City of Southampton Society
Registered Charity No 1006256 England and Wales
caring for our city's heritage and its green open spaces
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                                      Titanic departing from Southampton April 1912          John Melody Town Crier          
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Queen Mary entering KG DOCKOur outdoor visit to Minstead Church in 2011 image Will TempleWarrior who after service on the front in WWI became a Southampton Police Horse. Image by kind permission Bitterne Local History SocietySouthampton CenotaphJohn Melody Town Crier at Tudor Revels 2012 image Arthur Jeffery
 

Some personalities associated with Southampton

Jane Austen

The Jane Austen Heritage Trail has been designed by the City of Southampton Society to publicise Jane Austen's close contact with Southampton on three separate occasions in her life: once as a school girl aged seven, secondly as a godmother attending her first dance on her 18th birthday, and thirdly as her home for nearly three years when she was in her thirties. The City of Southampton Society booklet by Arthur Jeffery BA [Com] is about Jane Austen's period of residency in the town.

The book includes a map of the Jane Austen Heritage Trail where a series of distinctive markers guides the visitor to places in Southampton associated with the author.

Because of war damage and development changes, the Trail would be hard to find today, however, strategically placed plaques have been erected to guide the citizen and visitor through the city centre to point out the sites linked with Jane Austen.

Leaflets with a map of the Jane Austen Trail in Southampton are normally available in the Southampton Tourist Information desk in the central Library 

 

The society visited the village of Chawton in Hampshire to visit the former home of Jane Austen. [image courtesy Will Temple] 


Charles Barr       

Charlie Barr was born in Gourock in 1865 and was to become became an accomplished yachtsman. He died at the young age of 45 years in Southampton during a visit to his family. In the yachting season he was based in New York but for the winter months returned to his wife and son who lived in the town.

Barr sailed the American contenders to defend The America's Cup yacht race and took USA citizenship in 1899. The American yachts enjoyed sponsorships from several wealthy backers including J.P.Morgan, the Kaiser Wilhelm II backed the German team and the British were backed by Sir Thomas Lipton, the tea and grocery magnate. Famously on one occasion, the Kaiser was asked as to whether his uncle King Edward VII would be attending a state function with some dry humour he replied "No, he has gone boating with his grocer."

Charlie Barr was to set the speed record for trans - Atlantic crossing averaging 200 miles a day and this record remained unbeaten until 1980. Famously on the yacht Atlantic Barr achieved 341 nautical mikes in a 24 hour period.

At his funeral at Southampton, Sir Thomas Lipton attended and the pall bearers were members of the British challenge team and from Lipton's own luxury yacht. The New York Yacht Club today still regards him as one of the world's greatest yachtsman.

Charles Barr grave at Southampton Old Cemetery sketch by permission Bernard Lavell, Southampton Art Society


Richard Block

 Richard Block [left in picture with his partner David Quayle] was originally from London but moved to Southampton at the age of 11 years. The grandson of the founder of Kitsons, one of the largest independent building insulators in Europe, it is no doubt that he had the building trade or building material trade in his blood.

Richard was working as a research assistant at Warner-Lambert the hair cosmetics combine when his brother in law David Quayle suggested that they set up a new kind of supermarket selling paints and decorating materials. Richard used his holding in the Kitsons shares to back a bank loan and they acquired the lease of the old cinema in Portswood Road Southampton.  They started to trade in March 1969. The idea of rows of cans of paint with easy customer access soon caught on and perhaps for the first time wives and children were wandering around a well lit shop with their D-I-Y enthusiast husband. Previously we went to often dingy lit builder's yards although of course shops such as Woolworths and Timothy Whites sold paints in their stores. Woolworths then part of the Kingfisher group Kingfisher, realised that with well displayed products in large supermarkets the influence and buying power of the female half of a partnership would match the traditional male role of buying paint, wallpaper, tools etc. It was no great surprise that with an expanding chain of B&Q stores that the Kingfisher group decided to buy out the firm.

B&Q has a large modern store in Portswood close to its original shop. The chain is based at Chandler's Ford near Eastleigh and its familiar white letters B&Q on an orange background is now known throughout the country.

Richard sold his shares in 1976 and moved onto a variety of careers - growing tomatoes commercially in Guernsey was his first venture. He then trained as a therapist taking eight years of professional training but realised his limitation of earning a substantial income so supplemented it by becoming a BSM driving instructor. After having the licence to instruct new drivers revoked [“too carefree and relaxed"], another change of career to the manager of a health food shop. A man of many parts!

