• November 1, 2009
  • 12:00 am

Public History Talks, October 2009 – March 2010

Much to discuss over tea and cake in the interval!

Thank you to everybody who supported this series of public talks. Although it’s now finished, we hope to be able to arrange a further series of talks, starting in Autumn 2010.

This series was very well attended, with between 37 and 72 people at each session (average 52). We received very positive feedback from members of the audience at all the sessions, and at the final session 40 people completed a feedback questionnaire.

You can see the feedback results at the end of this page.


2a. “Southampton in the Age of Steam and Expansion”

Speaker: Jake Simpkin (local historian, history tutor, tour guide)

Jake led the audience through the period of Victorian Expansionism in Southampton, a time when the Railways were being built and steam impacted on the development of ships and indeed the port of Southampton.

The Railway line between Southampton to London was opened and the port became the Gateway to the British Empire. The Southampton Emigration and Shipping Company, formed in 1846, forged links with the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa. Jake showed us slides of a beautiful, picturesque Southampton, where houses looked out to Southampton Water, complete with beach and bathers. Life was very much more associated with the water – no sign of the industrial estate that now separates the City from its waterfront.

2b. “Local Links with the Victorian Railway”

Michaela Lawler-Levene, FoSJP History Coordinator, followed Jake’s talk with a presentation of FoSJP’s findings on the proposed route of the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway, which in 1881 had been scheduled to pass through Shirley.

Michaela’s talk focused on a recently donated copy of a map, showing a proposed Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway route. It did not pass through the Park, as many local people had expected, but crossed Bellemoor Road four houses behind St.James’ Park, crossing closely by what would be now Shirley Junior School playground before crossing Winchester Road. Work stopped on the railway in Southampton in October 1883. Audience comments included that this might have been one of several proposed routes. The research is ongoing on this topic.

Sunday 1st November 2009


Your Feedback

Thank you to everyone who completed a feedback form at the final session. We thought you might be interested in the results, which have encouraged us to organise another series, starting in Autumn 2010.

I enjoyed the series of talks:
I learnt something new:
I would come along to future free talks…
…even if there were a small charge:
I enjoyed the displays:
The refreshments made a difference:
I have done something new as a result of these talks:
I feel that learning about the history of my local area is important:
I am interested in joining FoSJP’s research activities:
These results include feedback from additional forms returned after the Shirley Heritage Project newsletter of March 2010 went to press.

Additional comments and suggestions for future topics:

  • If talks are free anyone can come. A charge, however small, will exclude people on a low or fixed income. These talks must be inclusive: we are one community.
  • Thanks – had a lovely time.
  • Although I’m not from the Shirley area, I will make a point of visiting the Park. Thank you for an interesting talk.
  • I would be interested to hear about local architecture and building styles in the area.
  • It’s very important for younger people to appreciate what has come before them.
  • A talk for children about Shirley’s schools (from a junior FoSJP member).
  • Publicity for talks could have been better, e.g. via FoSJP newsletters.
  • Topics for future talks: History of Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Railway.
  • Topics for future talks: History of the Tramways:
    • Why did it become necessary?
    • Who built it?
    • Where were the trams manufactured?
    • Was the tramway life-changing for residents of this area?
  • Perhaps local schools could work with FoSJP and present jointly a topic of interest – community links are very much a feature of Ofsted!
  • Well done Michaela – excellently organised (from a FoSJP committee member).
  • Could not always hear well, even when a microphone was used, because head was turned away by speaker.
  • Tell how the gardens will be planted, and with what each season.