Researching and remembering the Basque refugee children of 1937 in the Special Collections

This week Dr Edward Packard, Lecturer in History at University of Suffolk and Trustee of BCA’37: The Association for the UK Basque Children, discusses his use of the University’s collections relating to Basque child refugees as part of a research project on the Basque colonies that existed in Suffolk between 1937 and 1939.

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The Habana arrives at Southampton [MS404 A4164/4/6]

“Following a turbulent crossing of the Bay of Biscay, four thousand children from the Basque Country disembarked from the overcrowded liner SS Habana at Southampton on 23 May 1937. These niños vascos were refugees from the Spanish Civil War and were initially accommodated in a temporary reception camp at North Stoneham, near Eastleigh, before being dispersed in groups to approximately eighty ‘colonies’ across England, Wales, and Scotland. The government refused to provide any financial assistance for the young refugees, who instead relied on donations and other forms of support from private individuals, groups, and organisations. Most of the niños had been repatriated by the start of the Second World War, but around 250 settled permanently in the UK rather than returning to the dictatorship established in Spain by General Franco following his victory in the Civil War.

North Stoneham Camp [MS404/A4164/2/24]

North Stoneham Camp [MS404 A4164/2/24]

The remarkable history of the Basque refugee children and the vast public effort to support them is not as well-known in the UK as the subsequent Kindertransport, or the internal migration of evacuees during the Second World War. However, since the start of the twenty-first century, public awareness of the niños vascos has been boosted by the activities of BCA’37: The Association for the UK Basque Children. The Association was founded in 2002 by Natalia Benjamin, whose parents taught and cared for some of the children, and Manuel Moreno, the son of a niña vasca, owing to their concerns that archival material related to the children was at risk of being lost. By developing a network of surviving niños, their family members, and others with an interest in the Basque refugees, the Association accumulated a wide range of written and visual sources about the children’s experiences in the 1930s and since. These were passed to the University of Southampton Special Collections in 2016 to ensure their preservation and to facilitate access for researchers.

BCA’37: The Association for the UK Basque Children 70 Years Commemoration Event Programme [MS404/A4164/1/2]

BCA’37: The Association for the UK Basque Children 70 Years Commemoration Event Programme [MS404 A4164/1/2]

The archive, catalogued as MS404 (A4164 and A4171), is especially intriguing as it contains not only original and facsimile historical documents pertaining to the Basque children, many of which have not featured in published work to date, but also includes administrative papers and correspondence related to the Association’s activities. Besides gathering documentation, the Association has also been involved in numerous events, including exhibitions and educational work. Given that the memory and memorialisation of the Spanish Civil War remains controversial and contested in the present, these materials offer insights into the ways in which a specific organisation has been involved in the construction of the public memory of the niños.

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Children and adults at North Stoneham Camp [MS404 A4164/2/24]

My own research focuses on the Basque colonies that existed in the county of Suffolk between 1937 and 1939, and I am also interested in the different ways that the history of the niños vascos has been told, and what remains untold. It is often difficult to research local case studies connected to the Basque refugees, owing to the impermanence of the colonies and the fragmentary nature of the surviving historical record. I found that the materials held at Southampton, which include further collections of relevant papers catalogued at MS370, helped me to fill some of the gaps and add texture to the history of the Suffolk colonies and the local experiences of the niños. For instance, while I considered myself very familiar with the history of the Wickham Market colony, which was located in a decommissioned workhouse, file MS404 A4164/2/13 contained several photographs that I had not seen before, including the children eating a meal inside the workhouse, and a striking image of some of the Basque boys with bicycles. While these subjects might sound mundane, the photographs help to convey a sense of the children’s experiences of colony life.

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Basque boys with bicycles [MS404 A4164/2/13/5]

Among the other highlights of my visit to Special Collections was viewing an original souvenir programme for an ‘All Spanish Concert by the Spanish Refugee Children from Wherstead Park, and West-End Spanish Artistes’ held at Ipswich in December 1937 (MS370/8 A4110/1). Such entertainments were a crucial part of the fundraising activity required to maintain individual colonies, although the participation of ‘West-End Artistes’ was unusual – the songs and dances were usually performed exclusively by the children.

Souvenir programme for an 'All Spanish Concert by the Spanish Refugee Children from Wherstead Park, and West-End Spanish Artistes’ held at Ipswich in December 1937 [MS 370/8 A4110/1]

Souvenir programme for an ‘All Spanish Concert by the Spanish Refugee Children from Wherstead Park, and West-End Spanish Artistes’ held at Ipswich in December 1937 [MS370/8 A4110/1]

The enduring and poignant connection between some of the Basque refugees and those who cared for them is highlighted in a short letter, dated 1 January 1988 (MS404 A4171/2/3/1/5), by Poppy Vulliamy, then in her eighties, who had established a series of colonies, including in Suffolk and Norfolk, for a group of fifty older Basque boys in 1937 and 1938. She was writing to one of these ‘boys’, Rafael de Barrutia, now a man approaching retirement age, thanking him for a Christmas card. Poppy signed off ‘From your friend who never forgets you.’ The preservation of memory is a key theme that runs through the BCA’37 archive and influences its continuing activities in the present. These include an undergraduate dissertation prize, for which the Special Collections at University of Southampton are likely to prove an important resource.

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Part of letter by Poppy Vulliamy, 1 January 1988 [MS404 A4171/2/3/1/5]

After spending much of my research trip to the Hartley Library pondering the relationship between historical experiences and the ways in which they are remembered, it seemed appropriate to head back to Southampton railway station via the Civic Centre to visit the plaque commemorating the arrival of the Habana over eighty years ago. I also reflected again that, while the Basque refugee archive at Southampton is inevitably incomplete, it offers significant glimpses into local refugee experiences. With the number of surviving niños vascos declining each year, these documents will only become more valuable in preserving the memory of this crucial part of Britain’s refugee history.”

Commemorative plaque of the arrival of the Basque refugees at the Southampton Civic Centre

Commemorative plaque of the arrival of the Basque refugees at the Southampton Civic Centre

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The wonder of watercolours

July is World Watercolour Month, a 31-day charitable event aimed at promoting the joy of the art of watercolours and arts education.

To celebrate the wonder of watercolours, Special Collections shares items from a small series of watercolour paintings of architecture in India. Dating from the early to mid-nineteenth century, these possibly were created in preparation for a work on architecture.

Taj Mahal from the river [MS288/1]

Located on the banks of the Yamuna river, the Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Construction started in 1632 and was completed in 1648. Subsequent buildings, including the mosque, the main gateway on the south, the outer courtyard and its cloisters, were added later. The marble of the tomb, which is the centre of focus, stands in contrast with the red sandstone of surrounding buildings. Decorative elements were created by using paint, stucco, stone inlays or carving.

Gate opposite the river, by which you enter the garden [MS288/2]

The gardens reflected the intricate melding of nature and religion. Every portion was meticulously planned and based on four or multiples of four which is the holiest number in Islam. They also were designed to the idea of Charbagh – the idea of a Paradise Garden. This was in keeping with ancient Persian Timurid gardens which filled the gardens with symbolic shapes and plantings.

View of gardens from Taj Mahal towards gate opposite the river [MS288/3]

The ground plan of the Taj Mahal is composed in perfect balance and the domed chamber, housing the cenotaphs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, is a perfect octagon.

Interior view of vaulted dome over the tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan [MS288/8]

The octagonal marble lattice screen encircling both cenotaphs is highly polished and richly decorated with inlay work. The borders of the frames are inlaid with precious stones representing flowers.

Detail of flower design [MS288/12]

For further details of watercolours and art in the Special Collections why not check out other blogs on the notable art of watercolours or Heywood Sumner: artist and archaeologist.

Cesspits and Salubrity in Southampton

Philip Brannon’s Picture of Southampton, a guidebook published in 1850, presents Southampton as an attractive place to visit, its fine streets and amenities on display in the book’s many engravings.

