Tag Archives: University of Southampton

SUSU Sport – making history

Are you a member or supporter of Team Southampton ? You are making history!

Generations of students and staff – men and women – have built a strong sporting tradition at Southampton and you are following in their footsteps. In 2017, SUSU has 93 sports teams competing at a national level.  How will your team be remembered?

Netball team, 1928-9, MS1/7/291/22/2/62

Netball team, 1928-9, MS1/7/291/22/2/62

Team photos record more than names and faces – they often detail trophies, mascots, special occasions and successes, the sports-wear and sports equipment of the day. Are they formal or informal? What do they show about team spirit and pride? What about the setting – they may be taken on the pitch or show University locations and sports facilities. How does the past link to the present?

In Special Collections we hold many records relating to University teams and their achievements, from the earliest days of the Hartley Institution at the end of the 19th century – to the modern sports teams of today. They include photos, programmes, fixture lists, match reports, accounts and papers – even a rugby shirt worn by R.E.Brown, captain of the first XV in 1933-4!  Together they tell the story of sport at Southampton – an important aspect of University life.

The University Boat Club, 1962-3. MS1/7/291/22/4/125

The University Boat Club, 1962-3. MS1/7/291/22/4/125

This is the University Boat Club, 1962-3. The caption reads: “1st VIII were placed 12th out of 150 crews in the Reading Head of the River, and for the first time the University entered for Henley Royal Regatta in the Thames Cup division” MS1/7/291/22/4/125.

We have recently contributed to a project to celebrate the UK’s sporting heritage.

The aim is to bring together information about sports archives and the people who care for them. By adding details of our collections to this website we are helping to build a national list of all the sporting heritage collections in the UK.  You can use it to search by sport or location; discover what’s on; read featured articles, and more.

The Special Collections also holds manuscript and printed material relating to sport in the county of Hampshire; the sporting interests of individuals – such as Earl Mountbatten of Burma (a famous polo player) – and the sporting activities of Anglo-Jewish youth groups. You can see details of our sporting collections here:

https://www.sportingheritage.org.uk/content/collection/special-collections-hartley-library-university-southampton

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Ask an Archivist Day: Responding to enquiries

Archivists and curators of Special Collections possess a detailed knowledge of the collections in their care and are always delighted to share this. To mark Ask an Archivist Day we provide a brief breakdown of the process involved in responding to researcher enquiries…

Enquiries come by four main routes: by email, phone, via post, or in person. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these days the majority of enquiries we receive are by email. The Archives inbox is managed on a rota, with Archivists taking turns in dealing with enquiries. However, if there is a large volume they will be shared out among the team. Enquiries come from a range of users both national and international, including students, scholars, educators, authors, family historians, genealogists, and filmmakers. The nature of enquiries can vary dramatically and they continually highlight the richness of the resources housed in Special Collections. While some enquiries can take minutes to process, others can take significantly longer. Below are examples of two relatively straightforward enquiries: one relating to a broad topic and the other with a more specific focus.

Enquiry #1: I’ve found material relating to the slave trade listed on the Wellington Papers Database. What other material do you have on the slave trade in the 19th century?

The topic of slavery and the slave trade is covered by both our manuscript and Printed Special Collections. Turning first to the manuscript collections, material can be found among the papers of two nineteenth-century politicians: those of the first Duke of Wellington (MS 61) and of third Viscount Palmerston (MS 62).

Searching the Palmerston Papers Database

Searching the Palmerston Papers Database

As was noted by the researcher, material on the topic can be found listed on the Wellington Papers Database. The database contains item level descriptions of material from the collection, enabling the researcher to narrow their focus to specific letters or documents. Meanwhile, a look at the catalogue for the Palmerston Papers shows there is a series of letters and papers relating to slavery and the slave trade (MS 62 PP/SLT) among the Papers on Foreign Affairs. Having identified these, a search of the Palmerston Papers Database highlights other parts of the collection containing material on the topic. Again, the database contains item level descriptions for identifying relevant documents.

It is now time to turn to the Printed Special Collections. Two collections immediately spring to mind: the Oates collection and the Wellington pamphlets. The Oates collection contains over 220 books and pamphlets on the West Indies and the abolition of slavery, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. While the Wellington pamphlets cover a broader range of topics, the pamphlets on the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies complement those held in the Oates Collection.

An address to the inhabitants of Europe on the iniquity of the slave trade [Rare Books HT 1322]

An address to the inhabitants of Europe on the iniquity of the slave trade [Rare Books HT 1322]

Material from both of these collections can be searched on WebCat, the library’s online catalogue. As with the manuscript databases, this will help the researcher identify particular items relevant to their research. Additionally, a selection of pamphlets from the Oates collection have been digitised and can be accessed remotely on the Internet Archive.

On replying to the researcher’s enquiry, they are invited to visit to consult the collections and access details are provided.

Enquiry #2: My grandfather was a student at the university sometime between 1900 and 1905. Can you provide me with further details?

This is quite a specific enquiry and relates directly to a single manuscript collection: MS 1 Records of the University of Southampton. The first step is to examine the collection’s catalogue for listings of material relating to students covering the date range provided. PDF versions of catalogues for each collection are available to download on the Special Collections website.

Consulting the paper catalogues

Consulting the paper catalogues

At this point, it should be noted that the University manuscript collection does not contain personnel files for individual members of staff or students. However, a quick search of the catalogue provides a number of potential resources:

MS 1/3/476/3/1 Record of students, 1870-1900

MS 1/3/476/2/5 Register of students of the day training department, 1899-1915

MS 1/3/476/2/6 University examination results, arranged alphabetically by student name, 1905-36

Now it’s time to have a look at the records in the strongrooms! A location guide provides details of where items from the collections are located as there are several kilometres of shelving to navigate.

Accessing material in the strongrooms

Accessing material in the strongrooms

A search of the first volume doesn’t yield any results. The dates covered are possibly too early. The second volume, however, does contain an entry for the individual. Having graduated in 1905 their examination results are also listed in the third volume. As the individual is deceased, data protection rules do not apply and a response it sent to the researcher. They are invited to visit to consult the material themselves or, if they prefer, to order copies of the records (for the purposes of private study and research) through our reprographics service.

So please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding our collections or service. We are always happy to hear from users! Contact details can be found on our website at: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/contact.page

Student publications

With freshers’ week in full swing and semester one having officially begun, a hive of student activity has returned to the University after the summer break. We would like to welcome all new and returning students! With this in mind, this week’s blog post looks at examples of early student publications from the University Collection, a number of which have been digitised and are currently available to view on the Internet Archive.

College Magazines

Covers for the four titles of the college magazine

Covers for the four titles of the college magazine: Hartley College Magazine, March 1901; Hartley University College Magazine, Winter Term 1912; Southampton University College Magazine, Christmas Term 1922; and West Saxon, Autumn Term 1929.

