mary’s, St Denys and Bitterne Park.

Various Acts of Parliament were needed to bring about these changes.

The Borough Council was then under pressure to improve the infrastructure of roads and pavements to accommodate the people coming into the town to live.

In a Council Meeting in 1843, it was announced that the Pavement Commissioners - who were responsible for the town’s infrastructure - intended to apply for an Act of Parliament to effect improvements in the town which would include a schedule of properties that would be affected.

One of the new roads.

One of the new roads.

It was planned that all private sewers and roads would be brought under the Council’s control, roads would be widened and improved and new roads built. This included a road from the Long Rooms along the shore to Four Posts where the Central Station is today.

Other roads were to be widened and extended and new sewers constructed.

The Act was passed on July 19, 1844 with the title “An Act for paving, lighting, draining, cleansing and otherwise improving the Town of Southampton and for removing and preventing Nuisances and Annoyances therein.”

The last part of the Act was interesting in that the behaviour of the townsfolk of Southampton had been governed from medieval times by the rules contained in the famous Oak Book of Southampton and more recently disputes and nuisances addressed and remedied through the Court Leet.

Woodcut print of Southampton in 1844.

Woodcut print of Southampton in 1844.

This new Act was specific about how it expected the townsfolk to behave and care for the infrastructure and included details of action to be taken by those who did not comply.

These new by-laws covered such matters as the operation of the Hackney Carriages and fares as well as matters of safety including insisting that any pot or flower box put at the upper window of a house had to be secured.

Anyone bathing in the sea or the seashore after 10 o’clock in the morning had to use a machine or tent.

People should not litter or pollute the streets or waterways and should ensure that livestock caused no offence.

Burning of rags or the storing of offensive materials had to be further than 100 yards from a dwelling.

The newly constructed railway station.

The newly constructed railway station.

So the extensive list went on with a fine of 40 shillings imposed on those who did not comply.

The Act insisted that all carts, wagons, drays, hand carts etc should have the name of the owner displayed.

Coffee houses and pubs were also subjected to strict rules especially with regards to drunkenness, gambling and prostitution with fines of £10 imposed for miscreants.

The Act and its by-laws were designed to make life better for Sotonians and to make moving around the town far easier.

The new road along the Western Shore.

The new road along the Western Shore.

Southampton was changing from a sleepy rural backwater to becoming the modern international city we know today.

Godfrey Collyer is a tour guide with .