History Research Group Meeting – Friday 13th January 2017
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Thank you to everyone who popped into the ParkLife Café to meet informally over a cup of tea with the Shirley Local History Researchers, and to the Café staff for their hospitality.
Special thanks to those people who brought photos and house deeds to peruse:
- Photos from a VE Day Street Party in Shirley Warren
- Two sets of house deeds – one from St.James’ Road and another from Regents’ Park
There were also visitors from other groups – one to offer to give us talks and the other to sign us up to give talks!
Local interest is growing for another Oral History Project to capture memories of Shirley life, particularly from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s. A list of people is developing – some offering to be interviewed, and others wishing to be trained in interviewing skills and archiving.
One of our previous interviewees from the St.James’ Park Oral History Project, Don Smith, reports that he has also been very busy. A while back, at the request of Shirley‑based teacher, Angela Manore, he gave a talk to Sholing Junior School about the Battle of Britain and the bravery of Flight Lieutenant Nicholson. Don was then invited back again by the Headteacher, this time to reveal a dedication plaque with Nicholson’s nephew. Now Don has been filmed talking about local Spitfire production for a documentary film, expected to be launched in September/October 2017, which also involves a dramatised play at the Nuffield Theatre. We shall be all looking out for that!
Last but not least, the History Group has been contacted by volunteer historian David Key who is researching the history of Hursley Park, now home to computer company IBM. When the Supermarine factory at Woolston was bombed in 1940, the Spitfire design team moved to Hursley Park. The production of Spitfire parts was transferred to many small workshops across the region, several being in Shirley, some very close to St.James’ Park and featured in our Park History Book. Although many of these Spitfire producing workshops have been lost to development, Shirley Parish Hall, cited as originally built as a Temperance Society Hall, still exists as one of those converted venues. As Don Smith has pointed out, the gas pipes fitted during World War II for “war work” can still be seen.