The earliest student publication in the University Collection is the first issue of the Hartley College Magazine from March 1901. The editorial to the issue notes that:

On February 27th, a General College Meeting determined by a unanimous resolution to start a Magazine. It was decided that the General Editor should be a member of the Staff, and that the different sections of the College should each choose two representatives to serve upon the Committee, power being given to add to its members by co-option. […]

It was resolved to publish once a Term in the first instance, and to issue the first number without delay. The size of the Magazine, colour of cover, title, price, and general character of the contents were next discussed, and agreed upon. The result of the deliberations may be seen in the first number of “The Hartley College Magazine.” [Hartley College Magazine, vol. 1, no. 1, March 1901]

The magazine ran under various titles between 1901 and 1939, all the while maintaining essentially the same format found in the first issue: an editorial (covering recent news and events); columns on a range of topics contributed by members of staff and students; along with reports and updates from societies and sports clubs. Later issues also included contributions of prose, poetry, songs, and reviews, as well as columns by past students. The past students society, known as the Society of Old Hartleyans, would eventually have their own publication in the form of The Gobli (later The Gobli Minor and The Hartleyan), first published in 1923.

The title of the college magazine was changed to reflect the transition of the institution to a university college in 1902, becoming the Hartley University College Magazine. Shortly thereafter, more elaborately designed covers began to appear, including a series of issues displaying a photograph of the old Hartley Institution building on the High Street. June 1914 saw the grand opening of the renamed University College of Southampton at its new Highfield campus. Six weeks later the country declared war on Germany. As a result, the move to Highfield was postponed indefinitely with the College offering the buildings to the War Office for use as a hospital.

The editorial to the first issue of the renamed Southampton University College Magazine reflects on the situation:

In troublous times, amidst wars and rumours of wars, when the spectacle of the desolate, the wounded and the dead is ever present with those of us who have hearts and homes, the periodical of the old Coll. which still, thanks to those grim and grey spectres keeping watch and war along our coasts, in common with the rest of our land retains its blissful serenity undisturbed by the turmoil of the outside world, once again makes its appearance. It would be out of place to make more than a passing reference here to the conditions in which we find ourselves placed to-day, and we must be content merely to wish God-speed and a safe return to those of our number-good and true comrades all-who are devoting their lives to the service of their country, whether at home or abroad, in the barrack-room or on the field of battle. [Southampton University College Magazine, vol. 16, no. 42, Winter Term 1914]

Despite the setback for the institution, the college magazine continued through the war years with issues from the period providing details of staff and students in active service, including lists of those injured, missing, or killed in action. Meanwhile, the first issue of the University War Hospital Gazette was published in October 1917, intended as “a monthly magazine of humour, verse and interest by the patients and staff” at the Highfield site.

West Saxon: frontispiece from Autumn Term 1928 issue and cover of Spring 1939 issue.

West Saxon: frontispiece from Autumn Term 1928 issue and cover of Spring 1939 issue. The editorial to the 1939 issue reflects on recent events: “This year West Saxon is draped in black, in keeping with the age. This is the year of gloom, that began with a scare that shook our faith in the permanence of our civilisation. We find it impossible to shut ourselves in our academic ivory tower. The uncertainty of the world situation gives us a haunting feeling of insecurity: we feel the Sword of Damocles over us, yet we do not hear the “two handed engine at the door.” “Don’t work, you’ll never take Finals,” has become the shibboleth of the disillusioned.” [West Saxon, vol. 39, no. 1, Spring 1939]

To support the movement for a University of Wessex, the college magazine adopted a new title of the West Saxon in 1926. The editorial to the Christmas term issue notes that:

In view of the movement which is on foot to make this College the University of Wessex, we deemed it essential to adopt some name which had some connection, historical, geographical, or literary with the area which this College serves, the area which once comprised the kingdom of Wessex. The adoption of such a title would, we thought, have a two-fold, and possibly a three-fold, value. In the first place such a title would be of value in showing the university world of this country (and others) what this College is and hopes to be; secondly, it would kelp to keep before the minds of present students the ideal at which we are aiming; and, thirdly, it would ensure the continuity of the future history of the Magazine, if we could choose a title suitable for use by the University of Wessex. [West Saxon, vol. 27, no. 68, Christmas Term 1926]

Two years later the first issue of Wessex was published. Edited by V. de Sola Pinto, the chair of English, the annual was “a record of the movement for a University of Wessex”, to which members of staff contributed learned articles. Wessex survived for ten years, by which time the plan for a University of Wessex had foundered. By now enthusiasm for the West Saxon was also on the wane. Burdened by the weight of tradition, editorials from the 1930s highlight the struggle faced by the editorial staff. Despite the promise to be both enterprising and efficient, the editor to the Spring issue from 1939 confesses that:

This magazine should be the highest expression of representative literary work, or representative opinion, of the members of the Students’ Union […] We were financed by, and were appointed by, the Students’ Union to produce West Saxon, a magazine with a traditional tone and format, and not the magazine that we might in our heart of hearts desire to provide. And even this traditional West Saxon, could not be what we wanted it to be: we could have lino-cuts, photographs, and gay illustrations-but alas!-the financial position of the Students’ Union has demanded us to exercise the most rigorous financial stringency. Indeed, this traditional magazine seems to be fighting for its very existence. [West Saxon, vol. 39, no. 1, Spring 1939]

The number of issues published each session had decreased over the previous two years with only one (final) issue appearing during the 1938/9 session. A new magazine arrived in the form the Second Wessex in Christmas Term 1944. Maintaining a format similar to the previous publication, the preface to the first issue states that:

This Magazine is an attempt to preserve and foster the writings of the student of University College, Southampton. It includes the work of members of any Faculty, and thus realises the idea that the Undergraduate is concerned with wider education than the mere absorption of his own subject.

Its name is a connection with an older tradition, but the publication has no actual descent, and is indeed entirely separate from that tradition. It is concerned entirely with the culture, the ideas and the affairs of the student. [Second Wessex, vol. 1, no. 1, Christmas Term 1944]

The latest issue of Second Wessex in the University Collection dates from 1968.

Issues of Hartley College Magazine, Hartley University College Magazine, Southampton University College Magazine, and West Saxon are available to consult in the open access area of Special Collections on Level 4 of the Hartley Library. Issues have also been digitised and are available to view on the Internet Archive.

