Happy Birthday Henry Robinson Hartley

Today we mark the birthday of Henry Robinson Hartley (1777-1850) whose bequest to the town of Southampton led (eventually) to the creation of its University.

Henry Robinson Hartley’s birth recorded in his father’s Prayer Book (1750) [Rare Books Hartley Coll. BX 5145]

Born to Henry and Susannah Hartley, a prosperous wine merchant and his wife, Henry might well have been expected to join the family business and to take an active part in local affairs – as had his father and his great-uncle, George Robinson. This would have been a fitting life for a man who bequeathed the bulk of his fortune to his home town to “promote the study and advancement of the sciences of Natural History, Astronomy, Antiquities, Classical and Oriental Literature” and for the “formation of a public library, garden, observatory and collection of objects connected with the sciences mentioned”. But in Henry Robinson Hartley, the University has a founder whose life followed a very different pattern.

Photograph of the portrait of Henry Robinson Hartley, aged nine [MS1/Phot/39/ph 3000]

After an unremarkable childhood, during which he attended Southampton’s Grammar School – where his friend, John Bullar recalled him as “studious, pleasant and gentlemanly”, Henry Robinson Hartley’s life went somewhat off the rails.

Grammar School at Southampton, late 18th century in: Views in Hampshire, v.4 no.182 [Rare Books Cope ff 91.5]

At the age of twenty-one he made an unfortunate marriage, causing him to become estranged from his father and therefore not to inherit the fortune he had anticipated on Henry senior’s death in 1800. Within four years his marriage was annulled – his wife Celia, giving birth to a daughter who was almost certainly not his child, and there followed a period of “systematic licentiousness” before Henry returned to Southampton to live with his mother. Best described as an eccentric recluse, Henry appears to have passed his time in pursuing his studies of natural history and languages, making travel plans which never came to fruition and using his diary and other writings to record his thoughts on the rigid and complacent nature of English society.

On his mother’s death in 1821, Henry finally inherited his fortune and a few years later, disapproving of the increasingly commercial character of the High Street which disturbed his peaceful, tree-lined garden, he left Southampton for good. For the last twenty-six years of his life he lived in Calais and London, making only brief visits to Southampton.

The High Street houses and tree-lined gardens belonging to Henry Robinson Hartley can be seen in the copy of the 1846 map of Southampton [Rare Books Cope cf SOU 90.5 1846]

The ‘Hartley Bequest’ revealed on Henry’s death in 1850 was something of a shock to all concerned, given his long absence from the town. After minor bequests to family and servants, the Corporation was to receive the residue of the estate, valued at just over £100,000. Unsurprisingly, Henry’s relatives contested the will and the costs of the subsequent legal proceedings and the settlement agreed by Henry’s supposed daughter swallowed up a large proportion of the estate. The Corporation was left with £42,525 and a dilemma as to how best to carry out Henry’s wishes.

Henry’s Letter of Instruction was quite clear on the point that he wished the “select scientific public” to benefit from his generosity rather than the whole population of the town. Of the different proposals aired in the local press, the establishment of a college along the lines of Owens College, Manchester seemed the most appropriate, but the reduced size of the bequest made the scheme for an institution providing popular adult education more achievable and the Hartley Institution opened on 15 October 1862.

The opening of the Hartley Institution 15 October 1862, photograph of an engraving of Lord Palmerston arriving. [MS1/Phot/39/ph 3026]

Would Henry Robinson Hartley have approved of the outcome of his bequest? According to his biographer, Alexander Anderson, the traditional concept of a University as a place where knowledge is pursued for its own sake would have been more likely to meet with his approval than the Hartley Institution, but in his primary aim of preserving his High Street houses and possessions, he would have been disappointed. The houses and gardens were demolished to make way for the Hartley Institution, his papers were destroyed by his trustees who judged them obscene and blasphemous and his other belongings dispersed. All that remained were his books – the first of the Library’s printed Special Collections.

Henry Robinson Hartley’s copy of The First Book of the Fables of Phaedrus (1775) Rare Books Hartley Coll. PA 6563

Henry Robinson Hartley’s copy of John Latham’s A General Synopsis of Birds v.1 (1781) Rare Books Hartley Coll. QL 673










Henry’s diary and writings were quoted extensively by both sides in the legal proceedings relating to his bequest and these form the basis of Hartleyana: being some account of the life and opinions of Henry Robinson Hartley, scholar, naturalist, eccentric and founder of the University of Southampton by Alexander Anderson (1987).

University Developments Through Time: Has anybody here seen Kelly?

Have you heard that a skeleton once haunted Southampton’s halls of residence and refectories? O.K., so that’s stretching the truth a little! But it is true that a skeleton was often present at University events, as documented by images from our photographic collections. This blog post will attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery of Kelly the skeleton, namely her origins, purpose and current whereabouts.

A photograph of Kelly from 1891 [MS1 7/291/22/1/0001]

The story of Kelly goes back to the very beginnings of the Institution. A skeleton was purchased by Mr Dodds, Principal of Art at the School of Art, in France in 1886; the activities of the Southampton School of Art were incorporated into the Hartley Institution in 1867. An alternative history was that the bones were fished out of the water at Southampton Docks; we feel this is less likely!

As well as acting a model for art students, other legitimate reasons for a late nineteenth-century educational institution to own a skeleton were for bone examination in anatomical lectures and demonstration purposes in physical training instruction periods. Reports have stated that the skeleton was formed from a mixture of both female and male bones.

Male students wearing formal college dress with Kelly, 1921 or 1922 [MS1/Phot/39/ph3177]

How Kelly passed from the possession of authorities to the ownership of the student body we do not yet know; a former student reported that Kelly was “found” in a cupboard in the Arts room in 1910. Kelly became a slightly macabre mascot for the students, often present at Rag fundraisers and other events; in later years she was transferred to the possession of the Engineers.

Freshers week, September 1925. The text reads “Come all ye freshers bow down & worship.” And you thought modern initiation ceremonies were weird! [MS1/Phot/39/ph3174]

Perhaps it was the students who decided on the name Kelly, a derivative of skeleton or skelly. A popular music hall ditty circa 1910 was “Has anybody here seen Kelly”: this may have helped to settle on a name. It became one of the College “anthems” sung with great solemnity by students, to the tune of the Lost Chord, when the occasion fitted.

The Rag Bag, 1929

The skeleton was a popular member of academic life while studies were still based Below Bar and it always carried in students’ processions and on view at functions. He made the move to Highfield, along with everyone else as, in the summer of 1924, he was able to welcome the then Prince of Wales when the latter visited Southampton. Geoffrey Smith, who was a student here 1923-6, recalls the Rag in the summer of 1926. The students paraded through the town and Kelly was drawn by members of the Engineering Faculty on the chassis of an old car, driven by Smith and owned by the Engineers.

The provincial Universities ran a London dance known as the P.U.B. (Provincial Universities Ball) and on one occasion in the 1930s Kelly was taken to London and wired up electronically so that her eyes shone.

Photograph of Kelly from the Goblio 1949

Reports from the 1950s state that she was kept in a coffin in the Junior Common Room. Keith Way, a student for the 1947-53 sessions recollected: “I do remember Kelly hanging about in the West Building [now the Students Union] but I think he only appeared in public on Rag days.” A further report was that “in 1953 he was torn to pieces at the Engineering Faculty Ball.”

The Hartleyan of 1953 reports that to celebrate the granting of university status, the London branch of the Hartley Society organised a “Kelly” for the P.U.B. complete with deputy (hired from a natural history supplier) followed by a “Gobli”. The 30 members present at the ball made “quite a good procession for Kelly”.