Co-founder David Quayle died in April 2019 whilst on a cruise on the Aurora off the African coast.


Sir Christopher Cockerell CBE RDI FRS

Born in 1910 he began his studies firstly in engineering then branched into radio and electronic research. After some years with Radio Research Company, at the age of 25 he joined the Marconi organisation and worked on television development until 1939. During his four years with Marconi he registered 36 patents. He then turned to the war effort and he was part of the team that developed the radio signal detection equipment which became a vital aid on the RAF bombers and the development of radar. Cockerell always regarded the latter as his most important contribution.

After leaving Marconi in 1951, he set up a boat business on the Norfolk Broads and began experiments to make craft go faster by streamlining and re-designing the hulls. His conclusion was that the drag by the water slowing down vessels could only be overcome if a cushion of air could be introduced. By using an empty Nescafe and Kit-e-Kat pet food tin cans looped together and an industrial blower he convincingly demonstrated that he could introduce such a cushion.

Cockerell approached the National Research Development Council in 1953 and received a development grant of £1000 but it was to be a further 3 years before a demonstration hovercraft was introduced. Not only would the word hovercraft become part of everyday language but soon we would be using that principle to mow our lawns.

Saunders Roe [later merged and reformed into British Aerospace] took on the commercial development at East Cowes. He received £150,000 for the patent and the development research and for 10 years spent in its development and a great deal of his personal money, this was an insignificant reward.

The first commercial service was introduced on the Wirral to Rhyl in North Wales and shortly afterwards a service was introduced from Southampton to Cowes.

A much larger ferry SRN1 started a cross channel service. It was somewhat like a waltzer at the fairground ups and downs of exaggerated speed and Cockerell realised that a rubber skirt would have to be added to the base of the vessel. Problems with the rubber skirt and the inability to go to sea in choppy wave conditions brought bad publicity plus HM Customs and Excise would not allow duty free facilities aboard making the service less attractive in some respects. Improved versions were introduced and Pegwell Bay near Dover developed as the cross channel port for the hovercraft. Prince Phillip took the controls on one of the first trips from Pegwell Bay and rather than using a cautious approach to handling a new craft and method of propulsion he went rather bull at a gate and badly damaged the base of the vessel putting it out of service for several weeks. However the high maintenance costs including regularly replacing the runner skirts and competition from new larger conventional [now faster] ferries meant that the venture never became a huge success and it eventually closed.

There was initially military interest as a commando landing craft and patrol vessel but although a few experimental craft were used the MOD's interest waned. Interest continued from US border agencies, South American republics with vast areas of swampland and from the Far East.

Christopher Cockerell was knighted in 1969. He died in 1999 and a memorial to Sir Christopher in the form of a sculpture depicting the inventor and his work has been erected in Hythe on the former site of his company, Hovercraft Development Ltd.

During his career he registered several hundred patents including 50 on the hovercraft.




 Colonel Eyre Crabbe [acknowledgements to Charles Gordon- Clark]

John Crabbe Eyre (1791-1859) was the great grandson twice over of John Grove, merchant and mayor of Southampton in the 18th century. His father, an East India Company colonel, died when he was an infant and his mother returned to Southampton where she lived as a widow for nearly 60 years.

Crabbe joined the 74th Highland Regiment as a teenager and served with them until 1846, rising to become the regimental commanding officer and succeeding just before he retired in getting the “Highland” designation, lost in 1816, restored. He served throughout the Peninsular War, was twice wounded, and  his “Peninsular Medal” (Military General Service Medal) had the unusually high number of eight clasps for actions he had taken part in.

For peacetime service in Ireland, Canada, and the West Indies, he was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Hanoverian Order.

On retirement he married a widowed cousin, Harriet Hollis, who was a great benefactor of the new Highfield Church and had property at South Stoneham where he settled at the house they called Glen Eyre. On her death in 1848 he had put in the church an excellent memorial like a medieval brass. He then married another widow living in Southampton, Elmina Spooner, who was descended from Jamaica plantation owners. His only child, later Brigadier-general Eyre M. S. Crabbe, was born when he was 60. On Crabbe's death Elmina erected a remarkable memorial in Highfield church in his memory. She continued to live at Glen Eyre House until her death in 1889 and constructed a fine garden there.