Wessex News

Covers of Wessex News, March 1973, and Small Wessex, 1964

Covers of Wessex News, March 1973, and Small Wessex, 1964

The first issue of Wessex News was published in 1936. Its front page contains a statement by K.H. Vickers, Principal of University College, Southampton, outlining the aim of the publication:

Very often it has been borne in upon me how difficult it is for various members of the College to know what is going on in departments of activity with which they are not intimately associated, and, indeed, I think very few have any appreciation of the large amount of valuable and interesting work that is done on behalf of the College as a whole, and the student body in particular, and of the extent and range of these activities which have all played their part in building up a sound esprit de corps, and a real basis of university life. I hope very much that from week to week “Wessex News” will be read by all those who are taking part in the activities of the College, and, further, as time goes on, by those who are interested in the College, but not closely associated with its work; it should bring home to them how many and various are the aspects of its life. [Wessex News, vol. 1, no. 1, 25 February 1936]

Published by the Southampton University Students’ Council (now the Students’ Union) the format of the publication was closer to that of a newspaper than the student magazine had been. Since its creation, the paper has provided students with regular news, reviews, and opinion pieces and remains the oldest student news provider at the University.

Wessex News became Wessex Scene in 1996 in order to reflect on the broader range of content being fed into the paper. It has evolved over the years and now takes the form of an online news site as well as a monthly printed magazine, available across the University’s campuses and Halls of Residence. Over the years the paper has also included supplements, including Small Wessex and The Edge. Individual issues of Small Wessex focus on specific topics, ranging from fashion, music, and books to rag, societies, and graduate careers. The Edge, a more recent supplement, was first published in 1995. Focusing on entertainment news, it has been published independently since 2011.

Editions of Wessex News (and Small Wessex) available in Special Collections date from 1936 to 1994. Issues of Wessex News from 1936 to 1940 are currently available to view on the Internet Archive.

Rag Mags

Covers of Rag Bag, 1929, and Goblio, 1957

Covers of Rag Bag, 1929, and Goblio, 1957

Rag has been part of University life since the 1920s. Rag day, traditionally held on Shrove Tuesday, consisted of a variety of activities aimed at raising money for charity, including the Rag procession and Rag ball. Other activities included 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; Babel; Southampton City Rag; Flush; Dragon; and Southampton Students Stag Rag. Copies of the Rag Mags are available to access in the open access area of Special Collections.

The magazines mentioned above are just a sample of the publications available in the University Collection. They are a key resource for understanding the development of the institution, providing student perspectives on life at the University as well as insights into significant events in the history of the University and its region.

Reflections on war

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Siegfried Sassoon, this blog will look at a number of collections in the Special Collections reflecting on warfare in the 20th century. These include two poems by the long-time friend of Sassoon, Edmund Blunden.

Edmund Blunden (1896-1974) was the longest serving First World War poet, and saw continuous action in the front line, between 1916-18. According to his friend and fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon, Blunden was the poet of the war “most lastingly obsessed by it”. The period that Blunden served at the front saw some of the most violent and bloody fighting, including the Battle of the Somme and the Third Battle of Ypres. He had very definite views on war writing, insisting that it had to be accurate in detail and  in spirit and he shared with Sassoon a belief that the First World War had been a terrible waste of life.

The Special Collections holds two of Blunden’s poems (MS10): fair copies of ‘Portrait of a colonel’ and ‘The passer-by’. Both were published in Retreat (London, 1928) with the former renamed as ‘On a portrait of a colonel’.

Opening lines of Edmund Blunden's Portrait of a colonel [MS10 A243/2]

Opening lines of Edmund Blunden’s ‘Portrait of a colonel’ [MS10 A243/2]

A more substantial literary collection held at Southampton is MS328, that of Frank Templeton Prince (1912-2003). He is probably best remembered for his collection Soldiers Bathing (1954), the title poem of which is one of the most anthologised poems of the Second World War. His archive collection contains not only notebooks and drafts of poems and prose writing, 1920s-87, but long series of correspondence, including correspondence with Edmund Blunden, 1932-58.

F.T.Prince [MS328 A834/1/11/10]

F.T.Prince [MS328 A834/1/11/10]

The soldier hero has proved to be one of the most durable and powerful ideas of idealised masculinity in western tradition since antiquity. For the poet Martin Bell, however, there was nothing heroic about either soldiering or military service, for him it was a life of crushing boredom. Bell volunteered for the Royal Engineers in 1939, in order, so he claimed, to avoid being called into the infantry. He spent his war service in camp as a hospital orderly both in UK and in the Mediterranean, and later as an instructor. His collection (MS12) of correspondence to Joan Broomfield, who was one of his circle of friends from his days at University College, Southampton, contains scathing comments on army life as well as reflecting his literary progress and including poems he had written. In a letter to Joan Broomfeld, from 1943, he expressed his dislike of army life and the boredom of his duties “we Pavlov’s dogs commended by imperious telephones, we cramp our reluctant flesh into organisation…” [MS12 A767/37]

The collection (MS376) of the poet Judith Lask Grubler provides very different reflections on warfare during the Second World War, drawing as she does a picture from the home front. In her writings, which date from the 1930s onwards, Grubler gives a contemporary account in such war related poems as ‘After the raids’ of the experience of civilians facing bombing raids on London.

This material fits well with a small collection of correspondence of Nora Harvey, a student at University College, Southampton, 1939. She writes of the impact of the war on the University as well as Southampton’s role as a port of embarkation and as a military camp. She noted that: “….Part of the college building is being used for a hospital and ARP depot etc….  The Common is horrid – all roped off, full of soldiers and rest camps. Lorry loads of troops are continually going up and down outside our window, and we can hear troops being drilled at all hours of the day.” [MS310/63 A4028]

Students outside a sandbag protected University College of Southampton, 4 October 1939 [MS310/43 A2038/2]

Students outside a sandbag protected University College of Southampton, 4 October 1939 [MS310/43 A2038/2]

Other papers reflecting on war include: diaries of Revd Michael Adler (MS125); letters and diary of Private Paul Epstein (MS124); correspondence and diaries of Leonard Stein (MS170); correspondence of Fred Salinger, Gallipoli (MS209); and correspondence of Frederick Dudley Samuel (MS336).

Revd Adler was one of a small number of Jewish chaplains attached to the forces in France. He, along with his colleagues worked tirelessly to visit the camps, training areas and hospitals to fulfil their pastoral duties. The four diaries that Adler kept for this period provide a brief record of his activities during his tours of duty rather than an analytical or personal account of his experiences as chaplain. They are detached and sparse in their detail and tone, as befits the type of record they represent, but also perhaps representing the need for detachment in dealing with a traumatic situation.

