Hum Hole, Facebook and urban legends

image 1 February 2015 I’m not a great fan of Facebook. In fact, I resisted it for a very long time but, working in marketing for Dream Factory, the day came when I could resist no longer because I was put in charge of the company Facebook page. This meant I had to sign up for myself. These days I run a Facebook walking page, Walking Is Exercise Too and, recently, I discovered another very interesting page, Southampton Heritage Photos. Lately, there’s been a lot of talk on there about Hum Hole. Several people mentioned there used to be aircraft burged in Hum Hole back in the war. Some said the aircraft had crashed there, others that it was used as a dumping ground for planes that had been shot down. This may be true, although I’ve not been able to find anything about it online but, when someone posted that there was still a large part of an aircraft, sticking out of the ground by the path, I was pretty sure this wasn’t the case. After all, I walk through there a lot and I’m certain I would have noticed something like that. Anyway, just in case I was wrong, I decided to give the area a thorough examination on Sunday morning.

The entrance to Hum Hole
The entrance to Hum Hole

Hum Hole is fairly close to my house so it was hardly what you would call a long walk to get there, just across the Main Road and up the hill a little way beside the bypass. When I was a child this was a much larger area of woodland, leading down from what I believe was a bomb site on Lances Hill (otherwise known as the Big Hill), right down to Glenfield Avenue where my first school was. Bomb sites were common in my childhood and this was one of three in the area close to my house. Online there is an Ordance Survey map of the worst two nights of the blitz superimposed on a modern map. It doesn’t show any bombs in that particular area but, of course, there were lots of other bombs on lots of other nights. Below is a section of the map showing the pink ribbon of the new bypass, the green area in the centre which is Hum Hole and just how badly bombed even my little village was.

From the OS map of bombs dropped on 30 November and 1 December 1940
From the OS map of bombs dropped on 30 November and 1 December 1940

With the building of the bypass the bomb site was turned into a car park, several houses were demolished and a road cut through a large swathe of Hum Hole. Thankfully, some of it was preserved and today you have a choice of steps or slope to walk down into the dip. On Sunday I stood at the top and looked carefully around for any sign of aircraft parts. There were none.

No planes here
No planes here

image Slowly, I walked down the slope, keeping any eye out for large or small pieces of metal as I did. There were broken branches, bits of twig and a small and rather unecessary sign warning the path might be slippery, which could probably be best viewed from the ground after you’d slipped over and were laying on it, but nothing else. When I reached the crossroads of the main trails I turned left towards the place where the steps meet the slope. This leads out onto Glenfield Crescent and the front gate to the school. There was nothing untoward here either.

An unnecessary sign
An unnecessary sign

image Just to be absolutely certain I peered down the grass bank towards the pond. Unless there are aeroplane parts  hidden in the tangle of brambles though, there was nothing there. At this point I had to decide where I was going next. Usually I keep going straight ahead at the bend in the path and walk uphill on the circular trail then come back down the other side, unless I’m on the way to somewhere else. The one path I never take is the short stretch leading to the pond. For a start it’s a dead end, plus the pond is small, overgrown and, sadly, generally full of rubbish. This time, for the sake of thoroughness, I decided to walk up it. As I turned the corner I spotted a clump of daffodils in flower behind a tree. These must be the earliest daffodils I’ve ever seen.

Looking towards the pond
Looking towards the pond
Seriously, on February 1st?
Seriously, on February 1st?

image My childhood memories don’t include a pond, although there was always a stream, and I think this rather unattractive feature was probably added when the bypass was built. It’s a series of concrete triangles with a paved area, a broken seat and a bin that no one appears to use. Personally I’d prefer something more natural and with less empty beer cans. The whole thing makes me want to buy a litter picker and some black bin bags but I’m fairly certain it would be in the same state a week later if I cleaned it up. Still, maybe one day… Feeling a little grumpy, I walked back to the circular path and began to climb. image

It was hard to get a picture with no beer cans
It was hard to get a picture with no beer cans

image The path crosses the stream, which is really more of a trickle at the moment, and goes steeply uphill. As I walked I looked around just in case there were any pieces of World War II aircraft concealed anywhere. There are small trails leading off from time to time, some of which I’ve explored in the past. When I was small some of these led right into the school playground but these days there is a fence dividing Hum Hole from the woods surrounding the school. From the top I looked back down in case I’d missed any planes but all I saw was another warning sign, this one so covered in mud and algae it was almost unreadable.