“Captain Kelly” from the Goblio, 1952

Another alumnus, Pamela Wateres, adds her memories to the record: 

I know that Kelly spent a night in Highfield Hall at some time in the academic year 1953 to 54. How we got him in there any way, I don’t know, but he was accommodated, I think, on top south. When we tried to get a taxi for him back to the Union building, the local drivers refused to carry a coffin, so we had to woman-handle him back along the path and in through the garden. […] Legend in my time was that Kelly was originally dredged up from Southampton harbour – and was really female. He/she was then the union mascot, but was from time to time hi-jacked by the Engineers, who were supposed to keep him/her in a wind tunnel.

[MS 224/35 A788/5]
Engineering Faculty, 1955-56. Can you spot Kelly in his coffin? [MS310/38 A2025/2]

As the years progress, the references to Kelly become less frequent although snippets from the Hartleyan keep us informed. From 1956, Kelly was no longer the University mascot. At a Union meeting it was decided by 110 votes to 28 to dispense with the skeleton’s services; it was agreed to transfer overship to the Engineers. Kelly was present at the hustings preceding the election of the president of the Students’ Union in late January 1959. She was escorted to the meeting in a padded coffin by a guard of Engineers.

The most recent photograph of Kelly is on this rather garish cover of Goblio from 1961.

The Goblio from 1961. The slogan below read “We’ll collect from anybody”

Currently, the last known sighting of was in 1986 when she attended a welcome talk given by Academic Registrar Chris Swann. The whereabouts of Kelly the skeleton are no longer known. But we are hoping our readers might be able to shed light on the mystery. Maybe some alumni can add to the historical record with their own memories of Kelly?

Copies of the Goblio, Hartleyan and other student/alumni publications are available in the University Collection (Special Collections open access). Archival references come from the file MS 224/35 A788/5.


University Developments Through Time: the Hartley Institution Museum collections

When the University finally moved to the Highfield site in 1919, there was a real sense of loss by residents of Southampton as they were no longer able to enjoy the Library and Museum of the “old Hartley”.

Site of the Hartley Institution [MS1/Phot/39 ph3005b]

Henry Robinson Hartley had expressed a wish in his will that all the effects in his house be preserved as a museum – an idea that was not considered with particular approbation by those who had to run the Institution. The scientist Lyon Playfair, appointed by the Hartley Bequest Committee to inspect Hartley’s house in Southampton and consider the possibilities for development, looked askance at the suggestion. He was to note that a local museum “is likely to be a sink for all the collected rubbish of the neighbourhood and soon becomes an incongruous assemblage of tattooed heads, shrivelled crocodiles, moth-eaten birds and the like”.  The assessment of T.W.Shore, Executive Officer of the Institution 1875-95, was of the Museum as an accumulation of “miscellaneous objects from all quarters and all climates, illustrative of anything in general and no special branch of knowledge in particular”.

Two council minute books of the Hartley Institution [MS1/MBK/1/3-4]

An examination of the council minute books and reports of the Hartley Institution, which are held in the Special Collections, provide a fascinating insight into the array of material accumulated by the Museum from its start to the early part of the 20th century. The donations reflect something of the trends for collecting in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.

The Hartley Institution Report from 1871 gives a flavour of the range of items offered.  As well as a number of  Natural History specimens, including a collection of snakes from Central America, the skull of a tiger presented by Captain Sharp of SS Wales, and a flamingo from the Cape of Good Hope, there were a collection of Chinese and Japanese objects, specimens of crystallised arsenious acid and of Gorgonian coral, and a number of specimens “chiefly of a geological nature”.

Hartley Institution Report to 30 June 1871 [MS1/MBK/1/1]

Natural History specimens – in particular birds – geological specimens and archaeological finds were to feature notably in the donations received over the decades. From the late 1880s onwards, the twice yearly reports of the Hartley Institution note the donations of considerable numbers of local geological specimens from the Hampshire chalk unearthed during the New Dock Evacuation at Southampton. With the turn of the century the Museum was still acquiring sizeable collections, including a collection of local fossils made by the late Revd Compton given by his son in January 1902.

Many of these archaeological finds were from the local area and quite a number came from the collections of clergymen collectors. One of the first offered to the Museum, which was declined due to lack of space, was that of Charles Stewart Montgomerie Lockhart of St Mary Bourne, Andover, which included  many Roman, Saxon and other finds from sites near his home. Amongst other archaeological items to find their way to the Museum was a collection of Palaeolithic weapons found on Southampton Common donated in 1883, and further Palaeolithic weapons donated by Mr Wateford of Nursling in 1885; a collection of coins and other “relics” found at Longstock Church donated by Revd W.Drewe in 1885; flint flakes struck off a flint core by prehistoric man and the tooth of a rhinoceros from beneath the brick earth of the Lower Thames, Crayford in Kent donated in 1888.

Interior of Museum, c.1910 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3039]

Other items accepted for the Museum represented a more esoteric and far ranging selection: there was a Peruvian mummy donated by Captain Revett, RMC, in September 1876; a Chinese bow and arrow donated by Mr Derrick in 1878;  a crocodile reputedly brought from Egypt by General Gordon, donated by W.E.Darwin in 1888; and several boomerangs donated by Mr J.I.Peet of Perth, Western Australia, in July 1902.

Detail of floor plan of Hartley Institution building including Museum

The Museum’s collection in all its array was not to make the move to the Highfield campus, although a geological museum was formed on the new site.

Look out for our last University Through Time blog which will feature Kelly the skeleton, a much loved mascot for the College and an object that probably would not have felt too out of place with the other objects of the Hartley Institution Museum.

University Developments Through Time: Rag

This blog post on University life will explore the world of Rag. These student-run, fundraising events and organisations have been part of student life for over 100 years.

Rag Day logo from 1953

The name ‘Rag’ is rather obscure and no one is entirely sure of its origins. The Oxford English Dictionary describes the act of ragging as “an extensive display of noisy disorderly conduct, carried on in defiance of authority or discipline”. The thought is that early fundraisers may have ‘ragged’ passers-by until they made a donation. Another idea is that the word came from the Victorian era when students took time out of their studies to collect rags to clothe the poor. More recently, ‘backronyms’ have been invented including ‘Raise and Give’, ‘Raise a Grand’ or ‘Raising and Giving’ to emphasis the philanthropic aspect of the activities.

Rag has been part of University life in Southampton since at least the 1920s. Alumnus Peter Smith describes how it was “a highlight of the Winter term, and it was always held on Shrove Tuesday, as if to get the festivities over before the strictures of Lent.” Over the years, it has consisted of a variety of activities, ostensibly aimed at raising money for charity, including a procession, ball, a show and the publication and sale of a ‘Rag mag’. As the years progressed, the antics became progressively wild. And, as you might imagine, the event has not always existed in harmony with Southampton residents.

The Engineering float depicting the Princess Flying Boat [MS310/34 A1090 p1]

This excerpt from the University College Southampton Rag Bag published in May 1927 describes the early days of Rag:

There is probably little doubt in the minds of the public as to what a University Rag is, even though many have never seen one: and whatever opinions exist on the subject we can say quite safely say that whenever there is a University or a College there is bound to be ragging.  The tradition is established and will persist; and as Colleges grow and develop, so the quantity and quality of its Rags will alter. Up to the present the Rags arranged by the students of University College, Southampton, have been, it must be admitted, very mild affairs, and we apologise very humbly that we have been unable to provide the town with better entertainment. Better times are in store, however. The College is growing fast and by the time Southampton is a University City, Rags will be as permanent and prominent a feature of town life as they are in other seats of learning.

The earliest Rag magazine in our collection, the Rag Bag from 1927. Look out for a future blog post giving the history of Kelly the skeleton.

A key feature of Rag was the publication of a ‘Rag mag’, a small booklet traditionally filled with politically incorrect humour sold in the lead up to Rag Day.  The earliest Rag mag in the University Collection is a copy of Rag Bag dating from 1927. Over the years Rag has been abolished and revived on a number of occasions. Its revival in 1948 was followed by the publication of Goblio, the longest running Rag mag in the collection, with copies dating from 1949-64. From 1967 the University’s Rag mag took on a range of titles, including “Son of Goblio” or; BabelSouthampton City RagFlushDragon; and Southampton Students Stag Rag.

