A well known local historical landmark
A well known local historical landmark

 Local History Group

Hi, and welcome to the Portsdown U3A Local History Group webpage; thanks for dropping in.

We have a thriving Group of 16 members, at the time of writing, and we aim to make our meetings a friendly forum for the discussion of any aspect of local history, from identification of unknown photographs, to the discussion of the changing face of Cosham High Street, for example; or even what constitutes ’local’ history.

We endeavour to be an active Group, in that members are encouraged to research whatever aspect of local history interests them. If a member encounters a ‘dead end’, or some other snag, with respect to their research, it can be discussed at the meetings in the hope that another member can suggest an alternative strategy, or line of enquiry. Currently members are investigating such diverse topics as:

19th Century Portsmouth Canal and Railway Routes.
Admiralty Telegraph System
Drayton Institute
Rev. R.R. Dolling

In addition, the Group has embarked on two joint projects. All local historians both enjoy, and can gain information from, studying old photographs. So we are attempting to produce a visual record of our ever changing local urban environment, as it stands at the moment, for the use of future generations of local historians.

Our second Group project is tied in with the centenary of World War I, and it’s impact on Portsmouth. Specifically, the Group has commenced to look at the Battle of Jutland, in which a total of over six thousand British sailors lost their lives. While the massive losses on the Western Front are, quite rightly, well remembered, this large scale loss of life at sea is rarely recollected. In particular we are looking at the impact on the residents of Portsmouth, the local families who lost a husband, son, or father: and on Portsmouth as a town; the geographical areas where bereavement was concentrated. Wherever the sources available will allow us to go.

It is not all ‘cerebral’ however; as we do organise visits to places of interest locally. Within the past year we have visited the Ovium Museum in Chichester, the Living Village in Gosport, and RAF Tangmere.

So, if any of the above sounds interesting, and you are, are about to become, or are considering becoming, a member of Portsdown U3A, we would be pleased to see you. We meet once a month, at The Church Of The Resurrection, Penarth Avenue, Drayton, at 10am on the first Friday of every month, except August.

Group Leader: Steve Doe
Email: contactportsdownu3a.org.uk


The History Group go to Fairyland – by Wendy

On Friday 6 April the Portsdown U3A History Group opened its meeting to all Portsdown U3A members for a talk by Jackie Baynes, the author of a fascinating booklet exploring the history and story of the Rock Gardens at Southsea and the curator of an exhibition recently displayed in the Portsmouth History Centre on the second Floor of Portsmouth Central Library.

Jackie’s talk took us on a whistle stop tour of the UK demonstrating the popularity of the rock garden genre before concentrating on the history and development of our own rock gardens from its inception in the 1920s through to the present day. Jackie is a founder member of the Rock Garden Friends group who in partnership with Portsmouth City Council Parks Department are ensuring the future of the gardens with a rolling programme of planting, promotion and works, ensuring its future as a place for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Postcard from NG collection

Local History Group Report – December 2017

In general the Group continues to thrive, membership now stands at 19. Given the new format of the monthly meetings we have decided that the moratorium on new members should be suspended. So, at least while we can still get people into the venue, new members are welcome to join us. Meetings are at The Church of The Resurrection, generally at 10am, and have historically been on the first Monday of the month. However, due to an increasingly noisy mother and toddler group in the room next door, as from February 2nd our meetings will be on the first Friday of each month. These monthly meetings will continue to be a forum for discussion of any aspect of local history; with a modicum of nostalgia as well, it must be admitted.

The first phase of the Group‘s Jutland Project has now come to an end, and members of the Group are beginning to turn their thoughts to other matters.

For ‘new readers’ we, in conjunction with members of Genealogy, have been researching those sailors and marines who were born in, or resident in, Portsmouth or Gosport, who lost their lives at the Battle of Jutland, that took place at the end of May 1916. Our Roll Of Honour identifies 661 local men, of the 6097 men of the British fleet lost. The Roll of Honour has now been printed, and a free copy has been offered to all those people who responded to our request for information on their relatives who were lost at Jutland. For other interested people it is for sale for £5; which includes a booklet illustrating the exhibition panels. In addition our map of Portsmouth and Gosport in 1910, with the home addresses of the men lost can be viewed on Portsmouth University’s Port Towns and Urban Cultures website.

Phase II of the Jutland project is now progressing. This being an analysis of the data on the families of some of the local men lost, to gain some idea of the impact of the loss of these men on their families, in the ensuing years. Work is progressing on a first draft of a research report, which we hope will lead to a paper on the matter. The problem is that the 1921 census, that will undoubtedly provide additional information, will not be available until 2022. In the interim a short article, briefly covering June 1916, has been submitted to The Historian magazine; and is scheduled to be published early in the New Year.

Since the last magazine the Portsdown U3A Annual Lecture has taken place; with a very interesting presentation by Nick Jellicoe, on how we remember such events as Jutland; at which the Group’s Jutland Exhibition was again featured.

Audrey Evans series of booklets on Drayton, that in the last magazine I reported had now reached volume 5, has apparently reached volume 7! My previous jocular remark that the series could make double figures appears to be in serious danger of becoming a reality. Watch this space; or at least the shelves of the bookshop in Cosham High Street.

Since the last magazine the project on the history of some of the large houses within our area, and the families who have inhabited them, has been commenced by those members interested. There are also plans afoot to become involved with a national research project, being run by Royal Holloway, University of London, entitled Citizens, that is to explore the history of liberty, protest, power and rebellion. For our part it is anticipated that we, together with other local U3As, will look at the Suffragette movement in the area.

The alterations to the format of the monthly meetings seems to have been well received, with the showing of various short films, and ’slide’ shows, relevant to the area’s history being shown. There have also been two short talks, so far, by certain members, one on local, 19th century, author Sarah Doudney, and another a reading of the Jutland article submitted to The Historian magazine, mentioned above. These have been interspersed with some other, more light hearted items; including two music hall monologues, by Marriott Edgar, (possibly most famous for his Albert and the Lion monologue); one on the Battle of Hastings, and the other on the Magna Carta. While the future programme of internal talks is fairly fluid, short talks on the emigration of redundant Portsmouth dockyardmen to Canada, and sailor’s wives in mid nineteenth century Portsea, at least, are proposed for the early New Year.

Another of our alterations to the Group’s ‘constitution’ is that we have agreed to increase the monthly subscription to £2 per person. This will not only cover rental of the room, and teas, coffees, and biscuits, but may also provide sufficient money to be able to pay for an occasional outside speaker.

In addition, visits are being organised for next year, to both the Bombay Gin distillery, at Whitchurch, (purely for the historical importance of the buildings, of course), and Chichester Alms Houses.

While we are still in the throes of winter, and dark nights prevail, the immediate future for the Local History Group does appear to be bright!