Langstone Harbour was originally a river valley of one of the tributaries flowing into the then River Solent. With the end of the last ice age sea levels rose until sometime between 4000 and 3500BC the harbour took on the form it would have until the 18th century.
For much of its history the harbour has been an area of salt production. The Domesday Book records three salterns around the harbour and by the early 17th century a saltern at Copnor was well established. Here a large shallow area of the harbour meant that even without further improvement salt could be extracted from the area after each tide. The Copnor saltern ceased production in 1800 but salt production continued elsewhere in the harbour until 1933.
In 1771 Farlington Marshes were reclaimed from the north of the harbour.
Oyster farming began in the harbour around 1820 with Winkle and Clam cultivation probably starting around much the same time. Production ceased in the 1950s. An attempt at Oyster farming in the 1980s soon failed. In 1997 work began to turn the remains into an artificial lagoon. The lagoon which has a small island at the centre has, as planned, become a breeding ground for birds, particularly Little Terns.
During the Second World War the harbour was used as starfish decoy site to misdirect German bombers.
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