Author Archives: jcruthven

Hampshire’s Local History Champions

May is the Historical Association’s ‘Local and Community History Month’ which we will be marking with a series of blog posts. This week we take a look at two people whose interest in local studies has proved of immense value to generations of Hampshire’s local historians – Thomas Shore and Sir William Cope.

photograph of Thomas Shore

Thomas Shore (1840-1905) from Shore Memorial Volume (1911) Cope 06

Appointed in 1873 as the Secretary and Executive Officer of the Hartley Institution (the forerunner of the University), Thomas Shore effectively became its principal in 1875. He lectured on scientific and technical subjects in addition to his administrative duties and spent so much of his free time exploring the local area, that he described himself as the ‘Hampshire Tramp’. It was this passion for local studies that led to the formation of the Hampshire Field Club – which remains the most important local studies organisation in Hampshire to this day. 

photograph of Hartley Institution entrance hall showing door to Shore's office on the right

The Hartley Institution’s entrance hall with the door to Shore’s office on the right. Rare Books Univ. Coll. LF 781.15 pc1082

On 20th March 1885, Shore convened a meeting in his office at the Hartley Institution with Rev. Thomas Woodhouse, Vicar of Ropley, Rev. William Eyre, Rector of Swarraton, William Whitaker of the Geological Survey and Ernest Westlake, a geologist from Fordingbridge. They agreed that a Society to be called the Hampshire Field Club should be formed, its purpose being to study the natural history and antiquities of the county, or, as Shore later described it to fellow member, G.W. Colenutt, ‘a few of us went into my room to talk this over and we came out of the room as The Hampshire Field Club’.

HFCRules! (2)

Rules of the Hampshire Field Club from H.F.C. Press Cuttings, Programmes etc. 1885-1890 Rare Books H.F.C. q DA 670.H2

As its name suggests, visits to sites of interest were to be a key activity of the group. Arranging and leading these were amongst Shore’s responsibilities – he had become Organising Secretary in 1885 – and the visits allowed him to share his enthusiasm for all aspects of local studies. In Colenutt’s view ‘to his personality was largely due the early and continued increase in the Club’s membership and to the position it attained as a County organisation of importance and influence’.  

The H.F.C.’s early importance and influence was seen in the lobbying role it undertook particularly in relation to the preservation of local antiquities. With its headquarters in Southampton it was well-placed to object to the various proposals of the Corporation which in its view involved the ‘wilful obliteration of antiquities’. The H.F.C. voted to donate £10 towards cleaning and making accessible an undercroft in Simnel Street ‘if it were to be preserved’, objected to plans to build near West Quay, which would destroy part of the town walls and in 1899 the Club’s officers brought their influence to bear in the campaign against the Corporation’s proposal to demolish or move the Bargate, which was proving an obstacle to the new electric tram scheme. 

black and white postcard of a tram going through the Bargate

The problem caused by the electric trams was solved by lowering the road through the arch, rather than demolishing the Bargate. Cook postcard pc1622

As part of Shore’s wide-ranging role at the Hartley Institution he developed both its Museum and its Library.  On the Library side, his standing in local history circles secured for the Institution the bequest, by Sir William Cope of Bramshill, of his Hampshire Collection. Shore’s role is confirmed in a letter from George Minns, editor of the Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club, printed in the Southampton Herald of 23 April 1892. This stated that ‘we are greatly, if not entirely, indebted to the influence and promptitude of Mr Shore’ for the bequest containing many ‘priceless treasures of great local interest’. Cope had apparently conferred with Shore about the disposal of his collection and obtained his advice in the form of words to be used in the bequest.

RB_Cope_fph_BRAMI_96_COP_SirWilliamCope_fph4a_CopyJ (2)

Sir William Cope (1811-1892) Rare Books Cope fph BRAMI 96 COP

Like Shore, Sir William Cope was an incomer to Hampshire, being a distant relative of Sir John Cope, whom he succeeded as baronet in 1851. He had previously been a lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade and after being ordained as a priest, was appointed as minor canon and librarian at Westminster Abbey. Cope’s Hampshire Collection combined his passion for books with his interest in his adoptive county and by 1879 it amounted to over 700 publications, a figure which had doubled by the time of his death. Described in an obituary as ‘earnest, genial, pious and high-minded’, Cope was also said to have been a good friend of Charles Kingsley, the Rector of Eversley, the parish in which Bramshill stood. Later writers have cast some doubt on this, given Cope’s refusal to carry out any improvements at Kingsley’s damp and unhealthy rectory.

engraving of Bramshill House

View of Bramshill from George Prosser Select Illustrations of Hampshire (1834-39) Rare Books Cope quarto 91.5

When the Hartley Institution officially accepted the collection, it stood at some 1,427 books (112 fewer than those listed in the catalogue), fifty bound volumes of pamphlets, seven massive albums of engravings, and a further collection of individual prints. Then, as now, Library staff were keen to display the material and amongst the first visitors were members of the Hampshire Field Club. The April 1893 programme for their annual ‘conversazione’ at the Hartley Institution included the opportunity to view ‘books and prints from a recently arrived special collection’.

printed invitation to the conversazione at the Hartley Institution

Invitation to the Conversazione at the Hartley Institution, 12 April 1893, from H.F.C. Press Cuttings, Programmes, etc. 1885-1890 Rare Books H.F.C. q DA 670.H2

Thanks to Cope’s breadth of vision as a collector, the Cope Collection, as it is now known, is a remarkable resource for the study of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The county histories and lavishly illustrated topographical works sit alongside well-used local directories. There are learned papers on geology, archaeology and natural history, pamphlets and local acts relate the development of canals and railways and there are many examples of locally printed items of which few copies survive. The University has continued to add to the collection and and it now amounts to over 13,000 books with additional collections of postcards and photographs.