Apparently the 1958 edition of the Goblio was banned and later ritually burned at the Bargate. Consensus among the students was that this was an extreme response with one recounting how the Goblio “was certainly rude and scurrilous, largely satirical, but rarely offensive”. While these magazines might be considered tame by today’s standards, times have changed and we struggled to find any jokes we felt appropriate – or funny enough – to share. Copies of the Rag mags are available in the University Collection in the Open Access area of Special Collections.

The Gaslight Gaities show from 1948 or 1949 [MS310/39 A2032]

The Rag mags bring our attention to another mystery in these matters: who, or what, is a ‘Goblio’? The origins or the word are again a little vague and it has now fallen out of use. It appears to have first been used around 1905. The New Zealand rugby team had just made their first tour of Britain. The story goes that a group of College students went to see the All Blacks depart from Southampton Docks and were deeply impressed by their goodbye ritual – the now famous haka. A “solemn conclave was held by night in the Cowherds’ Inn” to select a suitable yell that could be given in response and ‘Gobli-i-o’ was the outcome. It is described by former students as a “war cry at football matches and in Rags” as well as used as a farewell after student gatherings: the cheerleader would shout ‘Golbio’ and the rest of the group replied ‘Gee’. There was also a ‘Gobli dance’ performed during Rags. The students would form concentric circles around a policeman or tram aimed at causing disruption while, of course, also collecting money for good causes.

For many years, an afternoon procession was a key part of the Rag. Decorated floats on lorries lent by local firms, complete with ‘Rag Queen’ (usually a local girl), would parade through the town providing entertainment and collecting money.

Rag Day 1957 at civic centre with the ‘Rag Queen’ and local dignitary [MS 224/14 A941]. In some years the procession ended at the Guildhall with a trophy presented by the mayor for the best entry.

The Engineering Society were always very prominent during Rag, often accompanied by their human skeleton mascot “Kelly” and their 1920s vintage open single decker charabanc called “Toast rack”. In 1948 they are reported to have produced at 60 ft dragon for the parade!

Rag Day 1926 with the 1904 Bedion Bouton [MS 310/18 A1043]

Other events have included an annual Rag ball with dancing and fancy dress at the Guildhall and a Rag show with a revue format.

Obviously a key aspect of Rag – maybe more so for some years than others – has been raising money. The University has chosen various charities over the years. In 1927 “all money (less Rag expenses)” supported the children’s summer camps organised by the Rotary Club of Southampton. In the years following the Second World War, the festivities were called the Gaslight Gaieties and the money went to the Armed Forces Charity, formerly known as the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association. In 1958 the chosen charities were: Dr Barnardo’s Homes; British Empire Rheumatism Council; National Society for Cancer Relief and the Handicraft & Social Centre for the Blind. A Students’ Union handbook from the 1950s reported that sums raised in recent years ranged from £800 to £1,400.

Rag events programme cover [MD 310/39 A2032]

As with all University cities, there have not always been harmony between ‘town and gown’ and over the years, Rag has been a point of conflict. In 1927, the Rag Mag stated:

Horse play and hooliganism are not ragging, though unfortunately many think the terms are synonymous. We shall try to show they are not, and, indeed, what ragging has taken place in the past has, on the whole, been free from unpleasantness

R.G.Smith, an engineering student here in the 1940s recalls “jovial goings-on which were enjoyed both by ourselves and the citizenry of Southampton […] dressed as Long John Silver complete with parrot, I ‘held up’ the Ordnance Survey Office with a fearsome looking horse pistol and stung the personnel there for contribution to the Rag charity collections.” We wonder if Southampton residents have the same cheery memories of the Rag as Mr Smith?

Rag programme for 1948 [MS 310/31 A1087]

It is clear that, at times, Rag events did get out of hand. Alumnus Olive, who was a student here in the early 1960s describes the attempt to establish a “Charities Week Appeal” in November 1961: “to distinguish from its infamous predecessor ‘Rag’.” She describes how there was “a genuine attempt to get away from the unpleasant features of Rag and to concentrate on the worthwhile task of collecting money for local good causes.”

Things did not exactly go to plan. Olives gives the details: “The whole thing looked as if it was going to be too quiet and respectable until Students’ Council decided to ban Goblio. A packed Union meeting confirmed their decision and inevitably it was reported in the local and national press, radio and television. As there is no such thing as bad publicity £900 net was raised for charity. For the first time there were no letters of complaint either to the University or the local press.”

Souvenir Rag programme for 1948

Despite best endeavours, it was difficult to disassociate the fund raising from the pranks and “the annual flour and water fight” still took place in Charities Week. Although Olive reports positively that “no hard feelings, and a good deal of hard cash (£1450) for charities resulted”.  

Southampton students have organsied various stunts over the years. In the early years – when trams still ran through the town centre – the students used to process into town, stopping traffic and collecting money. May Ellis paints a vivid picture:

The Marlands was a large open space where eventually the civic centre was built. The men wore any kind of fancy dress, and we wore our gowns and were occupied with selling copies of the Rag bag. From the farflung parts of the town we converged on the Clock Tower, at noon. This was a large stone sculpture, Above Bar, in the centre of the road, at the junction of Commerical Road. (It has since moved into the gardens). Around it we formed four concentric circles – 4th years inside and 1st years outside, for “Gobli”, the college war cry. This very successfully halted trams (yes! trams!) and other traffic from every direction.

Rag ‘stunt’ at South Stoneham House, 1963 or 1964 [MS310/80 A4150]

W.Tomsett gives a similar account:

I remember taking part in a Rag on the town during those years. We crocodile down the Avenue, snakewise over the tram lines. When a tram didn’t stop some lay down across the rails until it did. We were in all sorts of fancy dress. Some carried buckets of paste – others theatre bills. These were stuck on bonnets and side of cars (which were halted) and on side of trams.

As the years progress, the stunts got more elaborate and extreme. Various former students have recollected: a banner appearing overnight down the civic centre clock tower; a cannon being lifted from one of the Winchester army establishments by residents from Connaught Hall; painted footsteps leading from Lord Palmerston’s statue in Romsey Square to the nearby lavatory; the “kidnap for ransom” of a top Southampton Football Club player and a banner proclaiming Rag draped over Stonehenge. Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight was broken into by a group of Southampton students as a publicity stunt. The Rag of 1963 featured a trans-Atlantic advertisement as the Queen Mary sailed for New York with Rag painted on her stern; apparently, Cunard were very understanding!

Local M.P. John Denham and Student Union President Simon Coningsby, November 1996 [MS 1/Phot/7/4/5]

In the twenty-first century, Rag has become the major fundraising committee of the University. Along with volunteers, they spend the year raising money for dozens of charities. Events include speed dating in February, hitch-hiking events to Christmas markets and the ‘Big Give’. Don’t worry if this all sounds a little tame compared with the antics of previous decades – there’s still the option of getting your kit off for the annual Rag calendar!

Its not possible to calculate the amount raised for charity by Southampton Rags but, whatever the total, it is heartwarming to think about all the good causes that have benefited from Southampton’s students over the years and the many more thousands of pounds more that will be raised in the future.

The Great Exhibition in Print

To mark the day on which the closing ceremony of the Great Exhibition was held – 15th October 1851, we take a look at how the ‘Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations’ was portrayed in some of the contemporary publications in Special Collections.

By the time Prince Albert presided at the ceremony, over six million people had visited the exhibition since May 1 when it had been declared open by Queen Victoria. The proceeds from admission tickets had generated a profit of £186,000 which was used to buy the land in South Kensington on which the Victoria and Albert, Science and Natural History Museums were built, as were the Royal Albert Hall and the Imperial College of Science and Technology.

