Millbrook station was opened in 1861. Until the 1930s it was on the shore but with the construction of the New (now Western) Docks it is now a third of a mile (0.5km) from the tidal River Test. Before the reclamation and opposite the end of Foundry Lane, Millbrook Wharf together with a hard could be accessed by a bridge over the canal and later by a level crossing over the railway. As a consequence of the extensive mud flats on the north bank of the River Test, this wharf was the only place where a boat could land between the town of Southampton and Redbridge. The wharf was subsumed by the New Docks and the level crossing was closed in 1935.
In passing the station on the north side, the line of the canal ran along a strip of land between Millbrook Road and high water mark. In the 1960s, Millbrook Road was dualled and the westbound carriageway occupies the bed of the canal for nearly 500 yards (450m). Then the canal turned to the south-west following the high tide line, reaching today’s railway footbridge at Millbrook Point along the line of the rail track entering the Freightliner depot.
From Millbrook Station to Millbrook Point the railway was built on the then foreshore rather than the canal.
Millbrook Point to Redbridge Station
At the footbridge over the railway at the end of Millbrook Point Road, the canal left the shoreline for the first time since Blechynden Terrace to cut off the marshy point. Today all of Millbrook Point is buried under a water treatment works. To begin with the courses of the canal and original railway are coincident but slowly diverge so by the time they reach Tanners Brook the canal course is about 50 feet (15m) north of the railway. In 1964 the then Hampshire River Board found part of the brick arch more than six feet wide as far as could be seen whereby the brook passed under the canal. It was puddled with blue clay but was later filled in with concrete as part of work on a flood relief scheme.
West of Tanners Brook, the canal ran alongside the high water mark to the north of the later railway through part of what is now a series of post-war trading estates. This section of the canal can just be made out on the aerial view of the graving dock shown below. The line of the canal crosses the railway about 500 yards (460m) north-west of Tanners Brook to follow the former tide line around Redbridge Point to Redbridge itself. This was to avoid digging a cutting across a ridge of higher ground through which the later railway line was excavated.
At the Redbridge end of this section the London & South Western Railway bought Redbridge Wharf in 1880 and established its Permanent Way Works. These eventually included a plant to creosote sleepers, the wood for which arrived by sea until the 1980s. Over the years, a number of other works were established nearby and many were provided with sidings, some of which were built over the bed of the canal eventually destroying about 500 yards of it. Until the 1960s, the remains of the canal survived from the railway crossing north-west of Tanners Brook for about 750 yards towards Redbridge. Between 1963 and 1965, the Docks Board filled in most of this section when reclaiming the mudlands. In May 1966, the Southampton Auxiliary Fire Service pumped dry the last remaining section of about 100 yards so that it could be examined and measured. There is now no trace of the canal or even Redbridge Point which have both been buried below the Prince Charles Container Port.
Redbridge Station to the Andover Canal
The line of the canal reaches the railway line immediately to the east of the eastern end of the platforms of Redbridge station. On the north side of the railway, a short, reed-filled depression between the end of the eastbound platform and the houses is the only remaining portion of the Southampton Arm still ‘visible’.
The line of the canal now runs in a northward direction immediately west of Oak Close and then follows the line of a fence/hedge to Old Redbridge Road. Crossing that road, the line passes close to the north-east corner of the easternmost block of flats called Clover Nooke. The line then arcs out onto the adjacent slip-road before leaving it by the pedestrian crossing east of the roundabout. The canal‘s course then swings around the south side of the roundabout. A portion of the canal here remained until after the Second World War. Swinging north again the line passes under the flyover, across the forecourt of the truck garage and then along the wide verge on the south-west side of Gover Road. It seems that this section of the canal was infilled when the road and bungalows along here were built in the 1930s.
At the northern end of Gover Road, the Southampton & Salisbury Canal joined the Andover Canal having passed under a bridge carrying Test Lane. The latter waterway was converted into a railway in the 1860s. On the Southampton Arm, near the junction, there would probably have been some form of stop lock or gate so that in the event of water loss from one of the canals, it would be possible to prevent the other canal also losing water. There would also have been a bridge carrying the towing path on south side of the Southampton Arm over the Andover Canal whose towing path was on the west bank. These features were probably destroyed when the railway was constructed.