The latter years of the nineteenth century and early years of the twentieth brought many developments in local studies still of benefit today. In 1886, a year after the foundation of the Hampshire Field Club, the Hampshire Record Society was set up to preserve and publish ancient records and documents relating to the county, the Southampton Record Society following in 1905. Local booksellers and publishers also played a significant part – H.M. Gilbert in Southampton was in regular correspondence with Cope, published some of Shore’s papers and also compiled the county bibliography Bibliotheca Hantoniensis (1872). Through their differing interests in local studies both Shore and Cope made valuable contributions to these important foundations for local studies in Hampshire.

The Tichborne Claimant – a Victorian Sensation

On February 28th 1874 one of the country’s longest running criminal trials ended with a swift verdict from the jury. It took the members less than thirty minutes to find that the man claiming to be Sir Roger Tichborne, heir to the title, estates and wealth of the Tichborne family of Hampshire was in fact Arthur Orton, a butcher’s son from Wapping.

Tichborne House c.1875 from Views in Hampshire v.4 no.258 Rare Books Cope double folio 91.5

The case of the ‘Tichborne Claimant’ was the talk of Victorian England with families and friends divided as to the Claimant’s true identity. As a long lost, though legitimate claimant to a Hampshire baronetcy himself, Sir William Cope naturally took an interest in the story and as the whole saga played out in the print culture of the time, he acquired examples of newspaper reports, pamphlets and ephemera for his ‘Hampshire Collection’.

So what was the Tichborne Case? In 1854 twenty-six year old Roger Tichborne was reported lost at sea en route from Rio de Janeiro to Jamaica and subsequently declared dead. On the death of his father in 1862, the baronetcy passed to his younger brother and later to his nephew, but his mother, believing rumours that some survivors of the shipwreck had been taken to Australia, maintained a hope that Roger was still alive. In response to adverts placed in Australian newspapers in 1865, a butcher in Wagga Wagga came forward, claiming to be the missing heir. Having a strong facial resemblance to Roger – though lacking his slender build – he was accepted by Lady Tichborne as her son and provided with an income of £1,000 a year. Other members of the family were not convinced, but former family servants and fellow soldiers from the Dragoons were amongst his supporters.

‘Rescue of Sir Roger Tichborne’ and ‘The Claimant’. From a series of 48 frames on 3 sheets bound into Report of an Action of Ejectment, Tichborne v. Lushington, extracted from the Morning Post v.3 (n.d.) Rare Books Cope quarto 35

To establish the Claimant’s identity a civil case was brought between May 1871 and March 1872. His failure to understand or to speak French despite Roger having been brought up in France, his inability to distinguish Greek from Latin, despite having attended Stonyhurst College and the fact that he lacked a tattoo on his arm, which Roger was known to have had led the jury to reject his claim and he was arrested for perjury. After the jury at the subsequent criminal trial found the Claimant to be Arthur Orton and not Sir Roger, he was sentenced to fourteen years imprisonment.

Evidence of the facial similarity between Sir Roger and the Claimant from: The Trial at Bar of Sir Roger C.D. Tichborne by Dr Kenealy (1875)  Cope quarto 35

After serving ten years the Claimant was released and though he tried to rekindle public interest in his claim and treatment, he was unsuccessful. In 1895 in return for a fee of a few hundred pounds he confessed to The People that he was indeed Arthur Orton – though he later retracted the confession. He died in poverty on 1 April 1898, the Tichborne family allowing a plate reading ‘Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne’ to be placed on his coffin.

Sir William Cope appears to have gone to some lengths to obtain material for his collection, writing to John Coleridge, the Attorney-General, who represented the Tichborne family, to ask about the availability of printed notes of the civil case – Coleridge replied, not unreasonably, that he would require his own set for the next trial. There are volumes of newspaper reports relating to both cases, and also a seven volume description of the criminal trial by Edward Kenealy, the Claimant’s defence counsel, whose conduct during the proceedings ended his legal career. One of the volumes of cuttings also contains examples of printed ephemera including the silhouette cartoons above, a spoof playbill ‘Ballantine and Orton, or Sir Roger versus the Dodger’ and a ‘Tichborne Bond’. The Bonds were sold by the Claimant in order to raise funds when his income ceased with Lady Tichborne’s death in 1868. They guaranteed a payment of £100 should the Claimant be successful.

The ‘Tichborne Bond’. From Report of an Action of Ejectment, Tichborne v. Lushington, extracted from the Morning Post v.3 (n.d.) Rare Books Cope quarto 35

Other Tichborne items which Cope collected include the Tichborne Comicalities a series of coloured cartoons each describing incidents or people involved in the story with captions printed in verse.

