Shirley Heritage Project
The Shirley Heritage Project
Updated: 22nd February 2012
Launched in May 2009
During discussions with HLF and Southampton City Council (SCC), FoSJP expressed a desire to build upon the interest in local history that we saw at the History stall at the Park100 Centenary Celebration event in 2007. The History stall was extremely popular, and many people had stories of their own to tell. FoSJP asked that a Heritage Project be included within the HLF funding; this was agreed and the Shirley Heritage Project was founded.
The Shirley Heritage Project will:
- allow FoSJP to organise more history-themed events in and around the Park;
- encourage interest and provide opportunities for participation in local history;
- collect and share local memories of the Park and its environment;
- create a permanent history interpretation display in the renovated Park;
- work and share information with local people, schools, colleges, and other organisations.
Eventually, we'll use all the fascinating information that we've been gathering to produce a book on the history of the Park and its immediate environment. Profits from this book will go back into providing events and facilities for the Park, both historical and general.
We've already shared some of the stories that we have been given in our first series of public history talks held in Autumn 2009 and Spring 2010.
We've also been developing the History pages here on the website to share further information that we've received and to keep everyone up to date. We plan to eventually share clips of audio and video recordings made during the project; the HLF has funded the purchase of equipment to support this.
|Visit our History News page for the latest information on forthcoming history-related events and activities.|
|Visit our Your Stories page to read some of the stories and memories that we've received from local (and former local) residents.|
|Visit our History Past Events page to find out about past history‑related events organised in and around the Park.|
|If you'd like to join our History Events mailing list, or if you have any other questions about or information for the Shirley Heritage Project, please contact our History Coordinator, Michaela Lawler‑Levene, via firstname.lastname@example.org.|
See below for information on Shirley Heritage Project activities:
Oral History Project
Updated: 4th October 2011
Spring 2009 Onwards
Following the success of the Park100 History stall, FoSJP wanted to include an Oral History project, which would involve recording local memories of interest to the Park.
During Spring 2009, under Stage 1 of HLF funding, FoSJP volunteers were trained in Oral History Recording, with expert help from Padmina Broomfield of the Arts and Heritage Services (the former Oral History Unit). Training included what equipment to use, the techniques involved in recording, and how to organise and store information.
Following FoSJP's success in gaining Stage 2 HLF funding in October 2009, the Oral History Project was given the green light to buy equipment and start recording memories.
Some of this information will shared on the FoSJP website. Eventually, we'd like to deposit this archive with local library/archive services for future generations to listen to, view, and appreciate. Some of the material received will also be shared via other parts of the Shirley Heritage Project.
The Oral History Society
FoSJP's Shirley Heritage Project is a member of the Oral History Society. As such, the project is following Oral History Society guidelines of professional practice and undertaking training in Oral History Recording and Archiving.
Our Oral History Project was featured in the Oral History Society's national publication "Journal of the Oral History Society" in Autumn 2009 (vol.37 no.2 pp.17-18 under "Current British Work" - South East Region - Southampton).
Oral History Society National Conference - University of Sunderland - 1st & 2nd July 2011
Our FoSJP history coordinator, Michaela Lawler‑Levene, was invited to present a paper at this prestigious conference. Michaela shared how older people's memories and stories about St.James' Park have been included in the art works in the Park through the Art for the Park inter‑generational project carried out jointly with the Media Workshop and students at Upper Shirley High School.
Michaela also shared testimony from Bill Smith about playing in the Park during World War II, and how the Park's World War II links are now depicted on the windows of the new café building.
|The history behind the Art in the Park project was the subject of the first presentation in our Autumn 2011 series of public history talks on Sunday 2nd October 2011.|
Public History Talks
Updated: 4th March 2013
|The next series of Public History Talks will take place in October - December 2013.|
Founded in 2009, through a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), FoSJP Public History Talks continue to thrive and are a popular Autumn event attended by an audience of 20‑70 people.
Talks take place between October and December, usually held on the first Sunday of each month, between 3pm‑5pm. The venue is Shirley Parish Hall, situated on the corner of St.James' Road and Colebrook Avenue, a short walk from the Park. Talks are free and open to both members and non‑members of FoSJP. Refreshments are also available for a small donation.
Topics relate to the local history of Shirley and in particular the area around St.James' Park. Talks are given by a variety of speakers, local historians, University historians, and also members of FoSJP's own FoSJP History Research Group.
Click on the links below for more information.
