Category Archives: Manuscript Collections

University Developments Through Time: Has anybody here seen Kelly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rag Bag, 1929

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

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

Photograph of Kelly from the Goblio 1949

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

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

“Captain Kelly” from the Goblio, 1952

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


University Developments Through Time: the Hartley Institution Museum collections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detail of floor plan of Hartley Institution building including Museum

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

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

University Developments Through Time: Rag

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

Rag Day logo from 1953

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rag events programme cover [MD 310/39 A2032]

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

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

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

Rag programme for 1948 [MS 310/31 A1087]

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

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

Souvenir Rag programme for 1948

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

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

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

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

W.Tomsett gives a similar account:

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

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

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

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

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

The Great Exhibition in Print

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Minutes of the Grounds Committee [MS1 A4091/1]

Minutes of the Grounds Committee [MS1 A4091/1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

West’s Patent [MS1 A4091/1/9]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

University Developments Through Time: Sports Facilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boat Hard [MS 1 Phot/32/123]

Boat Hard [MS1/Phot/32/123]

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

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

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

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

Wessex News, February 1976

Wessex News, February 1976

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jubilee Sports Centre swimming pool

Jubilee Sports Centre swimming pool

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

Wide Lane floodlit artificial pitches

Wide Lane floodlit artificial pitches

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

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

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

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


Highfield Campus 100: the 21st century

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hartley Library extension opened 2004

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

Jo Nesbitt featured in Hartley News, 2004

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

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

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

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

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

Sailing Club in action [MS1/Phot19/266]

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

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

Travels in Europe

How about taking a trip to Europe for your summer break? But what would your journey have been like in the days before fast cars or budget airlines. Whilst industrialisation and developments in modes of transport – such as trains and steamers – throughout the nineteenth century made travel easier, journeys would have been a very different prospect from our modern experience.

This week’s blog looks at the accounts of three women between the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, offering a glimpse of travel in the age of horse-drawn carriages, trains, steamers and early motor cars.

Sketch of travel by horse and carriage, 1829 [MS61 Wellington Papers 1/1034/29]

The first traveller is Mary Mee, Viscountess Palmerston. With her husband and children she travelled to continental Europe on various occasions during the late eighteenth century. Her account relates to the visit they made in 1792, beginning with a description of the Channel crossing on the packet boat from England to Calais and then a drive in horse drawn carriage to Boulogne:

“Sunday the 29th of July. We had a very short passage of three hours which appeared to me like three and thirty…. The children were all a little indisposed but they forgot their past sickness when we landed at Calais. We breakfasted and drest and then set off for the Hotel de Ville where we were to appear in person to have our picture taken, that is to have our persons so accurately described that we could not give our passports to anybody else that they might effect their escape. Nothing, however, could be civiler and they detained us as short a time as possible…. During the examination of our baggage and the refitting of our carriage we took a walk and viewed the Duchess of Kingston’s house… We had a pleasant drive to Bologne where we arrived at the renowned Mrs Knowles, time enough to take a walk on the pier…”

[MS62 Broadlands Archives BR11/18/6]

“Searched by the Douaniers on the French frontiers” in Journal of sentimental travels in the southern provinces of France (Ackermann, London, 1821) [Rare Books DC607.7]

Travel documentation and checking of luggage was as much part of the eighteenth-century experience as for the modern traveller. The account by Lady Palmerston emphasising the civility of the process provides a marked contrast to accounts of less scrupulous practices for border crossings, as shown in the Rudolph Ackermann illustration above.

The Paris of Lady Palmerston’s visit was that of the First French Republic created in the aftermath of the revolution.

“The Garde Meuble” from Paris and its historical scenes vol. 1 (London, 1831) [Rare Books DC707]

She begins with a more typical tourist account praising the architecture and the environment: “I am extremely struck with the magnificent buildings in Paris. The fine hotels and gardens with the number of pathed walks and gardens which make a summer pass’d in Paris as pleasant as the country. The clearness of the air from burning only wood is very singular to any body used to the smoke of London…”

The Louvre from Paris and its historical scenes vol. 1 (London, 1831) [Rare Books DC707]

But Lady Palmerston’s description of the city goes beyond an admiration for the sites, and in her comments provide an interesting perspective on the social changes taking place:

“The total absence of everything like a person of fashion or a carriage … is very striking… We went and walked afterwards in the Palais Royal which used to be filled with all kinds of elegant people. It was crowded indeed, but with quite a different description. It’s the gayest place possible and you might pass your life in it and never want anything but what you might find there. All kinds of shops, coffee houses, taverns … dancing, gambling, politicks talking all around you and ladies without number.”

[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR11/18/6]

Private journal of Elizabeth Waley, 1845 [MS371 A3042/2/4/15]

The second traveller is Elizabeth Waley (1821-84), the only daughter of Solomon Jacob Waley and his wife Rachael Hort. This account records her journey with her parents across Europe and around the Rhine in 1845, utilising, as well as carriages, the relatively new modes of transport – both trains and steamers.