Roger Tichborne from: The Tichborne Comicalities (1871) Rare Books Cope 35

The Tichborne Claimant from: The Tichborne Comicalities (1871) Rare Books Cope 35

Examples of broadsides and handbills include the poem ‘The Release of Roger Tichborne’ a verse from which refers to the Claimant’s portrayal of himself as fighting for justice in a battle with the establishment – something which went down well with the audiences on his fund-raising speaking tours, but tended to receive hostile coverage in the press.

The Release of Roger Tichborne (1872) Cope c 35

Public interest in the story was so great during the trials that souvenirs extended beyond the printed form – there were  medallions, handkerchiefs, china figures and toys – whether Cope collected any of these we do not know, but sadly there are no examples in the Cope Collection.

Pictorial Souvenir of the Great Tichborne Trial [London, 1874] Rare Books Cope cf 35

The story of the lost heir and his grieving mother, his reappearance and disputed identity, not to mention the two trials rivaled the sensation novels of the time and has since been the subject of numerous books and also a film ‘The Tichborne Claimant’ (1998).  The answer to the question of the Claimant’s real identity – something which might well be settled by a DNA test today – is usually the same as that given by the two juries – that he could not be Sir Roger Tichborne.


Southampton in the 1920s

As we enter the 2020s we take a look at what the Cope Collection can reveal about 1920s Southampton.

The High Street from: Greetings from Southampton (192-) Cope cabinet SOU 91.5

The theme running through most contemporary publications is that of expansion. The map below, taken from the memoir by Sir Sidney Kimber, a prominent figure in local government, shows the town almost doubling in size in 1920 with the addition of Woolston, Weston, Sholing, Peartree, Bitterne and Swaythling. This brought an increase in population of 31,200, but more importantly made a further 4,560 acres of land available to the Council for the houses it was able to build under the Housing Acts of 1919 and 1924.

From: Sidney Kimber Thirty-Eight Years of Public Life in Southampton 1910-1938 (1949) Cope SOU 31

Its progress was recorded in Housing Schemes carried out in the County Borough of Southampton (1930). The new estates for low paid workers were intended to replace the overcrowded slums of the town centre and to cope with a general increase in the population. Work began on the Burgess Road estate in 1926, with 1,164 houses being built by 1929, but despite this and the other schemes, there were still 5,400 unsatisfied applications for council houses in that year.

From: Housing Schemes carried out in the County Borough of Southampton (1930) Cope SOU 30

Many of the projects designed to improve the town in the 1920s were instigated by Sir Sidney Kimber and recorded in his memoir Thirty-eight Years of Public Life in Southampton 1910-1938 (1949). His proposal for a ‘civic centre’ at West Marlands was opposed by Tommy (Thomas) Lewis, leader of the Labour councillors, who argued that housing for the working classes should take priority. The proposed location was also an issue, being described as an ‘obscure hole’, but eventually in return for an undertaking that 2,000 council houses would be built, the plan was approved and the foundation stone for the Civic Centre was laid in 1930.

Sidney Kimber From: Sidney Kimber Thirty-Eight Years of Public Life in Southampton 1910-1938 (1949) Cope SOU 31

Dock handbooks show that plans for expansion were not confined to the Borough Council. Southern Railway, the dock owners, were planning improved facilities for both cargo ships and the lucrative passenger trade.

The Floating Dock from: Southampton Docks: Handbook of Rates, Charges and General Information (1926) Cope q SOU 43.1

The Floating Dock, inaugurated by the Prince of Wales in June 1924, was the largest in the world and at 960 ft long, 134 ft wide and 70 ft high, it could accommodate the largest liners. Its U-shaped hollow steel walls were filled with water to lower it so that ships could enter, the water being pumped out again to raise it.

Even as the Dry Dock was being built, the Board of Southern Railway was planning a more permanent form of expansion, seeking powers to reclaim the mudflats between the Royal Pier and Millbrook Point. The plan below shows the extent of the land reclamation, a total of 407 acres, with a frontage of 2 miles. Work began on the scheme,which was to cost £13 million, in 1927 and it was completed by 1934.

Mudland to be Reclaimed from: Southampton Docks: Handbook of Rates, Charges and General Information (1928) Cope q SOU 43.1

The port had received a boost in 1919 when Cunard made it the terminus for its New York passenger services – the Mauretania sailing from Southampton for the first time on 6 March 1920. Not only could passengers avail themselves of shipping services, the town also led the way with the formation of the country’s first marine airport at Woolston. In 1923 a regular flying boat service to the Channel Islands was established by the British Marine Air Navigation Co. which used three Supermarine Sea Eagles designed by R.J. Mitchell. In 1929 local pride was in evidence when a Supermarine S.6 won the Schneider Trophy – awarded to the winner of a race for seaplanes and flying boats, and staged that year at Calshot.

The Schneider Trophy Contest 1929: Programme Cope 43.4

In contrast to the books which focus on the town’s achievements, thanks to Professor Percy Ford, of University College Southampton, there are also studies of what life was really like for many of its residents. Southampton: a Civic Survey (1931) published for the Southampton Civic Society and edited by Professor Ford was intended to present information relevant to town planning and included chapters by him on ‘Employment and Income’ and ‘Population, House Density and Health’.

