John Avery Heritage
Member Southampton Heritage Federation
 Sharing local history with the community
In 1967 the Queen Mary set off on her final voyage to Longbeach, California. This watercolour by Eric Crompton records the farewell.A stone carving on the RSH Hospital Chapel.An afternoon stroll on Plymouth Breakwater
John Avery is a Fellow of the Huguenot Society of Britain and Ireland, a member of Southampton
Heritage Federation, City of Southampton Society [Honorary Life Member], Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery [Honorary Life Member],  Friends of  Town Quay Park, National Federation of Cemetery Friends, The Southampton Fryatt Plaque, Devon Family History Society, West Country Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust , Landmark Trust, National Trust
Copyright 2018


Welcome to this heritage website                          


sharing local history with the community

This site aims to bring you familiar features but perhaps to enlighten with some facts and also a few new items that hopefully, you have not previously stumbled across. Site last updated 8 March 2019.  If it is of interest I also manage a website Southampton Local History  Contact John Avery   

Detail from the Titanic engineer's memorial Southampton copyright Will Temple 2011


Southampton Old Cemetery

An early municipal cemetery now a haven for wildlife. With the assistance of my fellow cemetery conservators  Geoff Watts and Veronica Tippetts, I founded the Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery in 2003. 





1912-2012 Commemoration of the loss of RMS Titanic. 550 crew members with Southampton addresses were lost on 15th April 1912.

A Book of Remembrance is on display next to
the Council Chamber in the Civic Centre and a CD copy is available to researchers at the Southampton City Archives, lower ground floor in the Civic Centre.
The image is from part of the Engineers' Memorial.











 Captain George Smith RN
The upturned boat on the top of the tomb represents the invention by George Smith of the paddle box lifeboat. Such a boat could be stored upside down above the paddle wheel of a ship, the shape following the contour of the cover of the wheel. The lifeboat would not therefore take up space elsewhere on the vessel. George Smith was also the first Commander of HMS Excellent at Whale Island, Portsmouth. He persuaded the Admiralty to obtain the ship so that gunnery training and innovative practices could be undertaken. As you travel to Portsmouth on the M271 the gunnery school is on your right hand side, [Whale Island] still using the title of the ship.

 General Juan Manuel Rosas
This pink marble monument, in fine condition, is on the western edge of the section of the Cemetery provided for the Roman Catholics of Southampton. There has never been a chapel for this part. General Rosas controlled Argentina, as Dictator, from 1835 but was himself forced to leave the country in 1852 taking asylum on a British warship. He arrived at Devonport then travelled  to Southampton where he lived the remainder of his life and is remembered particularly for being an imposing figure with an imposing black cape riding around on a black horse. He lived for a time at Rockstone House, 8 Carlton Crescent (which still stands), and later at Burgess Road Farm which no longer exists. It is believed that he chose Southampton as it was near to the residence of Palmerston the Foreign Secretary [Broadlands at Romsey]. Rosas wanted the ear of such a contact in case there was ever an opportunity to return to his native land.
 In 1861, in his absence, the Argentine Congress condemned General Rosas to death for multiple assassinations he had instigated [probably in excess of 20,000]. In the second half of the 20th Century moves were made in Argentina to have his remains returned to that country and in 1972 the 1861 Resolution was annulled. In 1989, the General's body was exhumed and returned to Argentina, being taken up the River Plate, receiving a salute from the President of the country, and then being buried in Buenos Aires in the same cemetery as Eva Peron. The General's daughter,son in law grand daughter and youngest grandson remain buried at the Old Cemetery in Southampton.

Charles Rawden Maclean  ["John Ross"]


This man died on the S.S. Varne in 1880 when heading to Southampton and is buried in Southampton Old Cemetery. The unmarked grave in fact holds the life and story of a remarkable pioneer entwined with the history of Durban in South Africa.

Maclean was born in Fraserburgh, Scotland in 1815 the son of a retired sea captain. He was apprenticed at the age of 10 to James Saunders King master of the Mary and set sail for Africa.