The High Street from Philip Brannon The Picture of Southampton (1850) Rare Books Cope SOU 03.5 1850

Although the arrival of the railway and development of the docks meant that the town’s commercial life was increasingly important, the guide emphasises Southampton’s longstanding claim to be a health resort. According to Brannon, as a result of the beneficial climate, there were cases where ‘incipient consumption has been arrested … and asthma of longstanding cured’. Going on to classify different areas of the town according to their ‘climatal characteristics’, he described Bedford Place as elevated and airy, whilst Cranbury Place was bracing.

Subtitle from Philip Brannon The Picture of Southampton (1850) Rare Books Cope SOU 03.5 1850

Brannon also wrote that when cholera appeared it was mild and ‘seldom attended with loss of life’ a surprising claim given that 239 people had died from the disease during the summer and early autumn of 1849. Those most badly affected were the poor who lived in the squalid courts and alleys behind the main streets, where the water supply was inadequate and sewers rare. Such insanitary conditions were alluded to by Brannon though they could ‘only remotely affect the visitor, as these portions are seldom, if ever, dwelt in by those who resort hither for health or pleasure’. He did however feel obliged to suggest that some areas of the shore were best avoided by invalids, particularly in warm weather at low tide.

River Itchen and Floating Bridge from Philip Brannon The Picture of Southampton (1850) Rare Books Cope SOU 03.5 1850

The reason for this becomes apparent in the very different picture of Southampton presented in  the Report of the General Board of Health on the Sanitary Condition of Southampton, also published in 1850. The author, William Ranger, was the inspector assigned to the town as part of the process of establishing a Local Board of Health, which it was hoped would improve the situation. Ranger visited in January 1850, taking the testimony of witnesses, many of them local doctors and clergy, and touring the areas where most deaths had occurred.

Courts and alleys behind the High Street from a copy of the 1846 map of Southampton Rare Books Cope cf SOU 90.5 1846

The Report provides a detailed account of the living conditions of those who rarely feature in publications on Southampton. The doctor, Francis Cooper, wrote ‘I have seen and visited paupers in their illness, who have lain in hovels not fit for pigs, and where pigs would infallibly have died for want of air’. In the courts and alleys, some as narrow as two or three feet, ‘light and air are in a great measure excluded and where drainage and sewerage are wanting and where ventilation is impossible, fumes of a malarious kind are perpetually given off by cesspools, dung-heaps and filthy privies’.

Ranger also included tables providing further evidence of the insanitary and overcrowded conditions:

Table showing access to a water supply from William Ranger’s Report to the General Board of Health … on Southampton (1850) Rare Books Cope SOU 61

Among the many problems were twenty slaughter houses within the town, privies unemptied for 10 years, only one public lavatory and no public baths. Out of 5,482 houses only 1,750 had a water supply, sewers where they existed were inadequate and outfalls on the shores insufficient, a problem particularly noted at the Floating Bridge and West Quay. Overcrowding was common, especially in the lodging houses found mainly in Blue Anchor Lane, Simnel Street, West Street and St Michael’s Square, where people were accommodated at the cost of three pence a night for part of a bed. The burial grounds within the town walls were also overcrowded.

Table showing access to toilets from William Ranger’s Report to the General Board of Health … on Southampton (1850) Rare Books Cope SOU 61

Ranger’s proposals to improve public health included providing a pure water supply to every house, extending and improving the sewers and prohibiting their discharge on the foreshore. Dead end alleys were to be opened up, the backstreets paved and cleaned and where possible ventilation increased in back to back houses. Burials within the town were to be prohibited as were slaughterhouses. Ranger suggested that the costs of such works would in part be offset by the savings achieved by improved public health.

Steps were taken to improve conditions but as time passed the impetus to carry out the proposals receded and in the mid-1860s cholera returned to the same areas killing 100 people, including Francis Cooper. Conditions described in the Detailed Report of Delapidated and Unhealthy Houses in the Borough of Southampton of 1893 showed that little had changed by the end of the nineteenth century.

Brannon’s engravings of Southampton show the town at its best, but Ranger’s report is a reminder of conditions just out of sight beyond the main streets, and raise the question of whether the walks along the shore would have been quite as pleasant as they might appear.

Blechynden from Philip Brannon The Picture of Southampton (1850) Rare Books Cope SOU 03.5 1850

Conditions in mid-19th century Southampton were by no means exceptional, the cholera epidemic of 1848/49 was nationwide. General Board of Health  inspectors visited 414 towns and villages between 1848 and 1857 and their reports are available on microfiche in the Hartley Library.

Highfield Campus 100: 1960s

And so we move to the “swinging sixties”, a decade of significant growth and expansion for the University. Projections made at the beginning of the 1960s were that Southampton would reach a total of 4,000 students by 1980. However, in 1963 the Robbins Report was published. This proposed great expansion in higher education and recommended that the number of students at English Universities should rise from 150,000 to 170,000. Southampton seized this opportunity and offered to increase its students to 4,000 by 1967.

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Aerial view of the Highfield site, c. 1959 [MS 1/Phot/11/5] University Road runs past the ‘main building’ [now the Hartley Library]

In the 1963-4 session, seven new chairs were created and about 50 new appointments made, within 15 departments. The following year 135 appointments were made in four departments. The decade also saw a remarkable number of new buildings.

Key to the 1960s was architect Sir Basil Spence who had been charged the previous decade with creating a “master plan” for the Highfield Campus and all the major buildings of this period were designed by him.

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[MS 1/Phot/39 ph3375]

In 1966 the University was graced by a visit from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She saw an exhibition of Kinetic art, the Nuffield Theatre and various displays in the Senior Common room.

The Arts 

In the pre-war era Arts had been a small part of what was primarily a science, engineering and teacher training college. In the 1960s, the General Degree was replaced with a new Combined Honours Degree. The following year, 1963, the Arts 1 Building was completed as part of the “Nuffield complex”; this building is now used by the Law School.

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Arts I, 1969 [MS 1/Phot/22/3/2]

The faculty was, at last, united! The new building allowed the faculty to leave the “main building”, i.e. Library, for the first time and to expand. A one-year MA programme was launched in 1966.

The Department of Archaeology was established in 1966. The chair was given to Barry Cunliffe who, aged 26, was believed to be the youngest professor the college or university had ever appointed. The Modern Languages Department transferred its teaching of languages for non-specialists to a new language centre under Tom Carter, with two language laboratories. The Library hold some records of the Modern Language Society in MS 1 A308.

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Arts II and the Nuffield Theatre [MS 1/Phot/22/3/2]

The Arts II building (Management and Music since 1996) was built in 1968. This was to accommodate, among other departments, Geography. As well as lecture rooms, it provided a cartographic studio and laboratories.

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Arts II [MS 1/Phot/22/3/2]

The poet F.T.Prince was Professor of English from 1957 to 1974: he is probably best remembered for his collection Soldiers Bathing (1954), the title poem of which is one of the most anthologised poems of the Second World War.

In 1961 Peter Evans was appointed first Professor of Music since 1928. He engineered the virtual creation of a Music Department involved in the academic study of music as well as a huge expansion of live performance.

Science

The Science Faculty had 1,522 applicants for admission in October 1960; it was only permitted to take 160. As a result of the Robbins Report, the University appointed 11 Professors to the Faculty: four to arrive 1967-8 and the other seven the following year. 

To help with expansion, new accommodation was built for the Chemistry department in 1960-1. It was later to be named after Graham Hill, Chair of Chemistry for some 18 years. 

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Graham Hill building [MS 1/Phot/37/7]

Hill was appointed to the University in 1962. Under his leadership the Chemistry Department grew to become one of the most distinguished in Britain concentrating on electro-chemistry, chemical physics, organic chemistry and inorganic spectroscopy.

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Chemistry department teaching laboratory, 1969 [MS 1/Phot/12/11]

An extension was added to the Hill building in 1965. An international summer school in electro-chemistry was launched in 1969.

Oceanography had its origins in the Department of Zoology. As an embryonic department it was promoted with enthusiasm by Professor John Raymont: he started researching the marine biology of coastal waters using Zoology’s first boat Aurelia. Oceanography became a separate department in October 1964 and John Raymont became Professor of Biological Oceanography. A new building north of the campus on Burgess Road was completed in 1965; designed in brick by the Sheppard Robson Partnership. Since 1996 this has housed part of Electronics and Computer Science.