Oriental Terrace from: Southampton: a Civic Survey (1931) Cope q SOU 40

Ford’s own book Work and Wealth in a Modern Port: an Economic Survey of Southampton (1934), based in part on a survey carried out in 1928, was designed as a contribution ‘to our knowledge of poverty, its incidences and causes’. It describes Southampton’s main industries, other sources of employment, the labour market and income and poverty in the town, highlighting the effects of the lack of regularity and stability of employment for those working in the docks and shipping industries. In the docks, labour was casualised and shipping and ship repair work, seasonal.

Table of Income Grades from: Percy Ford Work and Wealth in a Modern Port: an Economic Survey of Southampton (1934) Cope SOU 40

Significant events in the life of the town were often recorded in postcards, photographs and ephemera.

On Saturday 6th November 1920, the Cenotaph, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Major-General Jack Seely. Its cost was borne by a public subscription and controversy arose when it became apparent that many names had been omitted. These were added in subsequent years, but despite contributions from the Jewish community, the names of fallen Jews could not be included owing to the presence of a prominent cross on the monument.

The Cenotaph, November 1920 Cook Postcards pc 1873

Earlier the same year, the 300th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower had been celebrated on Saturday 24th July. Events began with a lunch for 300 at the Pier Pavilion, followed by a Historical Pageant Play, John Alden’s Choice, staged on the quay near the Mayflower Memorial and watched by 2,000 spectators from a specially built grandstand. The day ended with a Water Carnival.

Myra Lovett John Alden’s Choice: a Pageant Play (1920) Cope SOU 81

Photographs also record diversions such as charabanc outings arranged by churches, pubs and places of work, and for football fans the early 1920s were years of great success with Saints joining the Third Division of the Football League in 1920 and being promoted to the Second Division at the end of the 1921/22 season.

Crown and Sceptre Outing, 3 August 1921 Rare Books Cope Photographs ph 2701

Southampton Football Club, Third Division Team (1921) Rare Books Cope Photograph ph 2730


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).

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.


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.

Highfield Campus 100: 1980-2000

As we get closer to the Highfield centenary we cover the last two ‘roller coaster’ decades of the twentieth century.

The main issue confronting John Roberts, the new Vice-Chancellor when he arrived in the Autumn of 1979, was the anticipated reduction in Government funding for higher education. With this in view, he set up a Working Party on Academic Goals, which concluded that the Theology Department should be closed, Italian reviewed and Russian reduced as quickly as possible.

Professor John Roberts [MS1/Phot/31/34]

When the Government cuts were announced in 1981, Southampton’s funding was reduced by 3.2% for 1981/2, followed by reductions of 8.7% in 1982/3 and 6.2% in 1983/4 – cuts less severe than those imposed on many other universities.

Measures to avoid creating a deficit included cutting 200 jobs, with funding for the Arts, Education and Social Science faculties being reduced by three times as much as that for Science, Engineering and Medicine. This proved deeply unpopular and amidst accusations that the funding crisis was being used as an excuse to restructure the University, a group of Social Sciences staff, led by Professor Ken Hilton proposed an alternative strategy. Debates on the proposals filled many issues of the staff newsletter, Viewpoint, and eventually the original plan was rejected by Senate. A second plan, which spread the cuts more evenly, looked for other forms of savings and replaced compulsory redundancies with voluntary retirements, passed Senate in 1982.

Leaflet produced during the campaign against cuts in University funding [Rare Books Univ. Coll. LF 789.86]

Although John Roberts was criticised by some for his handling of the situation, by 1985 when he returned to Oxford, the University’s finances had achieved stability. Looking to other sources of income it became increasingly successful in attracting research funding, grants and contracts, with earned income increasing from £5.4 million in 1980/1 to £11.4 million in 1983/4.

Despite the difficult financial situation, the early 1980s saw a number of positive developments and initiatives. In 1983 the Institute of Maritime Law was established, the following year Oceanography was selected by the University Grants Commitee to expand, the Department of Computer Studies and the Centre for Mathematics Education were set up, whilst the go ahead was given for the Chilworth Centre for Advanced Technology. There were also commitments to new buildings for Music and Electronics. A campaign to bring the papers of the First Duke of Wellington to the University Library, following their acceptance by the Treasury in lieu of death duties, was successful and the Leverhulme Trust granted £95,000 for work on the collection. At the same time, the UGC Committee agreed to provide £2 million for a Library extension.

In terms of Arts, the John Hansard Gallery opened in September 1980, bringing together the Photographic Gallery and the University Art Gallery with the aim of providing a catalyst for ideas and generating a network of activities. In 1983 the Nuffield Theatre Trust was formed by the University, Southampton City Council, Hampshire County Council and Southern Arts, which put the theatre on a more sound financial footing.

Sir Gordon Higginson [MS1/Phot/19/70]

The direction of travel begun under John Roberts continued under his successor Sir Gordon Higginson. There were further reductions in the block grant but the UGC did approve the University’s plan for expansion which set a target of 10,000 students by 2000. A new focus and efficiency was brought to fundraising by the creation of the post of Director of Industrial Affairs and the establishment of the Southampton University Development Trust. By 1987/8 income from research and contracts had grown to £20 million.

