SOUTHAMPTON LOCAL HISTORY
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Editor John Avery - Southampton Heritage Federation - Southampton Local History Forum - City of Southampton Society - West End Local History Society - Friends of Town Quay Park - Devon Family History Society - Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery - National Federation of Cemetery Friends - Huguenot Society of Britain and Ireland- The Southampton Fryatt Plaque
 
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Sharing some of Southampton's local history and  heritage    
site updated  18th October  2014

There are several amenity and local history groups in the Southampton area.

This site aims to summarise such groups  and to introduce some local speakers who visit schools, clubs and societies with talks re calling our local heritage.

In April 2011 I invited the Mayor Councillor Carol Cunio to unveil a new plaque at the French Garden in Town Quay Park next to the Wool House [at the time used as Southampton's Maritime Museum].

 

 

 

In November 2010 to commemorate the loss of life caused by a heavy air raid 70 years earlier, the recently formed group Friends of Town Quay Park held a tree planting ceremony in the park.Two former residents who had been trapped in one of the bombed houses when they were young siblings were invited to plant the tree. The tree was blessed by the Reverend Tim Daykin of the City Centre Parish. 

 

 

 

I also manage the following websites City of Southampton Society, John Avery Heritage

 

 

I produced a small range of heritage postcards although nowadays most of us communicate by e mail rather than use a postcard. At the height  of the popularity of the postcard a busy housewife would post a card to the butcher or grocer in the morning and ask for her order to be delivered in the afternoon.

This particular card commemorated the Royal Blue Express one of the forerunners of National Express.

Being a Plymouth boy with an uncle who was a driver for the Royal Blues, they bring fond memories of trips to London.                                                                      
top image courtesy Jill Ghanouni lower image courtesy Will Temple
Will Temple treasurer and membership secretary of the Friends of RSH Hospital Chapel manning an information desk at an open day. The chapel built in 1858 was attached to the hospital ward and a gentle slope linked the buildings allowing nurses and patients to enter the chapel. With the old hospital now demolished leaves the problem that access to the chapel is now one floor up. Because of major changes in the structure of the NHS causing funding difficulties for the charity, it was decided to close the charity. A meeting/reception on 9th June 2014  distributed funds to other local charities.
[City of Southampton Society, League of Friends of RSH Hospital, League of Friends Southampton UHT Hospital and Newtown Adventure Playground Support Group [Newtown Youth Centre].



 


 

  


Commemorative tree planted on 30th November 2011 to mark the heavy bombing raid of 1940. The tree was planted by two survivors who had been trapped in a bombed area of what is now known as Town Quay Park. The event was organised by the Friends of Town Quay Park. Afterward a service was held in St Michael's Church conducted by the Reverend Tim Daykin and members of the amateur dramatic group the Sarah Siddons Fan Club gave a re call of wartime and the blitz. [images courtesy Will Temple]
 




 

 

Heritage speakers

 
 

John Avery operates in a 20/25 mile radius of Southampton but occasionally going into more distant locations such as Plymouth.  The talks range from cemetery conservation, Victorian Funeral and Mourning Practices, shipwrecks, Titanic, HMS Thetis [submarine tragedy] and about citizens of Southampton with interesting background.
 
 
Titanic's People
"Many thanks for the lecture which was widely praised"
Dr Henry Will MBE [Ford Park Cemetery Trust April 2012]

"I would like to say many thanks for the very interesting and informative talk you gave at Ford Park Cemetery on Wednesday 25th April"  [Anne Roberts]

"I am pleased to send you a cheque* for the splendid presentation that you gave to us. Thank you also for making your booklets available for purchase. There is so much ‘real’ information in them. I am pleased that I bought a copy."

Barrie Clark [Bitterne Church Men's Group April 2012]

"We all enjoyed today very much (a proper thank-you letter is in the post to you). Thank you very much again".

Robert Long [Probus Southampton North]
 
"Everyone very much enjoyed your talk".  [Stephen Prince Southampton Luncheon Club]
"I began to take an interest in the Titanic about 5 years ago and now watch various TV programmes and attended various talks and lectures. You hit the right spot today and it is the best talk on the subject that has come my way, thanks for making it so interesting" [U3A Chandlers Ford attendee].
 
"Thank you again for your wonderful talk which we all enjoyed so much" [Boldre Historical Society April 2014]

*cheques for this talk are added to donations to Seafarers UK


                                                                                             The Cable Ships of Turnchapel "We were all looking forward to this talk. several of use served  aboard or worked on cable ships in the dockyard. We were not disappointed and it brought back many memories. Please come back with another talk next year." [Ian Denton, ex deck officer John W. Mackay, secretary Plymouth branch WSS]
"As usual your talks bring a lively response from the audience and the questions and answers were just as interesting as the talk itself" [Bill White Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society]

The Thetis Widows

"The presentation was excellent. The facts tumbled from your mouth without any apparent effort or unsureness……… your talk was amongst the top three given to us in the last 15 years  Thank you."