The Closing Ceremony in: Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851 (1854) Rare Books double folio T 690.C1

The enormous success of the Great Exhibition owed much to Henry Cole, editor of the Journal of Design and member of the Royal Society of Arts, who persuaded Prince Albert that the RSA’s exhibitions of industrial design could be developed into a much larger event. A celebration of art in industry was envisaged, with exhibits from all nations, helping to promote international peace and understanding as well as encouraging commercial, linguistic and scientific ties.

Peter Berlyn The Crystal Palace: its Architectural History and Constructive Marvels (1851) Rare Books NA 6750.L7

The problem of housing such an exhibition was solved by Joseph Paxton whose pre-fabricated glass and iron structure, built in Hyde Park, was christened the ‘Crystal Palace’ by Punch. Into this impressive building, the 14,000 exhibitors placed their 100,000 items for display, the principal themes being raw materials, machinery, manufactures and fine arts. Initially an admission price of five shillings guaranteed exclusivity for the well-to-do. When the price dropped to a shilling, excursion trains brought groups of factory workers and agricultural labourers to London, to the alarm of the railway operators.

Crystal Palace in: Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851 (1854) Rare Books double folio T 690.C1

The Great Exhibition gripped the nation and generated a vast amount coverage in the newspaper and periodical press. The pages of The Times record various controversies over its organisation – Joseph Paxton calling for free admission, something dismissed as impractical and potentially dangerous by both the newspaper and other correspondents. The Illustrated London News provided lengthy descriptions of the objects on show, whilst Punch both satirised the event and praised it. One cartoon showed how fears of ‘horrible conspirators and assassins’ at the opening ceremony proved groundless, whilst another showed the centrepiece pink glass fountain replaced by barrels of beer on ‘shilling days’. But it also remarked that ‘the high-paying portion of the public go to look at each other and be looked at, while the shilling visitors go to gain instruction from what they see; and the result is they are far better behaved than the well-dressed promenaders’.

Punch (v.20 January -June 1851) Rare Books per A

Punch (v.20 January -June 1851) Rare Books per A

The Great Exhibition was also the subject of many individual publications by writers and artists. Unsurprisingly, publications by those connected with Punch display similar sentiments. 1851, or, The Adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Sandboys and Family written by Punch’s co-founder, Henry Mayhew and illustrated by George Cruickshank describes the misadventures of the Sandboy family en route from Butteremere to London. These culminate in Mr Sandboys being incarcerated in a debtors’ prison, only to be released the day after the Exhibition closed. Although humorous in intention, the book highlighted problems visitors expected to encounter, especially the shortage of and high cost of accommodation.

Henry Mayhew 1851, or, The Adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Sandboys and Family Part 1 (1851) Rare Books PR 4989.M48

Similarly, Richard Doyle, a comic artist who contributed to Punch published An Overland Journey to the Great Exhibition, later reissued as Richard Doyle’s Pictures of Extra Articles and Visitors to the Exhibition. This showed satirical processions of national groups visiting the Great Exhibition, that from Scotland bringing ‘extra articles’ associated with the Highland Games.

Richard Doyle’s Pictures of Extra Articles and Visitors to the Exhibition [1851?] Rare Books NC 1479

A publication of a different order was The Exposition of 1851, Or, Views of the Industry, the Science, and the Government, of England by Charles Babbage. Babbage had been rejected as head of the Great Exhibition’s Industrial Commission, owing to his radicalism and dispute with the Government over the funding of his Difference Engine. In the book, he criticised the organisation of the Great Exhibition and the Government and scientific community for failing to value science and technology in education. The University Library’s copy of the book bears an inscription from Babbage to his son, Dugald.

Chalrles Babbage The Exposition of 1851, or, Views of the Industry, the Science, and the Government, of England (1851) Rare Books T 690.B1

By far the most lavish book associated with the Great Exhibition is Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851.  Its 54 chromolithographs reproduce water-colours commissioned by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert from the artists Louis Haghe, Joseph Nash, David Roberts, which record in vivid colour and great detail the national sections and objects on display. The book was first issued in 18 parts, each costing a guinea.

Textiles from France in: Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851 (1854) Rare Books double folio T 690.C1

At the other end of the publishing spectrum is The House that Paxton Built: a New Story on an Old Model. This parody of the nursery rhyme ‘The House that Jack Built’ is described on its cover as ‘A gift book from the Great National Exhibition’ and cost sixpence.

The House that Paxton Built (1851) Rare Books PZ 10

As well as having printed books describing the Great Exhibition, Special Collections is fortunate to have the papers of one of those involved in its planning – the first Duke of Wellington. Papers relating to his role as Chief Ranger and Keeper of Hyde Park are available at WP/2/257.


University Developments Through Time: shaping the University grounds in peace and war, 1920-48

Within the Archives and Manuscripts are two volumes of the minutes of the University College’s Grounds Committee.

Minutes of the Grounds Committee [MS1 A4091/1]

Minutes of the Grounds Committee [MS1 A4091/1]

These surprisingly interesting volumes cover the years 1920-48. The first committee meeting took place on October 19th, 1920 and included much discussion of the provision of tennis courts, with the secretary of the Tennis Club present, along with the Registrar and the College Principal, who chaired the meeting. By the end of the year, part of the grounds had been allocated as a botanic garden and planting of shrubs, bulbs and perennials was taking place there and elsewhere. A contemporary plan [MS1/2/2/2] shows the botanic garden situated on a sloping site behind the Engineering Block, now the Eustice building. The George Moore botany building was later built on part of it, opened in 1928 and eventually demolished during the development for the new biological science building. The date plaque from the building has been preserved on site. As the Highfield campus developed and more engineering buildings arrived, the botanic garden was eventually moved to the site of the present Valley Garden, behind the new students union.

Plan of botanical gardens [MS1/2/2/2]

Plan of botanical gardens [MS1/2/2/2]

It was proposed that the gardening students should look after some of the flower beds and help with the botanic garden. In 1921, Professor Watkins constructed a rockery for alpine plants including “an extensive – probably unique – collection of Sempervivum plants [houseleeks], upon the classification of which he is working”. In 1923, the College purchased a Dennis motor mower, but until then all grass cutting was done by hand mowers, scything or with the help of a pony. “The strain placed upon the machine was a severe one, but it withstood it admirably”. Various plants and cuttings were donated to the college by local landowners. By 1924, the botanic garden was developing well, with plant family beds laid out and gifts from Kew and other gardens.

In the grounds of South Stoneham a rock garden was being rebuilt under the direction of Professor Watkin and a start had been made in making a bog garden nearby. The disused fountain was to be repaired with help from the engineering department.

Fountain at South Stoneham House, c.1920 [Cope Coll. photo SOU 64 ph2420]

The Grounds Committee also was responsible for the College’s playing fields at South Stoneham, with input from the students. There were to be one each of football and rugby pitches with two hockey pitches. A hut was to be erected for changing rooms, but meanwhile a tent would be provided! Cinder and grass tracks for athletics were proposed, also a cricket pitch, while a hard tennis court would be made suitable for netball during the winter.

Tennis club, 1921 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3164]

Tennis club, 1921 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3164]

A furnace/groundsman was employed to look after the playing fields as well as to attend to the furnaces at South Stoneham. He lived in the cottage provided. In May 1925, the Grounds Curator wrote to the groundsman with a number of complaints about the state of the cricket pitch and tennis courts and accusing him of “some degree of negligence”. He was dismissed in 1926. The committee also had trouble with the boy employed to look after the tennis courts, who “seems unable to put in a good days work”. It appears that grazing was carried out during the winter, as it was necessary to protect the cricket pitch from cattle.