The ship was wrecked off the Natal coast and the boy survived and settled at Port Natal [later known as Durban]. With his red hair and Scottish accent he was soon noticed by the Zulu chieftain Shaka kaSenzagakhona and he befriended him. Charles remained in the community until 1828 and then returned to a life at sea. Prior to that he set out on a trek, which was to last for 6 months, from Port Natal to the Portuguese settlement of Delagoa Bay. The settlers at Port Natal were struck down with sickness and lacked supplies and medicines. Maclean escorted by 30 warriors from the tribe set out with ox carts on the 300 mile journey each way. It is fairly certain that without this help that the small community of settlers would not have survived.

Later in 1836 Maclean's experiences were recounted by one of the settlers Natheniel Isaacs in a series of tales of his experiences at the settlement. It is said that Isaacs could not remember Maclean's name and used the name "John Ross" for his hero. Oddly though his memory lapsed on the name he gave the boy's age as about 15 years which in reality seems more probable against a 12 year old undertaking the trek. The book sold well particularly back in Maclean's homeland in Scotland but Maclean himself never relished the hero status or his assumed identity of John Ross.

After 10 years at sea, Maclean gained his master's certificate but unfortunately on his first command his ship went onto rocks when he fell asleep at the wheel after long deprivation of sleep. He survived and continued his sea career and was noted for his anti-slavery views.

In Durban there is a large commemorative statue to John Ross, a large commercial building and a highway are named after him. There was a famous salvage tug built 1976 [at the time one of the most powerful tugs in the world] named John Ross. It is open to question as to which John Ross the ship took its name as Sir John Ross RN the famous arctic explorer [Ross Strait] is an equal contender.

At the Old Cemetery there appears that there was no headstone and the Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery and the Fraserburgh Heritage Centre have worked closely together to raise funds for a commemorative headstone to be placed on the grave.  On 2nd May 2009 a service of rededication of the grave was held, the unmarked grave was draped with the flag of South Africa and the new headstone with the flag of Scotland, The Sea Cadets attended and a kilted bagpiper played a lament and the Mayor Councillor Brian Parnell introduced the event.

Congratulations to the Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery and Fraserburgh Heritage Centre for arranging this historic commemoration


A commemorative plaque at the RSH Hospital reflecting the support of local freemasons in raising funds to build the hospital queen victoria recognised such philantrophy by permitting the hospital to use the prefix "Royal".
interior RSH Hospital Chapel during refurbishment august 2012. Image Ann MacGillivray 
With the support of other local historians and conservationists and the NHS trust owning the RSH Hospital Chapel, I founded Friends of RSH Hospital Chapel in 2009. Due to major changes in the NHS, the ownership of the chapel passed from Southampton City Primary Care Trust to NHS Property Services Ltd and support funding to cover our insurance etc dried up. Reluctantly the members voted to close the charity and in 2014 we distributed our capital to other local charities.

Richard Andrews – mayor of Southampton on five occasions

with acknowledgements and thanks to Dr Richard Preston, researcher

Born the son of a wheelwright at Bishop’s Sutton near Arlesford he had rudimentary education at a dame school and from the age of 8 or 9 walked several miles each day to work in a saw mill. A few years later a customer of the mill took him as an apprentice and he became a blacksmith.

Unusual at the time, by the age of 21 he was married and had a child. Determined to find work to support his family he walked to Chichester and having no success returned home. Chichester’s loss was Southampton [and later we discovered also Winchester’s] gain. With half a crown in his pocket he walked to Southampton and took employment at a carriage works.

Within 10 years he had his own successful carriage works employing dozens of men. The entrance to the works in Above Bar is roughly where the HMV shop stands today. The carriages apart from the axles were built entirely in the works giving him quality control and the ability to custom build to the specifications of his customers. He favoured the railways seeing them not as a competitor but a way of efficiently shipping his products to London, Birmingham and other thriving cities. The Queen ordered miniature carriages for the use of the royal children thus allowing him to display the warrant coat of arms.

Richard Andrews decided to go into politics and in a three and a half year period was to become mayor on five occasions. The first two were to bring great acclaim in that working closely with the two MP’S [one the Solicitor- General and the other the chairman of P&O] Southampton thrived and prospered with apart from the railways and docks developing national institutions such as HM Customs, Inland Revenue, Board of Trade and HM Coastguard built new premises. Andrews did much to promote Southampton and its people and during the run up to the Great Exhibition visited the US and persuaded their government that the exhibits should be brought into the port of Southampton and taken by rail to London. Other countries followed the idea not without some cost as they asked for free harbour dues and berthing but in exchange Southampton Docks were now well and truly on the map.