The later years of the 1980s saw the first nurses graduating from the School of Nursing Studies, the creation of the School of Biological Sciences, the doubling in size of Geology and plans for expanding Archaeology and Philosophy.

Chilworth Research Centre, first phase from: University Annual Report 1986/7 [Univ. Coll. per LF 786.4]

Chilworth Research Centre was officially opened in 1986 and in 1987 the eagerly anticipated new computer, an IBM 3090-150, with 32 megabytes of memory and a filestore of 20 gigabytes arrived.  Its importance was demonstrated by the fact that the new service was officially opened by Kenneth Baker, the Secretary of State for Education.

The IBM 3090 arrives at Building 54 from: New Reporter 23 January 1987 [Univ. Coll. per LF 787.62]

The project to extend and refurbish the Library was completed in the same year, and in March 1988 it was officially renamed as the Hartley Library by Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

Countess Mountbatten of Burma at the Library re-naming ceremony, March 1988 [MS1/Phot/1/52/15]

Expansion on all fronts was the key feature of the 1990s. There were new buildings, new campuses and a growing number of students – developments which had often begun under Gordon Higginson and which came to fruition under Sir Howard Newby, Vice-Chancellor 1994-2001.

Sir Howard Newby [MS1/Phot/19/111]

Finding a solution to the overcrowded Highfield site was the issue which dominated the late 1980s and early 1990s. Proposals included further development at Chilworth and even the creation of a new campus for 7,000 students at Lords Wood, but ultimately neither proposal was supported by the City Council. Instead, it facilitated the acquisition of sites closer to Highfield – Richard Taunton College and Hampton Park School, the former being redeveloped as Avenue Campus.

Avenue Campus from: Undergraduate Prospectus 1997 [Univ. Coll. per LF 787.8]

1996 was a bumper year for the University, bringing the opening of the National Oceanographic Centre at Southampton Docks – a joint initiative with Natural Environment Research Council’s Institute of Oceanographic Sciences, the amalgamation with Winchester School of Art and the move of the Arts Faculty, with the exception of Music, to Avenue Campus. The following year another campus was added, when the University took on responsibility for La Sainte Union College, which it transformed into New College. This became the home for the Department of Adult Continuing Education an initiative very much in tune with the 1997 Dearing Report, which proposed that universities should provide more opportunity for lifelong learning, engage more effectively with the local community and widen participation.

The Duke of Edinburgh looking at the figurehead from H.M.S. Challenger at the official opening of the National Oceanographic Centre, May 1996 [MS1/Phot/5/20/4]

At Highfield, the 1990s brought the Mountbatten Building for Electronics and Computer Science, completed in 1991, the School of Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy in 1994 and the Synthetic Chemistry Building in 1998. Behind the scenes there were plans for further development. Urban design consultants were employed to impose a unity on the site – one result being the reinvention of University Road as a tree-lined boulevard. A new approach to funding capital projects through loans brought a flurry of activity towards the end of the decade, resulting in the Gower and Zepler Buildings as well as the Social Sciences Graduate Centre.

The Gower Building from: University Annual Report 1999 [Univ. Coll. per LF 786.4]

Other aspects of University life which had their beginnings in the 1990s include the introduction of semesters which were intended to provide students with greater flexibility in their choice of options, the development of the first strategic plan and mission statement, the creation of the Alumni Office and establishment of the University of Southampton Society, the campus network and the introduction of the uni-link bus service.

uni-link buses [MS1/Phot/9/1/1]

One 1990s initiative no longer so much in evidence is the Dolphin logo chosen by the Visual Identity Project of 1990 to embody the spirit of the University because of its perceived intelligence, friendliness and links to the sea.

The Dolphin from: New Reporter 3 December 1990 [Univ. Coll. per LF 787.62]

It was also at this time that the University first identified itself as a research-led institution. In Howard Newby’s view, this was the only way in which its status could be enhanced – something of growing importance given the introduction of league tables and the larger number of universities resulting from the change in status of polytechnics in 1992/3. Here the strategic plan began to show immediate results with much improved Research Assessment Exercise results for 1996, which placed Southampton ahead of its comparator institutions. In 1997 the School of Medicine’s research capabilities were greatly enhanced by a £3 million Wellcome Trust Millennial Clinical Research Facility Award. Whilst teaching now came second to research, that of the five departments which submitted for the Teaching Quality Assessment in 1995 was judged excellent, suggesting that good research and teaching could be compatible.

Over the course of the two decades, the number of students grew from around 6,000 in 1980 to just over 14,000 in 1998/9. That there were 21,840 applications for 2,020 places in 1991, suggests that Southampton was a popular place to study.

Students had supported staff in their opposition to the University’s plan to deal with the cuts of 1981, suggesting that savings elsewhere might alleviate the need for such a drastic cut in jobs. As far as their own funding was concerned, the President of the Students Union for 1981/2, Jon Sopel, calculated that their grant had been cut by 13.4% since 1979, writing in the Student Union Handbook that ‘this must be one of the worst times for becoming a student’.

Wessex News October 1981 [Rare Books Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

When the Union block grant was reduced in 1984/5, protests against the cuts included occupying the offices of the local Conservative Association and the more traditional method of writing to the local M.P.

