Autumn Talks Series

Running now for over 12 years, this popular series of free Heritage-related Talks take place at Shirley Parish Hall on the first Sunday of October, November and December.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are unable to hold our 12th Autumn Talks series in 2020 and these talks will be moved to future dates.  As an alternative, we have designed a Shirley Spitfire Trail map to enable a self-guided walk from St.James’ Park. 

Founded in 2009 by the FoSJP History Group, through a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the annual Autumn Talks series continue to thrive and are popular events attended by an audience of between 50 – 90 people.  Since the completion of the Shirley Heritage Project in 2015, the talks have been organised by the Shirley Local History Group with the help of voluntary donations.

Normally, the Autumn Talks take place between October and December, usually on the first Sunday of each month, between 3pm and 5pm. The venue is Shirley Parish Hall, situated on the corner of St.James’ Road and Colebrook Avenue (SO15 5NS), a short walk from the Park.  The Hall is wheelchair accessible.

Talks are free and refreshments are also available.  The history group is always grateful for volunteer assistance with the baking and serving of refreshments and donations for the raffle.  For more details about the Autumn Talks or to offer your help, please contact:

Topics relate to the local history of Shirley or the wider heritage of Southampton and talks are given by a variety of speakers including: local historians; University historians; City Tour Guides; and also members of the Shirley Local History Group.

Previous talks have included:

Autumn Talks Series 11:  2019

  • Building Spitfires without a Factory: attracting a record-breaking audience, our speaker Alan Matlock, local historian and now Chair of the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust, shared his research journey into the dispersal of Spitfire production in 1940 to ‘hidden’ sites in Shirley and beyond.
  • The People who got the Ball Rolling in Shirley: Author Alan Morton shared insights from his book on Southampton’s history and the life and times of one of the city’s long forgotten entrepreneurs, James Joseph Wolff. Alan gave a fascinating overview of materials he had come across relating to the early development of Shirley during his research for Our Fellow Townsman Mar Wolff (1796 – 1845).
  • A Walk Around Shirley in the 1950s and 60s: Tony Biffin from the Millbrook Local History Society shared his personal reminiscences of a childhood of growing up in Shirley and took the audience on his reminiscent tour of the local area from the comfort of the Parish Hall.

Autumn Talks Series 10:  2018

  • The Theatre of the World’: a Story of Tudor Southampton & an Author’s Journey: Returning by popular demand, Dr Cheryl Butler shared her passion for Tudor Southampton and how this led to writing a historical fiction novel.
  • Snippets of Shirley Life During WW1: Michaela Lawler-Levene from the Shirley Local History Group shared local stories from WW1 to mark the Centenary of the Armistice in 1918.
  • Notable and Notorious Women of Southampton: Sandra Lochead and Jean Cook from See Southampton who shared stories about the many women, throughout the centuries, who have made a significant contribution to Southampton’s history.  This talk was followed by a Group Walk with Sandra and Jean in Old Southampton in June 2019.

Autumn Talks Series 9: 2017

  • Hill & Shirley: Newly Discovered Records of the Mediaeval Manor: Our speaker Tom Olding from Winchester University shared mediaeval records which were recently discovered and donated to Southampton City Archives.  Through his translations of the Latin used in the records, the audience gained a picture of life in Shirley during the mediaeval period.
  • Common Time: A History of Southampton Common: Popular returning speaker Dr Mary South took the audience on a journey around Southampton Common explaining both its varied history and flowers and fauna.  This talk was followed by a walk on Southampton Common with Mary in April 2018.
  • Shirley & the Railway: Stories, Myths & Maps:  Vicki Stacey from the Shirley Local History Group shared her research into the links between Shirley, St.James’ Park and several local Railway schemes with a particular focus on the often-quoted ‘myth’ of whether St.James’ Park was earmarked as the site of a proposed Railway station.

Autumn Talks Series 8: 2016

  • The Shirley Asylum and the Barlow & Ellyett Homes: Madge Heath from the Shirley Local History Group shared the fascinating history behind one of the buildings close to St.James Park.
  • French Nick, Mrs Read, the Saracen & Mr. Holmes’ Blackamoor: Strangers, Foreigners & Aliens in Tudor Southampton:  Dr Cheryl Butler painted a vivid picture of some of the people who lived or passed through Southampton in Tudor times.
  • Twenty Million Bricks: The History of Bursledon Brickworks: Carolyne Haynes, Project Manager at Bursledon Brickworks gave a talk on the history of the works and many of the bricks made there which are used in local Shirley buildings.  This talk was followed by a Group Visit to Bursledon Brickworks in April 2017.

Prior to 2016, the Autumn Talks series were part of the Shirley Heritage Project and you can find out more about those talks here.

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