"I was a member of your audience but had to rush away before I had a chance to speak to you after the talk. You were too popular and I had other commitments.

As an ex RN Submariner I was delighted to get the background to the Thetis Incident from an unbiased mouth at last. The results on the families was almost entirely new for me.

Again my thanks that you should have investigated this affair and given such an interesting and informed expose"

Don Hayward [IOWFHS Nov 2011]

"I travelled 70 miles to be here tonight and enjoyed the talk and images very much indeed"

"Just a quick note to say, on behalf of our group, a very big thank you for helping us out and stepping in to give us a most interesting talk. I think we all found is very moving and it must have taken endless research to gather together all the accounts of such a tragic disaster. It was an amazing story". 
With kind regards 
Liz Grover [Rownhams and Nursling History Group April 2012]

"You have given the Bitterne Men's Group many fascinating talks and for me this was one of the very best.  I thank you for your most interesting talk to us last Thursday evening 19th September 2013".[Barrie Clark, treasurer]


The Building of Plymouth Breakwater

"One of the most interesting talks I believe that we have had in the last 7 years or so" [Plymouth Postcards Collector's Club]
The Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society's report on my presentation on the subject on 4 January 2010:
Our first talk of the New Year was John Avery on the "Building of the Plymouth Breakwater 1812-1841".  A great engineering feat in its time even by today's standards, it was decided in 1806 to provide the Channel Fleet with a safe anchorage  in Plymouth Sound.  After purchasing a 25 acre site from the Duke of Bedford at a cost of £10,000 John Rennie and Joseph Whidbey were commissioned to come up with a scheme.  Four million tons of stone were excavated from nearby quarries which were then transported to the site on ten specially converted sailing barges.  The scheme was finally completed in 1841 by John Rennie's son, Sir John Rennie and turned out to be well over budget equating to about 72 million pounds by today's standards.  Because of the cost, only one lighthouse was built on the Breakwater and is situated at the western end.  Started in 1841 it was finished in 1843 and built of white Cornish granite.  At the eastern end a beacon was constructed with a stepped base and topped with a pole and cage which could accommodate several shipwrecked sailors.  Trinity House acquired the lighthouse bell from Montreal Cathedral as it was shipped back to the  foundry where it was made, as considered " too flat" in tone for it's original purpose.  John ended his talk on rather a sad note with stories and some slides of various shipwrecks that had occurred over the years.  In particular in 1905 a submarine sunk just off the Breakwater  with hardly any survivors and all the lighthouse keeper could do was to look on in horror as the tragedy unfolded. 
 



The Flying Enterprise and the tug Turmoil
 
"Your research as usual was first class and we look forward to your next talk"  [Jeff Pain, Southampton Local History Forum]
 
"I think that you have set a new standard, we have had interesting speakers in the past and you have set a new benchmark" [Plymouth Postcard Collectors Club]
 
"What an interesting talk, your research is to be commended and it was first class" [Barton on Sea Probus 31st Aug 2014]  

The Huguenots at Southampton and the South Coast
" We travelled from Andover [to Brockenhurst] this evening to listen to your talk. I have now new avenues to explore and will follow up a probable Huguenot link. It was well worth the journey". [HGS Brockenhurst Group attendee]
 
"Thank you so much to you (and your assistant) for a very entertaining talk last evening.  I thoroughly enjoyed it as I am sure everyone did.  I am very intrigued now about the Huguenots and shall delve more closely into my own roots.
Once again - many thanks."  [HGS Southampton Group - speaker secretary]
 
.... our thanks for your excellent talk on Thursday 15th May 2014. A most interesting evening John and it left me with a desire to get down to the old part of Southampton and see some of the places that you talked about. [Barrie Clark, Bitterne Men's Group].
 