Crabbe had been in retirement an energetic public figure, magistrate, a leading member of the Hampshire Horticultural Society, and President and Chairman of the Royal South Hants Infirmary. His second wife endowed the “Eyre Crabbe Wing” of the infirmary in 1868.

In 1947 18 of the 51 acres of the Glen Eyre estate was acquired by the then University College and is now the site of extensive and expanding students’ accommodation.  The rest was mainly developed for housing; hence Glen Eyre Road Drive and Way, and Crabbe Lane. Some of Elmina's fine specimen trees survive. 



Arthur Maundy Gregory

Arthur Maundy Gregory was born on 1st July 1877; the son of a Southampton clergyman, Gregory attended school on the town and progressed to Oxford University. He left before attaining a degree and at first went into the teaching profession and than became an actor-manager.

In 1909 he was recruited into MI5 with the task of keeping possible foreign spies in London under scrutiny. On the formation of M16, Sidney Riley ["The Prince of Spies"] saw his potential and persuaded him to join him.

Gregory with his theatrical connections and contacts was skilled in building close confidential contacts with society including leading politicians. It is believed that he built a dossier on the sexual tastes of politicians which may have led to his blackmailing them. 

Gregory was assigned to gather information on IRA supporters and an ex MP Victor Grayson with his well known support for the new Russian government. Gregory also mixed in the highest circles and befriended the Duke of York [later King George VI] and the liberal leader David Lloyd George.

Victor Grayson discovered that Gregory was spying on him and decided to reverse the role and discovered that Gregory was involved with Lloyd George in selling honours for cash in order to raise funds for his political party. 

Grayson made strong hints that he knew of the corruption and would expose the culprits. Whilst out drinking with some friends, Grayson received a telephone call at the restaurant and excused himself saying that he had to meet a business contact. Grayson was never seen alive again and no body was ever recovered that could be identified to be his.

Gregory continued to sell honours and famously he arranged a forged letter to be published in the press which lead to the defeat of Labour in 1924.

A Scotland Yard officer was offered a knighthood by Gregory in 1932 in exchange for favours and this led to his arrest and subsequent trial. Many of his contacts feared political exposure if their names were disclosed in the inquiries and it is believed that large sums of money changed hands to buy Gregory's silence. Gregory was sentenced to 2 months imprisonment.

On his release influential friends persuaded him to move to Paris where the Conservative Party paid him £2000 per year as a pension until his death in 1941. 

In 2006 Scotland Yard made inquiries of the Blair government under the same law that convicted Gregory [The Honours [Prevention of Corruption] Act 1925], several donors of very large sums to the Labour Party were awarded peerages. After a long and intensive [and very expensive] inquiry, the CPS elected not to bring any charges.


Alfred Hawthorn Hill [stage name Benny Hill] [1924-1992]

Hill often used 'stage Jewish' mannerisms in his portrayals and was an admirer of Jewish American humour and had great admiration for the violin playing, po faced American comedian Jack Benny. He used his idol's surname as his forename for his TV variety show appearances as comic and singer. His self composed song "Ernie, Ernie drove the fastest milk wagon in the West" reminds us of course of his career as a milkman in neighbouring Eastleigh. 

Born in Southampton, his father had at one time been a circus clown but more recently the manager of a surgical appliance company. His grandfather used to take him to watch variety shows at the two local theatres and further afield such as Southsea and London where Alfred picked up the skills of timing and soon began to mimic artists and enjoy the reaction of his family and friends to his antics. He was called up in WWII and served in the Royal Engineers. He started making short stage appearances but relied on his income as a shop assistant and then as a milkman. He briefly joined up with Reg ["On the 'Buses" Varney as a double act for venues such as the Windmill theatre in London. He then went solo and was given his first break in 1949 on TV. Benny appeared as a bungling detective in an Ealing film comedy but the film was not a success. In 1955 he began his TV hit "The Benny Hill Show" with its quick fire laughs, scanty glad young ladies and gifted straight men that highlighted his gifted mimicry and seaside pier postcard humour. He had a few small parts in films and belatedly his fame spread to US television and unusual for a British entertainer he became a huge hit.

Britain entered a period of soul searching and political correctness and his long time TV host Thames Television decided that scanty glad girls, slight double-entendres and slapping old bald men on the head was demeaning so for some years his career was based in the USA where the American audience clamoured for more of the same.  In 1986, the inmates of a Californian prison threatened a riot when they heard that the evening's Benny Hill show was not going to be shown. A few years later there was a re-think in the UK and Thames' successor introduced a few repeats of his show but they did not commission him for any further new programmes. 