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Construction of the Oceanography Building, October 1964 [MS 1/Phot/22/1/3/16]

The Botany and Geology building (later renamed the Shackleton building) was completed in 1966. The architect was again Basil Spence. Since 1996, it has housed Geography and Psychology.

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Construction of the Shackleton building, April 1966 [MS 1/Phot/22/1/2/23]

George Hutchinson was appointed to the second chair in Physics in 1960. The Department became increasingly interested in cryogenics, surface physics and solar-terrestrial physics. It received a new building in 1966 complete with an observatory. A further two Chairs were appointed: Eric Lee who worked on fundamental solid-state studies in magnetism and John Taylor who specialised in theoretical particle physics.

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Physics building with the Mathematics building in the background, late 1960s [MS 1/Phot/22/3/2]

Engineering and Applied Science

The Lanchester and Tizard buildings for Engineering, Electronics and Aerospace studies were opened in May 1960. They were located on the north of ‘Engineering square’ and connected to the pre-existing engineering facilities.

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Lanchester Building from the South East [MS 1/Phot22/1/3]

The Lanchester building, housing Electronics, aeronautics, electrical engineering and hydraulics, is named after alumnus F.W.Lanchester.

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Main lecture theatre in the Lanchester Building [MS 1/Phot22/1/3]

Famous for his contributions to aeronautical, automobile and other branches of engineering, Lanchester had been a student at the Hartley Institution. The Tizard building replaced the old aeronautics laboratory and housed the wind-tunnels plus the mechanical department. The wind tunnel had been a gift from Vickers Supermarine at Swindon (originally located in Southampton) and a second large working section was added for helicopter rotor, industrial aerodynamics and yacht sail research. Among other achievements, Sir Henry Tizard helped develop radar during World War Two; he was also one of the University’s first pro-Chancellors.

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Official opening of the Lanchester building in May 1960. L-R: Vice Chancellor, Mrs D.Lanchester (widow), Mr. Lanchester (brother), Sir George Edwards, Lady Tizard, Lady Edards, Mrs James and Dr Tizard [MS 1/Phot/39 ph3200]

Despite growth in student numbers during its first dozen years, the Engineering Faculty was unable to find enough good applicants to expand as fast as other Faculties. To help remedy this, it founded the Southampton Engineering and Applied Science Forum in 1967 with Bob Gammon, then Head of Science at Richard Taunton’s College, as the first Director, and Professor Ron Bell as the first Chairman. This brought together representatives of schools, universities and industry, its aim to devise ways of persuading more young people to choose careers in applied science.

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Engineering department [MS 1/Phot/22/2/1/3]

The Faraday Tower, designed by Basil Spence, was built between 1960 and 1963 also to house the Engineering Faculty. The Electrical Engineering Department had proposed that the new building should be named the Maxwell Building, after James Clerk Maxwell who had formulated the basic equations of electromagnetism. The Dean of the Faculty was not keen on that proposal in case people thought the University was linked with the publisher Robert Maxwell and so Faraday – after Michael Faraday, famed for his work with electromagnetism and electrochemistry – was chosen instead. It consisted of a ten-storey tower for Electrical Engineering and a large laboratory block for Civil Engineering.

The faculty received an extension in 1968 with the Wolfson and Raleigh buildings. 

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View of Lanchester Building and Faraday Tower, 1970 [MS 1/Phot/22/3/2156]

In November 1961 the University Senate had approved that an Advisory Committee on Vibration and Noise Studies be set up as a sub-committee of the Board of the Faculty of Engineering under Professor Elfyn J.Richards as Chairman. Two years later, in 1963, the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) was established by Professor Richards.  He was given the title Professor of Industrial Acoustics in 1964. Through the sixties, it worked on an expanding range of problems, for example using lasers to predict failure in heavy machinery of the sort used in ships or drilling rigs. In 1966 an “Advisory Service for Industry” was established within the Institute.

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Fan noise measurement at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, c. 1960s or 1970s [MS 1/Phot/11/29]

Philip Doak had been recruited to Southampton by Richards in 1962. On his arrival he was asked to design acoustic laboratories for the new Institute, and also to assist with establishing the Journal of Sound and Vibration. The first issue of the journal appeared in January 1964.

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Computation laboratory, 1961 [MS 1/Phot/11/31]

In the early 1960s, there were remarkable developments in solid-state electronics: microelectronics had arrived! Undergraduate courses concentrating on electronics were needed to enable students to study this challenging subject in more breadth and depth. Southampton was the first department in Britain to respond to this need, by launching a new BSc course in Electronics in October 1959, in the Faculty of Science. In the 1963-4 academic session the department had 9 academic staff; by 1969-70 this had risen to 28.  Professor Geoffrey Sims headed the  Department of Electronics between 1963 and 1974, replacing Professor Eric Zepler.

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Memory store for Pegasus computer, 1961 [MS 1/Phot/11/31]

In 1963 the Department was housed within the new Lanchester Building. Separate space was found for microelectronics work with the top two floors of the newly built Faraday building given over for offices and laboratory space. Towards the end of the decade Southampton had the first professional standard clean room in any university in the country, enabling us to process silicon technology and devices.

Medicine

The University had a medicine-related Department of Physiology and Biochemistry. In 1967, the Royal Commission on Medical Education advised the Government that there was a strong case for establishing a new medical school in Southampton.  The previous year it had established that there needed to be an immediate and substantial increase in the number of doctors. Sir Kenneth Mather, (Vice Chancellor 1965-71) whose specialism was genetics, had been an enthusiastic supporter of the project.

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Sketch of the proposed Medical and Biological Sciences building from the south, c. 1960s [MS 1/Phot/39 ph3228]

Professor Donald Acheson arrived in October 1968 to be the foundation Dean and the first intake of students arrived two years later, in 1971.

Social Sciences

Economics was transformed into the Faculty of Social Sciences in 1962. It was divided into 5 departments: Economics, Sociology and Social Studies, Politics, Economic Statistics and Commerce and Accounting.

The Mathematics tower was built in 1963-5 by Ronald H Sims in the “brutalist style” with exposed concrete.

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Photograph of the Maths building at the Highfield site, c. 1965-70 [MS 1/Phot/11/10]

During this decade, Mathematics devised and promoted the School Mathematics Project (SMP), a new way to teach Mathematics in secondary schools which aimed to make it more fun and more relevant to contemporary needs.

Examination papers from the period are preserved in our strongrooms: do you think you would pass?

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Mathematics examination paper, 1960s [MS 1 A2060]

Halls of residence

As a consequence of growth, the percentage of students living in halls of residence had fallen from 46 percent to 37 percent. Long-standing Council member, James Matthews, had convinced the University that the growing student body would require more accommodation and set about acquiring the first essential: land. The University bought 4 acres of land at the junction of Burgess Road and the Avenue and were also given the right to acquire some 200 houses on or near the campus, all for subsequent demolition to release their sites.

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The East Wing of Chamberlain Hall [MS 1/Phot22/1/1/8]

One wing of Chamberlain Hall was open for the 1959-60 session enabling 60 students to take up residence and a further 90 places became available in the summer of 1960. This new hall of residence for female students was possible due to a gift from the late Miss Mary Chamberlain and the late Miss Charlotte Chamberlain. The adjacent South Hill, formerly a self-contained residence for 30 students also became part of Chamberlain Hall.

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The Junior Common Room of Chamberlain Hall [MS 1/Phot22/1/1/8]

South Stoneham House, Montefiore and Connaught Hall make up what is now known at the Wessex Lane complex.  The stables and servants’ quarters at South Stoneham House were demolished in 1961 and in 1964 a concrete tower extension was added to the hall, incorporating a bar and dining hall area. 

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Construction of South Stoneham House, May 1962 [MS 1/Phot/11/20]

The tower contains 180 student rooms over its 17 floors and is 48.7 metres high; it wast the 10th-tallest building in Southampton as of December 2017! 

Montefiore House (often referred to as ‘Monte’) as a hall of residence was opened in 1966, built on the grounds of the sports field.

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Construction of Montefiore House Blocks A and B, 1964-5 [MS 1/Phot/22/1/7]

These original structures are now known as Montefiore A and B. They housed approximately three hundred first year students in study bedrooms on individual corridor flats, with shared kitchens and other facilities, ranged over 5 floors.