Partly for health reasons he decided to live in Winchester and bought a large acreage of land and built several houses including a hunting lodge which he lavishly turned into The Pagoda. Not content with a political career in Southampton, he also stood as a councillor for Winchester and to some degree took his eye of the ball of Southampton politics. He briefly flirted with becoming an MP when the resident MP resigned on being appointed Attorney-General but suffered the humidity of coming third in the contest.

Andrews was a great supporter of the abolishment of the Corn Laws and allowed the coach works to hold public meetings of protest. Perhaps his great ally was Timothy Falvey proprietor and editor of the Hampshire Independent and fellow councillor and Corn Law abolisher who tidied up the speeches, grammar and spelling.  Andrews always had the weakness of a poor education and often his political rivals would mock his grasp of grammar and with a smile perhaps an anomaly with the modern day John Prescott [now Lord Prescott - on stepping off an aircraft announced that it was good to be on terra cotta].

The statue to Andrews in Andrews [East] Park was erected in 1860 with some local criticism that it was too ornate and like a wedding cake. The figure of Portland stone stood the test of time but the supporting Bath stone eroded badly and was removed for safety reasons in 1971. Local residents nicknamed the residual statue as “Stumpy Dick” and perhaps in recognition that he did deserve a little more respect the council placed the statue on a plinth in 2000.

Hampshire Pudding Recipe

Line the edge of a pie dish with good puff-pastry, spread jam at the bottom of the dish, about an inch thick. Beat the yolks of three and the whites of two eggs thoroughly. Add to them three ounces of soft sugar, pounded and sifted and three ounces of dissolved butter. Heat these together until they are quite thick, pour the mixture over the jam, and bake in a moderate oven till the pastry is baked.

The odd case of the undertaker who stored babies’ bodies at his premises [1876 Southampton] 

 Stephen Blundell, a Southampton undertaker, with his wife and an assistant, were committed for trial on a charge of larceny. It arose from the circumstance that, in consequence of an offensive smell from the premises and complaints from neighbours, that the premises were examined by Dr. Osborn, medical officer of health for Southampton and the Nuisances Inspector, and a number of infants' bodies, fifteen or sixteen in all, were found. All, with the exception of one which was found in the shop, were concealed among a heap of saw-dust and dirt in the cellar underneath the premises.  A few of the decomposed babies had been stored in drawers within the workshop, a few were in skeleton condition and the most recent was still in a coffin.

 Stephen Blundell arose from his sick bed and produced certificates of still-birth or burial for all cases and no offence under the Registration Act could be sustained. The prisoners were committed on a charge of larceny by the court. The principal offender, Stephen Blundell, died shortly after his committal, and the charges against his wife and assistant were discontinued.

 It was the practice [and possibly still continues] to place a dead baby into a freshly dug grave [hopefully with the agreement of the next of kin of the existing body] which helped poor families who would not be in a position to purchase a grave. Blundell had charged 5 or 6 shillings for this service but clearly did not fulfill the burial and there does not appear to be any explanation as to why he stored all the bodies.

Remembering severe winters at Southampton

The severe freeze we experienced in January 2010 was lessened to some degree as many of our homes, shops and offices are heated but if we turn the clock back a few years [and yes those were periods of climate change] the severity must have had major consequences on the residents of the town often with coal stocks frozen and little or no heating.

February l8 1855 newspaper report

State of the River Thames on Friday. -The river about Greenwich was much covered with ice: the navigation is completely stopped. The masters of the vessels frozen up in the piers, between the Custom House and the Pool, have adopted every precaution, in laying out extra mooring chains, in case of the ice breaking away the corporation mooring chains. In many parts of the river below the bridge the ice has set in so firm between the shore and the vessels moored near mid-stream, that the crews walk to and from their vessels to the shore. All the labourers along the shore are thrown out of employment and great distress prevails.

Southampton Water was almost covered with floating ice on Thursday. A brig, in coming down from Eling, at the top of Southampton Water, had a hole knocked in her while ploughing through the masses of ice, and was in danger of sinking. The boats in the stream had to be guarded from the ice by hurdles placed at the bows. In Southampton Docks scores of mullet were caught with the hand and in hand nets. They floated about by hundreds on the surface, alive, but perfectly helpless, being benumbed by the intense cold.