Everyone I spoke to enjoyed your talk tonight.  [RF Fleet and Farnborough HGS June 2014]

 

The Cholera Years
I keep meaning to write to thank you for your talk at our Group recently.  Our members really enjoyed it - I had very positive feedback from it. [Lin Perry speaker secretary HGS Basingstoke Group March 2014]
 
Many thanks for the most interesting talk on The Cholera Years this week at our Brockenhurst meeting.  After hearing you mentioning the numbers dying in Southampton in 1848 due to Cholera I am now wondering if my great great grandfather and his infant son's death on the same day were due to that awful illness.  They are both buried in an unmarked grave at The Old Cemetery, Southampton. [Allison, HGS group May 2014]

 
Quaker Businesses in Britain
Thank you for such an interesting talk and for coming at short notice to replace our speaker - I have to say we were to benefit as the facts were an eye opener to us. [Romsey Probus 3rd Sept 2014]

 
The Tichborne Claimant
Just to say many thanks for your fascinating talk tonight which now has me intrigued! Kind regards, Bruce [CoSS].
I never did say a proper thank you to you for the Tichbourne Claimant talk; it was a very interesting and remarkable story.Thanks. Marian [CoSS].
 
 


 
 Talks include The Titchborne Claimant Shipwrecks and Maritime Disasters Titanic's People The City of Southampton Society Flying Enterprise and the tug Turmoil Milestones Transport Museum A Walk in a Victorian Cemetery The Huguenots of Southampton and the South Coast Victorian Mourning and Funeral Practices Dust on their Shoes [people who lived or died in Southampton] The Cable Ships of Turnchapel Mary Seacole - The Lady without the Lamp [a shorter talk ideal for a fill in at an AGM etc] The Building of Plymouth Breakwater The Thetis Widows The Cholera Years John Claudius Loudon - author, horticulturist, architect, inventor, landscape and cemetery designer The Loss of SS Mendi in WWI Quaker Businesses in Britain

 
Presentations to West End Local History Society, Bitterne LHS, City of Southampton Society, Southampton Local History Forum, The Dynamo Club Chilworth, WI groups,  Towns Womens Guild [Southampton Highcliffe  Evenings and Southampton Central Morning], Scout groups, Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery, Ford Park Cemetery Trust, Rownhams Ladies' Night, Hampshire Genealogical Society [Alton, Bitterne Southampton, Basingstoke, Bishopstoke, Fleet and Farnborough,  Romsey, New Forest [Brockenhurst], Waltham Chase, Portsmouth,  New Milton and Christchurch branches],  Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society, World Ship Society [Plymouth], Exeter Local History Society, Crediton & District Local History Society, Royal Victoria Country Park [HCC], Plymouth Postcard Collectors’ Club, Probus Clubs of Bournemouth Two, Eastleigh and Chandlers Ford, Friends of Old Southampton, Wembury LHS, Hamble Valley, Itchen Valley, New Forest North, Rhinefields, Romsey, Southampton East, Southampton North, Southampton South and Bournemouth Probus Two; Friends of Old Southampton, Friends of Eastleigh Museum, Eastleigh and District Local History Society, Botley, Curdridge and Durley Local History Society, Lower Test Valley Industrial Archaeology Society, U3A Alton branch, U3A Bishopstoke branch, U3A Botley branch, U3A Chandlers Ford branch,  U3A Liphook branch,  U3A Petersfield branch, U3A Ringwood branch, U3A Woolmer Forest [Bordon] branch, Devon Family History Society Plymouth branch, Hound Local History Society, FOSMAG, IOW Family History Society, Friends of RSH Hospital Chapel, Botley Rotary, Southampton Retired WRNS Association, Bitterne Church Men’s Group, Shanklin & District History Society, National Grid Retirement Association, Highcliffe Conservatives Ladies Luncheon Club, Club Hampshire, Surrey Industrial History Group, Southampton Luncheon Club, Brendon Care clubs, Folland's Retirement Group [Hamble],  National Women's Register [Southampton],  Southampton University Retired Staff Association, Bishopstoke Over 50 Club, Parkinsons UK [Southampton branch], Friends of Curtis Museum and Allen Gallery Alton, FOSMAG, Southampton Sight,  Millbrook Local History Society, Sussex Family History Group Bognor Regis, All Saints Ladies Guild Bassett, Past Rotarians and Associates Club of the New Forest and District, Southampton in Bloom, Freegrounds Coffee Group [Hedge End],  Nursling & Rownhams History Group, Lordswood and Lordshill Historical Society, Portchester Townswomen's Guild, Townhill 50 Plus Club, Historical Society [Lymington & District], Romsey Breathe Easy Group, West End Stroke Club, Southampton Holiday Fellowship,  Portswood  Evening TWG, Stoneham Ladies' Circle, Bishopstoke Man Friday Club, Hythe and District Historians, Boldre Historical Society, Hythe and District Historians, BrendonCare Clubs Hampshire [Hedge End, Badger's Farm and Southampton], Southampton Friendship Group, Amity Circle, Southampton and New Forest A30/A35 Owners' Club, Fleet & Farnborough Family History Society, Anchor Dawson Lodge care home, West End nr Southampton, Holy Trinity Women's Group [Millbrook], Alresford Historical & Literary Society, Southampton Maritime Festival 2014  etc
 