The main threat of direct action against the University itself during this period occurred when it was proposed to use one floor of the Students Union for teaching, and there were calls to occupy the Administration Building in protest, fortunately the proposal was abandoned before the occupation could take place.

During the later years of the 1980s the issue of student loans was coming to the fore and in 1988 the Union passed a motion which described top-up loans, as ‘merely the thin end of the wedge … eventually leading to a full loans system’. This proved correct with top-up loans for living costs introduced in 1990/1 and in 1998/9 tuition fees of £1,000 per annum.

Student “no loans” campaign, 1989 [MS1/Phot/19/263]

Another pressing concern for students at this time was lack of accommodation as despite the doubling of student numbers, there had been no expansion of the halls of residence. The situation was addressed in the 1990s when 604 additional apartment style units were created at Montefiore in 1994, with 200 more at Glen Eyre in 1996 and 400 at Hartley Grove, Glen Eyre in 1998.

Students continued to achieve success in sporting activities, with Student National Champion teams including Men’s Volleyball in 1981, Women’s Fencing in 1982 and in 1992, both Indoor and Outdoor Archery. Engagement with the local community continued through the annual Rag and also the Community Interaction Department which offered opportunities to volunteer at playschemes, the local psychiatric hospital and Winchester Prison Remand Centre, amongst others.

PolyAna the plastics identification machine, from: New Reporter 8 July 1998 [Univ. Coll. per LF 787.62]

As the new century approached, nine of the University’s inventions, including the PolyAna plastics identification machine, were awarded the Design Council’s ‘Millennium Product’ status for showing imagination, ingenuity and inspiration, forming part of a display adjacent to the Millennium Dome. To find out how the University fared at the opening of the 21st century look out for next month’s Highfield 100 blog post.



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: 1940s

The Second World War was a period of both anxiety and opportunity for University College, Southampton. The decision not to evacuate the Highfield site allowed the College to play a full part in wartime training and education, and to undertake research related to the war effort but meant that students and staff were potentially at risk from enemy action.

Above Bar, looking south. December 1940 [Cope photograph SOU 91.5 ABO ph2809]

Lying on the outskirts of Southampton, the College escaped the destruction seen in the town centre and port area, where approximately 2,630 bombs and 31,000 incendiaries killed 631 people and wounded a further 1,882. At Highfield, precautions against enemy attack included nine air raid shelters, blast walls and several static water tanks, with a fire truck standing by for the twenty-four hour fire patrol. Inevitably, the College suffered some damage; in 1940 an incendiary bomb set fire to one of the First World War huts, Highfield Hall received widespread blast damage on two occasions in 1941, South Stoneham House was damaged when bombs fell nearby and on 15 May 1944 the most serious damage was caused when a bomb landed close to the Zoology and Geology Building. Rumour had it that the exhibits from the Geology Museum were swept up with the rest of the rubble.

University College, Southampton A.R.P. Handbook (1941) [Univ. Coll. LF 785.8]

The war saw the College expand. It was urged to take as many undergraduates in science and engineering as possible, courses being reduced to two years, the maximum period of deferment prior to call-up and the period for which new Government bursaries were awarded. At the same time the number of technical students taking certificate and diploma courses also increased. The marine engineering courses and those of the new School of Radio-Telegraphy, which supplied engineers and wireless operators to the Merchant Navy, were particularly important in the war effort. Officers, British and Polish were trained at the Department of Navigation, based at South Stoneham House. In a new departure, training was also provided for the armed services, 2,146 trainees having participated in courses by July 1942. The College was also one of only four university institutions to host intensive six month cadet courses for the Royal Air Force.

Teaching a three year course in two years placed a heavy burden on staff in some departments but in others student numbers fell, with Law and Theology closing. A demand for adult education kept many staff busy. The bulk of the work, undertaken alongside the Workers’ Educational Association, proved to be in providing lectures, short courses and classes on a range of subjects to members of the armed forces stationed locally. By 1943/44 the combined number of extra-mural civilian and service students reached 2,864.

Key members of staff were seconded to the war effort, including Professor Betts of History who advised the BBC on Czech broadcasting, Professor Cave-Browne-Cave of Engineering who went to the Ministry of Home Security as Director of Camouflage, whilst Dr Zepler of Physics moved to the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge. Research directly related to the war continued, including methods of water recovery for desert vehicles, design of assault bridges, equipment for testing gyro navigation instruments and investigations related to poison gases and defence against their use.

New Engineering Building [MS1/Phot/ 22/5/1 p.14]

With all this activity, pressure on space increased and the College was fortunate in having been allowed to complete the new Engineering Building in 1939 and the Union and Refectory in 1940. Wartime spirit saw temporary accommodation offered to others, including the Southampton Food Office and staff from Supermarine, who were housed briefly in the old Refectory and the Geography Hut when the Woolston factory was bombed in September 1940. Halls of residence welcomed, amongst others, French soldiers after Dunkirk, students from University College, London and nurses bombed out of the Royal South Hants Hospital.