The distance of nearly 50 years did not seem to have improved the experience of the initial part of the journey – that of crossing the Channel. The boat was described as having “pitched about tremendously” with the “women wretchedly provided for … with no stewardess nor any one to attend to them.” Border crossings and formalities at these could still be relatively simple and non bureaucratic. Elizabeth Waley records that when travelling by carriage from Koblenz to Bad Ems “not far from Coblenz a ladle at the end of a long pole was handed out of the window of a little house and we paid a trifling toll at crossing the barrier between Prussia and Nassau”. [MS371 A3042/2/4/15]

The development of the train network in Belgium and in Germany in the 1830s and 1840s meant that train travel from Ostend onwards was relatively straightforward. Crossing the state border though did mean a delay at Verviers to change to Prussian carriages to deal with the differences in the state rail networks.

Their journey included a day visit to Frankfurt by train from Weisbaden in August: this route being part of the new railway line that had been constructed in 1839. Taking in some of the main sites they visited the Römer (City Hall)  and the stock exchange building on the Paulsplatz. This building, which Elizabeth Waley described as “an elegant new building”, was based on the plans of the Frankfurt architect Friedrich Peiper and had opened in 1843.  It had a spacious interior and was designed “in beautiful taste, the floor laid with mosaic patterns in coloured stone and an arched roof painted in arabesque supported by marble columns….”. [MS371 A3042/2/4/15]

Gatehouse at Frankfurt: sketchbook of Emily, Lady Palmerston, 1840s [MS62 Broadlands Archives MB2/H15 p. 21]

In parallel to the development in train networks, the introduction of steam-powered boats to regions such as the Rhine led to the increase in tourism there from the late 1820s. The Waley family in 1845 incorporated the use of steamers in their itinerary and found that these often worked in efficient cooperation with the trains. Elizabeth Waley reported of their return journey in September through Frankfurt that although they were late the Princess Marianne steamer had been “in correspondence with the train and waited for the passengers”.

Old tower at Andernach: sketchbook of Emily, Lady Palmerston, 1840s [MS62 Broadlands Archives MB2/H15]

The final account is from the journal of Sybil Henriques who recorded her visit to Venice in 1911. This journey again at least in part embraced new modes of transport, as the party used first the train to Menton and then drove by car to Milan with the intention of then motoring on to Venice.

“9 April: At 1.30 we started for Venice but nearly never got there as our bus (motor) drove slick into a tram. Smashing of glass from the tram and shock to us and a standstill. All leapt out and into a little Victoria and so to station. In train from 1.30 to 6.30 with hot sunshine pouring on to us and the surrounding country past Brescia, Peschiero at the end of Lake Garda and Verona and Padua. Wonderful towns, but ugly plains between…”

[MS371 A3042/2/4/33]

The Grand Canal, Venice: sketchbook of Julia Waley, 1870s [MS363 A3006/3/5/4]

Sybil Henriques’s account of her trip to Venice records not only the sights that she visited “10 April: Cold and grey but busy sightseeing. St Mark’s in morning. Marvellous mosaics…. After lunch … set off for the Palace of Doges where we saw the most immense rooms I have ever seen and the most immense pictures in them mostly by Tintoretto….” It also shows the impact that tourism, fueled by transport developments, were having the city even then, as she notes that their beautiful view from the balcony over to San Georgio was “rather spoilt today by a large French steamer”. [MS371 A3042/2/4/33] So modern complaints about too many cruise ships travelling to Venice are nothing new!

We wish you a happy journey and a very enjoyable holiday by whatever means you are travelling.

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.



Travel journals: South and Central America

This week we continue our travel theme with a visit to South and Central America. This post draws on sources from our rare book stock – including accounts collected by John Pinkerton – as well as the diaries of the explorer William Mogg and correspondence of commercial traveller, Alfred Salinger.

Tropaeolum Majus, Greater Indian Cress or Nasturtium, a native of Peru and first brought to Europe in 1684 Curtis’s Botanical magazine vol. 1 [Rare Book per Q]

John Pinkerton was a Scottish cartographer and historian. He was not a great traveller himself, but collected and translated the accounts of others. His “general collection of the best and most interesting voyages and travels in all parts of the world” includes a volume devoted to South America containing Captain’s Betagh’s observations on Peru; Alonso de Ovalle’s history of Chile; M. Bouguer’s voyage to Peru; an account of Don Antonio de Ulloa’s visit to South America and John Nieuhoff’s travels in Brazil.

‘View of Buenos Ayres’ from vol. 14 South America (1813): John Pinkerton A general collection of the best and most interesting voyages and travels in all parts of the world; many of which are now first translated into English (London, 1808-14) [Rare Books G 161]

The engraving of Buenos Aires by John Byrne was used to illustrate the account of Don Antonio de Ulloa’s time in South America at the command of the King of Spain. Ulloa gives his impressions of the city:

He [Don Pedro de Mendoza] gave it the name of Buenos Ayres, on account of the extreme salubrity of the air. The city is built on a large plain, gently rising from the little river. It is far from being small, having at least three thousand houses […] The city is surrounded by a spacious and pleasant country, free from any obstruction to the sight.