Tennis court at South Stoneham gardens [MS383 A4000/6/1/16]

The secretary of the Refectory Committee wrote in 1925 to ask if a hole about a yard square could be dug “for the storage of preserved eggs”. This was said to be a matter of some urgency. The Grounds Committee replied that this was agreed subject to the committee “having no responsibility for said eggs!” The first car park was called the “motor parking ground”. Cycling was still the main means of transport for the students, and accommodation for about 100 bicycles was proposed for South Stoneham. Traffic was beginning to be a problem by 1926-27, with several heavy lorries in Woodmill Lane colliding with the walls of South Stoneham House causing considerable damage. It was suggested that the AA should be asked to erect a “Danger” sign.

In 1927 considerable time was spent discussing the best way to manage the playing fields, and a table was drawn up comparing the practice at other colleges.

In June 1928 the committee recommended the erection of the marble statue presented by Mr Ellaby, dated 1735, “at the back of the central recess in front of the main College building.” Work had begun on a rock and water garden near the new botany building, with a generous donation of plants from the Red Lodge nursery. The greenhouses contained many interesting plants including a collection of South African succulents and a “fine specimen” of a banana plant with fruit. A College grown pineapple was raffled for 17 shillings and six pence for the appeal fund.

West’s Patent [MS1 A4091/1/9]

From 1928 the volumes include a regular report from the Grounds Curator, including details of gifts and exchanges of plants with other gardens and institutions, as well as the development of the grounds. In 1929, a professor from McGill University, Montreal, who was studying insectivorous plants, was provided with a specimen of a Utricularia (bladderwort). Gifts included a valuable collection of South American orchids in 1930. Some specimen blooms were later sent to Kew, where many of them were found to be unrepresented in the Kew herbarium. A piece of waste ground behind the engineering department was being developed as a wild garden with gifts of plants from local gardens. The grass at South Hill was being mown by “an old machine drawn by a very old pony”. The Curator recommended the purchase of a new motor mower as both the gardener and the pony were due for retirement!

The minutes include a lengthy consideration of the condition of elm trees at South Stoneham House. After storm damage in the winter of 1929-30, many of the trees were considered unsafe. The committee were agreed that “the position is serious in the extreme and that drastic action is urgently needed”. Sir Hugh Murray, the prominent arboriculturalist who had been instrumental in setting up the Forestry Commission, was approached for his expert opinion, and condemned most of the trees as highly dangerous. The committee were concerned that the loss of the trees would affect the beauty of the grounds, and wrote to Sir Hugh for a further report. He replied “As a lover of trees, I should hate to cut your beautiful elms, but from a point of view of safety first I think I should do so.” However, the Committee was reluctant to take action, and the arguments rumbled on until 1936 when some of the trees were finally removed. In 1935 Lord Swaythling got involved, stating that the trees were a danger to his property including his Fish House. The committee retaliated by saying the trees on his lordship’s property were also in a dangerous state, and sent a similar message to the vicar of South Stoneham regarding trees in his churchyard. This exchange does not appear to have injured relations with Lord Swaythling as in 1937, he sent gifts of rhododendrons for the grounds at South Stoneham as did Lionel de Rothschild of Exbury.

South Stoneham House [MS383 A4000/6/1/16]

South Stoneham House [MS383 A4000/6/1/16]

In 1931 pools were being proposed for the biological departments by damming the nearby brook “for culture of live stock”. Much work was being done to level and turf the area near “the new building” (now the Hartley Library). In 1935, the warden of South Stoneham House reported “continual damage being done by the students to the flower beds”. The committee decided he should treat this as a disciplinary matter. It seems that not much changed in the next 60 years, as the gardener at South Stoneham was complaining about “18 year old children” damaging his trees in the 1990s.

By 1936-37, eight men and boys were employed as grounds staff, and were paid a total of £12 17s per week, reflecting the low wages prevalent at the time. It was recommended that these wages should be increased to £17 for the year 1937-38. The Head Gardener also had the use of a tied cottage. At South Hill the gardeners’ efforts were added to by the “enthusiastic Navigation staff utilizing its leisure hours in destroying weeds”.

The increased likelihood of war breaking out caused the committee to recommend the siting of ARP trenches behind the engineering blocks in March 1939. Much time was taken up discussing the new layout of the site in light of the new buildings planned and huts to be cleared. Lionel de Rothschild continued to donate shrubs to the College from his gardens at Exbury.

Aerial view of campus with huts still present, 1928-9 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3211]

Aerial view of campus with huts still present, 1928-9 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3211]

After the outbreak of war, all development work was discontinued. Several of the grounds staff were called up, including two in the Balloon Barrage Corps, so it was proposed to reduce the number of men to six. The Curator appreciated the importance of maintaining morale, “I regard it as essential that we should keep the grounds as bright and cheerful as possible”. The shortage of petrol caused one of the large mowers to be laid up, but it was hoped that the lawns could be kept in “fairly decent order”. In October 1940, the Ministry of Agriculture ordered that one acre of ground at South Stoneham should be used for growing food. This was duly ploughed up and potatoes, carrots, onions and swedes were planted. Considerable quantities of tomatoes, lettuces and haricot beans were also grown in the College grounds. Bananas were still being grown, presumably in a greenhouse, and some were sent to Southampton Children’s Hospital in 1942. Later, a land girl was employed. Unfortunately she injured her hand while digging and was forced to leave the Land Army in 1943. The students of Highfield Hall volunteered to undertake the care of their grounds.

One of the gardeners fell off a ladder when investigating damage done to his house by a land mine and broke his ankle and wrist. The Curator reported the misuse of land by military trainees, and the committee resolved there should be a strongly worded protest sent to the authorities. In 1944 the Head Gardener’s cottage suffered bomb damage and he was slightly wounded. A former gardener who had been a prisoner of war returned to work in 1945, but was recalled by the army soon afterwards.

When the war ended, some of the grounds had become overgrown as a result of the reduced manpower during the war years. It was proposed that the bomb shelter in front of the Botany Building be removed and replaced with a pond for aquatic plants. The Curator reported difficulties in recruiting new gardeners due to the lower wages that the college was paying compared with those paid by Southampton Corporation. He was anxious to give up the kitchen garden at South Stoneham, and this was authorised in 1946 when it was returned to lawns. He applied for the use of German prisoners of war, but this request was declined so he accepted the offer of land girls instead. The Committee proposed to return the South Hill kitchen garden to grass for use as tennis courts. The old gun sites in front of the College were filled in and converted to lawn.

In May 1946 the Curator wrote “… a start has been made on the return to something like peacetime amenities, although there is still a long way to go.” By November, the grounds staff were up to their pre-war number of nine “and the work of restoring the condition of the grounds is well in hand”. The last minutes in the volume date from June 1948, and continue to record progress in improving the grounds and the appointment of a new Head Gardener, Mr Montague, having finally retired at the age of 71.

The next instalment of University Developments Through Time will look at something completely different – namely Student Rag over the years – so do look out for that.

University Developments Through Time: Sports Facilities

Welcome to the first in the series of Special Collections blog posts that chart developments at the University through the themes of sporting facilities, the grounds, Rag, and the Hartley Institution’s museum. This week, we focus on the development of the University’s sports facilities.

Model of the Sports Pavilion at North Stoneham, 1950s [MS1/Phot/22/6/3/12]

Model of the Sports Pavilion at North Stoneham, 1950s [MS1/Phot/22/6/3/12]

Before the 1920s, the University hired pitches from various clubs for cricket, football, and other games. It is recorded in the Hartley University College Athletics Committee minute book and accounts on 3 March 1904, that “On the proposition of Mr Daws seconded by Prof. Chapple the following sub-committee was elected to make enquiries as to the best means of obtaining a field, suitable for the cricket, football, & tennis clubs & make its report to this committee.” [Hartley University College Athletics Committee minute book and accounts, 1903-8, MS1 A4089/1]

Hartley University College Athletics Committee minute book and accounts, 1903-8 [MS1 A4089/1]

Hartley University College Athletics Committee minute book and accounts, 1903-8 [MS1 A4089/1]

Circa 1925, the University was gifted a field at Swaythling opposite south Stoneham House by Mrs Montefiore. A generous donation from her husband, Claude Montefiore, enabled the field to be fitted up and a pavilion to be erected. This greatly aided the student social scene. Football, hockey and netball were some of the sports in which the students could partake and these activities are well reflected in our photographic collections.