He lived very frugally on the lower part of his house and did not own a car or demonstrate trappings of wealth. He died alone whilst watching TV and his estimated £10 million estate was divided between seven nieces and nephews.

Benny was buried at Hollybrook Cemetery near to the General Hospital. Rumours persisted that he had asked that gold bracelets and his jewellery should be placed in his coffin and some unknown -unspeakable- persons attempted to break into his grave but gave up on their effort halfway in. Subsequently his family arranged a very heavy thick stone to be placed horizontally over the grave and fortunately there has been no re-attempt to break into the grave.


John Jellicoe 


Born in Southampton in 1859. Joined the Royal Navy in 1872. Served in the Egyptian War in 1882 and appointed as Rear Admiral in 1888.  In 1887 he was second in command on board the ill fated HMS Camperdown, a battleship cruiser. The leader of the flotilla was HMS Victoria the flagship of Admiral George Tryon. The bridge officers unsuccessfully managed to persuade Admiral Tryon to change the order that all the fleet should anchor in  choreographed  anchoring  manoeuvres off Tripoli, as the space proposed was dangerously too close together. The Victoria rammed HMS Camperdown which sank immediately.  Jellicoe    survived but 358 of his shipmates drowned. Many years later Alec Guinness starred in the film "Kind Hearts and Coronets" which as its ending replicates the disaster.

At the start of WW1 Jellicoe was appointed as Commander in Chief of the Grand Fleet and organised defences against U boat attacks. Made Admiral of the Fleet in 1919 and in 1925 was created an Earl. He was Governor-General of New Zealand from 1924 to 1929. He died in 1935.


 
Edwin Jones 

Edwin Jones established his drapery business which later merged with United Drapers Trust and traded as Debenhams.

During the conflict leading to the American Civil War he had the business acumen to purchase large stocks of raw cotton and ship to England for the Lancashire cotton mills. This meant that during the war he was able to continue to supply linen and cotton goods whilst several of his competitors struggled to find stocks.

Edwin Jones lived at Harefield House which he purchased in 1887. In 1915, then in the residency of his widow the house caught fire and was raised to the ground. Later Harefield school was built on the site [Yeovil Chase].

Edwin's first wife Annette is buried at Southampton Old Cemetery and he then married the widow of a doctor and is buried in the West End Old Burial Ground. After the death of Edwin, his widow Fanny Louisa [nee White] married Dr Thomas who had been left with 4 children when his wife died and the new family all moved into Harefield House. After the fire the family sold off the estate and Mrs Thomas lived in Midanbury Lane until her death in 1918.

In his capacity of mayor of Southampton, Edwin Jones boarded the ship carrying the coffin of the explorer David Livingstone as a mark of respect and to ensure a dignified transfer to a train to take the body on its onward journey.

Edwin Jones was regarded as a fair employer and the company flourished and set up facilities for the staff including a sports ground and pavilion. 

The premises in East Street were bombed in World War II and new premises which took 5 years to build were erected and opened in 1959, at first trading under his name but then in 1973 the decision was made to use one single brand of Debenhams.  The original premises were known as Manchester House in recognition of the long connections with the Lancashire Mills.

Locals recall that in WW II that in a jingoistic gesture the store had an upper display window and the appearance of a RAF aircraft wing with the union flag and a dejected German pilot was portrayed has having been captured. The fact that his store was bombed a few weeks later brought about the local folklore that Hitler had found the display to be offensive.