Private Epstein was a Russian conscript to the Royal Fusiliers (the Jewish Regiment) who served in the Palestine campaign. He suffered greatly from home sickness and this is recorded in his diary and correspondence. His letters describe daily events in great detail and he maintained his diary, even when he had nothing to record. Sometimes he summarises the content of his letters home in his diary. He used his letters as a means to maintain some sense of normality and create a strong link with home. As he noted in a letter to his parents of 16 March 1918: “A line to inform you that I received your second letter last Fri[day] March 13th and the sight of it was worth to me untold wealth…” [MS124 AJ 15/2]

Major Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Frederick Dudley Samuel, CBE, DSO (1877-1951) served in the South African war of 1901-2 and then with the British Expeditionary Forces in France, 1915-18. His archive consists mainly of correspondence written on an almost daily basis to his fiancée, later his wife, Dorothy, 1909-18. His letters from France depict the grim detail of life at the front line. In a letter of 5 April 1917 he talks of the “frightful waste of men, material and time it all is, all devoted to distruction when it should all be devoted to production”. [MS336 A2097/8/2/31]

Envelope of letter from Fred Samuel to his wife, 1917 [MS336 A2097/8/2/31]

Envelope of the letter from Frederick Samuel to his wife, 5 April 1917 [MS336 A2097/8/2/31]

The collections at Southampton provide a range of material and of experiences of 20th-century warfare and the reflections they contain still speak to us as loudly today as they ever did.

University balls and dances

With the academic year having come to an end and the celebration of summer balls having recently passed, we look back at a selection of the balls and dances which populated the University calendar in the decade following the University’s receipt of its royal charter.

Student social events have formed part of the University’s calendar since the early days of the institution. Looking at a student handbook from 1906 one can find a number of social functions listed for the session, including a series of soirées, a joint musical evening by the Choral Society, and a garden party. By the time the institution received its royal charter in 1952, becoming a full-fledged University, balls and dances had become a prominent feature of the student social scene.

Programmes for the Union Ball, 1939 [MS 310/78] and 1959 [MS 310/23]

Programmes for the Union Ball, 1939 [MS 310/78] and 1959 [MS 310/23]

One of the key events to mark the beginning of the academic year was the Freshers’ Dance. Specifically aimed at first year students, the dance was intended to provide a sample of University entertainment. However, as with many of the student dances held during the 1950s, the venue for the ball was the old Refectory (forming part of what is now Garden Court, Building 40). The venue proved inadequate, with the student newspaper the Wessex News noting that it was “not designed to accommodate two hundred and fifty whirling couples”. The result was often an overcrowded, hot and noisy event, with the behaviour of certain seniors leading to the annual dance becoming commonly known as “the cattle market”.  The late 1950s and early 1960s was a period of major expansion for the University and by the time of the 1960-1 session the Union was ready to move into the whole of the West Building, providing sufficient space for dances and live performances.

Next on the calendar was the Halloween Ball in October. Established by the Scottish and Old Time Dancing Society, the dance incorporated traditional Scottish music and was host to a selection of witches, devils, bats and similar nocturnal creatures. In 1956 an unexpected guest made an appearance: “Quite in keeping with the general atmosphere of diabolism was the sudden and unexpected entry of Kelly [the Engineering faculty’s mascot] surrounded by hooded engineers, bless their little cotton socks, furiously exploding Bangers.” [Wessex News, 6 November 1956, Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Kelly the skeleton, the Engineering faculty’s mascot, was a regular guest at student balls and dances [MS 1/7/291/22]

Kelly the skeleton, the Engineering faculty’s mascot, was a regular guest at student balls and dances [MS 1/7/291/22]

A range of faculty and society balls populated the calendar throughout the decade. A description of the Interstellar Ball held by the Science Faculty in January 1957 reads:

“In front of the West Building stood a rocket ready for take-off, and inside the theme was carefully repeated with star-studded portholes, martian television sets, a flying saucer and various galaxies, not to mention a rather static mobile.” [Wessex News, 29 January 1957, Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

One of the most prominent social events on the University calendar was the Engineers’ Ball held in the late autumn. By the 1950s the ball had established itself as a tradition and was widely considered one of the most memorable events of the year. A great deal of effort went into planning and organising each ball. The refectory was decorated with gadgets and other mechanical wonders, bringing welcome relief from the “tedium” of its natural decor. Each year the venue was decorated to a particular theme, including the “Festival of Britain” in 1951, the “Brussels Exhibition” in 1958, and “Underwater” in 1959.

Photograph of students setting up the Engineers’ Ball, c. 1952 [MS 310/34]

Photograph of students setting up the Engineers’ Ball, c. 1952 [MS 310/34]

A review of the 1957 Engineers’ Ball in the Wessex News reads:

“No one who has not seen the Refectory when the Engineers have finished with it could believe that such a transformation of this monstrosity was possible. This year visitors found themselves in a fairground cum circus, with the usual appendages including, strangely enough, a Big Wheel. A large cage divided the bar in the annexe from the dancing room, an excellent idea, since it was mostly monopolised by the jivers who are always a nuisance to civilised dancers.” [Wessex News, 10 December 1957, Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

The Engineers’ Ball was considered more glamourous even than the Union Ball (though it lacked the gloss of officialdom that the latter possessed) with the same reviewer writing:

“The Engineers set themselves a very high standard, which they manage miraculously, year after year, to live up to. One can never judge an Engineers’ Ball by comparing it to other Union dances because they are not in the same class…” [Wessex News, 10 December 1957, Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

The popularity of the event meant that tickets were made available in order of precedence, as follows: Ball Helpers, engineering finalists, a limited number of other engineers, members of the Union, and even members of the University staff.

The spring brought two key events to the Union calendar: Rag day and the Union dinner and ball. Rag day was traditionally held on Shrove Tuesday and consisted of a variety of activities aimed at raising money for charity. It was seen as an occasion for “fun and high spirits” as well as being a means of bringing “pleasure, help and happiness to others”. Central to Rag day was the Rag procession which paraded through the city with all manner of floats accompanied by students in fancy dress. The day’s events culminated in the Rag ball which generally took place in the Guildhall in the city centre.

Route of the Rag procession, 1948 [MS 310/31]

Route of the Rag procession, 1948 [MS 310/31]

Rag day induced a particular atmosphere which some have described as “riotous”. This, on occasion, led to inexcusable acts of hooliganism which threatened the very existence of the Rag. Detailing the revival of Rag in 1948 after a lapse of many years, an article in the Wessex News notes that: “Over enthusiasm on the part of the students had caused the police to intervene in no uncertain manner, and the Rag machinery fell into disuse.” [Wessex News, 16 October 1951, Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9] A similar situation occurred in 1959 leading to the abolishing of the Rag for a number of years. While it was proposed that new University Arts Festival could act as a replacement, the Rag was reinstated again in 1963.

The Students’ Union held its own dinner and ball around the same time as the Rag (with an oversight in 1957 leading to the two events clashing). The event, regularly criticised as elitist, consisted of a dinner with speeches and toasts followed by a ball at the Guildhall. Looking at a programme for the Union Ball from 1939 one can find various ballroom dances listed, including quickstep, waltz, foxtrot, tango, etc., with the evening ending with a toast to “The King”. Fast-forwarding to 1959 we find both an orchestra, with traditional ballroom dances listed, alongside a jazz-band.