The tiny stream
The tiny stream

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A side trail
A side trail
The view from the top
The view from the top

Rather than taking the circular path back to the beginning I took one of the two trails that lead off into the woods. These are trails I know well and the one I chose would take me out close to the back entrance of the school. From there I could walk into the village, grab some milk and take the second trail back to the top of the circular path. Luckily it wasn’t too muddy and soon I was passing the familiar garden fences bounding the trail.  Last time I came this way I saw lots of interesting fungi. This time I saw just one, close to the fences, it was large and orangey brown. Something had been eating it. image

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image So, with a four pint carton of milk in my rucksack I set off down the hill to the point where the second trail comes out on the bypass.  If you didn’t know it was there you’d probably never find it. The narrow, slightly muddy trail winds through the trees until it comes out onto the top of the circular path. Here there were trees, rotting logs, lots of brambles but no parts of planes.

The hidden entrance
The hidden entrance

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image I took the path back up to the road and, once I’d crossed the bypass, looked back and tried to remember what it had been like before the new road cut through it. This proved to be  almost impossible but I did know that the triangle of grass and shrubs between the two roads was once part of it and that the car park was where the bomb site once was. In the end I went online and found an old map, which surprised me when I saw how much more of it there was back then. In many ways the bypass was a good thing, it took traffic away from the village and I like the precinct and not having to cross the busy road to get from the supermarket to the butchers. It’s a pity they couldn’t have saved Hum Hole though. image

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A map from the 1960's
A map from the 1960’s

Still, I can now say, with absolute certainty, there are no parts of World War II planes in Hum Hole. There may well have been once but, these days, you’d need a metal detector and even then all you’re likely to find is the odd nut and bolt and an awful lot of beer cans. What I still don’t know is why it’s called Hum Hole. If anyone can enlighten me I’d be very happy.

For anyone who'd like to check it out this is the modern day map showing where the entrances are and a dotted line to show the old path in.
For anyone who’d like to check it out this is the modern day map showing where the entrances are and a dotted line to show the old path in.

 

A little addendum. Someone on the Heritage Page directed me to an article about the planes from the Heritage Gateway. As follows.
A hole was dug by archaeologists at Hum Hole Park in Bitterne, possibly in 1993. Aircraft parts and other items were exposed. These are thought to have been dumped at the site following the post-war redevelopment of a nearby factory. A hole had been dug in Hum Hole, Bitterne, perhaps by treasure hunters. Parts of an aircraft had been exposed. The hole was then further excavated by archaeologists. A pile of airplane components, rubber hoses, a Wellington boot and floor mat were found, all covered in oil. Some large circular components were thought to be exhaust manifolds from a large-engined plane such as a Lancaster. A few pieces that bore serial numbers were retrieved. Enquiries at the Hall of Aviation (museum in Southampton) suggested it was a dump of rubbish from a nearby factory following post-war redevelopment, and of no interest. (There is a local legend of a German plane being brought down in the vicinity.)

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Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

37 thoughts on “Hum Hole, Facebook and urban legends”

    1. I was fairly confident there were no aircraft parts there but at least I’m sure now. As for the daffodils I could hardly believe my eyes.

  1. Ha! You are the first person I’ve encountered who was “forced” to join Facebook because of your job.

    Love the photos, especially the satellite map. My post on Saturday will feature magical names of places we encountered on our tour of the British Isles. I’ll bet you can add some of your own to the list.