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New Court at Glen Eyre Hall of Residence, 1969 [MS 1/Phot/22/3/3]

Chilworth Manor was purchased in 1964 and made into a hall of residence for about 60 first year students.

Professional Support Services: the Library, Computing Services and Administration

At this time, the ‘Main Building’ housed not only the Library, but also Administration and provided classrooms for several faculties. The Gurney-Dixon link had opened at the very end of the last decade, December 1959.  This provided a large extension to the original pre-war building. At the start of the decade there was space for 250,000 books and periodicals and 550 readers.

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Level four of the Gurney-Dixon link, looking west showing card catalogues and Library counter staff with Mrs S.Bell, Library Assistant; Miss E.Fitzpayne; Miss M.Cooper, Senior Library Assistant and Miss A.Player, August 1966 [MS 1/Phot/39 ph3262]

In May 1962, the Library Committee carried out a survey of students attitudes to the Library, the first survey of its kind to be undertaken in the UK. At this time there were 1417 undergraduates at the University and a random sample of 200 was chosen:

The proportion of students using the Main Library much for borrowing (2 or more books a week) ranged from 52% in Arts to 0% in Engineering; Economics, with 19%, had the second highest proportion. […] In all faculties the proportion of students using the Main Library for working with their own books was high […] and 21%  used it for “other purposes” (e.g. letter writing).

28% of the sample used the catalogues as a first resort, 13% never used them if they could help it.

65% found the Library staff always ready to help, 22% helpful but not always available, and 3% not helpful […]It had never occured to over half the students that the staff could help them with a subject inquiry […]

MS 1/5/239/129

A great coup for the University was the acquisition of the Parkes Library.  It was originally the private library of Revd. Dr James Parkes (1896-1981) who devoted his life to investigating and combating the problem of anti-Semitism.  Parkes began collecting books whilst working for the International Student Service in Europe during the 1930s. On his return to Britain in 1935, following an attempt on his life by the Nazis, he made the collection available to other scholars at his home in Barley near Cambridge.

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The official opening of the Parkes Library showing an exhibition in the Turner Sims Library, 23 June 1965 [MS 1/Phot/39 ph3513]

By the time Parkes’ library was transferred to University of Southampton Library in 1964 it amounted to over 4,000 books, 2,000 pamphlets and 140 journals.

It was in the 1964-5 session that Geoff Hampson was appointed Assistant Librarian in charge of the Special Collections and Archives; at the same time, a “suitable repository” was established for the material. In addition, the Library was also one of the first in the country to introduce a computer-based issue system, using punched cards.

In 1967 the Computing Services was set up as a service operation outside the Mathematics Department: not for research into computing as a science, but for serving the University. The University had acquired its first computer the previous decade.

The department moved from the Library to its own purpose-built building in 1969: it was already too small to accommodate the growing number of staff.

The Arts

The Union organised the first Arts Festival, opened in March 1961 by Sir Basil Spence. In 1962-3 the Theatre Group’s Volpone was one of 5 finalists in The Sunday Times drama festival. 

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University of Southampton Operatic Society production of The Mikado in the University Assembly Hall in February 1960 [MS 1/7/198/1]

In 1963, with support from the Nuffield Foundation, the University of Southampton built a theatre on its campus for the people of Southampton: the Nuffield Theatre

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The Nuffield Theatre

The Nuffield Theatre was designed by Basil Spence and officially opened by Dame Sybil Thorndike on 2 March 1964.

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Nuffield Theatre and sculpture in ornamental pond [MS 1/Phot/22/1/2/15]

The Music Department pioneered a scheme sponsored by its major benefactor the Radcliffe Trust, which each year brought the Allegri String Quartet to the University for short periods of residence. The University also gave contracts to a succession of distinguished young players and ensembles to enable them to reside for a number of years, giving regular performances and teaching their instruments. So professionals and students each presented weekly lunchtime recital series and the madrigal choir (under David Brown for more than two decades), the chamber orchestra and the symphony orchestra gave regular concerts.

In 1967, John Sweetman was appointed first lecturer in Fine Art. He had three responsibilities: to organise art exhibitions, to manage the University’s permanent art collection and to lecture on the history of art. The gallery in the Nuffield was far from satisfactory, with windows on three sides which had to be blacked out, but Sweetman managed to organise three exhibitions a term. From 1967 a succession of Fine Arts Fellows (among them Ned Hoskins and Ray Smith) spent periods at the University where they were given studios and provided general support to its cultural life.

Student life

By 1960-1 the Union had expanded into almost the whole of the “West Building” – the Old Union Building – dating back to the 1940s, in red brick style. By 1967 the new Students’ Union building was completed, in the Basil Spence masterplan, offering on-site catering, shopping, indoor sports and a debating chamber for the first time. The two buildings were connected by an underground tunnel.

Bar in Union.jpg

The bar in the Students’ Union, c. 1970 [MS 1/Phot/22/3/2]

The Old Union Building over three floors housed, among other facilities, a TV room, Radio Club room and Wessex News office, the club and society meetings rooms and a second-hand book and records exchange.

Refectory

The refectory in the new Union building, c. 1970 [MS 1/Phot/22/3/2]

The new Union building included a refectory to seat 475, ballroom and bar. It also provided a debating chamber which could also accommodate musical performances. 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. Other facilities less commonly provided today included a laundry and ironing room, a hair washing room, bath and shower cubicles as well as a pottery and painting studio.

Gymn and sports hall

Gymnasium and sports hall, 1970 [MS 1/Phot/22/3/2]

The Union was required to cancel the 1960 RAG, after the University threatened disciplinary action against it.  It was resurrected in 1963. The annual Union dinner was regularly criticized as elitist, but remained an annual event.

Radio Goblio RAG 1964 MS 310.80 A4150

“Radio Goblio” RAG, 1964 [MS 310/80 A4150]

The 1960s saw the beginnings of student protest. These varied from a boycott of the refectory due to the quality of the food to support for national and international causes. These included support for were protesting students in Berlin (June 1967), French students and workers opposing the Gaullist regime (May 1968) and imprisoned Russian intellectuals (June 1968). Among the British causes it supported were the right of Sikhs to wear turbans when employed by Wolverhampton Corporation and Ford workers in their strike at wide Lane.  In 1969 it voted to ban Enoch Powell from Union premises.

Gordon Walter Protest SCR 19 May 1965 MS 310.80 A4150.jpg

George Walker protest SCR, 19 May 1965 [MS 310/80 A4150]

The first unofficial sit-in took place 3-4 February 1968 when about 50 students occupied the Administration’s offices in the main building for 24 hours in support of London School of Economics students. No damage was done, though the occupation put the University’s telephone exchange out of action. 17 months later (30 June to 2 July 1969) there was a 48-hour official occupation of the same offices by about 60 students, protesting at the number of students required to resit examinations that year. The sit-ins continued into the 1970 about which you can read in our next post.

This period also saw the establishment of a student health centre with a sick bay at Chamberlain Hall.

Sport

The University boat club was one of the many sporting activities in which Southampton students could choose to partake in this decade. Others included rugby, basketball, hockey, lacrosse and squash.

students in boat

The first VIII at Cobden Bridge, March 1961 [MS 310/46 A2075]

In 1963 Bruce Tulloh, a former Botany student, broke the British two-, three- and six-mile records and won a gold medal at the World Games. In 1969 he was to run from Los Angeles to New York in 64 days, 20 hours, breaking the previous record by 8 days.

As we draw this long post to a close, it is obvious that so much was achieved during this decade. The University saw incredible expansion in the sixties: the institution truly seized the opportunities offered by the Robbins report with both hands. Look out for our next post to read the next chapter in the University’s history and learn about the challenges and opportunities brought by the 1970s.

Aeriel view 1970.11.8.jpg

Aerial view of the Highfield site in 1970 [MS 1/Phot/11/8]. Compare this view to the one at the start of the post: the University saw incredible expansion in just 10 years!