1927-28 hockey team [MS 224/12 A919/5]

1927-28 hockey team [MS224/12 A919/5]

Sports Pavilion, c.1940s [MS 1 Phot/22/5/1]

Sports Pavilion, c.1940s [MS1/Phot/22/5/1]

A new assembly hall with a gymnasium and changing rooms was completed by March 1949. The gymnasium was used for badminton, gym, and boxing. In 1950, additional grounds for playing fields were obtained by buying 26 acres at North Stoneham.

Model of the Sports Pavilion at North Stoneham, 1950s [MS1/Phot/22/6/3/3]

Model of the Sports Pavilion at North Stoneham, 1950s [MS1/Phot/22/6/3/3]

Many sports clubs were formed in the 1950s, including Golf, Squash, Basketball, Archery and Judo. The Wessex Sailing Club was also admitted by the Athletic Union during the 1952-3 session. Financial support was provided to develop sports facilities during this decade, such as the University Grants Committee providing funding towards a new Sports ground. Connections through a Mr Robertson and Chairman of the Athletic Union at the time, Dr Chapman, also achieved an additional grant for a pavilion. The new Sports Ground would provide a cinder running track and be one of the best laid-out Sports Grounds in the South-West of England according to the 1955-6 annual report. The North Stoneham sports ground began to be used in October 1957, and the new Wellington Field was opened by the University’s first Chancellor, Gerald Wellesley, 7th Duke of Wellington, during the 1958-9 session.

Football match at North Stoneham Sports Ground, 1950s [MS 1 Phot/22/6/3/1]

Football match at North Stoneham Sports Ground, 1950s [MS1/Phot/22/6/3/1]

During the 1955-56 academic year, a financial policy was designed to place in reserve monetary funds to enable the Student Union to eventually take over the West Building and run it as a Union building. The West Building dated back to the 1940s and was built in red brick style. By the session 1960-1, the Union had expanded into almost the whole of this building, and by 1967, the new Students’ Union building was completed as part of architect Basil Spence’s masterplan, offering indoor sports. The two buildings were connected by an underground tunnel. The sports facilities included provisions for squash, badminton, basketball, fencing, cricket, and tennis practice as well as gymnastics, a billiards room, table tennis room, and a judo room.

Student Union gymnasium and sports hall, 1970 [MS1/Phot/22/3/2]

Student Union gymnasium and sports hall, 1970 [MS1/Phot/22/3/2]

“With the large and pleasant multi-purpose sports hall, the battery of six squash courts, the judo/exercise room, ands the table tennis area, together with ancillary changing accommodation, the University is fortunate to have some of the best facilities for indoor games in the country. Furthermore, they are ideally situated in the centre of the campus. The sports hall are equipped to house badminton, basketball, fencing, olympic gymnastics, trampolining, table-tennis and volleyball to international standards, as well as being able to cater for archery, cricket, nets, indoor soccer and hockey, tennis, vaulting and agility, netball, and weight training. There are also excellent facilities and equipment for team and personal training and “keep fit” exercise. It is evident that the sports complex is being well used.” [University of Southampton Proceedings 1966-67 Univ. Coll. LF 786.4 ]

Judo in the Martial Arts Room, 1970 [MS1/Phot/22/3/2]

Judo in the Martial Arts Room, 1970 [MS1/Phot/22/3/2]

To promote the indoor sports centre a University Sports Week was hosted during November 1967, of which over 1,700 people attended. The aim of this venture was to promote the indoors sports centre and to provide the opportunity for the public to experience sport played at a high level in the hope that spectators would be encouraged to get involved. Well-known sportsmen and women including international golf, badminton and squash players and gymnasts, were invited to take part in demonstrations and exhibitions. This event helped strengthen links between the University and local sports associations. In line with the recommendations of the Government Sports Council, organisations outside the University were encouraged to use sports facilities during the vacations when they were not needed by students. Coaching courses and competitions in badminton, netball, tennis, trampolining and squash run by local sports associations took place in the indoor facilities.

Trampolining in the Student Union building, 1970 [MS 1/Phot/22/3/2]

Trampolining in the Student Union building, 1970 [MS1/Phot/22/3/2]

During the 1968-9 session an appeal was launched by the University of Southampton Swimming Society to provide funds for a swimming pool, and a retractable golf practice net was installed in the Sports Hall. Plans were also accepted for the construction of a climbing wall on the outside, south wall of the hall. A first class rifle range was also built at the Boat Hard, Woodmill, with funds provided by the Students’ Union.

In the 1970s, the provision of a slipway and the development of instructional courses in sailing and canoeing at the Boat Hard helped popularise water-based activities. Rowing and sailing were seen to expand rapidly, and a canoeing club and sub aqua club were also formed.

Boat Hard [MS 1 Phot/32/123]

Boat Hard [MS1/Phot/32/123]

Unfortunately, the development of an alternative route for the M27 South Coast Motorway in the 1970s led to the demolition of the pavilion, athletics track, and other playing areas at the Wellington Sports Ground, as well as first class pitches at the Wide Lane Playing Fields in Eastleigh. Proposals for the Stoneham Interchange and the Portswood Link also threatened the six tennis courts at the Montefiore Sports Ground and additional pitches at the Wide Lane Ground. To compensate for these losses, the University acquired 34 acres of land at North Stoneham Park, which it proposed to prepare immediately for use as playing fields. Here the University laid artificial playing surfaces for hockey, tennis, and cricket. During the 1974-5 session, the University successfully completed negotiations with Winchester College for the purchase of a second boathouse.

University Boat Club 2nd VIII, 1971 [MS310/46 A2075/3]

University Boat Club 2nd VIII, 1971 [MS310/46 A2075/3]

Further losses ensued as a result of the development of the Montefiore House halls of residence, this time being the Montefiore Sports Ground during the 1975-6 session. Sporting activities, which previously took place at the Montefiore Sports Ground, were transferred to the newly developed playing fields at North Stoneham Park. During the late 1970s, the indoor sports facilities were unable to satisfy demand, due to the facilities only being appropriate to a university half its size. There was an urgent priority for the provision of a second sports hall, extra squash courts, and a fitness training room.

Wessex News, February 1976

Wessex News, February 1976

First class facilities for various types of fitness training became available for the first time in the University indoors sports centre in January 1980. Circuit and weight training apparatus as well as a multi-gym were installed in the new area. In the same year, a replacement pavilion at North Stoneham Playing Fields was made available, and the Wellington Sports Ground was opened by Bruce Tulloh, champion runner of the 1950s and 1960s.

Wellington Sports Pavilion, 1979 [MS1/Phot/22/11/2/9]

Wellington Sports Pavilion, 1979 [MS1/Phot/22/11/2/9]

In the 1991-2 session came the University’s new climbing wall. It was the only one of its type in the region at the time, and was available for use by local climbing clubs and individuals. The wall was constructed outside of the Students’ Union and the cost was met jointly by the University, Athletic Union, and Students’ Union. In 1991, the University submitted a planning application for another building on Wide Lane Sports Ground.

Rock-climbing wall, 1990s [MS1/Phot/19/263]

Student Union rock-climbing wall, 1990s [MS1/Phot/19/263]

In 2004 the University unveiled the Jubilee Sports Centre, at a cost of £8.5 million, on the Highfield Campus. Its facilities include a six-lane 25-metre swimming pool, 160 workstation gym and an eight-court sports hall.

