Shirley is a district on the Western side of Southampton, England. Shirley's main roles are retailing and residential. It is the most important suburban shopping area in the west of the city. Housing is a mixture of council houses in the centre of the district surrounded by private housing, with larger suburban houses concentrated in Upper Shirley. Shirley is separated from Highfield by Southampton Common, a large green park-like area which sees many dog-walkers and joggers.
Shirley is recorded as a manor with a mill in the Domesday book, 1086. Shirley Mill originally stood to the east of the present Romsey Road / Winchester Road junction, at the confluence of the Hollybrook and Tanner's Brook streams. Shirley Mill had three large ponds, to the north of Winchester Road. Only one of those three mill ponds remains today, accessible by following the Lordswood Greenway. In the nineteenth century an iron works was built, which was converted into a brewery in 1880 and subsequently into a laundry at the beginning of the 20th Century. The laundry was owned by Royal Mail and used to service the mail ships visiting Southampton.
The outflow from the mill was crossed by a ford on the Romsey Road. The stream is presently culverted under the major traffic junction which presently stands there, and continues to the Test to the east of modern Tebourba Way, open in parts and culverted in others.
The district grew rapidly in the 1830s following the enclosure of Shirley Common (not to be confused with Southampton Common) in 1829. The parish church was built in 1836. The Shirley Local board of health was established in 1853. It merged with Freemantle in 1880. Shirley and Freemantle Urban District Council was formed on 2nd Jan 1895 but was abolished on 8 November 1895 when the district became a suburb of Southampton.
In 1887 a drinking fountain was constructed to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Originally in Shirley High Street, the fountain has now been incorporated into the shopping precinct. The fountain is Grade II listed.
The council estate was built in the 1960s to replace relatively dense terraced housing.