“Such a desperate action” – two stories from the battlefield

Print of the Battle of Waterloo (1816) [MS 351/6 A4170/5]

There was widespread rejoicing at news of the Battle of Waterloo – the anniversary of which is today – and the conclusion of the war: this was an occasion equivalent to VE or VJ Day at the end of the Second World War. Wellington was lauded as a victor and hero and esteemed as both one of Europe’s leading generals and as its saviour. Heroic depictions of the military exploits appeared, such as the example below representing the death of Lieutenant Colonel Miller of the Guards at the Battle of Waterloo in  J.A. Atkinson’s Incidents of British bravery during the late campaigns on the continent… (Ackermann, London, 1817).

Death of Lieutenant Colonel Miller of the Guards at Waterloo [MS351/6 A4170/2 no 6]

Yet Wellington understood, as he recorded in his official despatch to Lord Bathurst of 19 June 1815, how victory on the battlefield often came at the cost of the loss of many lives: “Your Lordship will observe that such a desperate action could not be fought, and such advantages could not be gained, without great loss; and I am sorry to add that ours has been immense.”

Extracts from the correspondence of two soldiers held in the Special Collections provides an eloquent picture of the realities of life on the front line during the struggle for supremacy in Portugal in 1811 and on the Western Front in the First World War.

Engraving by Bartolomeo Pinelli of the campaign in Portugal, 1810-11

Lieutenant Colonel John Gurwood (1790-1845), who was the editor of  Wellington’s Dispatches, served under the Duke in the Peninsula from 1810. He was wounded at Sabugal, 3 April 1811, and distinguished himself leading the forlorn hopes at the storming of Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo. As a lieutenant of the 52nd Regiment of Foot in 1811, he describes in a letter to his mother of 16 March 1811 the intensity of the action by the British and allied army in expelling the French forces from Portugal during the course of March:

“We have been fighting for the last 4 days. The French retired … on the 6th at one in the morning… On the 11th we drove them through Pombal… On the plain of Redeinha [Redinha] we had 3 off[icer]s and 22 killed and wounded… On the 14th as soon as the fog cleared off… we got into one of the hottest affairs imaginable. We lost 1 officer killed, 3 cap[ains] wounded and a number killed and wounded… On the 15th were at it again…” [MS 321/5]

A career soldier, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Dudley Samuel, DSO, had served with the Midlands Mounted Rifles in the Boer war. He was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the Third Volunteer Battalion, City of London (Royal Fusiliers) Regiment in December 1902 and served with the London Regiment throughout the First World War, eventually being appointed as commander of the 40th (Jewish) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers in 1918. Dudley Samuel was wounded four times during his service and received mention in despatches. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1917.

Major Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Major Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Dudley Samuel was involved in the Battle of Loos (25 September – 8 October 1915). The Artois-Loos Offensive aimed to break through the German Front in Artois. Whilst the British had some initial success north of Loos on the first day, a pause in the attack allowed the German army time to call in reinforcements for the Second position and the British suffered heavy casualties here on 26 September.

On 27 September he wrote to his wife Dorothy that they have come out from the Battle “as usual much depleted” with heavy losses and many killed.

“The Garhwal Brigade was heroic, it is the only word, it has been practically wiped out… Everyone stood to arms at 3.30am Saturday… At about 4.45 the guns started. At 5.50 we exploded an enormous mine the earth shook, a very muffled roar and it looked as if a whole trench went 300 feet in the air, then dense volumes of smoke were released everywhere and the German guns started on us and the Brigade advanced to the attack… Very few of the attackees came back, and I’m afraid all are killed or wounded. Three battalions are practically wiped out…

For us personally it is a great tragedy, so many friends in the Leicesters and Native Regiments gone… Our losses are over fifty, but we can’t tell yet. We of course are fortunate….” [MS336 A2097/5/2]

Part of an envelope, with the mark of the field censor, for a letter from Dudley Samuel to his wife [Ms 336 A2097/8/2/331]

The Battle of Waterloo and the Duke of Wellington were well remembered and received many marks of recognition during the 19th century: a previous blog looks at the battle and the Duke remembered. The Special Collections contains much other material reflecting different aspects of warfare from literary reflections to the service of VADs at the University War Hospital in the First World War.

Look out for further blogs, or why not visit the Archives and Manuscripts to find out more.

Celebrating British beer

15 June is officially `Beer Day Britain’, which has been celebrated annually since 2015. This date is significant as it was when the Magna Carta was sealed in 1215. Ale is mentioned in clause 35 of the great charter:

Let there be throughout our kingdom a single measure for wine and a single measure for ale and a single measure for corn, namely the London quarter.

Over the past few years there has been a renaissance in home-brewing, micro-breweries and beer culture generally, as drinkers explore new styles and experiment with new recipes as an antidote to the standardised fare on offer from the large breweries. In honour of ‘Beer Day Britain’, we brewed a beer to accompany this blog post, inspired by a recipe from the University of Southampton’s Special Collections.

Malt

In earlier times home-brewing was just one small part of a more self-sufficient culture wherein people supplied many of their own daily needs, before the rise of mass markets and modern commercial society. In some respects beer culture has come full-circle with the resurgence of home-brewing and the smaller craft-breweries, although it remains to be seen whether home-brewing will ever move beyond a dilettante pastime and supplant the mass produced beverage entirely!

The University of Southampton’s Special Collections has a number of sources on home-brewing including William Cobbett’s Cottage Economy published in 1822. Cobbett, a radical journalist and polemicist who sympathised with the plight of the rural English in the face of the industrial revolution, applauded what he saw as the imminent resurgence of home-brewing by the masses:

The paper-money is fast losing its destructive power; and things are, with regard to the labourers, coming back to what they were forty years ago, and therefore we may prepare for the making of beer in our own houses, and take leave of the poisonous stuff served out to us by common brewers.

In addition to helpful tips and recipes for home-brewing Cobbett’s Cottage Economy also offered its readers advice on animal husbandry, bread-baking and bee-keeping. However, modern readers partial to a cup of tea should beware; Cobbett has nothing positive to say about tea-drinking, which he views as having supplanted the comparatively weak ‘small beers’ that often accompanied a hard day’s labour in agrarian economies:

The drink which has come to supply the place of beer has, in general, been tea. It is notorious that tea has no useful strength in it; that it contains nothing nutritious; that it, besides being good for nothing, has badness in it, because it is well known to produce want of sleep in many cases, and in all cases, to shake and weaken the nerves. It is, in fact, a weaker kind of laudanum, which enlivens for the moment and deadens afterwards. At any rate it communicates no strength to the body; it does not, in any degree, assist in affording what labour demands. It is then, of no use.

In addition to its alleged lack of nutritional value and the concomitant ill health effects, Cobbett goes on to dismiss tea-drinking as a time-consuming and expensive habit as well as ‘an engenderer of effeminacy and laziness’ [p.18]; as fatal to pigs where a bushel of malt is not (‘it is impossible to doubt in such a case’) [p.19]; as responsible for leading young men to idleness with young girls faring no better as the ‘gossip of the tea table is no bad preparatory school for the brothel [p.20]’. Thankfully for our sakes, having revealed the nefarious effects of tea-drinking, Cobbett goes on to provide the ingredients and the recipe required for the home-brewing of beer. Those interested in Cobbett’s recipe can find a modern recreation published online.

Our beer was brewed using a source from Southampton’s Special Collections: The Complete Family Piece published in 1739 by George Faulkner, Containing good and useful instruction for brewing fine, strong, good, wholesome, and palatable Drinks, as Beers, Ales &c. in small Quantities, and at easy Rates, for the Use of all private families. The four basic ingredients of malted barley, hops, yeast and water included in most beers of today have been used in Britain since at least the late 1300s and they form the basis of this recipe from 1739. Modern drinkers may be rather astonished, however, to find this recipe advocating the addition of ingredients such as ivory shavings in the ‘wort’ to keep it from going stale. This particular ingredient may be harder to come by nowadays and was not included in our beer, brewed by the author and his brother; we named our version ‘Family Piece’, honouring both our brotherhood and the source of our inspiration.