Jubilee Sports Centre swimming pool

Jubilee Sports Centre swimming pool

Wide Lane was refurbished at cost of £4.3 million during the 2005-2006 session and was unveiled by BBC sports presenter and Southampton alumnus, John Inverdale. The 73-acre (30 ha) complex includes flood-lit synthetic turf and grass pitches, tennis courts, a pavilion and a ‘Team Southampton’ Gym. The University also runs facilities at the Avenue Campus, National Oceanography Centre, the Watersports Centre on the River Itchen and at Glen Eyre and Wessex Lane halls.

Wide Lane floodlit artificial pitches

Wide Lane floodlit artificial pitches

The sources that we hold on the history of the development of the University’s sports facilities include committee minute books, and reports, Department of Physical Education statements of accounts and estimates, as well as photographs. We also hold a University College Southampton rugby first XV team rugby jersey, dating around 1930-4. This belonged to an R.E. Brown, who was rugby captain. In our Printed Collections are annual reports, which contain updates provided by the Department of Physical Education, and prospectuses can be useful for seeing photographs of the developments of the facilities.

Team rugby jersey, 1930s [MS 224/23 A953 Part 2]

Team rugby jersey, 1930s [MS224/23 A953 Part 2]

Look out for our next blog post, which will focus on the history of the University grounds.


Highfield Campus 100: the 21st century

And so we reach the final Special Collections blog looking at the development of the University over the last 100 years.

As we moved into the new millennium, there was a change at the helm of the University with the Vice Chancellor, Professor Howard Newby, departing and being replaced by Professor Bill Wakeham. Following the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which placed Southampton in the top ten of research-led universities in the UK – and which was described by Bill Wakeham as “spectacular by anybody’s standard” – Professor Wakeham produced his “Vision and Strategic Direction for the University of Southampton to 2010” setting out the future organisation and direction for the University.

Members of Athletics Union, with the Vice Chancellor, who recreated the relay run from London to Southampton to mark the golden jubilee of the University, 2002 [MS1/Phot/19/256]

In 2002, and again in 2012, the University also looked back to its history, celebrating first its golden and then diamond jubilee of gaining University status in 1952. One of the events in 2002 was to recreate the relay run by members of the Athletics Union from London to Southampton: in 1953 this had been to carry a message of congratulations from the Chancellor of the University of London delivered to the Chancellor of Southampton, the Duke of Wellington.

60at60: for diamond jubilee celebrations of the University of Southampton

Indeed, 2012 was to be a double celebration, since it also marked the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Hartley Institution in 1862. The Hartley Institution, which was based in the High Street, Southampton, was officially opened by the then Prime Minister, third Viscount Palmerston, who travelled from his home in Romsey for the event. Papers of Lord Palmerston form part of the Broadlands Archives, one of key collections of the Special Collections, and for which the University undertook a major fundraising campaign in 2009 to ensure that they remained in the UK.

Lord Palmerston arriving for the opening of the Hartley Institution, 1862 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3026]

The near two decades since 2000 has seen considerable development of the Highfield campus with amongst others the extension of the Hartley Library, opened in  November 2004; the re-development and extension of the George Thomas Building housing Professional Services and Student Services; and the Life Sciences building which won an architectural award in 2011. In 2005, a major fire partially destroyed the Mountbatten Building on campus: it successor, also called Mountbatten Building – providing accommodation for the School of Electronics and Computing Science and Optoelectronics Research Centre – was formally opened in 2009. The Highfield campus continues to be developed and reshaped, with the newest building, the aptly named Centenary Building, currently being completed. Developments in sports facilities, both at Highfield campus and elsewhere, will be covered in a successive blog next week.

Hartley Library extension opened 2004

The new millennium also saw developments in other ways: 2004 was the year that the first female Esquire Bedell was appointed at the University. Jo Nesbitt of the International Office was the appointee and it was claimed she was the first women to hold this ceremonial post in any university in the UK. The role was created in 1953 for the first University graduation and for, according to the Rag Magazine of the time, a tall male postgraduate “with a great love of ceremonial born in him”.

Jo Nesbitt featured in Hartley News, 2004

Graduations in 2004 were the first time that the ceremonies were broadcast live to allow all guests to see the proceedings. Graduations ceremonies now take place a number of times a year to accommodate increasing numbers of graduates and the expansion of University activities not just across several campuses in Southampton and Winchester but overseas. Southampton has a campus in Dalian, China – part of its collaboration with the Dalian Polytechnic University – and the Southampton’s Malaysia campus opened in October 2012 offering degrees in engineering. The Confucius Institute, which promotes Chinese culture and language, also was launched at the University in 2012.

Light Opera Society production of The Pirates of Penzance, 2000 [MS1/Phot/10/7/1]

Student life in the millennium is both very different and in some ways familiar with that in the decades since 1919. Student activism, details of which have been touched upon in previous blogs – such as protests in the 1960s – continued in the recent decades, encompassing such issues as higher education loans and climate change.  The opportunities for distraction of social and sporting activities is yet more multiple and varied. The number of clubs and societies supported by the Student Union has risen in the period since 2000 to 300, spanning an array of subjects from Ancient History to Women in Business, numerous performing arts societies and over 80 different sporting activities ranging from court sports to clubs such as windsurfing and sailing.

Mountaineering Club putting their skills to work around campus [MS1/Phot/19/263/1]

The University also can boast that it has sent a competitor to every summer Olympics since 1988 and in the millennium Southampton has seen success in Olympic sailing events. In Sydney 2000, rowing silver medalist Guinevere Batten competed with her sister Miriam in the women’s quadruple skulls. Subsequent successes include Pavlos Kontides who at the London Olympics, 2012, won Cyprus’s first ever Olympic medal, a silver in the Laser class sailing, and a gold medal for Giles Scott in the Finn heavyweight dingy class at Rio in 2016.

Sailing Club in action [MS1/Phot19/266]

As we approach the anniversary of the move to Highfield in autumn 1919, there is change at the helm of the University with the arrival of a new Vice Chancellor, Professor Mark E.Smith, marking another new phase in the institution’s story.

If these series of blogs have whetted your appetite for more about the development of Highfield over the last 100 years, then do check out Special Collections twitter account and the new series Highfield in 100 objects starting in October.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Travels

After following intrepid travellers to far-flung places, in the last in our series of travel posts we look at those who stayed closer to home.

The south coast’s scenery and climate have attracted a range of visitors over the years – especially those in search of a picturesque view, a health cure or even a combination of the two.

Hampshire by John Cary (1793) Rare Books Cope c 90.5 1793

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the Isle of Wight became a magnet for artists keen to record its picturesque scenery, despite the fact that William Gilpin, the main proponent of the picturesque as an aesthetic ideal, found the Island sadly lacking in this this quality.

William Gilpin Observations on the Western Parts of England Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty, to which are Added, A Few Remarks on the Picturesque Beauties of the Isle of Wight (1798)

Gilpin wrote that whilst there were elements of the picturesque in the shipwrecks and in the sea-fowl which darkened the air, the Isle of Wight was really “a large garden or rather a field, which in every part has been disfigured by the spade, the coulter and the harrow”, the coastal views being “much less beautiful than we had expected to find them”.  Naturally, there was some consternation at this description locally and in the Hampshire Repository’s review of his book in 1799, Gilpin’s views were strongly rebuffed, the reviewer going as far as to retrace his footsteps and provide an alternative opinion on the scenery.

Others who visited the Isle of Wight were more impressed with what they saw. John Hassell, a London based artist who illustrated his Tour of the Isle of Wight (1790) with aquatints of his drawings (many with unusual colour washes), wrote of Carisbrooke Castle “it affords a fund of delight to the traveller whose mind is susceptible to the transports which picturesque scenes excite”.