The new Union and Refectory Building c.1941 [MS1/Phot/11/4]

For students, the war brought intensive study and a more restricted life. Male students on full-time courses were required to join the Senior Training Corps or the University Air Squadron, the teaching day being extended to accommodate the STC’s daily lunchtime parade. Pressure on time led some student societies to close, whilst travel difficulties affected sporting fixtures. One unforeseen effect of the war was the sanctioning of the first mixed hall of residence, when shortage of space saw men admitted to the women’s Highfield Hall.

Entertainments continued as far as possible, although the Annual Report of 1941 noted ‘considerable feeling’ in the Union about dances ending at 8.30. Presumably this did not apply to the dance held to mark the end of the war which Senate ‘very kindly consented to  … as the most pleasant way of celebration.’

Senior Training Corps on parade outside the Union [MS1/2/4/11]

Many students had contributed directly to the war effort by working with the A.R.P., the Women’s Voluntary Service and Southampton Information Service, where they acted as messengers, drivers, typists and loud-speaker van announcers. Students had also raised funds for the International Student Service which was engaged in relief work with refugee students and prisoners of war. Some twenty-three refugee students had received free tuition at the College, a Committee having been set up in February 1939 to provide assistance to refugee scholars.

Sixty-eight of those who passed through the College prior to armed service lost their lives in the conflict. They are commemorated on the War Memorial Tablet, unveiled by Sir Samuel Gurney-Dixon, Chairman of Council,  on 7th November 1948.

Sir Samuel Gurney-Dixon unveiling the War Memorial Tablet,  University of Southampton Press Cuttings v.2 [Rare Books Univ. Coll. LF 787.62]

As an institution, University College, Southampton had had ‘a good war’ and was certainly in a better financial  position in 1945 than it had been in 1939. Revenue from student fees, a bequest from Professor Lyttel of History and an increase in the County Council grant meant that at the end of war its deficit had decreased from a pre-war figure of £39,000 to £14,000.

The College’s post-war success owed much to forward planning. A 1942 publication, Looking Forward Looking Back, spoke of its aspirations as an educational institution – the importance of independent work in laboratory and library, the need to avoid increases in tuition fees and of promoting a ‘corporate life’ based on knowledge and understanding of the aims and objects of the College. In contrast, The Needs of University College Southampton in the Post-War Period (1944) gave a list of objectives, costed and divided into three phases. The first would see a general strengthening of academic departments, the acquisition of land, extensions to existing buildings, a new Assembly Hall and new Chemistry building, and would require capital expenditure of £258,110. Later phases would bring additional staff, further development of the Highfield site and more halls of residence.

With these ambitious plans, the College found itself pushing against an open door in terms of Government support. There was a scheme of further education for ex-service personnel, a policy of increasing the number of graduates, especially in science and engineering, and financial support available for such activities.

Sir Robert Wood  [MS1/Phot/39/ph 3125]

In 1946 the Principal, Kenneth Vickers, retired and was replaced by Sir Robert Wood, a civil servant, whose skills were well suited to the new era. When the University Grants Committee (which on a visit had commented on the poor accommodation and extremely low academic salaries) requested a statement of needs and proposals, the College was ready with its plan. The number of full-time undergraduates would increase to 1,000 to 1,300 (the current figure being 586) and the related building programme would require £650,000-£700,000 in capital expenditure.

The proposals ultimately proved too ambitious in post-war Britain, but during the next three years the College did receive around £360,000 in capital grants allowing it to achieve many of its goals. It acquired the disused brickfield behind the Union and Refectory Building and the Glen Eyre Estate at Bassett, earmarked for halls of residence. The new Assembly Hall was completed by March 1949, the Institute of Education Building being finished later the same year as were the first student houses at Glen Eyre. The new Chemistry Building was opened in stages between 1948 and 1952.

View of Glen Eyre Wessex News (1st November, 1949) [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Steps were taken to improve academic departments in part by reducing the number of technical courses and freeing staff time for university work. From the session of 1947/48 basic courses were transferred to Southampton Education Authority, leading to a reduction in number of technical students, which in 1946/7 had stood at almost 3,000 compared with 586 undergraduates.

The College had received a special commendation for its contribution to the war effort in terms of electronics and radio-technology and in 1947 Electronics was recognised as a department in its own right. In 1949, Dr Zepler, who returned from Cambridge after the war, became the department’s first Professor. Both Philosophy and Geography became independent departments, whilst those of Law and Theology were revived. The social sciences faculty envisaged by Professor Percy Ford came closer to realisation with the introduction of courses in public administration, accountancy and social work. The College also became home to the new Institute of Education which was to provide for the organisation of the teacher training in the area, in cooperation with the local education authorities and training colleges.

Institute of Education Building [MS/1/ Phot/22/5/1 p.16]

By 1948, the number of undergraduates had grown from a pre-war figure of 325 to 892. Despite South Stoneham reverting to a men’s hall of residence on the Department of Navigation’s move to Warsash, the College could no longer accommodate its students and by 1947 appeals for approved lodgings for 300 students had to be made in the local press.

Student societies thrived, the Dramatic and Choral being two of the most successful. The session of 1948/49 saw the new Assembly Hall in use for a production of Twelfth Night, as a venue for the Debating Society and for badminton, gym and boxing. Wessex News, which had ceased publication in June 1944, was revived in 1946 carrying all the news of student life.