Captain John Treasure Jones

Popular amongst both passengers and crew on the Cunard liners, John eventually was given the nickname "The Undertaker" as he was chosen on three occasions to be master of three ships ending their service with Cunard. These were the Mauretania, the Saxonia and the Queen Mary. The final trip of the Queen Mary was his own as he then went into retirement.
John went to see at the age of 15 and worked his way up to gain a master's ticket but even that achievement meant very little in the depression of 1929 when White Star Line sacked all masters with less than 15 years of service.
During WWII served in the RN and was on a ship that was torpedoed and spent 4 hours on a raft before being rescued.
Joining Cunard in 1947 he served on the Queen Mary for 10 years as Staff Captain.
John had a distinguished career and in 1968 was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Wales.
Popular amongst both passengers and crew on the Cunard liners, John eventually was given the nickname "The Undertaker" as he was chosen on three occasions to be master of three ships ending their service with Cunard. These were the Mauretania, the Saxonia and the Queen Mary. The final trip of the Queen Mary was his own as he then went into retirement.
Before the final departure of the Queen Mary certain artefacts were auctioned off for charity and the late Frank [Sammy] Powell a customs officer bid for the ship's brass chronometer which he lovingly cherished. After years of continuing service by the clock, Frank decided that it deserved a service and clean up of the works. It was much admired by the clock smith who completed the service and returned it. Ten days later it stopped and Frank slightly miffed took it back to be checked over but apparently there was nothing wrong. However both Frank and the clock smith had an eerie feeling when they discovered that the date that the clock stopped was the exact hour and minute of the death of Captain John Treasure Jones. He died in May 1993 at his home in Chandler's Ford in Hampshire age 87.
 

 
John Grove [acknowledgement to Charles Gordon-Clark]

John Grove of the parish of Holy Rood was a Southampton merchant, a linen draper who also imported wine from France. He also had a long career of public service in Southampton in the early 18th century.

He was a magistrate from 1723 till his death in 1744, and during that time was for different periods auditor, petty customs clerk, keeper of the crane, weigher of the wools, constable of the staple. He was mayor in 1726 (and may have been so earlier in 1714) and after that alderman.

It was as wharfinger and farmer of the petty customs from 1723 to 1737 that John Grove did his best service to his town, which was falling on hard times. The French wine trade was dwindling, the share in the Newfoundland fisheries fading away; the town was getting considerably into debt, and one of the problems was a failure to collect properly the “petty customs and wharfage” due from importers.  John, a businesslike and resolute man, grappled at once with the growing number of refusals to pay. As a “farmer”, he had taken an initial ten years lease on the customs, so the more he got for the town the more he could keep for himself. He said he would prosecute at his own cost anyone refusing to pay – did so, and scored a succession of resounding victories. The most notable were against the proprietor of the Itchen Navigation in 1727 and two years later when he brought the townsfolk of Lymington to heel, to the great joy of the Southampton authorities.

He was warden of the poor hospital for the last two years of his life and ran other hospitals in Southampton. One was for the military under the very imperfect system, if such it can be called, which prevailed before the construction of Haslar Hospital for the navy.


 
Sir Sidney Guy Kimber OBE JP FRPS [1873 -1949]

First became a Councillor in 1910 and was elected Mayor 1918-1920. Later he was elected Alderman.

Under his leadership he promoted the building of the Civic Centre, law courts and Northguild with its concert hall and superb John Crompton organ and the Art Gallery. Kimber also acquired the land for the Southampton Sports Centre at Lordswood and with great foresight the land for the city's municipal golf course. As the use of the site raised some opposition, he did a deal with his Labour opponents [leader Thomas [Tommie] Lewis that land for social housing [to be known as the Flowers Estate as each street was appropriately named after a flower] would be allocated in exchange of the building of the Civic Centre. He was knighted for his services in 1935.  Kimber published his autobiography Thirty Eight Years of Public Life in Southampton.

Kimber welcomed the Duke and Duchess of York [later King George and Queen Elizabeth] in 1932 to open the Civic Centre and this event is available to view on newsreel footage on the British Pathe website.  In 1938 on a wet showery day, the Duke and Duchess of Kent opened the Sports Centre.

In the SCC Archives there is material on Kimber's council service including photographs of the building of the library and Civic Centre.

During WWII the boys from Taunton's School were evacuated to Bournemouth and as chairman of the governors, Kimber used to address the assembly with the same opening remark each year "I have travelled from Souampton" always omitting the 'th' which caused the boys after ward to mimic the expression and wonder as to why he so pronounced the word.



John Edgar Mann

John Edgar Mann has touched the lives of many Sotonians as a journalist, follower of jazz and folk music and as a prolific author of books on local history.

Born in Thornhill Park the octogenarian lived in Southampton for most of his life except during WWII when his school was temporarily transferred to Bournemouth.

John spent a 42 year career in journalism with the Southern Evening Echo [now the Echo] ranging from office boy, reporter, sub editor, cinema and theatre critic, feature editor and probably his endearing role as the columnist "Tom Bargate".

In 1963 John co-founded the Fo'c'sle Club now one of the longest surviving folk music clubs in the UK. In 1975 John released his concept album Folk Songs from Hampshire for Forest Tracks.