Carisbrooke Castle from: John Hassell Tour of the Isle of Wight v.2 (1790) Rare Books Cope 98.91

A few years later Charles Tomkins recorded both the architecture and the picturesque views of the Island in his Tour to the Isle of Wight (1796), describing how Blackgang Chine “strikes the mind with horror at its dark and sable aspect” .

Blackgang Chine from: Charles Tomkins A Tour to the Isle of Wight v.1 (1796) Rare Books Cope 98.91

In 1784 and again in 1791 the artist and satirist Thomas Rowlandson toured the Island and taking a different approach, made sketches of the various incidents that made up the journey.  The sketches were lost for many years, reappearing at the end of the nineteenth century when they were reproduced in an article in The Graphic (Summer 1891), by Joseph Grego, who added his own commentary on the journey.

From:The Graphic Summer Number 1891 Rare Books Cope folio 91.5

Many of the Isle of Wight visitors travelled via Southampton, which offered tourists excursions to the gothic ruins of Netley Abbey as well as a mineral spring and sea-water bathing to restore their health. Royal patronage had made Southampton a fashionable resort in the later years of the eighteenth century, the Hampshire Chronicle printing a weekly list of arrivals during the summer season.  Southampton’s reputation as a spa waned during the early part of the nineteenth century, as its commercial importance grew, but other resorts developed to cater for the ‘health tourists’ of the day.

 Hampshire Chronicle (17th August, 1778)

Favoured by their sheltered locations and warm temperatures, both Ventnor on the Isle of Wight and Bournemouth (then part of Hampshire) developed as resorts largely thanks to their promotion in prominent publications. In the second edition of The Influence of Climate in the Prevention and Cure of Chronic Diseases (1830), Sir James Clark wrote of his surprise that the Isle of Wight’s Undercliff had been so long overlooked, given its scenery, dry air and a climate which allowed myrtle and geraniums, to flourish even in the colder months. He recommended it as a location superior to any other on the south coast for invalids with pulmonary disease.

Ventnor, Isle of Wight, from: Thomas Roscoe Summer Tour to the Isle of Wight (1843) Rare Books Cope 98.91

Some years later Bournemouth was mentioned very favourably (especially in comparison with Ventnor) in A.B. Granvilles’s The Spas of England and Principal Sea-Bathing Places (1841) “no situation that I have had occasion to examine along the whole southern coast, possesses so many capabilities of being made the first invalid sea-watering place in England”.

Bournemouth from the water, from: Philip Brannon The Illustrated Historical and Picturesque Guide to Bournemouth and the Surrounding Scenery 7th ed. (1863)

Both resorts developed ‘Sanditon style’ in areas previously sparsely populated. At Ventnor, development was piecemeal, resulting in buildings of varying styles. In A few Remarks about Ventnor… (1877), William Spindler, a  German industrial chemist who retired to the Isle of Wight, wrote “We have hotels, churches, shops, cottages and villas in every conceivable style and every outrageous shape” adding that an assembly room, pleasure garden and more planting for shade would be beneficial.

In contrast, Granville thought Bournemouth safe from speculative ‘ brick and mortar contractors’ as fewer landowners were involved in its development. He saw it as having commodious and well-arranged dwellings amongst the pine trees, suitable for invalids “of that class who happen to be wealthy”, with hotels and boarding houses catering for a superior class of visitor.

Ventnor and Bournemouth succeeded in their ambitions to attract wealthy visitors seeking the benefits of a mild climate and sea air, but eventually both resorts had to balance catering for this market with the needs of new tourists holidaying purely for pleasure and amusement.

Bournemouth from the Pier [postmarked 1904] Rare Books Cope pc 326

As the holidays are behind us and we return to the normal routine, we hope you have enjoyed the travellers’ tales from Special Collections.

Botanical illustrations from the Special Collections

As September 2019 marks 100 years of the Forestry Commission, we take a look at other green items in Special Collections – botanical illustrations.

The earliest botanical illustrations were mostly to show plants used in herbal remedies, so realism was important initially, though over time illustrations became debased and merely decorative. The Renaissance brought a revival in naturalism, and from the seventeenth century an emphasis on beauty over utility prevailed, with flower painting becoming important in its own right. This continued until the advent of photography and beyond. Even now, there is no substitute for careful, accurate botanical drawing for scientific purposes, which can show different stages of a plant simultaneously such as buds and seeds.

William Salmon Botanologia: the English Herbal or History of Plants (London, 1710): Black bryony (a diuretic), Bittersweet, (for purging) and Brooklime – all common British wild plants [Rare Books quarto QK 77]

Salmon was a quack-doctor, who also drew up horoscopes and dabbled in alchemy. His herbal includes some highly poisonous plants such as Hemlock and Henbane. He advocated the use of the leaves of Deadly Nightshade as a poultice but does warn users to keep children away from the berries! This herbal also includes some herbs still used today such as St John’s Wort, used for depression and Foxglove (Digitalis), valuable in the treatment of heart problems but poisonous in larger doses.

Richard Brook Cyclopaedia of Botany and Complete Book of Herbs showing the goddess Flora  [Rare Books QK 77]

Classic herbals from an earlier era are Gerard and Culpeper, but our library only possesses more recent reprints of these important works – 1815 for Culpeper and 1975 for Gerard.

The Botanical Magazine was founded in 1787 by William Curtis and is the longest running botanical periodical featuring the coloured illustrations of plants, still produced today.

Curtis was born in Alton in 1746, but moved to London when he was twenty to set up as an apothecary, later devoting himself solely to the study of plants. From its beginnings The Botanical Magazine contained many beautiful hand-coloured engravings, initially drawn and engraved by James Sowerby, who also illustrated Curtis’ publication Flora Londinensis as well as his own English Botany, which includes lichens and mosses as well as true flowering plants.

Plate 194 from Sowerby’s English Botany, Vol. 3 (London, 1794): Yellow wall lichen [Rare Books QK 306]

Sowerby also drew fungi, zoology, mineralogy and fossil shells. He even had a whale named after him.

Plate 16 by Sowerby from The Botanical Magazine Vol. 1 (London, 1797): Iris variegate [Rare Books per Q]

“This species of Iris, inferior to few in point of beauty, is a native of the hilly pastures of Hungary… It is a hardy perennial, requires no particular treatment and may be easily propagated by parting its roots in Autumn” Information not out of place in a modern gardening publication.

Later volumes of The Botanical Magazine were illustrated by Sydenham Edwards, who was a friend of Curtis and often accompanied him on botanical expeditions. In 1815, Edwards started his own publication, The Botanical Register.

Plate 1676 by Sydenham Edwards from The Botanical Magazine Vol. XL, (London, 1814): Stapelia bufonis (Toad-flowered Stapelia) A native of the Cape of Good Hope [Rare Books per Q]

Plate 34, drawn by Edwards, engraved by F. Sansom in Sydenham Edwards The New Flora Britannica (London, 1812) [Rare Books quarto QK 306]

This differed from the Botanical Magazine by adopting a quarto format and having two or three different plants to a page, with longer descriptive text. It appears to be an adaptation of The Complete Dictionary of Practical Gardening by R. W. Dickson, published 1805-7 under the pseudonym Alexander Macdonald. The title page states “Coloured with the greatest exactness from drawings by Sydenham Edwards”.

The Botanists Repository of 1797 “for new and rare plants … as have not appeared in any similar publication”, consists of seven volumes bound into four individual books by Henry Andrews including many coloured engravings.

The Botanists Repository Vol. 1 (1797) with illustration of twinflower [Rare Books QK 98]

Twinflower or Linnaea borealis was the favourite flower of the celebrated botanist Linnaeus, who devised the binomial system for cataloguing plants. However, he did not name it after himself, it being named in his honour by the Dutch botanist, J. F. Gronovius. It is nationally scarce in northern England and Scotland, but also found in northern parts of Europe, Canada and the US.

Want to find out more about related material in the Special Collections? See the guide to the Salisbury Collection or a previous blog A passion for plants.