Alan House former deputy chief fire officer, HampshireAlan House archivist of the Hampshire Fire Service has a range of talks including the Fire Service in WWII  contact
 

Jill Daniels has an interesting range of talks on Hampshire and Southampton and on the Titanic. contact

 
Peter Jones has a talk following young men from King Edward's school at Southampton to the battlefields of Europe in the Great War. contact

Jake Simpkin covers old Southampton, the blitz in Southampton and the shipwreck of the Stella off the Channel Islands. contact 

Southampton and Its French Connections

This highly researched illustrated talk explores the extraordinarily large number of connections between Southampton and France ranging from pre-history to the present day.  The Domesday Book of 1086 indicates one third of the inhabitants as French; and today there is a strong presence. The French Church in Winkle Street is just one of the numerous connections between Southampton and France 

Titanic: A Southampton Story  (also staged as a walk)
2012 is the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It was a major disaster for her home port of Southampton. Over one third of those who drowned were Southampton crew; barely a street escaped loss. The legacies of the disaster are visible throughout the city. This illustrated talk will show slides of surviving buildings, memorials, and tell the story from a Southampton point of view.

Carlton Crescent & Rockstone Place  (also staged as a walk)
This illustrated talk features the Conservation Area of Carlton Crescent and Rockstone Place, looking at the architecture of these beautifully proportioned Terraces, and remembering some of the colourful characters who lived there.

Welcome to Southampton and Great Britain 
This talk was designed for the University of Southampton Induction Week as a Welcome Talk for overseas students.  However, it has proved very popular to a wider audience.  It describes Southampton's history and development. The second part covers what to do in Southampton, and its immediate surrounds, and then Great Britain as a whole.

An Armchair Walk Around Medieval Southampton (also staged as a walk)
The 'Old Town' has some of the best-preserved medieval walls in the country. It is a conservation area containing a unique cluster of Scheduled Ancient Monuments, including the vaults beneath the town, towers and gates. With the aid of high quality slides let me take you on an exploration of Southampton's rich medieval heritage. 

Southampton in the 20th. Century
At the opening of the 20th C. Southampton retained the characteristics of a country town despite its population of 105,000.  Shirley and Freemantle had only recently been incorporated, and to the north, many people considered that the country began at the Inner Avenue.  Apart from shipbuilding, and map making the town had few industries.
However, as the century unfolded Southampton expanded its borough limits both into its surrounding districts, and enlarged the docks through an ambitious programme of land reclamation.  The town proved attractive to new industries including aviation, vehicle manufacture, and cable production.  Benchmark periods include the golden age of luxury liners; amazing aviation pioneering; two world wars; 1950's rising prosperity; and the post-war rebuilding of the town centre.
By the century's end the city has de-industrialised, and reinvented itself as a centre of education, regional shopping centre, and UK capital of the cruise-line industry.

The Loss of the S.S. Stella: An Insight Into late Victorian Society
On 30th. March 1899, the ill fated SS. Stella left Southampton for a Channel crossing to Guernsey. Fifteen miles from St. Peter Port in deep fog, travelling at top speed, she struck the Casquets reef and sank within 10 minutes; of the 190 on board, at least 77 passengers and crew were lost. The humble stewardess Mary Ann Rogers emerged as the heroine of the hour, and several memorials were raised in her honour. On the surface late Victorian society appeared confident, but beneath, there were 'end of century jitters', and double standards abounded.

Southampton 1610 to 1840; from Economic Decline to Prosperous Spa Town
The lack of surviving architecture from the 17th.century gives testimony to the town's economically depressed state during that period. Nevertheless, the departure of Lord De La Warr in 1609, the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620, and the arrival of the Huguenots in 1685 are important historical events of that century.  In 1724 Daniel Defoe described the town as 'decayed'. Yet, as he spoke Southampton was emerging as a Georgian spa town of high repute frequented by the Prince of Wales and his three younger sons. Enterprising individuals wasted no time in catering for their noble needs.  Baths, assembly rooms, hotels, shops, and stagecoach services sprung up and flourished.

Southampton's LUNGS: Historic Parks Walk  (also staged as a walk)
170 years ago, as Southampton's population grew, local politicians debated the future of the ancient Lammas Lands. Victorian foresight led to the creation of our prized Central Parks - the City's lungs. This illustrated talk will tell the fascinating story of its foundation, and describe the statues and memorials within the parks, each of which captures a snapshot of the City's remarkable history.