Photograph of students at the Union Ball, 1959 [MS 310/23]

Photograph of students at the Union Ball, 1959 [MS 310/23]

By the late 1950s, jazz had established itself as an integral part of the student social scene with nearly all dances and socials featuring jazz groups, either as support or as the main attraction. While balls remain a standard of the University calendar, options for live music at the University broadened in subsequent decades as live jazz and rock became an integral part of many student’s lives.

Today, the Freshers’ Ball, Graduation Ball and Engineering Ball remain some of the most prominent social events of the University year.

An appointment with the Archives

The Special Collections  has a developing programme of events and visits designed to introduce students to both the collections and the work of the Division.   Last week a group of students joined the team for a behind the scenes visit and a taster session working with the collections.  As well as the opportunity to decipher Queen Victoria’ handwriting, the students assessed albums compiled by the Society of Old Hartleyans relating to student life from the first half of the 20th century, helping to choose items that we could use for promotional purposes.  Here are the choices of three of the group, Greg, Núria and Victoriawith their explanations of why the items appealed to them.

Greg 

As a photograph the striking contrasts of black suit and white shirt make the tone exciting and help to define the faces of the past by highlighting facial features.  Their finely combed hair and crisp collars show the evident attempt on their part to produce a smart picture, tarnished only by the bulb that somewhat hangs randomly on one side of the image as well as the reels of wire stacked in the left of the picture.”

Men's common room, 1918 [MS1/7/291/22/1]

Men’s common room, 1918 [MS1/7/291/22/1]

Greg’s second choice was a photograph of the football team, 1901-2:

Personally, with a keen interest in the history of football in England, this photo gives a sense of the amateur origins of the game of the time.  I love the lack of formality that is conveyed in the mish-mash of clothing on display.  It appeals to me as you are able to see the rugged leather boots and thick long sleeved shirts donned by the players, whilst also seeing the traditional ‛flatcap’ and suit style of the time being worn by gentlemen to the side of the team.  The rawness of the wooden terrace gives a sense of the crowd they played in front of, and the battered pitch an idea of the style of game!

Hartley College football team, 101-2 [MS1/7/291/22/1]

Hartley College football team, 1901-2 [MS1/7/291/22/1]

The early days of the University’s Football Club were on a modest and local scale.  Home matches were mainly played at the Shirley Ground.  The emphasis of the Football Club of 1900s was on “healthy recreation and vigorous exercise for men students” rather than on sporting prowess, hence the lack of formality in the clothing that Greg noted.

Núria

Swimming teams, 1933-6 [MS1/7/291/22/2]

Swimming teams, 1933-6 [MS1/7/291/22/2]

Núria’s choice of photographs of the swimming teams was inspired by both the gender balance in the teams and the costume they wore: “It’s mostly boys in the pictures, although there are 7 girls in one of them, which probably shows the start of gender equality in regards to swimming club membership.  I also like the gender equality in the swimming costumes: the men’s costumes are also covering their chests, like the women’s.  The swimming club photos are the ones where you can see the biggest fashion change!

The one-piece costume as worn by the men in these images was typical of the designs in the 1920s. In response to demand designs became more body-conscious and athletic abandoning long sleeves and replacing them with generously-cut armholes. This mass produced one-piece enjoyed a considerable chunk of the market in men’s swimwear in this decade.

Núria also was drawn to the images of the tennis club in the 1920s and 1930s, evoking memories of her experience of joining a sports club at the University.

Tennis players, 1927-9, 1933 [MS1/7/291/22/2]

Tennis players, 1927-9, 1933 [MS1/7/291/22/2]

The photo album I’m looking at is a collection of photographs from the sports clubs at university.  The tennis photos seem to be the only one where men and women appear together.  I really like the sense of inclusion that these photographs transmit, it reminds me of my own experience when I arrived at Southampton and joined the fencing club, where I made really good friends, both men and women.  I also find it curious that one of the ladies in the 1927 picture is wearing a tie.

There are other photographs in the collection which show women students wearing ties.  This was a period of formal dress codes when academic dress was still required when students attended lectures and exams.

Victoria 

Swimming club, 1951-2 [MS1/7/291/22/3]

Swimming club, 1951-2 [MS1/7/291/22/3]

For Victoria, it was the informality and realism that appealed in this photograph.  “It really looks as though two of the people have got the giggles when the photo was being taken.  The woman on the right is also pulling a face – this might not have been deliberate, but does add realism to the photo.

The second choice relates to the reunion picnic, in the New Forest, at Whitsun, 1951, of the Society of Old Hartleyans: this was the final event of the weekend programme, including a dinner attended by 226 the previous evening.  The minutes of the annual general meeting of the society noted that “11 members attended a picnic to Beaulieu Heath organised by Mr Glover-James”.

Victoria notes, “it is the informality that appeals to [me] more than anything and the fact that … people look happy…. The photo also provides an insight into the clothing… and even though this is a picnic, people are still fairly formally attired”.

Society of Hartleyans reunion picnic, 1951 [MS1/7/291/22/3]

Society of Old Hartleyans reunion picnic, 1951 [MS1/7/291/22/3]

The Special Collections will be running a number of drop in sessions focusing on different aspects of its holdings in the autumn.   So if you are interested, do keep an eye out for announcements.  We hope that you might be able to join us.

Development of the University Library

This summer will see further refurbishment taking place in the Hartley Library, the University’s main library and home to its Archives and Special Collections. Further information regarding its impact on the Special Collections Division can be found on our website.

While the University Library today has a presence on all seven campuses of the University, for this week’s blog post we will be taking a look back at the development of the University’s main Library on the Highfield Campus.

The “old Hartley” Library (1860s-1910s)
The University of Southampton has its genesis in a bequest left by Henry Robinson Hartley, a studious and reclusive character and heir to a family of Southampton wine merchants. In his will Hartley bequeathed a large proportion of his estate to the Corporation of Southampton and called for “a small building to be erected…to serve as a repository for my Household Furniture, Books, Manuscripts, and other moveables”. Out of this the Hartley Institution was formed.

Hartley University College Library, c.1910

Hartley University College Library, c.1910

The original Hartley Institution building, located on the High Street, below the Bargate, was declared open by Lord Palmerston on 15 October 1862. It comprised of a library, museum, and reading room, together with a lecture hall and classrooms. While the Library was initially only accessible to members of the Institution, it was made freely open to the public in 1873. As a result, it acted as both the Institution’s academic library and the town’s public library.