October - December 2013
A fifth series is now being organised for Autumn 2013. Speakers and topics have yet to be confirmed; the dates will be:
- Sunday 6th October
- Sunday 3rd November
- Sunday 1st December
October - December 2012
A fourth series was organised for Autumn 2012. Topics included:
- Plants that affect our lives
- Shirley's Sites and Symbols – how well do you know them?
- Nathaniel and Catherine Jefferys - who do you think they were?
October - December 2011
Following the success of the first two series of talks, a third series was organised for Autumn 2011. Topics included:
- Art in the Park
- Andrew Barlow, Brewer and Benefactor
- The history of trams in Shirley and Southampton
October 2010 - March 2011
Following the success of the first series of talks, a second series was organised for Autumn 2010, although because of poor weather, the final talk was postponed from December to March 2011. Topics included:
- Tips on researching the history of your house
- The history of trams in Shirley and Southampton
- St.James' Road Conservation Area
- A local tribute to Spitfire production in Southampton during World War II
October 2009 - March 2010
Following the confirmation of HLF funding for the Shirley Heritage Project, our first undertaking was to organise a series of monthly public talks. The first series, held at Shirley Parish Hall, took place between October 2009 and March 2010. The purpose of these talks was to provide background information on topics relating to the Park's history, including:
- Shirley's local history
- Southampton in the Age of Steam & Expansion
- Local links to the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway
- Women and Local Philanthropy in the 19th Century
- Charitable Buildings around the Park
- The Victorians' search for Rational Recreation
- Conservation of the built environment - St.James' Road Conservation Area
- History of the Park through the life of a park bench
FoSJP would like to thank all who attended the talks, the contributors, and local groups who supported us - such as Southampton City Council Arts and Leisure, Museum, and Library staff, and Hampshire County Council - with permissions to use images, book stalls, off-prints, and advice.
The talks were very well received and requests were made for further talks.
FoSJP History Research Group
Updated: 3rd December 2011
Established April 2010
Following the success of the first series of Public History Talks, FoSJP started a History Research Group in Spring 2010, open to anybody who'd like to help us research the history of the Park and its surrounding area.
Subjects that have been researched by the Group include:
- The life of Andrew Barlow, a Victorian philanthropist famous locally for renovating the Barlow and Ellyett Homes on Church Street. He was also a resident of Oatland Lodge which used to be opposite the park on the corner of St.James' Road and Winchester Road. We plan to share his story during the public talk series of Autum 2010.
- Temperance Society activities.
- Postcards of Shirley, particularly of the Park.
- Nathaniel and Catherine Jefferies, local Victorian philanthropists, and their links with the Park.
- The early Shirley Parish Church from 1836
- Life around the Park.
- Local architecture and its conservation.
- George Harris, builder, farmer, brickworks and gravel pit owner.
- Henry Cawte, JP.
- Links with Old Shirley and Admiral Sir Charles Bullen, last surviving Captain at the Battle of Trafalgar, who died at Trafalgar House, Shirley in 1853.
- The Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway 1881-1884 and local links.
- The life of a child - changing times. This topic is being undertaken primarily through the Oral History Project, including play and school days.
- Memories of Shirley School - again, through the Oral History Project.
- The Park in World War II - its ARP history.
The Group has its own Facebook page, kindly set up by the FoSJP webmaster. Everyone within the Group is encouraged to use this as a tool for exchanging information and ideas.
FoSJP has been asked by Southampton City Council's Conservation Team to contribute to the latest revisions of the St.James' Road Conservation Area Document. The Group will be uncovering information which will feed into this document and its aims.
We'd particularly like to receive copies of deeds relating to Didcot, Newbury, and Stratton Roads around the Park, and from the houses that would have been on the proposed route of the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway, to establish whether or not the railway actually bought the land around 1881.
We'd like to thank everyone who has offered help with our research to date; the generosity of people who have donated books, materials, or information has been overwhelming.
|Visit our History News page for information about further FoSJP History Research Group meetings.|
Art for the Park
Updated: 10th December 2011
Historical Interpretation in the Park through Inter-Generational Workshops
FoSJP asked the Media Workshop to help us by facilitating and running inter-generational art‑based workshops, providing an opportunity to share research and oral histories of older people with younger generations, and resulting in a creative piece of historical interpretation artwork to be displayed in St.James' Park. The artwork was to be sensitive both to its location in the Park, and to the Park being within the St.James' Road Conservation Area. The design team for the Park suggested that this artwork be located on the wall of the new zipwire platform.