Ulloa’s voyage to South America p.642-3 from vol. 14 South America (1813): John Pinkerton, A general collection of the best and most interesting voyages and travels in all parts of the world; many of which are now first translated into English, (London, 1808-14) [Rare Books G 161]
Island of St Thomas John Pinkerton, A general collection of the best and most interesting voyages and travels in all parts of the world; many of which are now first translated into English, (London, 1808-14) [Rare Books G 161]

The view of the St Thomas [now part of the Virgin Islands] illustrates John Nieuhoff’s account of his nine year stay in Brazil in the 1640s. He was clearly not on the pay-roll of their tourist board!

It is very fertile in black sugar and ginger; the sugar-fields being continually moistened by the melted snow that falls down from the mountains. There were at that time above sixty sugar mills there; but the air is the most unwholesome in the world, no foreigner daring to stay so much as one night ashore, without running the hazard of his life; because by the heat of the sun beams such venomous vapors are drawn from the earth, as are unsupportable to strangers.

Voyages and travels into Brazil by John Nieuhoff from John Pinkerton, A general collection of the best and most interesting voyages and travels in all parts of the world; many of which are now first translated into English, (London, 1808-14) [Rare Books G 161]

The Special Collections hold the papers of William Mogg. The third volume of his illustrated journals covers his time in South American waters, with accounts and illustrations from his voyage on the Beagle with Charles Darwin 1821-33. It was the observations that Darwin made during these expeditions that led him to formulate his theory of evolution.

‘Condor’: from the private journal of William Mogg, 1821–33 [MS 45 AO183/3]

William Mogg gives an account of the “metropolis of Brazil”, Rio de Janeiro:

In the environs of the city, are many beautiful situations; and while enjoying delightful rides amidst the richest, and most varied scenery, or resting in the shade of a veranda, refreshed by the sea-breeze, and overlooking a prospect hardly to be surpassed in any part of the world

William Mogg’s private journal, vol. 3 [MS 45 AO183/3]
Mole Palace and Cathedral, Rio de Janeiro from William Mogg’s private journal, vol. 3 [MS 45 AO183/3]

Mogg describes “Boto Fogo” as the Brighton of Rio and “from its situation exposed to the sea breeze, nothing more delightful can be wished for than this charming spot.” He goes on to say:

Many of the marine villas have egress to the sea for bathing, but in this fertile climate teaming with life, the attractions are so great, more especially to those fond of natural history, that he is scarcely able to walk at all.

William Mogg’s private journal, volume 3 [MS 45 AO183/3]

It all sounds quite delightful!

Cactus Flagelliformis which grows “spontaneously in South America and the West Indies”. Curtis’s Botanical magazine volume 1 [Rare Book per Q]

The Special Collections holds the papers of the Salinger family, including Morris and Harriet’s fifth child, Alfred (1867-1951). He spent two years at the City of London School and then began work for a firm of clothiers. Through family influence he went to work in Uruguay as a clerk in a firm constructing railways. This venture was terminated when he was invalided back to Britain after a bout of typhoid. He was not put off travelling, however, as Salinger later became a traveller for Vinolia Soap, visiting both Argentina and South Africa.

I am now on my way down to B Aires from Paraguay where I have been for the last 3 or 4 weeks. During Holy week (Easter) I accepted an invitation from a friend of mine in Asuncion to visit his estate and as one cannot do any business during that week on account of the religious observances which include burning effigies of Judas Iscariot and other ancient notabilities in the principal streets besides other religious processions, I thought I could not do better than accept his invitation to get clear of all the troublesome fanaticism of a properly observed Easter in one of the S American countries. My friend is a very good fellow, son-in-law of the British Consul in Asuncion and we had an excellent time together. We left Asuncion by train on Thursday March 26, arrived in Villa Rica at 3pm where I visited a customer, an N American who has been nearly 30 years in Paraguay [f.2] and has a very flourishing drug store there the only one outside of Asuncion of any importance. There is also an English Dr, Bottrill by name, who came out from Blackheath about 7 or 8 yrs ago for his health and is so satisfied with the climate that he has remained there with his wife, an English lady, and they are an excellent couple, young and very hospitable. Next day, 27th, we continued our journey as far as the railway goes to a spot called Piropo, taking with us only saddle and saddle bags, with the few necessaries for our stay at the estate, and guns etc. At Piropo an Indian servant was waiting for us with the horses, but the whistle of the railway engine had frightened them and after eating a little at a ranch near by the station we found when we were ready to saddle up that they had cleared away. So after duly cursing the Indian for not tying them more securely we sent him after them on a spare horse and at 11pm he came back with them having stopped them at a river about 5 miles off, which one has to cross on the way to the ‘Estancia’ as they call the estates here. Being a moonlight night we did not waste any time but saddled up and got away at once….

Letter from Alfred Salinger to his younger brother, Samuel, describing a journey from Paraguay to Buenos Aires to visit the estate of a friend, 17 April 1896 [MS 209 A810/1/3]
Bank note from Argentina from the wallet of Alfred Salinger, a commercial traveller for Vinolia Soap [MS 209 A810/1/8]

Join us for our next travel blog post, where the destination will be Europe!