SHIPBUILDING was an integral part of life in this corner of Southampton for well over a century.

There had already been shipyards in Woolston when John I Thornycroft & Company chose it as the site of its new base in 1904.

The company merged with Vosper & Co in 1966 to form Vosper Thornycroft, and the factory became a familiar sight for generations of Sotonians and an employer for thousands of residents until the decision to close it and relocate to Portsmouth ten years ago.

Since then the factories have been knocked down, and work has started on the £500 million Centenary Quay development which takes up most of the former factory site.

The Centenary Quay project at the former shipyard is the city’s biggest new development and hundreds of flats and houses have shot up since work started on the site in 2010.

When it is complete, the site will contain more than 1,600 homes, restaurants, cafes, offices and businesses as well as a new Morrisons supermarket.

But a 3.49 hectare site still lies empty – and there are now hopes it will become the base for a revitalised city shipbuilding industry.

The site, which is currently being marketed by Savills, already has planning permission for three large buildings to be used for boat production.

US superyacht builder Palmer Johnson had previously been lined up to move on to the site, but that collapsed during the global financial downturn.

But bosses at Poole-based superyacht giant Sunseeker told the Daily Echo earlier this year they had looked at the site, although there are no imminent plans for the move.

The firm, which builds yachts as long as 155ft and which retail for up to £22 million, employs 2,300 staff at its Poole site, which would be unaffected by a new factory.

When contacted about the site by the Daily Echo, Sunseeker said there was “no update”.

Labour city council leader Simon Letts had previously said his team would do “anything we can” to bring Sunseeker to Southampton.

The site is being jointly marketed by estate agents Savill and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

A spokesman for the HCA said: “This project provides a really good opportunity for development at an iconic site which forms part of the successful Centenary Quay project which is already delivering strong interest in new homes for people in Southampton.”

And Cllr Letts added: “Southampton leads the way in the UK and is at the heart of the Solent marine and maritime economy.

“We seek to champion the city as the home of this sector; it’s fundamental to the city’s success that we promote our natural environment and our employment, skills and knowledge assets, to new and existing marine sector markets.”

Anyone interested in the site should contact Martin Hastelow at Savills on 023 8071 3900 or