In January 2011, the Media Workshop met with the FoSJP History Research Group to find out about the Park's varied and rich history. Oral history interviewees have also been sharing memories of the Park from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s; at workshops with pupils from Upper Shirley High School, the children spoke to two of these interviewees and used the information that they learned to inspire some photographic artwork.
The pupils and the artist came up with some wonderful ideas. To get the opinions of a wider group, Anna Vickers from the Media Workshop presented some examples of the artwork during the interval at the Public History Talk on Sunday 6th March 2011, which generated much interest. Anna also consulted Southampton City Council: because the Park is in a conservation area, she was advised that the designs should be subtle, rather than multi-coloured. The accepted technique is water jet‑cut metal (3mm thick aluminium), powder coated in black.
Initial ideas were gathered and the artist's designs, which include some of the students working on this project, were approved by a group including representatives from FoSJP and our sponsors Southampton City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Here is the final design, which was installed on the zipwire platform wall in July 2011:
If you have any views about this artwork, please feel free to email Anna on email@example.com.
|Click here to find out more about this project at the Media Workshop's own website.|
ParkLife Café Windows
The design show the links between the park building and its World War II origins as an Air Raid Precaution (ARP) building. During this period the RAF/WAAF also operated a barrage balloon in the park to deter enemy planes. The building subsequently became the changing room for football teams, public toilets, a park staff canteen, and more recently the FoSJP Kiosk (2006‑2010).
In 2010‑2011, thanks to a Parks for People award (from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund), the building was converted to a Café and Community Room. The design challenge for the building was "to deliver something of great value to the community yet retain the integrity of our heritage" (Design Engine Architects Ltd).
The artwork based on this design was installed in the Parklife Café shortly before it opened in July 2011.
FoSJP particularly wanted to give a young artist or illustrator the opportunity to work on a high profile piece of public art, and Sarah was chosen by her tutors as a student with talent, potential, and motivation. Sarah worked with FoSJP under the guidance of her supervisors, Peter Lloyd and Jonny Hannah.
Limited edition prints of Sarah's work are available by appointment; please contact Sarah via firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Click here for more information about Sarah.|
|Click here for Peter's comments on Sarah's work.|
Updated: 10th May 2013
FoSJP has been developing links with local schools to help encourage pupils to understand their own local environment and heritage.
- Shirley Infant School has been donated a mangle for use in their studies on "The Victorians".
- FoSJP has given history lessons in the Park for Shirley Junior School Year 3 children in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. These have been enthusiastically received by both children and parents.
- FoSJP has been interviewing former students of Shirley School from the 1930s, as part of the Oral History Project.
- In June 2010, the FoSJP history display was present at Shirley Infant and Junior Schools' Summer Fair.
- In January 2011, FoSJP started working with pupils from Upper Shirley High School on our Art for the Park project (see above).
- In March 2011, FoSJP gave an interactive assembly to two Year 6 classes at St.Mark's Primary School, who used the information to write a community newsletter for distribution to houses around the school.
- From March to June 2012, the FoSJP History Research Group helped Shirley Infant School and Shirley Junior School with their Shirley Schools Centenary 2012 project, culminating in an evening celebration and an exhibition in June 2012.
- In May 2013, we met up again with the Shirley Schools Centenary 2012 team to capture the information recorded before and during the June 2012 exhibition, with a view to producing a celebration book.
University of Southampton
FoSJP was nominated as an organisation to work with a group of Second Year students from the University of Southampton during 2009-2010.
The students had to work together as a group, on a subject of which they might have had little or no previous knowledge, and demonstrate that they could work well as a group, undertake research, and present their findings to their lecturers. Their work also had to have a public outcome.
Part of their research involved gathering information at their "Shirley Remembers VE Day" event, supported by FoSJP, on Saturday 8th May at Shirley Parish Hall, and some of this information was used in their public presentation "St.James' Park during World War II", also held at Shirley Parish Hall, on Sunday 23rd May.
The FoSJP History Research Group was also invited to the students' internal presentation on Admiral Sir Charles Bullen and his links with Shirley and Shirley Parish Church (near St.James' Park).
Updated: 15th May 2013
Recording Changes in the Park
In anticipation of the changes that are to take place within the Park, FoSJP volunteers Helen Hazelwood and Lindsay Lee photographed the Park on a weekly basis between March 2010 and July 2011. We hope that this will provide a record of the Park before and after its transformation, and will be material that we can use creatively in the future.