Anyone interested in the heritage and local history of the city will at one time or another picked up one of his many published books. These include Hampshire Customs, Curiosities and Folklore, Highfield-a village remembered [with Peter Aston], Story of Bitterne Park and reflecting his great interest in music, For the love of Mick -Ha-ha's amongst the trumpets [with Toni Goffe].

John was a vice president of Bitterne Local History Society and Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery.

In his later years John resided in a care home and died after a short illness in 2012.


Charles Rawden Maclean [John Ross]

This man died on the s.s. Varne in 1880 when heading to Southampton and is buried in Southampton Old Cemetery. The unmarked grave in fact holds the life and story of a remarkable pioneer entwined with the history of Durban in South Africa.

Maclean was born in Fraserburgh, Scotland in 1815 the son of a retired sea captain. He was apprenticed at the age of 10 to James Saunders King master of the Mary and set sail for Africa.

The ship was wrecked off the Natal coast and the boy survived and settled at Port Natal [later known as Durban]. With his red hair and Scottish accent he was soon noticed by the Zulu chieftain Shaka ka Senzagakhona and he befriended him. Charles remained in the community until 1828 and then returned to a life at sea. Prior to that he set out on a trek which was to last for 6 months from Port Natal to the Portuguese settlement of Delagoa Bay. The settlers at Port Natal were struck down with sickness and lacked supplies and medicines. Maclean escorted by 30 warriors from the tribe set out with ox carts on the 300 mile journey each way. It is fairly certain that without this help that the small community of settlers would not have survived.

Later in 1836 Maclean's experiences were recounted by one of the settlers Natheniel Isaacs in a series of tales of his experiences at the settlement. It is said that Isaacs could not remember Maclean's name and used the name "John Ross" for his hero. Oddly though his memory lapsed on the name he gave the boy's age as about 15 years which in reality seems more probable against a 12 year old undertaking the trek. The book sold well particularly back in Maclean's homeland in Scotland but Maclean himself never relished the hero status or his assumed identity of John Ross.

After 10 years at sea, Maclean gained his master's certificate but unfortunately on his first command his ship went onto rocks when he fell asleep at the wheel after long deprivation of sleep. He survived and continued his sea career and was noted for his anti-slavery views.

In Durban there is a large commemorative statue to John Ross, a large commercial building and a highway are named after him. There was a famous salvage tug built 1976 [at the time one of the most powerful tugs in the world] named John Ross. It is open to question as to which John Ross the ship took its name as Sir John Ross RN the famous arctic explorer [Ross Strait] is an equal contender.

At the Old Cemetery there appears that there was no headstone and the Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery and the Fraserburgh Heritage Centre have worked closely together to raise funds for a commemorative headstone to be placed on the grave.  On 2nd May 2009 a service of rededication of the grave was held, the unmarked grave was draped with the flag of South Africa and the new headstone with the flag of Scotland, The Sea Cadets attended and a kilted bagpiper played a lament and the Mayor Councillor Brian Parnell introduced the event.

Congratulations to the Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery and Fraserburgh Heritage Centre for arranging this historic commemoration.


 Sir John Everett Millais

Millais was born in Southampton in 1829.
Famous as an artist his works included the Gambler's Wife [1869] The Boyhood of Raleigh [1870], Cherry Ripe [1879] and Bubbles [1886] was famously used by Pears Soap for many years as an advertisement.

He became the co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement.
On his death in 1896 he was buried in St Paul's Cathedral.


Charles William Miller [1874-1953]

Charles was born in Sao Paulo in 1874 to a Scottish father and a mother of Brazilian/ English descent. At the age of 10 years he was sent over to Southampton for schooling and soon picked up the skills of soccer and cricket. He played in a match of the MCC v Hampshire but luck was not on side as he scored but 12 runs.

On completion of his education he worked for a shipping line, the Royal Mail line, and in 1894 returned to his homeland and worked for the Sao Paulo Railway but continued his association with shipping as he acted as the Royal Mail Steamship Company's agent. In 1904 he was appointed as Acting British Vice Consul.

In 1939 on a visit to England with his daughter he narrowly escaped death in the first IRA bombing on the mainland. Heading to Waterloo Underground station, his daughter made him pause to admire a display in a shop window when the bomb detonated ahead.

