A History of Fratton, Portsmouth

By Tim Lambert

Early Fratton

In the 6th century, the Saxons landed on Portsea Island. At that time most of it was marshy but the Saxons built a settlement in the middle of the island. It was called Frodda ing tun, which means the tun (farm or village) belonging to Frodda. In time the name changed to Froddington, then to Frodtone, to Frotton and finally to Fratton.

Fratton was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. At that time Fratton was called Frodintone and it belonged to William de Waren. Fratton was a small village with a population of around 100, perhaps less. The villagers lived in simple wooden huts and they farmed the fields around the village. A Church dedicated to St Mary existed by the 12th century and possibly long before then.

In 1665 a tax was placed on hearths (fireplaces). At that time Fratton was still a tiny village with a population of no more than about 100 people. In Fratton 3 people only had 1 hearth. (Poor people often lived in huts with just 1 or 2 rooms). All 3 people were exempt from paying the tax because of their poverty.

Fratton was still a village separate from Portsmouth in 1800. However, in 1847 a railway was built by the village and a railway station opened in Fratton.

Before then St Marys Road was called Dead Man’s Lane (because of the graveyard attached to St Marys Church) but it gradually took on its modern name. In the 1870s and 1880s, the city of Portsmouth was growing rapidly. Fratton became built up and it ceased to be a village and became part of the city. Meanwhile, in the 1880s St Mary’s Church was rebuilt.

Modern Fratton

The Carnegie Library in Fratton was built in 1906 and Fratton Road was widened in 1929. The Electric Arms pub was built in 1924. The Trafalgar Arms pub was built in 1926.

Then during the Second World War Fratton was hit by several bombs. Fratton railway station was hit by bombs in December 1940. Meanwhile, Lincoln Road and Olinda Street were hit in August 1940. So was St Marys Road. Penhale Road was hit in November 1940. Fifth Street was hit in August 1943.

After World War II an industrial estate was built in Fratton in 1946-48. A shopping centre, The Bridge Centre, opened in Fratton in 1989. A new superstore opened at the Bridge Centre in 2001. Today the population of Fratton is about 15,000.