Victorian Southampton: The Age of Steam & Expansion 1820- 1894
In 1840 the railway link from London was completed, and Southampton's natural shoreline began to disappear under the development of the docks.  The burgeoning population grew from 27,000 to 105,000 spread out from the Old Walls into new suburbs east and north laying the foundations of the modern town. In the docks, the Royal Mail, and P&O shipping lines established services, and the port became central to the 'trooping the Empire'. In 1894 the American Line relocated from Liverpool laying the way open for Southampton to capitalise on the North Atlantic trade and passenger routes.

Southampton From Blitz to D-Day  (also staged as a walk)
This poignant illustrated talk is a tribute to the courage of Southampton people during WW2. Southampton was raided 57 times and there is a strong folk memory of certain incidents. The increasing number of attacks culminated in three major raids at the end of November 1940. It was Southampton's darkest hour.  The air-raids were shocking and violent, but it was queues, blackouts, rationing, shortages and working long hours, that typified Southampton during the war years. From early 1943 there followed the gradual build up to D-Day and Operation Overlord, with Southampton people playing an important role working in the factories and ship yards, and building the Mulberry Harbours. The US Army 14th. Major Port Transportation Corps arrived in July 1943 and took over docks organisation. One of their final tasks in 1946 was the embarkation of British war brides for the USA and Canada. 

Monarchy: Why Has Britain's Survived?
During the Roman period there were no kings of England, so where did they come from? And why has the British monarchy survived. This illustrated talk charts the development of monarchy, and traces the historical events, which laid the foundations for Britain becoming an outstandingly successful example of constitutional monarchy. 

Southampton Through The Eyes of Artists
Using high quality Power Point slides, Southampton is explored through the eyes of artists. Many of these rarely seen paintings are part of the Southampton City Art Gallery, and Southampton City Museums Collections.

Southampton Passenger Ships and Docks
With the aid of slides, this presentation looks back with nostalgia at some of Southampton's most famous passenger liners, and cruise ships. It also explores the growth and development of Southampton Docks

Southampton Lido
(Ideal as a  short humorous after dinner speech)  
This popular talk charts the development of Southampton's Lido. The speaker recalls personal memories of the happy times he spent there. 

Eric Payne-Danson talks include 

Southampton, New Forest, Pilgrim Fathers, Titanic, one on the music and culture of the travelling people entitled “Gypsy” and even an “adult” themed programme on Victorian sexuality entitled “The Worm in the Rosebud”. contact



Jo Smith, Archivist talks about the behind the scenes work in the SCC Archives and Records of Merchant Seamen  contact



Nigel Smith talks on the  Southampton Trams Project [restoring an old
Southampton tram] contact

Graham Mackenzie talks on the SS Shieldhall,  a steam vessel in preservation  contact
Graham Mackenzie 

Colin van Geffen talks on aviation development in the Solent, the Schneider Trophy and the Flying Boats.       Telephone 023 80897793


 Neville Cullingford The History of the Royal Observer Corps contact


 

Dr Andy Russel Dr Andy Russel SCC Archaeologist speaks on Southampton archaeology subjects, the restoration of Tudor House etc contact


 
Amenity and local history societies and groups.

City of Southampton Society [CoSS]

Friends of Old Southampton

Friends of Riverside Park

 

Friends of Southampton's Museums, Archives and Art Galleries [FOSMAG]

Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery [FoSOC]

Friends of St James Park

 
 
 
 
 
Solent Sky  [Hall of Aviation]

Southampton Art Society 

Southampton Heritage Federation c/o Solent Sky

Southampton Museums and Archaeology Society
 
 
 


Other websites of interest
 
 
 
 
 
Memories of the Royal Pier by David St John [also memories of 60's music scene]
 
 
 

     
Southampton Local History and Southampton Heritage is a website managed by John Avery © 2011 /12/13/14  contact



Lectern at RSH Hospital ChapelGuildhall courtesy Arthur JefferyCourt LeetQM2's first arrival Dec 2003Southampton Old Cemetery
Two mayors laying a wreathMayor's ParlourMural Hamtun Street SouthamptonThorners Regents Park Road
 
Ceremony to relay the foundation stone at the RSH Hospital in 2011Central Hall SouthamptonFriends of RSH Hospital ChapelSouthampton Art Gallery
 
 
 In the 1950's Southampton Council ran a fleet of Guy Arab buses, in fact it was the largest fleet of that marque in the UK
 A small number are lovingly cared for by amateur enthusiasts and are seen out and about from time to time.
 
The altar in St Julien's, the French Church in Southampton