    1. Facebook is still a necessary evil as part of my job. As for place names, we have some very funny ones, especially in Devon and Cornwall. Ones that always make me smile are TolPuddle and Piddle Hinton. We also have a place in the New Forest called Sandy Balls 🙂

      1. First of all let me say one thing, jealous, I am not, well that’s not strictly true, envious is perhaps the better word. The ability to describe as you so often do in a way that brings a subject alive always with intrigue or impressive detail, leaves me breathless, yes perhaps I am jealous, for all that I look forward to your post’s.

        You mention “Sandy Balls” now that is something I can talk about, you may not know that this estate once belonged [or leased perhaps] to the National Association of Girls Clubs & Mixed. It was the gateway to my entrance into politics as a member and Chairman of the Hampshire N,A,G.C & Mixed Youth Council, at the age of nineteen,and yes the estate holds memories that perhaps it was better my parents were unaware of, a gang of boys from Swaythling Youth club would arrive by bicycles, riding non stop through the gates down the hill, the winner of the race plunging head first into the river.

        It fell to me, together with a small number of adults to police the huts at night, to stop any “Hanky Panky” Well we tried!

        Many years later as a publican I had been seriously ill, a friend with a caravan insisted that this was the ideal spot to recuperate, and so my wife and I arrived for a little peace and quite, Ill or not on our first night we spent most of it attempting to keep the caravan upright, as it rained “Cats and dogs” and any thing else that nature could throw at us, I had a remarkable recovery returning to the amazement of the caravan’s owner, the following morning.Oh yes I remember it well!

        1. Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad to bring a little smile and some good memories to you. Sandy Balls hold a race each year and Commando and I have been lucky enough to attend once or twice. A lovely place but I imagine those youth club boys were hard work 😉

          1. Have you visited the “Stoneham Shrine” off of Chestnut Avenue, at the end of Stoneham Lane, opposite the pub there is a car park with the shrine visible just above, at first sight there is not much there, passing on the left you will find a path leading to the “Lakes” lovely site, just avoid my mistake, I left covered from top to tail in mud, glorious mud, Agh!

          2. I e been to Lakeside many times but I’ve not seen the shrine. I must make not to check it out next time I go that way. I imagine it’s quite muddy there at the moment but I have stout boots 🙂

  2. So far I’ve been able to avoid Facebook too but I’ve got more and more people telling me that there’s a way to “automatically” have my blog posts appear on it. If I didn’t have to fiddle around with it I might try it, otherwise no thanks.
    That’s a nice little park to have so close to home. It’s a shame your neighbors don’t get together and clean it up and use it more. There are many people in cities that would love to have a place like that to visit, I’m sure.

    1. There is a way to have your posts automatically appear on Facebook and I do exactly that. I also share the odd post on the Herritage page if I think it might be of interest. I’m sure there are people on there and pages about nature that would love your posts.
      The little park is beautiful, apart from the litter. I may have to try to get it cleaned up but it may be a temporary solution as the drunks tend to congregate there in the evenings.

  3. Interestingly when I lived in Octavia Road as a child, before the new houses were built at the end of Monks Way there was a huge aeroplane wheel im the middle of the field.Wondering now how it got there.I remember being told that a large dip in the field at the end of Octavia Road next to the park was a bomb crater.As a kid in the summer when it was not filled with water we would dig out old perfume bottles and jars.Its full of brambles now.Might go and excavate with the kids in summer.

    1. It’s a lovely walk along by Monks Brook but I’ve never seen plane parts there either. I may have to explore further 🙂 there may ha e been a bomb site there, although the blitz map doesn’t show any bombs there. The map only shows the first two nights bombing though so it isn’t conclusive. Interestingly, the highest concentration of bombs was at Bitterne Manor, where the Chessel Bay Nature Reserve is now. Whether they were trying to Hit Northam Bridge or thought the spitfire factory was there remains to be seen but they bombed the hell out of it. My Grandad’s house was nearby and they had an incendiary bomb come through their roof and land in a basket of washing!