It would be fair to say that we did not recreate this beer, rather we produced our own, inspired by elements of this 1739 recipe. Neither did we use the rather large quantities of barley-malt included in the 1739 recipe nor did we ‘put in a Pint of whole Wheat and 6 Eggs; then stop it up: and Let it stand a Year, and then bottle it.’ We did, however, adopt the time-consuming technique of mashing our grains three times in order to produce a stronger beer with a final estimated ABV of 6.8%. We also included the handful of rosemary flowers from the 1739 recipe, although floral notes were not evident in the final product.

Rosemary flowers

Ingredients for 4.5 L (1 gallon):

1.5kg of Malt. (We used a lager malt but would have preferred to use Golden Promise. Our malt was probably more finely crushed than eighteenth century malts would have been, which may lead to more efficiency in the brewing process and a higher final ABV).

8g of Target hops (home grown).

1 g of Rosemary Flowers.

Saison yeast (mixed house culture).

5.2 litres of liquor (‘Liquor’ is just a brewer’s term for water. We added a few millilitres of a chemical solution know as AMS, which is used by modern home-brewers to transform their hard tap water into soft water, closer to the kind of pond water or spring water favoured by traditional brewers).

OG: 1.054

FG: 1.003

Final ABV was 6.8%.

Bitterness: 25 IBUs (estimated)

SRM (colour): 4

Hops and rosemary added to mash at 90 minutes

Hops

Recipe:

Throw a handful of malt into 2.8 litres of liquor (treated with AMS) and then bring to 80°C.

Place 1.5 kg of Malt in a bag into the mash-tun with the liquor (The 1739 recipe states that you should wait until the steam has cleared, thus we put the malt in the liquor at 50°C – this stage is known as ‘mashing in’ and the typical mashing temperature used by modern brewers is about 60°C).

We added another litre of liquor with AMS because we weren’t happy with our liquor to grain ratio at this stage (there was too little water).

Leave to ‘Mash’ for 2 hours at 50°C – our temperature was 56°C after 2 hours. (This first or ‘primary mash’ is usually all modern brewers will do, but we also cooked the malt another two times as per the 1739 recipe).

After 3.8 litres of liquor in we got 2.1 litres of ‘wort’ from the primary mash – the wort is the liquid extracted from the mashing process – which we then boiled for 1 hour 30 mins.

Add 8 grams of Target Hops and 1 gram of rosemary flowers at 90 mins into the boil.

Put the malt bag back into the mash tun and add another 2.8 litres of liquor with AMS at 60°C into the mash tun with the malt to begin secondary mash for 1 hour 50 mins.

Put 2nd wort into 1st wort for boil.

Add 1.4 litres of liquor to the mash tun for 3rd mash.

When your mash has cooled down, siphon off into a demijohn and add your Saison Yeast.

Ferment in the demi-john for 15 days.

After approx. 2 weeks of fermentation you can then bottle the beer, add ½ tsp of sugar per 500 ml bottle to aid further fermentation in the bottle.

Bottle condition for a further 2-4 weeks. Then Enjoy!

Bottles of beer

It should be borne in mind that home-brewing by modern dilettantes typically involves the production of much smaller quantities of beer compared with that described by the 1739 recipe in The Complete Family Piece. In those days people were home-brewing beer in quantities sufficient to last for the entire year or a larger part thereof, just as a self-sufficient farmer might only deem it worthwhile his time and energy to produce a crop sufficient to last a season or a year. Additionally, agricultural labourers would often consume weaker ‘small beers’ throughout the day, whereas nowadays we tend to rely on tea or coffee to power us through the working day and we partake of beer, if at all, in the evenings and on the weekends only.

It should also be pointed out that the June 15th date for Britain’s National Beer Day taken from the signing of Magna Carta in 1215 refers more precisely to ale rather than beer. Traditionally, a distinction was made between ale (un-hopped) and beer (hopped) and it wasn’t until the later fourteenth century that the English began brewing with hops, thanks to immigrants from the Low Countries who brought their hoppy beers with them. Although the story of a Parliamentary ban on hops may be apocryphal (Henry VIII had both ale brewers and beer brewers in his royal household), there was nonetheless a strong distinction between the two styles for a few hundred years in the early modern period.

The Country Housewife’s Family Companion (London, 1750) [Perkins TX151]

Another source from Special Collections’ Perkins Library, the Country Housewife’s Family Companion, published in 1750 by a Hertfordshire farmer named W. Ellis, includes a recipe for October or March stout beers. It warns the home brewer to beware of whools, weevils and other insect infestations amongst the malted barley, which can ruin a good beer:

…wevilly Malt will cause the Beer to give its Drinker a Sickness, and when many of these stinking poisonous Insects are among it, a very panick Sickness indeed. The Londoners have no Notion of this; and that in some Country Towns, where are several Malt-Kilns, they are never free from Wevils all the Year.

Modern home brewers, besides avoiding insect infestations, should take great care in ensuring their ingredients and materials are kept clean and sanitised. The author of the Country Housewife’s Family Companion also advises those suffering from Gout or Gravel to ‘put some Treacle into the Copper when he puts in his Malt Wort to boil; this opens the Pores, and promotes perspiration, to the great relief of the Body.’ Whatever the actual medicinal qualities of beer, it surely has its effects! We advise all June 15th revellers to enjoy their beverages in moderation, whether home-brewed or not, and to drink responsibly… Cheers!

75th anniversary of D-Day: 6 June

Today, we commemorate the 75th anniversary of ‘D-Day’, the largest seaborne invasion in history. Codenamed Operation Neptune, this Allied invasion of Normandy commenced on 6 June 1944 as part of Operation Overlord, during World War II. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later Europe) from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Days and Polhill

Colonel James O’Donald Mays pictured with fellow Georgian Lt. James Polhill, part of the American Navy’s logistical operations which provided landing craft and other vessels for the war effort [MS 379/3 A4024/10]

We will take a look at Southampton’s role in the operations through the papers and photographs collected by American Colonel James O’Donald Mays [MS 379/3 A4024], whose Army Port unit was assigned to Southampton to direct American military activities for the preparation for D-Day and its follow-up.  He later worked as a diplomat, journalist and author.

During the ensuing summer days and nights, Southampton witnessed a sight unparalleled in all its long momentous history. The military traffic, chiefly U.S.A., roared on in an unending torrent.

Almost every road and street carried its weight of vehicles, two and sometimes three a breast; trucks swept by loaded with soldiers, huge petrol tanks, jeeps, searchlights, DUKWs, great guns, tank-transporters and tanks without number, the giant Shermans roaring and grinding past, shaking the houses as they went.

Local historian Elsie M.Sandell writing for a 40th anniversary commemorative magazine produced by the Evening Echo, June 1984

Southampton was all but taken over by the military in the lead up to D-Day. Southampton Common accommodated large numbers of Allied troops and the foundations of their huts are still visible after long spells of dry weather. The Bargate in the shopping centre was a Military Police post.

Southampton was chosen as the chief supply and troop movement centre for the American army, known as the 14th Major Port of the US Army Transportation Corps. It was the centre of marine operations as the first shipment point for American men and supplies from the UK to the Continent. Southampton was essential in discharging of cargo before D-Day, loading of landing craft and other assault vessels for the European invasion and build up, and shipping of United states-bound troops under the re-deployment programme.

Entrance to the Administration offices of the 14th port

The administrative offices of the 14th Port [MS 379/3 A4024/10]

The 14th Port staff arrived in the United Kingdom on 16 July 1943 and three days later began operations at London, Southampton and Plymouth. Up to 1 February 1944, Port Headquarters were in London. When Allied strategists selected Southampton as the chief loading point for troops and war materials for the invasion, headquarters were moved to Southampton Civic Centre; offices were later relocated to Houndwell Park.

The port of Southampton was selected because of its strategic location. The “double tide” effected by the position of the Isle of Wight at the bottom of The Solent meant the port was perfectly suited for mass loading and sailing of vessels. It also benefited from a huge anchorage space off Cowes as well as deep water docking facilities and spacious loading sheds.

IMG_0237

Members of a U.S. Navy beach Battalion medical unit stow their gear on the deck of an Landing Craft, Infantry (Large). They took park in an invasion rehearsal. [MS379/3 A4024/1]

Some impressive statistics for the period include that 8,300 ships passed through the harbour. Approximately 2,500,000 men were transported to and from the Continent and the United States and 3,000,000 tons of goods were carried to European ports and beaches.