 5th April 1888 newspaper report

Severe snowstorms and gales have been experienced in many parts of the country during the week. The traffic on the Didcot, Newbury, and Southampton Railway was interrupted for several hours on the 20th inst. by a snow-block in a deep cutting near Compton. A goods train which left Didcot Junction between two and three o'clock was snowed up, and a snow-plough and a large gang of men were at work for some time before a passage through the snow could be affected.

22 March 1899 newspaper report

Low-lying houses at Southampton were flooded, the inhabitants escaping on rafts and boats from the second story windows. The cross channel services were performed with great difficulty. The marine promenade St. Hellier, Jersey, was greatly damaged. Railways inland were disorganized.  The Trafalgar broke from her moorings, and was only just saved by tugs from collision with the Terrible. The battleship Terror arrived at Portsmouth with her funnel, weighing 20 tons, damaged. The ship was in a terrific roll in the Bay of Biscay. Tremendous tidal waves Inundated the North Wales coast and flooded the country in many parts.
e dock at Southampton was frozen and the steamer to the Isle of Wight was ice-bound. Ice-breakers vainly endeavoured to free, the Thames, Humber, Mersey, Severn, and other rivers and canals for traffic. Railways in North Wales were snowed up.

Commemoration 70th anniversary of bombing raids in Southampton

planting the commemorative tree Nov 2010The commemoration service at St  Michael's. Image Will Temple

On 30th November 2010 two commemorative events were held to mark the civilian casualties associated with the German air raids on that date in 1940.

Town Quay Park was formed after the demolition of bombed property at the end of the High Street. Friends of Town Quay Park invited local residents to a tree planting ceremony in the Park. Mrs Gloria Humby and her brother planted the tree with the help of a young pupil from the nearby St John’s Infants School and the ceremony was blessed by the Rev Tim Daykin. The Humbys, as children, had been trapped for many hours with their mother in the rubble. Poignantly their mother who had also survived had passed away age 99 years just a few days before the ceremony.

Members of SCC parks division were thanked by Ros Cassy, chair of FOTQP, for their ongoing efforts in improving the Park. Invited guests included volunteers from the Wheatsheaf Trust who had recently painted the railings surrounding Quilter’s Vault and the French Memorial Garden.

Guests then proceeded to St Michael’s Church where the purchase of a ration book brought a cup of homemade soup and sandwiches prepared by the volunteers from the Friends of St Michael’s. A quartet of young talented musicians gave a short recital and Fiona and Jill from the The Sarah Siddons’ Fan Club portrayed a warden and a local resident meeting up after the fatal air raid. Jill Daniels of course is known to many of our members as she also presents illustrated talks to us occasionally.

A second service in the evening was held at St Mary’s Church. Local television news used newsreel footage to portray the damaged church after the bombing. At the church their 10 bells were rung at full peal. The superb action by the team of ringers was full or energy and life.  A rotating search light was moving across the church and the trees continuously - so many people were both inside and outside the church sharing memories of those dark days. 

The Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Carol Cunio at the unveiling ceremony of the commemorative plaque for the Huguenot Settlement in Southampton. The plaque is at the small French Garden in Town Quay Park. image courtesy Will Temple.  
Ceremony unveiling the Huguenot Commemorative Plaque at Town Quay Park Southampton

Southampton Docks film [1937] I am grateful to Geoff Claydon for uploadinga 1937 cine film
showing Southampton Docks and the departure of the liner Queen Mary - do enjoy

The City of Southampton Society commissioned the Titanic Book of Remembrance which is on display next to the council chamber in the Civic Centre. It records 550 names of crew and passengers with Southampton addresses who were lost in the tragedy 15th April 1912. image courtesy Arthur Jeffery 

Copyright 2011 - 19 John Avery        TOP OF PAGE
snowfall Southampton Old Cemetery courtesy FoSOCSeamen's strike at Southampton 1966Royal Blues at Bournemouth c 1949 photo by Derek Amey local historians Jim Brown and John Avery deep in thought. Image Ann MacGillivray Veronica Tippetts addressing Court Leet Oct 2nd 2012. Image Will TempleJohn Melody Southampton Town Crier at Court Leet 2012. Image Will Temple