  4. I kept hoping you would find plane parts. But the daffodils were a wonderful surprise, so early in the season. Where I grew up there were tons and one of the first blooming flowers. Only we called them jonquils. I love daffodils, especially the completely yellow ones.

  5. Hi Marie, that is impressive that you saw daffodils so early in the year! As well, I am glad to note no plane parts or similar items met you along your way. I had not heard of Hum Hole before so this was truly an adventure for me!

    1. It’s a small place and I think there are a lot of people, even in this village, that don’t know it’s there. Those that do have probably not been there for years.

    1. We have an awful lot of green areas in this city, which is one of the things I like about it. Even the city centre is full of big parks.

  6. Liked your map comparisons, hum hole is an odd name indeed. I too have just joined Facebook I detested it until Christmas but now I see it as a fairly useful tool for some information. Great pictures again.

    1. Facebook can be a useful tool. The Southampton Heritage page has some beautiful photos and lots of interesting local information. It’s interesting to read the memories of other local people and find out about little places I knew nothing about. I still don’t know why it’s called Hum Hole though 🙂

  7. Wow I cannot believe this rumour is still going around. They used to say about this when I was a child. Mind you hum hole never looked like it does now in your photos. I also went to the infant school and junior school in the area. Hum hole was just a woods then. My friends house ( maggie carter) house used be down the hill for it. ( still trying to find maggie carter on Facebook if anyone knows her or any of her family member.)

    1. Hi Tracy. I went to both schools too, back in the 60’s. It has certainly changed since those days but it’s a lot smaller now. I don’t remember Maggie Carter but I hope someone finds her for you.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It seems no one knows why it’s called Hum Hole but it’s always been called that as far as I can tell.

  8. Most years I colect blackberries to make Hum Hole wine.Back in the 60s I would help my Grand mother blackberry picking there.She would make us blackberry and apple pie also jam.

    1. It’s not a bad place to collect blackberries. I saw someone collecting them on the main road the other day and though they probably wouldn’t be very nice with all the traffic.

  9. Hello, there were remains of a crashed aircraft in Hum Hole! They seemed to have been removed when the by-pass was constructed. We played in Hum Hole when we were young, there was a nose cone, parts of the under carriage and other parts I didn’t recognise as a child!
    I remember visiting the Bitterne Historical Centre in Peartree Ave some years ago to ask about it but unfortunately no-one could give me any details.

    1. I used to walk through on my way to school in the early 1960’s. I don’t remember the plane but, being a little girl, I didn’t explore too much. Even me walking through would have given Mother a heart attack if she’d known.

  10. I mentioned this to a few friends who have also lived in Bitterne for some time. A friend knew an elderly gentleman through his work. He gave me the information on the details of the crash. It was a RAF Walrus plane, on the 12th Dec 1939 it clipped the lines of a barrage balloon and crashed down onto Hum Hole/Lances Hill, killing two. It was reported that ignited fuel was running down the hill and it caught a car alight. The bodies of the two RAF personnel were returned to their respective families elsewhere in the UK.

    1. Thank you for the interesting information. My family lived in the area at the time but never talked about this at all. Sadly none of them are still alive to ask but I have found an interesting article about it online. There is a link Including the names of the crew who died.

  11. You can see the list of military air crashes in Hampshire on-line. This crash is listed on there, the ref: no. K8556 can be entered into the National Archives and for a small fee you can see more details.
    An interesting fact is that only one German aircraft crashed within the city limits during WW2.

  12. ok if its a dump the how come part of this so called tips engine flew across the road and made a dent in the bloody oak tree out the back

    1. Ian. I am not saying a plane didn’t crash there. As you will see from the comments, this has been documented. What I’m saying is there are no aircraft parts there today, at least none that I saw. From other information I uncovered, the area was also used as a dump, possibly by the Supermarine Factory. If you have other information, I’d be pleased to hear it.

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