Over the subsequent decades the institution increasingly focused on meeting the demands for popular and industrial education. This resulted in its transition to a university college in 1902, when it became Hartley University College. By 1910, further developments in this direction emphasised the need for premises more fitting to the institution’s ambitions. This prompted a move from the cramped accommodation on the High Street to the Highfield Court Estate on the outskirts of town. However, the move was not welcomed by everyone. Some of the townspeople resented the loss of the privilege of access to the Library, which “they had continued to value in spite of the existence of a free Borough Library since 1889.”

Moving to Highfield (1910s-20s)
The grand opening of the renamed University College of Southampton by Lord Haldane took place in June 1914. The new buildings at Highfield consisted of two separate wings housing an arts block and a range of single story laboratories for biology, chemistry, physics and engineering. However, a lack of funding meant that the construction of the administration and library building, which should have filled the gap between the two wings, was postponed.

Early photograph of the University’s Highfield site. The building in the foreground is now the south wing of the Hartley Library.

Early photograph of the University’s Highfield site. The building in the foreground is now the south wing of the Hartley Library.

Six weeks after the official opening the country declared war on Germany. As a result, the move to Highfield was indefinitely postponed with the College offering the buildings to the War Office for use as a hospital. As the war progressed, the main building proved too small to accommodate the increasing number of wounded soldiers and extra wards were constructed in temporary wooden huts to the rear.

Aerial photograph of the Highfield campus with the wooden huts at the rear of the main buildings, c.1932

Aerial photograph of the Highfield campus with the wooden huts at the rear of the main buildings, c.1932

The War Office eventually gave up the buildings in May 1919 and University College of Southampton began the session of 1919-1920 in its new home, continuing to make use of the wooden huts. Since it had originally been intended to form part of the central block between the two wings, none of the existing buildings had room specifically set aside for a library. A large room on the first floor in the northern wing of the main building served as a reading room and also housed a selection of the books most in use. However, these were only a fraction of the 35,000 volumes which the Library now possessed, with the majority of the books dispersed through the corridors and huts.

The Turner Sims Library and Gurney-Dixon Building (1930s-50s)
The completion of the central block had to wait until the 1930s when the construction of the Turner Sims Library was made possible by the donation of £24,250 by the daughters of Edward Turner Sims, a former member of Council. The Turner Sims Library, which now forms the front of the present Hartley Library, was opened by H.R.H. the Duke of York (later King George VI) in October 1935. The new building filled most of the gap between the two parts of the original building (which now make up the north and south wings of the Hartley Library).

Photographs of the Turner Sims Library, opened in 1935

Photographs of the Turner Sims Library, opened in 1935

While this was welcomed as a long overdue improvement, space remained an issue. Planning began for a much larger extension in 1947 but it wasn’t until 1959 that the Gurney-Dixon Building at the rear of the Turner Sims Library was finally declared open. The extension was named after Sir Samuel Gurney-Dixon who was chair of Council for 21 years. To mark the occasion he presented to the Library six rare editions of Divina Commedia, including a copy of the Brescia edition of 1487.

Photographs of the interior and exterior of the Gurney-Dixon Building, 1959

Photographs of the interior and exterior of the Gurney-Dixon Building, 1959

Developments in collections and services (1960s-80s)
In addition to its main stock, the Library had by now acquired a number of valuable printed special collections. These included the agricultural library of W. Frank Perkins, acquired in 1945. This trend continued with the transfer of the private library of Reverend Dr James Parkes to the University in 1964. Focusing on Jewish/non-Jewish relations, the Parkes Library originally consisted of 4,500 books, 2,000 pamphlets and sets of periodicals. Since that time the collection has expanded significantly and has led to the development the University’s special interest in Anglo-Jewish archives.

Opening of the Parkes Library, 1964

Opening of the Parkes Library, 1964

By 1969 the Library already housed over a quarter of a million books leading to a critical space problem. An extension to the first floor, for the Special Collections, was completed the same year and was followed by an extension to the north wing and mezzanine in 1970, with an ‘attractive and welcoming entrance’ ready by the end of the session. However, the Library’s stock continued to grow. The decade saw the arrival of the Ford Collection of British Official Publications. Originally brought to the University by Professor Percy Ford and his wife Dr Grace Ford, the collection formed the basis of the Parliamentary Papers Library which opened in 1971. Further efforts were undertaken to alleviate space issues in 1978, including the addition of a mezzanine floor to the Turner Sims part of the Library, creating a new area of 500 square metres.

During the same period, the Library was modernising its services. Between 1966 and 1968 the Library was one of the first in the country to introduce a computer-based issue system, employing punched cards. A decade later, this was replaced by a Telepen-based circulation system in 1979-80, making possible a complete up-to-date loan file at all times. An online circulating system was introduced in 1984, eventually replacing the off-line system entirely.

Opening of the Wellington Suite, 1983

Opening of the Wellington Suite, 1983

A new chapter in the development of the Library’s Special Collections commenced with the arrival of the Wellington Papers in 1983, when the papers of the first Duke of Wellington were allocated to the University under the national heritage legislation. This led to the conversion of a part of the Library to provide an archives reading room and storage area, with the Wellington Suite being officially opened on 14 May 1983. The arrival of the Wellington Papers was to stimulate the acquisition of further significant manuscript collections which continues to this day.

The creation of the Hartley Library (1980s-2000s)
In the autumn of 1987 the University celebrate the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Hartley Institution. A special event of this jubilee was the opening of a remodelled Library, renamed the Hartley Library, by Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

Opening of the Hartley Library, 1987

Opening of the Hartley Library, 1987

The Hartley Library was in effect a new Library. It included new strongrooms and reading room for the Special Collections, which was now ready to accept the papers of Earl Mountbatten of Burman from the archives of the Broadlands estate in Romsey. As a result of such major acquisitions the Library developed an additional role, becoming an important centre for primary historical research. Further collections followed, including additional material from the Broadlands archives (notably the papers of third Viscount Palmerston) and the Anglo-Jewish Archives in 1990.

The Hartley Library as it appears on a map of the Highfield campus. The Turner Sims Library is listed as building 12, the Gurney-Dixon Building as building 36, and the wings of the original University building as buildings 10 and 14.

The Hartley Library as it appears on a map of the Highfield campus. The Turner Sims Library is listed as building 12, the Gurney-Dixon Building as building 36, and the wings of the original University building as buildings 10 and 14.

Prior to the 1990s extensions largely focused on accommodation for stock and improving the range of seating available, but from this period increasing attention was being paid to developing workstation and IT provisions in the Library. A small refurbishment project in 1998 saw workstation provisions doubled and a new IT training suite created. The same project saw the south wing of the original 1914 building integrated into the Library.