Charles had acquired multi skills at ball games and introduced rugby and soccer to Brazil as league sports and formed Sao Paulo Athletic Club. With Charles playing as striker SPAC won the championship in 1902 - 4. However in 1906 he was playing in goal when the team was defeated by 9 to 1, a day that he was never to forget in the years ahead.

Henry Kenneth Russell

Born in Southampton in 1927 died 2012.

Worked as a ballet dancer, actor and photographer but came to fame as director of biographic documentaries and musicals director. He won international recognition for his film Women in Love in 1969 followed by The Devils 1971, The Rainbow 1989 and in 1993 his television production Lady Chatterley's Lover followed by The Mindbender in 1995. 

In recent times he appeared on the reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother and stormed off prematurely after a row with Jade Goody.


Sarah Siddons

Sarah Siddons [nee Kemble] [1755-1831] had a house in Southampton near to the junction of Portland Street and Portland Terrace. In the late 18th century / early 19th century she specialised in roles in tragedies making Lady Macbeth a specialty part. The daughter of an actor-manager she spent many years in a travelling rep company. She came to the attention of David Garrick and made a not too successful appearance at Drury Lane and returned to the provincial circuit and in 1782 returned to Drury Lane where she received great acclaim.


John Thomson Stonehouse [1925 -1988]

Famously faked his death in 1974. Stonehouse was educated at Taunton's Grammar School and continued his education at the London School of Economics. He began his career managing cooperatives in Uganda then became a director then president of the London Cooperative Society. He was elected to parliament in 1957 and was given junior ministerial posts before becoming the Postmaster General.

Stonehouse had many business interests and by 1974 he was robbing Peter to pay Paul and aware that the DTI were closing in on his activities he acquired a copy of a birth certificate of Joseph Markham the dead husband of one of his constituents. Taking Markham's identity he applied for a passport and set up bank accounts in the name. He then left a pile of clothing on a beach in Florida and 'disappeared' as if he had walked into the sea. However it was more than 30 years before the British Government made serious attempts to try to prevent such an easy means of identity theft being repeated.

Stonehouse then made contact with his secretary and mistress Sheila Buckley and planned to start a new life in Australia. The Australian police picked him up by chance in Melbourne thinking that he was Lord Lucan the British peer who disappeared after his wife was found murdered. The Australian authorities were at first reluctant to hand a serving M.P. over to the British police. Stonehouse attempted to obtain political asylum from Sweden then Mauritius without success and was returned and held on remand at Brixton prison. He was still at the time still being paid an M.P.'s salary.

At his trial he conducted his own defence and was sentenced to 7 years for fraud. Eventually at the end of August he agreed to resign his seat and his position as a Privy Counsellor thus from that time no longer entitled to use the term Honourable [and ceasing to draw his MP and expenses]. Stonehouse was released early in 1979 following heart attacks and heart surgery.

Stonehouse was divorced from his wife and married Sheila Buckley and they had a son.

Billy Connolly the Scottish comedian nicely summed up the situation when he composed a song for his stage act - "John Stonehouse Went Swimming." 


Francis Godolphin Osborne Stuart [1843-1923]

Francis was born in Braemar in 1843 the son of the gamekeeper of a titled landowner and out of deference to his employer, the family added the rather grand sounding names Godolphin Osborne when they named their son after the landowner but in his professional life we know him as F.G.O. Stuart.

Francis was apprenticed to a cabinet maker and took an interest in photography. He worked at a workshop in Aberdeen and part of his production was hand built camera equipment for clients. By the age of 30 had moved to London to open his first studio. In 1883 he moved to Southampton and established himself with a reputation for quality work. He formed the National Photographic Company.

In 1902 he branched out into publishing postcards and produced about 2500 topographical views over the succeeding years. Local historian A.G.K. Leonard and postcard collector Jack Foley of Woolston have large collections of his work. At first he used German printers and the quality of their art work and colour processing was of a high reputation but with outbreak of WW1 this arrangement ceased. Perhaps reflecting the economic decline of the 20/30's the postcards from British printers were of a much lower quality. During WWI, F.G.O. Stuart was the official War Office photographer in Southampton docks, recording damage to allied shipping sent to the docks for repairs.

Francis journeyed to London and many south coast towns and took some early aviation subjects at Bournemouth and a view of Windsor Castle.

He had one daughter and later took his son in law Charles S.S. Dowson into the business who continued to trade after the death of his mentor.