The operation naturally had a huge impact on the city and its civilian population. Three Southampton schools were used as billets for United States Army troops. Swaythling Infant (Mayfield), Taunton’s and Ascupart Road. 

Downthe Hatch)

American soldiers boarding a Landing Craft, Infantry (Large) as part of an invasion rehearsal  [MS 379/3 A4024/10] Credit: U.S. Navy Photograph Public Relations Section, London

This huge flow of men and vehicles required co-ordination. Military police escorts were required and checkpoints established and a checking system was instigated to help prevent congestion in Southampton’s streets. Routes were planned to interfere as little as possible with civilian transport.

The Army Transportation Corps Harbour Craft Companies were attached to the 14th Port and it was their job to operate the hundreds of small tug-boats, floating cranes and other harbour craft assigned to the Port. One of the key vessels was the LST – Landing Ship Tank – a “lifeline” to supply Europe. It was capable of carrying 50 to 75 vehicles; 2,539 LSTs were loaded at Southampton.

Presentation

D-Day marked a key victory in the Second World War: it prevented Hitler launching his new V-weapons against British cities in a last-minute effort to save Germany. For more on Southampton’s role in this momentous event, see the Library’s Cope Collection for additional resources.

Highfield Campus 100: 1950s

It’s a University!

The 1950s saw the move for Southampton obtaining university status gain ground more rapidly than anticipated.  In 1952 Southampton became the first university to be created in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, receiving its royal charter on 29 April of that year.

Blazer with badge of the University crest, 1950s [MS310/26 A1073]

In announcing that the University had come into existence, Sir Samuel Gurney-Dixon noted to the Council “those who in the past had worked long and hard to create the tradition and the conditions which had made this possible, in particular Dr Claude Montefiore, Alderman J.S.Furley and the late Principal, Mr Kenneth Vickers”.

The Duke of Wellington was appointed as the first Chancellor of the University, with Sir Robert Wood its first Vice Chancellor and Professor Forsey Deputy Vice Chancellor.  The University of Southampton Act which transferred all rights to the newly created University, received its Royal Assent on 6 May 1953. On 3 July the ceremonious installation of new Chancellor, the Duke of Wellington, took place at the Guildhall in Southampton.

Part of a congratulatory letter from the University of Manitoba

As well as representatives of many overseas universities attending the event, delegates from various universities presented their addresses of congratulations to the Chancellor at Connaught Hall.  A garden party was held at South Stoneham House –  at which a message carried in relay by members of the Southampton Athletics Union from the Chancellor of the University of London was presented to the Duke of Wellington – and in the evening the Chancellor hosted a dinner for the first honorary graduands of the University.

A message from the Chancellor of the University of London to the Duke of Wellington presented by Peter Holdstock of the Athletics Union at the garden party, 3 July 1953 [MS1/7/291/22/4]

It could be said that the decade started quietly with no major developments; yet by the end of the 1950s Southampton had embarked on a major expansion which was to continue well into the next decade. In 1952/1953, the number of students at the University was 935, rising to over 1,300 by the end of the decade. As it became apparent that a permanent increase in a university population could be expected, and that provincial universities would need to expand to take these increased numbers, the University began to proceed with its building programme and planning for future developments over the period 1957-67. Sir Basil Spence, the designer of Coventry Cathedral, was the consultant architect for the layout of the expanded University and for a number of buildings constructed  in this period.

The main building projects in the early part of the decade were the completion of the remaining blocks of Glen Eyre Hall in October 1954 and the conversion of a purchased site into the botanic gardens, supported by a donation from the former Mathematics’ lecturer Miss Annie Trout. By the late 1950s a number of building projects were in hand, some to be completed in 1960 onwards. The new Economics block was opened by Emeritus Professor Percy Ford in October 1959, whilst in December of that year Sir Samuel Gurney-Dixon opened the Library extension, the Gurney-Dixon building to extend library space to 400 user places and to accommodate 150,000 books.

Gurney-Dixon Library extension, 1959

With the acquisition of University status in 1952/3, changes were introduced to departmental structures and to courses as the University began to  issue its own degrees. In 1953, the Department of Legal Studies became the Faculty of Law, offering University degrees rather than preparation for Law Society examinations.

During the decade a number of new chairs were created: for German (Dr W.I.Lucas) and Geography (Dr F.J.Monkhouse) in 1953; in 1957 in Engineering as Dr P.B.Morice became Professor of Civil Engineering; in 1958 for Economic Theory and Geology; and in 1959 in Modern History (J.S.Bromley), Theoretical Mechanics (Dr Bryan Thwaites) and Engineering (Dr L.G.A.Sims).

Other staff changes saw the departure of some long serving members of the University. Professor George Frank Forsey, resigned as Chair of Classics in 1954: he was replaced by Professor H.C.Baldry. Professor Neil Kensington Adam who had been responsible for development of the Chemistry Department stepped down after nearly twenty years service. And in 1957 Frank Templeton Prince, who was a reader in the Department of English, was appointed as Chair of English to replace Professor B.A.Wright.

Whilst it has been observed that there was more of a gender balance of male and female students at Southampton than some other universities, this was not reflected across all of the university.  There were, for instance, as one student recalls, no female post-graduate students in chemistry at Southampton during the period 1955-8. Indeed there was only one female member of staff in Chemistry at that time – Dr Ishbel Campbell.

Department of History graduates, 1959 [MS310/23 A1048]

Student life was still governed by a certain formality in this period. Students at Glen Eyre halls of residence were expected to attend dinner in the dining hall at 7pm on weekdays and for lunch at 1pm on Sundays. A former student noted that  “it was still an era when all students were required to wear a black academic gown at dinner in the evening”.

Signed programme for the University College Drama Society’s production of Hamlet, 1950 [MS416/15 A4311]

The Students’ Union was to be the hub of most student activities. Student societies encompassed a range of faculty and departmental societies, including Engineering, Law and Geography, alongside union societies such as the Camera Club, Choral, Debating, Jazz and Operatic Societies, the Organ Club, the Scottish and Old Time Dance Society and the Theatre Group. The Athletics Union supported clubs ranging from athletics, cross country, fencing, lacrosse to mountaineering, rugby, sailing and tennis.

Scottish and Old Time Dance Society, 1951 [MS224/16 A943/1]

Held on Shrove Tuesday each year, the annual Rag Day included a procession of tableaux on lorries, with a trophy awarded to the winning hall or society.

Rag day procession, 1957 [MS310/23 A1048]

As former student Peter Smith recalls: “The annual Rag Day was a highlight of the Winter term … Somehow the townsfolk tolerated generously the antics of the students in fancy dress out collecting money, including in the afternoon a procession of decorated floats on lorries lent by local firms… The Engineers were always very prominent during Rag – they were often accompanied by their human skeleton mascot “Kelly”…. There was always an annual Rag Ball … at the Guildhall and a revue format.”

Engineers Society with the mascot “Kelly”, 1956 [MS224/14 A941]

There were a wide range of other activities on offer in the student calendar. Dances ranged from the regular Saturday night dances at the Union called “hops”, to the formal Union ball at the Guildhall in Southampton in February, featuring a dance programme of quicksteps, waltzes and foxtrots. Societies produced performances and production of plays and shows and at Glen Eyre halls of residence the annual Christmas pantomime was written and produced by students.

The Union Ball, 1959 [MS310/23 A1048]

As the University moved into the 1960s it was already embarked on its ambitious programme of expansion, leading to a new and exciting phase in its development. To find out more about life at the University in the 1960s look out for the next blog in June.

Queen Victoria’s 200th Anniversary: Our Items on the Queen and Empress

To mark the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth on 24 May, we look at some of the Special Collections that we hold relating to the monarch known as the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India.

Princess Victoria and her favourite dog [Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A, Rare Books Quarto DA 554 1897]

Princess Victoria and her favourite dog, Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes (1897) Rare Books Quarto DA 554

The most notable material is a cache of several hundred letters between Queen Victoria and Lord Palmerston, 1837-65, which is part of the Broadlands Archive. This provides an insight into the duties of being queen. Early letters seek Palmerston’s advice on matters such as diplomatic protocol, but from the 1840s it focuses more fully with foreign affairs, especially with regard to Europe. The letters discuss matters such as unrest in France, developments in Spain and Italy and diplomatic appointments.