In December 2009, FoSJP volunteer Margaret Osmond, supported by FoSJP committee members, also recorded the last park warden, Norman Burnett, in the grounds and interior of the Park building. Norman recorded his memories of working in the Park and explained what used to be there during the 1980s.
Arthur House was also recorded talking about favourite places and the loss of his treasured bench to vandalism and deterioration. Clips from both Norman's and Arthur's interviews were used during the public history talks.
FoSJP History Display
We've been developing a history display that can be shown at the Park and other local events. In 2010, this was taken to the Shirley Infant and Junior Schools Summer Fete in June, and to the Bourne Avenue Residents' Street Party in July. In 2011, it was taken to the Southampton History Fair at Townhill Park House in April and the Foyes Corner Festival in May, and was present at FoSJP's Play in the Park! event in July.
FoSJP History Presentations
|In February 2012, we gave a presentation to the Shirley Women's Institute, sharing photographs, maps, and a visual presentation of the history of St.James' Park including people's memories of the Park and before, during, and after photographs of the Park Building as it was transformed into a new Café.|
In November 2012, at the Nursling and Rownhams History Group, we gave a talk entitled "The History and Restoration of St.James' Park in Shirley", which included how the Park's history has influenced aspects of its recent programme of restoration and improvements financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
On 14th February 2013, at the Lordshill and Lordswood Historical Society, we gave a talk entitled "The History of St.James' Park", which traced the origins of the land that we now know as the Park, referenced through almost 1000 years of history. Since it was Valentine's Day, a local park love story was also shared.
In April 2013, one of our members gave a presentation to the Millbrook Local History Society
on the life of Andrew Barlow of the Barlow and Ellyett Homes which are in Church Street, Shirley.
Later that month we gave a talk and a "Shirley and its Environs Then and Now" slide presentation at a new Lunch and Laughs club for senior citizens in Bassett Green Village, Southampton.
In May 2013, one of our members repeated the presentation on the life of Andrew Barlow of the Barlow and Ellyett Homes, this time to the Lordshill and Lordswood Historical Society.
In May 2013, we held an educational workshop, based on our Oral History project, at the Learn 2 Love Learning Club at the ParkLife Community Room at St.James' Park. One of our more senior FoSJP members joined us to share his memories and photos of the Park.
|If you'd like to invite the FoSJP History team to your event, please contact our History Coordinator, Michaela Lawler‑Levene, via email@example.com.|
History Walks and Talks
In June 2010, FoSJP organised an historically-themed guided family walk, starting at St.James' Park and walking along Lordsdale Greenway to Shirley Pond.
In July 2012, together with the Tudor Revels Project, FoSJP organised a Medicinal and Edible Plants Walk in St.James' Park, looking at the wildflowers planted there and how they might have been used for medicine and food in times gone by.
Look out for more such Walks and Talks, where researchers share their findings and you can help keep fit and healthy at the same time!
Plays have been written, based on the Park's history, and performed in and around the Park. We hope that our research into the fascinating lives in and around the Park will inspire more creativity.
We're very keen that different generations get to know each other better through this project. We particularly value the experience of our older members, and seek to provide opportunities for their contributions to be shared with younger generations.
Make Do and Mend - Craft and Sewing Classes
Starting in October 2011 and running through to July 2012, FoSJP has organised a series of craft and sewing classes for all abilities, held in the ParkLife Community Room at St.James' Park, with the aim of passing on skills and memories from older to younger generations.
|Visit our Make Do and Mend page to find out more.|
The first edition of the Shirley Heritage Project Newsletter, keeping everyone informed, was sent out to FoSJP and FoSJP History Research Group members in March 2010, followed by further editions in October 2010, April 2011, April 2012, and April 2013.
The Tudor Revels Project, 2012
Southampton hosted several Tudor‑themed events throughout 2012 in celebration of the re‑opening of the
Tudor House Museum.
Through the Tudor Revels Project, which was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, FoSJP linked St.James' Park to its earlier history, as during Tudor times it would have been common land - Shirley Common in fact. Shirley Common went beyond Winchester Road and bordered Southampton Common at Hill Lane.
FoSJP helped organise a Tudor Costume Workshop at the ParkLife Community Room in September 2012, to help prepare costumes for those who took part in the Tudor Procession which was part of the Tudor Revels Michaelmas Fair on the weekend of Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th September.
Click on the picture of the leaflet for information on Tudor Revels events from August to November 2012. [This is a large document and may take a while to download.]