Further refurbishment projects (2000s-2010s)
Printed collections grew steadily throughout the 1990s and by 2001 the Library was effectively full in terms of stock. By now, the University had grown considerably, as had student numbers, resulting in the need for a major increase in accommodation. Patterns of learning and teaching had also begun to shift with electronic resources growing in importance.

Extension at the rear of the Hartley Library’s Gurney-Dixon Building

Extension at the rear of the Hartley Library’s Gurney-Dixon Building

The aim of the 2002-4 extension project was to create a research-oriented library that provided a high quality, flexible, study environment, with good quality seating, small study rooms and access to networking. The project saw the largest addition to Library space since the University moved to Highfield. The main elements included new reception, security and help desks; a student-centred foyer; improved access to all floors; increased and improved shelving; and an expansion of space for Special Collections, including a new exhibition gallery. Externally the extensions were a mixture of brickwork, steel framing elements, curtain walling, general glazing and rendered walls.

Since 2004 the Library has undergone further refurbishment, as it continues to develop its services and learning environment.  Details on the current Hartley Library Phase 2 refurbishment can be found on the Library website at: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/library/news/2017/03/30-hl-phase2-refurbishment.page

Jazz Club at the University of Southampton

To mark International Jazz Day which takes place on Sunday, 30th April we have decided to take a brief look at the early days of the Southampton University Jazz Club.

Image from a photo feature on ‘Jazz Club’ written by Jerry Palmer with photographs by Bernard Bailey from Wessex News, 10 October 1961

Image from a photo feature on ‘Jazz Club’ written by Jerry Palmer with photographs by Bernard Bailey from Wessex News, 10 October 1961 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Live music has formed a part of the University’s life since the early decades of the 20th century. This initially consisted of concerts and performances by musical societies such as the Choral and Orchestral Society. By the 1950s Southampton had become a fully-fledged university – receiving its royal charter on 29 April 1952 – marking the beginning of a golden era of live music, particularly in the form of jazz and rock.

A short history of British Jazz
Jazz as a genre of music began life among African-American communities during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Amalgamating African and European music sensibilities, early jazz drew on a range of influences. Throughout its history it has continually evolved, giving rise to many distinctive styles. A difficult genre to define, it is most broadly recognised for its use of musical improvisation, contrasting rhythms, and syncopated notes.

‘Music hath Charms, A Survey of a jazz club with comments from poets’, Goblio, 1955 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

‘Music hath Charms, A Survey of a jazz club with comments from poets’, Goblio, 1955 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Prior to the 1930s, the influence of jazz in Britain remained limited. However, the arrival of American jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington meant that British musicians, as well as the British public, were becoming increasingly jazz-aware. By the 1940s all kinds of jazz and jazz-flavoured dance music flourished in London nightclub while the latter part of the decade saw the jazz scene divide into two distinct movements: modern and traditional. Modern jazz in Britain was influenced by American bebop, a new style characterised by a fast tempo together with complex harmony and rhythms. A movement in the opposite direction was revivalism, which sought to re-engage with traditional Dixieland and Ragtime styles. Both styles remained popular throughout the 1950s, a decade which saw the popularity of British jazz continue to flourish, particularly across university campuses.

Southampton University Jazz Club
Formed in 1955, the Southampton University Jazz Club (S.U.J.C.) quickly established itself as the University’s biggest student society. This was largely thanks to weekly live sessions with local and visiting bands. Performances were affordable and provided different styles for different tastes, with traditional New Orleans Jazz performed in the Refectory and Modern Jazz in the Terrace Room.

Entry for the Jazz Club from the Students’ Union Handbook, 1958-59 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.8U6]

Entry for the Jazz Club from the Students’ Union Handbook, 1958-59 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.8U6]

At the same time, the University was producing a number of its own jazz bands, including Group One, an eight piece band who won the Southern Semi-Finals of the International University Jazz Festival competition in 1960, and the Dudley Hyams Quintet and Apex Jazzmen, who took first and second place in the Regional Semi-Finals at Bristol in 1962.

‘SUJC plays Home and Away’, recordings of the Southampton University

‘SUJC plays Home and Away’, recordings of the Southampton University
Jazz Club, 1960 [MS 224/25 A870]. The record contains performances
by the University jazz bands Group One and Apex Jazzmen.

Concerning the impact of the Jazz Club, a report by the President of the Students’ Union from 1960-1 reads:

“Many societies suffered undeservedly from bad attendance. No one knows the reason for this, but one explanation might be the extraordinary success of the Friday night Jazz Club. Easily the most popular activity with an average of five hundred a week ‘dancing’ around the Refectory and adjoining rooms. Nearly eight hundred sat down in the Refectory for the semi-finals of the Inter-University Jazz Competition in February. The three Southampton bands – Group One, Epic and Apex – competed against bands from Imperial College, Queen Mary, Reading and Oxford. Taking last turn, Group One played themselves brilliantly into first place.” [Report of the Proceedings of the University, 1960-61 Univ. Coll. LF 786.4]

By the early 1960s, jazz had established itself as an integral part of the student social scene with nearly all dances and socials featuring jazz groups, either as support or as the main attraction. The programme for the first University of Southampton Arts Festival in 1961 lists a series of jazz performances alongside a lecture on the place of jazz among the arts.

Today’s University Jazz scene
While the British jazz scene continued to develop and innovate throughout the 1960s, and beyond, there was a significant decline in the popularity of jazz at the University by the middle part of the decade. However, this did not mark the end of the vibrant music scene which continued into the 1960s and 1970s with a range of big names in rock performing at Southampton.

The 1970s also saw a major development in live music at the University with the construction of the Turner Sims Concert Hall. Since opening it has acted as a venue for concerts by an array of professional musicians as well as for masterclasses and teaching activities. Performances cover a range of musical genres, including classical, folk and jazz. Upcoming jazz performances include Courtney Pine and Omar. In the 80’s Pine was one of the first black British jazz artists to make a serious mark on the jazz scene. For further details and to find out about other upcoming performances, visit the Turner Sims website.

There are now a wide range of jazz and other music orientated groups and events at the University. Learn more about these on the Arts at University of Southampton website.

For more information on the history of music and the arts at the University be sure to check out our online exhibition.

“A friend of science”: the first Duke of Wellington

In honour of Southampton Science and Engineering Week at the University (10-19 March), in conjunction with British Science Week, and the anniversary of the arrival of the Wellington Papers at the University on 17 March 1983, this blog will look at science and technology material within the Wellington Archive (MS 61).

The victory at Waterloo raised the first Duke of Wellington to a level of fame and prominence that ensured a tidal wave of correspondence, elements of which came from those discussing new discoveries or inventions, or seeking Wellington’s patronage and support. The material relating to scientific developments within the Wellington Archive ranges from a copy of the minutes of the council of the Royal Society relating to Charles Babbage’s calculating machine [MS 61 WP1/996/3]; correspondence regarding the discovery of the cause of magnetic variation in the compass and a law to predict the variation [MS 61 WP1/814/16]; to material on new medical apparatus to treat complaints such as headaches, gout or rheumatism [MS 61 WP2/110/52].