1947/48 brought the revival of the College Rag – suspended in 1930 for being too riotous. The Rag Procession of around 700 students took place on 10 February 1948, other highlights being the ‘Gaslight Gaieties’ show on the Royal Pier, a Rag Ball and the Goblio, a rag magazine, full of jokes which have not necessarily stood the test of time. After this, Rag once again became a regular event.

Goblio (1949) [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Goblio (1948) [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

At the end of 1940s the College’s past lingered in the ‘shanty-town’ of First World War huts which remained at Highfield but the new redbrick buildings were a sign of progress. In June 1949 Sir Robert Wood achieved a major breakthrough in the quest for independent University status, when London University agreed to a ‘special relationship’ between the two institutions. This allowed College staff, appointed by London, to cooperate in setting and marking exams in order to establish academic standards prior to Southampton awarding its own degrees. Following the agreement, degrees were conferred for the first time, not in London but in Southampton, at the Presentation Day held at the Guildhall on 5 November 1949.

Find out how ‘the College’ became ‘the University’ next month as we reach the 1950s.

Article on the importance of Presentation Day by Sir Robert Wood Wessex News 1st November 1949 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Many digitised sources for the history of the University are available at Internet Archive

Geological Excursions in Special Collections

This week we take a look at some geological ‘finds’ amongst the rare books, focusing on the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when the term ‘geology’ was first used and recognised as a subject in its own right. As canals were constructed and mines sunk, geology’s practical application was becoming increasingly important and its popular appeal can be seen in the many collections of fossils and minerals dating from this period.

Gustavus Brander Fossilia Hantoniensia collecta et in Museo Britannico deposita (1766) Rare Books Cope quarto 55

One keen collector was Gustavus Brander (1720-1787) a director of the Bank of England who collected fossils from Hordle Cliff whilst staying at his country house at Christchurch. These he presented to the British Museum in 1765, the collection being catalogued and illustrated by Daniel Solander (1736-1782). The catalogue attracted much interest as did Brander’s view that the shells could only have survived in a warmer climate. Another collector, on a larger scale, was James Parkinson (1755-1824) who had been collecting fossils for many years prior to publishing his three volume Organic Remains of a Former World (1808-1811). This was aimed at the general reader and became the standard textbook of palaeontology in England.

Plate V James Parkinson Organic Remains of a Former World v.1 (1808) Rare Books quarto QE 711

The interest in geology encouraged the botanical illustrator James Sowerby (1757-1822) to publish British Mineralogy, an illustrated topographical mineralogy of Great Britain which was issued in 78 parts between 1802 and 1817. Sowerby worked from specimens sent to him for identification by mineral collectors from around the country and in 1808 became a Fellow of the recently established Geological Society of London.

Such publications brought fossils and minerals to a wider audience, the illustrations enabling collectors to compare, identify and order their own finds and in turn to contribute to the national geological record. Often hand-coloured, the illustrations provided sufficient detail to act as a proxy for the specimens themselves.

Arsenate of Copper from James Sowerby British Mineralogy v.1 (1804) Rare Books QE 381.G7

The practical and economic significance of geology was evident in the network of canals and expansion of the mining industry in Britain during the eighteenth century. Whilst an understanding of the subject was required for these undertakings, the work itself brought further advances in geological knowledge – often supplying minerals for the collectors and illustrators.

Surveys of the soil and minerals of each county were included in the series of Board of Agriculture reports for Great Britain and Ireland published in the early years of the nineteenth century. That on Derbyshire by John Farey (1766-1826) ran to three volumes and was unusual for its extensive geological coverage. Farey’s interest in stratification stemmed from his association with the geologist, William Smith (1769-1839), creator of the first geological map of Britain, and in the report Farey published for the first time his own analysis of the geometry of faulting.

From: John Farey General View of the Agriculture and Minerals of Derbyshire v.1 (1811) Rare Books Perkins S 453

Descriptions of geological features such as landslips, cliffs and mountains appeared in many of the contemporary guidebooks, sometimes accompanied by illustrations, but it was unusual for such publications to explicitly include geological information. An exception to this was Sir Henry Englefield’s Description of the Principal Picturesque Beauties, Antiquities and Geological Phenomena of the Isle of Wight (1816). Englefield, an antiquarian with geological interests – he was a member of the Geological Society of London himself – commissioned Thomas Webster (1772-1844) a member and employee of the Society to research the geology of the Island and to contribute his findings to the book. Published as an impressive large folio with the subtitle ‘With additional observations on the strata of the island and their continuation in the adjacent parts of Dorsetshire’, the book contains illustrations of many of the geological features of the Isle of Wight and a geological map.

Alum Bay from: H.C. Englefield and T. Webster Description of the Principal Picturesque Beauties, Antiquities and Geological Phenomena of the Isle of Wight (1816) Rare Books Cope quarto 98.55

Map from: H.C. Englefield and T. Webster Description of the Principal Picturesque Beauties, Antiquities and Geological Phenomena of the Isle of Wight (1816) Rare Books Cope quarto 98.55

As well as the copies of Englefield’s book, Special Collections also holds a small collection of correspondence between Webster and Englefield (MS47). This deals mainly with the geology of the Isle of Wight, as do Webster’s notes on what Englefield described in his introduction as ‘that part of natural science lately called Geology’.