Letter from Queen Victoria to third Viscount Palmerston, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 26 Feb 1848 [MS 62 PP/RC/F/350]

Letter from Queen Victoria to third Viscount Palmerston, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 26 Feb 1848 [MS 62 PP/RC/F/350]

Speeches of Queen Victoria can also be found amongst this correspondence, such as one written in the hand of Lord Melbourne on the Treaty of London and relations between Britain and France.

Other informative items in the Palmerston Papers include a letter from Sir G.C. Lewis to Lord Palmerston, regarding allocation of an allowance to the Princess Royal, dating 25 May 1857, and a letter discussing arrangements for security for the Queen’s home in the Isle of Wight, Osborne House. In Lord Palmerston’s miscellaneous and patronage correspondence, we are applications for appointments to the Queen, such as to be performer to her at Brighton, or to be her perfumer or hairdresser.

Application to Lord Palmerston for appointment of perfumer or hairdresser to Queen Victoria, 2 September 1837 [MS PP/MPC/574]

Application to Lord Palmerston for appointment of perfumer or hairdresser to Queen Victoria, 2 September 1837 [MS 62 PP/MPC/574]

The First Duke of Wellington Papers include bundles of papers from the Duchess of Kent discussing Queen Victoria’s education, correspondence discussing the preparations for the Queen’s confinement with her second child, her speeches and addresses, and her visits to European countries such as France and Belgium.

The Special Collections contains material on various events relating to Victoria’s reign from her accession to a golden jubilee visit in 1887.

Title page of The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman [Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

Title page of The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman [Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

In Lord Palmerston‘s papers as Foreign Secretary, for instance, are copies of letters from foreign diplomats in London to their respective courts announcing the occasion of Victoria’s accession.

Letter from foreign diplomat Chevalier de Moiran to his respective court, Counte de la Marguérite, announcing Queen Victoria’s accession, 1837 [MS 62 BR FO/I/1]

Letter from foreign diplomat Chevalier de Moiran to his respective court, Counte de la Marguérite, announcing Queen Victoria’s accession, 1837 [MS 62 BR FO/I/1]

Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A., who was Librarian to the Queen, contains illustrations of the Queen’s First Council, and provides interesting information about her accession, such as quotes from letters of congratulations from correspondents such as Queen Victoria’s cousin, and future husband, Prince Albert:

“My dearest cousin – I must write you a few lines to present you my sincerest felicitations on that great change which has taken place in your life. Now you are the Queen of the mightiest land of Europe, in your hand lies the happiness of millions.” [Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A., p.48]

The Queen’s First Council [Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A, , Rare Books Quarto DA 554 1897]

The Queen’s First Council, Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes

While The Progresses of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman (1844) provides illustrations and descriptions of the visits by the Queen and her husband made in the 1840s.

Queen Victoria passing through Ostend, Belgium [The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman, Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

Queen Victoria passing through Ostend, Belgium [The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman, Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

For her coronation, there is  correspondence between Lord Palmerston relative to the coronation and we hold rare books in our printed collections which describe the event. In the 1838 issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine, the crown is given particular attention:

“The new State Crown, made for her Majesty by Messrs. Rundell and Bridge, is exceedingly costly and elegant. The old crown, made for George IV. weighed upwards of seven pounds, and was much too large for the head of her present Majesty. The new crown weights little more than three pounds. It is composed of hoops of silver, enclosing a cap of deep purple, or rather blue velvet; the hoops are completely covered with precious stones, surmounted with a ball, covered with small diamonds, and having a Maltese cross of brilliants on the top of it.” [The Gentleman’s Magazine, 1838, p.200]

We also hold the publication released by Queen Victoria’s printers that details the form and order of the coronation. The volume goes into great detail, with chapters on the ‘investing with the Royal Robe’ and the ‘putting on of the Crown’.

The form and order of the service that is to be performed, and of the ceremonies that are to be observed, in the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, in the abbey church of St. Peter, Westminster, on Thursday, the 28th of June, 1838, p.B [Rare Books DA 112]

The form and order of the service that is to be performed, and of the ceremonies that are to be observed, in the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, in the abbey church of St. Peter, Westminster, on Thursday, the 28th of June, 1838, p.B Rare Books DA 112

Material relating to Queen Victoria can also be found in the Wellington Pamphlets, such as “a letter to the people of Great Britain” relating to the Queen’s marriage to Prince Albert. The letter concludes with urging the reader to welcome Prince Albert, and to treat him “with that consideration… the Queen’s Consort is entitled to expect from her people.” [The marriage of the Queen to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg: considered, in a letter to the people of Great Britain by Fair play (1840) Rare Books Well. Pamph. 1201/7, p.23.]

We also hold items referring to Queen Victoria’s visit to Southampton and celebrations that took place in the city to mark the Queen’s Jubilee in 1887. Here is a quote describing the Queen’s visit to Southampton:

“The Queen and Prince Albert, in a carriage-and-four, and escorted by a detachment of the 7th Hussars, proceeded to the town. An immense assemblage had congregated outside the railway station, and when her Majesty and the Prince issued from it, they were received with a loud burst of cheers from the persons assembled. Throughout the whole line of route the streets were decked with flags and banners, and upon entering High Street from Above-Bar the sight was very splendid.” [The Progresses of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman, p. 3]

Form of special service held in St. Mary's church, Southampton, in commemoration of the Jubilee of her Majesty Queen Victoria: June 19th 1887 by St Mary’s Church (Southampton) [Cope cabinet SOU 22]

Form of special service held in St. Mary’s church, Southampton, in commemoration of the Jubilee of her Majesty Queen Victoria: June 19th 1887 by St Mary’s Church (Southampton) [Cope cabinet SOU 22]

As we now celebrate another anniversary – this time the bicentenary since the birth of Queen Victoria – there are many events being planned, including at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. We wish you a very happy birthday Queen Victoria!

Celebrating museums in all guises

For International Museum Day on 18 May, organised by the International Council of Museums to raise awareness of the role of museums in society and this year focusing on the theme of the museum as a cultural hub, we take a look at a slightly different museum: The Lady’s Monthly Museum, a popular women’s magazine from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

The Lady’s Monthly Magazine, vol. 8 (1802)

The magazine was one of a number of such publications that positioned themselves to appeal directly to women, providing access to a range of articles and subjects and providing women with the opportunity to contribute to these publications.

First published in 1798, The Lady’s Monthly Museum or Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction: being an Assemblage of what can Tend to please the Fancy, Instruct the mind or Exalt the Character of the British Fair, was billed as ‘a convenient size for the pocket’, even if it its title was not. It was to merge with The Lady’s Magazine in 1832 when it became The Lady’s Magazine and Museum of the Belles Lettres. Further merges took place and the magazine eventually ceased publication in 1847.

“Cabinet of Fashion” in The Lady’s Monthly Museum

The magazine featured articles on fashion — with a ‘Cabinet of Fashion’ illustrated by coloured engravings, often based on earlier plates from other magazines — portraits of persons of interest and biographies, essays, poems, as well as serialised stories. The later made it one of the first publications to publish novels prior to their becoming available as books.

Serialised story in The Lady’s Monthly Museum

Whilst the magazine was to provide women writers with the opportunity to contribute, its proud boast when it was first published that its contributors were “ladies of established reputation in the literary circles” masked the fact that regular contributors were often poorly paid. One such regular was the novelist and poet Mary Pilkington.

Women’s magazines tended to reflect the views about women’s role in society. The more stimulating content of earlier magazines became more narrowly focused and domestic as nineteenth century progressed and the concept of domesticity became the ideal. Content would only broaden again towards the end of the century.

Nevertheless, magazines that were produced for women and relied a great deal for contributions by women could perhaps be said to play something of a role of a cultural hub.

Biographical article in The Lady’s Monthly Museum

We hope that you enjoy engaging with a museum whatever form that takes. For further details of International Museum Day see the International Council of Museums website.