Stuart's prints especially around the Southampton suburbs and villages reflect the late Victorian/Edwardian era and are much sought after by local historians and publications showing then and now. Stuart usually posed children or people in strategic points to lead the eye into the picture. Somewhat in the later style of Hitchcock who gave cameo appearances in his own films, Stuart's pony and trap usually appears in local street scenes.


Isaac Watts   

Our God our help in ages past             

[later in 1738 John Wesley replaced the Our to O in the title] 
Biographic notes courtesy Arthur Jeffery


Isaac Watts wrote many famous hymns. One of his most famous "O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come" is played to the tune St Anne by the bell in the clock tower of Southampton Civic Centre. The tune is played every 4 hours between 8am and 4pm.


Born in Southampton in 1674, Isaac Watts was brought up in a non conformist family. His father was founder deacon of the Above Bar Church built in 1689, following the relaxing of the laws on religious worship.

After graduating at Stoke Newington Academy in London, Isaac returned to Southampton, preaching at the Above Bar Church and began to write hymns, being dissatisfied as to how the psalms were sung in church services.

His health was not good but he took up the post as Assistant Pastor at Mark Lane Chapel in London. He continued to write poems and hymns. A book of his poems was published in 1705. Two years later he wrote his "Hymns and Spiritual Songs" which proved to be a best seller. He wrote more than 700 hymns in his lifetime as well as academic works on astronomy, geography and philosophy. With young people in mind he published separately "Divine and Moral Songs for Children" in 1715 and "Prayers Composed for Children" in 1728.

Across the Atlantic in colonial Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin published Isaac Watts' "Hymns and Spiritual Songs" in 1729.

Because of poor health, he travelled little and lived in Chesthunt at the house of Sir Thomas Abney, dying there on 25 November 1748. He is buried in Bunhill Fields, City Road, London.

It is as "Father of the Hymn" that Isaac Watts is best remembered, breaking the mould of the conventional Protestant psalm.

O God our help in ages past

When I survey the wondrous cross

There is a land of pure delight

Jesus shall reign where’re the sun

By composing such meaningful hymns, Isaac Watts led a new form of religious expression.

image courtesy treehouse1977 flickr


Ellen Wren  

19th Century Southampton as was the case of the expanding towns and ports throughout the country over crowded with the poor living in slum conditions. Many of the laundry and washer women often having to support families took on the role of prostitutes at night.

Ellen Wren lies in an unmarked pauper's grave at Southampton Old Cemetery in the company of many other paupers. A housing association's help centre has recently taken the name Ellen Wren House but few in Southampton are familiar with her name and the impact that her death had on our social history.


Ellen Wren lived in a one room attic in Simnel Street and drifted around the nearby streets plying her trade. In her dark dank room, full of cheap gin, she fell into a drunken slumber and apparently choked on her vomit. Such were the normality of blocked drains, discarded vegetable and animal waste in the vicinity that the odours associated with a decomposing body went unnoticed until her landlord anxious to collect the overdue rent entered the room more than a week later.

The Liberal supporting Southampton Times began a campaign. How could society have such conditions for its poor? How could a destitute woman live in such conditions? Were we expecting the poor to raise families in such conditions? Questions were even raised in Parliament about the Ellen Wren incident. No doubt similar incidents were or had been occurring in similar slum areas elsewhere but Ellen Wren's story pulled the conscience of middle class England.  An act introduced a few years before had given town councils the power to build housing for the poor and lowly paid workmen. Councils had resisted the call as a heavy increase in rates on the businesses was a political difficulty yet to be faced.  But as the circumstances of Ellen Wren spread to other newspapers and councils in many parts of the country began to consider slum clearance and the building of new homes.

Some of the properties in Castle Lane, Bugle Street and the courts and lanes leading off St Michael's Square were owned by well to do businessmen, the church and even the town's own sanitary authority. At first there was great resistance to change but a report of 1893 highlighted the dreadful conditions and the clearances started.

Urged on by the Liberal press in Southampton, the council began to clear and build social housing. Some early examples of council housing are in Bugle Street near the Endeavour public house. The houses are noticeable as they are built over arches which housed the cellars and kitchens. A small plaque marking their significance is on the metal railings.





                                                                                                                                                                                              
                                                        
                                                                  Copyright John Avery / City of Southampton Society 2011/12/13
Outdoor visit to Minstead Church image courtesy Will Temple Outdoor visit on a Guy Arab open top busTug tender Calshot in preservation