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!