Lorenzo Giordano medical apparatus to treat rheumatism

Lorenzo Giordano medical apparatus to treat rheumatism [MS 61 WP2/110/52]

As a career soldier who rose to be the Commander in Chief of the army, Wellington had a interest in developments in military technology. He served as Master General of the Ordnance in the 1820s, a department that he described as being specially charged with “all military equipments, machines, inventions thereof and their improvement”. The archive includes correspondence with Colonel Shrapnel, the inventor of the shrapnel shell, and with Sir William Congreve, together with material relating to improvements in artillery. In a letter of August 1822, Congreve describes the results of experiments of his rockets and concludes that “under Your Grace’s patronage and protection, I feel confident of giving complete perfection to the rocket system in a very short time and making it not only the most powerful but also the most economical weapon that can be used”. [MS 61 WP1/718/6]

Not all inventions, however, were considered to have such potential. An artificial hill, suggested by a Captain of Marines in 1812, “which was nothing more than a high pole” on which Wellington might be hoisted to overlook the movement of the enemy forces, elicited the objection from Wellington: “Damn me, sir, I may tumble down to break my neck”. [MS 61 WP1/361 f. 1]  A steam war chariot designed by John George and Sons, although fascinating and frightening, does not seem to have progressed beyond the design stage.

John George steam war chariot

John George’s steam war chariot [MS 61 WP2/40/119]

Developments in steam and steam transportation in the early part of the nineteenth century are represented in the archive. There is material relating to the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in September 1830 which Wellington, as Prime Minister, attended. The event was sadly overshadowed by the tragic death of William Huskisson, the popular Member of Parliament for Liverpool, an occurrence that shocked the other dignitaries present and potentially coloured Wellington’s opinion of trains henceforth. His archive also contains correspondence relating to the development of steam coaching as an alternative to steam trains, and includes correspondence from Sir James Caleb Anderson, first Baronet, an inventor much interested in the development of steam coaching [MS 61 WP1/1003/21], as well as material on the journey made by one of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney’s steam carriages.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney (1793-1875) was a surgeon and chemist as well as an inventor. During the period 1825 to 1829, Gurney built a number of steam-powered carriages intended to commercialise steam road transport. Whilst the earlier versions were not a success, a version designed to provide a separate carriage hauled by an engine made the journey from London to Bath in July 1829. Reaching an average speed of 15 mph, the journey is reputed to be the first undertaken by a mechanised vehicle at a sustained speed and pre-dated the journey of the Stephenson’s Rocket.

Steam carriage journey from London to Bath

Journey of Gurney’s steam carriage from London to Bath [MS 61 WP1/1034/29]

Wellington had connections with the engineer and inventor Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849), the father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, from the period of the Peninsular War, when Brunel undertook contracts for the government, including the supply of soldiers’ boots. Brunel was subsequently to suffer imprisonment for debt due to several unsuccessful projects and Wellington was one of those who pressed the government to secure his release. Brunel’s designs included the Île de Bourbon Suspension Bridge and the operation to build a tunnel under the River Thames. Work on the Thames Tunnel began in 1825 and was eventually completed in 1842.

Drawing of the elevation of a chain bridge over the River Tweed, and of a chain bridge designed by Brunel for the Île de Bourbon

Chain bridge over the River Tweed and a chain bridge designed by Brunel for the Île de Bourbon [MS 61 WP1/679/8]

For anyone wishing to explore a more modern take on science and technology the University of Southampton Science and Engineering Day, is on Saturday 18 March and will be a fitting finale to the week’s events. We hope you enjoy the day.

Testing Times

MS310/9 A816 Photo showing University students sitting final examinations in St Mary’s Drill Hall, Southampton, 3 June 1959; from the scrapbook of Isabel Syed, 1958-60. Due to the large increase in student numbers in the ‘50s there were too many finalists to seat in the University Assembly Hall; exams were sat off-campus in 1958 and 1959.

MS310/9 A816 Photo showing University students sitting final examinations in St Mary’s Drill Hall, Southampton, 3 June 1959; from the scrapbook of Isabel Syed, 1958-60. Due to the large increase in student numbers in the ‘50s there were too many finalists to seat in the University Assembly Hall; exams were sat off-campus in 1958 and 1959.

This week we post an Archive photo for all those students commencing Semester 1 exams. It’s a familiar scene:  final examinations at St. Mary’s Drill Hall in Southampton, almost 60 years ago.  Note the dress code – shirts and ties for the gentlemen – quite formal by modern standards but positively relaxed compared to earlier times.  The University College of Southampton ‘Rules of Conduct and Discipline’ from 1924-5, required all students to wear full academic dress at lectures and written examinations [LF 783.2]  At that time the academic gown was the uniform of the student – not the badge of success reserved for graduation day.

With sartorial considerations out of the way, how to succeed at examinations?

WP1/984/9 f.3v. Printed ‘Standing Order of the Master-General and Board of Ordnance, dated 21st July 1824’, from the papers of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, Master General of the Ordnance from 1818-27. The Ordnance Department was a very large government department employing many staff.

WP1/984/9 f.3v. Printed ‘Standing Order of the Master-General and Board of Ordnance, dated 21st July 1824’, from the papers of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, Master General of the Ordnance from 1818-27. The Ordnance Department was a very large government department employing many staff.

We find some helpful tips in this 19th-century standing order of the Master General and Board of Ordnance.  It states that every person nominated to a post in the Ordnance Department must undergo examination, which should include the following points:

1st  – His* handwriting must be clear and legible in every respect, of which a specimen is to be produced.  [* no equal opportunity at the Ordnance in 1824!!]

2nd  – It is expected that he will be perfect in the common rules of Arithmetic, viz. – Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division; and when the Office to which he may be nominated shall particularly relate to Accounts, he will be required to pass a further examination of his abilities in the Rule of Three and Fractions.

3rd  – Every person nominated as above, will be required to write grammatically in the English language and to be correct in his orthography.

Handwriting, mental arithmetic and spelling apart, the final hurdle was age: candidates should produce a certificate “in order to verify that the age of 16 years has been attained, and that he is not beyond thirty, though in the latter case, a latitude of a few months will be allowed, and not considered a disqualification for the Office”.

We can see these rules as part of the rise of professionalization in the 19th century – it was now accepted that employees should be competent – and a reminder that the history of examination and education is long and interlinked.  Exams are a test and a rite of passage; a shared experience that ties together students past and present.

Strenuis Ardua Cedunt   [The heights yield to endeavour – University motto.]