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Boundaries, landscape and communications of Overton

Overton parish 1894

This article describes how the Anglo-Saxon manor of Overton included the valley of the River Test for habitation, pasture and mills as well as chalk downland for arable crops, woodland and heath.

Routes through the parish included the Harrow Way, a Neolithic era track, a Roman road on the northern boundary, the main east-west route, which became the preferred coach road from London to Exeter, and a north- south route connecting Winchester and Newbury.

Coach traffic declined almost immediately after the opening of the London to Southampton railway and Micheldever Station in 1840. Overton Station, on the line from London to Exeter, opened in 1854.

The article traces how people travelled, on foot, by bicycle, bus and car in succeeding generations and continues with a summary of communication by post, telegraph and telephone.

Several estimates of the population of Overton prior to the first census are reviewed. In 1801, the population of the parish was 1,130 and there were 230 houses.  The population grew rapidly until 1841 when it began to decline by outward migration which coincided with loss of agricultural jobs and the closure of the silk mill.

By 1901, the population had been restored to the 1841 level with increasing industrial employment at Portals paper mills. It has risen in every decade since, with increasing numbers of people commuting to work outside the parish. The population was 4,315 in 2011.

With the fall in average household size, the numbers of houses doubled between 1911 and 1951, doubled again by 1991 and stood at 1,863 in 2011.

VCH Overton Team

Content derived from research undertaken as part of the Victoria County History project