the online A-Z of Southampton's history.

A family birthday celebration in the African Caribbean Centre.

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The West Indian Community Centre, later the African Caribbean Centre, occupied the old St Matthew's Church in Trinity Road for nearly forty years, 1976-2014, during which time it had housed dominoes groups, creches, a library, a boxing ring, steel bands, disco nights, Independence Day celebrations, and hundreds of parties. For members of the African Caribbean community, it was hard to imagine holding a family event anywhere else.

For other Southampton Black History Stories watch this Lunchtime Lecture given for God's House Tower by Dr Nazneen Ahmed, writer in residence for Southampton Stories, about "Gentlemen of colour, Indian contingents, Mahometan funerals – the BAME presence in 19th Century Southampton". She can also be seen on this TEDxSouthampton video Why we need inclusive stories


Remembering the Southampton blitz day by day

See Air Raids, World War 2

October 1940
Air Raid Warden Walter Kingston recorded 89 Air Raid Alerts during October, but it was a quiet month for Southampton, with no fatalities from the bombs that did fall.
The town was busy making plans and dealing with the aftermath of September’s raids.
4 October
The Methodist Central Hall in St Mary Street had been operating a Services’ Canteen since the beginning of the War, and was now making arrangements to accommodate homeless civilians. Part of the premises were equipped as strong Air Raid Shelters where people could sleep, and a large and airy room had been set aside for families to use during the day. Clothing, rugs, toys, easy chairs, and magazines were needed. Their adverts “Please lend a hand! Our hands are full!” would appear regularly throughout October and on into November.
7 October
Expectant mothers were offered the chance to evacuate.
11 October
A comprehensive scheme for air raid victims was announced. There would be collecting centres for immediate shelter, hostels, and incident offices for each of 21 sections. Council staff would be available to give advice. Teams from the Borough Engineer’s department would assess damage to property, and furniture would be salvaged and stored if the property was not repairable.
12 October
More Air Raid shelters were to be built in the parks, and (for mourners and and workmen) at South Stoneham, Hollybrook and St Mary Extra Cemetery.
14 October
The Gas company made an URGENT APPEAL TO THE PUBLIC TO REDUCE CONSUMPTION. “The use of the minimum quantity required for lighting and the boiling of kettles is permissible where no other means exists, but the use of gas in any other circumstances is, until further notice CONTRARY TO THE NATIONAL INTERESTS.”
The water supply had been tested as safe, so the Medical Officer of Health announced that “the boiling of water can now be discontinued.”
15 October
The Echo published an advert from the Ministry of Information: “What do I do … if my home is made uninhabitable by a bomb? I ask a warden or a policemen to direct me to the allotted Rest Centre. If I have relatives or friends to whom I can go, I apply to the Public Assistance Authority for a travel voucher. If my home is not completely destroyed, I go to the Town Hall or consult the Local Authority to see if and when temporary repairs can be done. If I have become separated from my family or my children, I ask for help at the nearest Citizens’ Advice Bureau or Police Station. (The Rest Centre or the Police will supply all three addresses.) Cut this out – and keep it!
Southampton's official list of "Where to Go" was published in 1941.
16 October
To PROPERTY OWNERS Owners of partly demolished properties who are prepared to let the Corporation pull them down in return for the materials are asked to communicate immediately with the Town Clerk, Civic Centre, Southampton. (Advert, Southern Evening Echo)
17 October
“Householders are strongly recommended after an air raid to boil for at least twenty minutes all water drawn for drinking purposes, the preparation of food and washing of feeding and drinking utensils … until such time as the MEDICAL AUTHORITIES are able to publish in the Press either that no contamination of the water supply has taken place or that the effect of any contamination has been eliminated. HC Maurice Williams, Medical Officer of Health… Joseph Hawksley, Engineer and Manager, Southampton Corporation Water Works.”
20 October
Portland Baptist Chapel celebrated its centenary at a service attended by the Mayor and Corporation. “The social side of the centenary celebrations, including a reunion of past and present members, has to be postponed owing to wartime difficulties.” (Southern Daily Echo 21 October 1940.) The church would be destroyed in the raids of 30 November and 1 December.
26 October
Local jewellers told the "Echo" that there was likely to be "a 'famine' in watches after the Christmas gift season… Home Guards, soldiers and sailors, nurses and others who do night duty are buying up all the luminous wrist-watches." H Samuel, Parkhouse and Son, and Pegler and Wyatt, were all destroyed in the massive air raids of 30 November and 1 December 1940. Afterwards, Parkhouse and Son, and Pegler and Wyatt pooled their resources, and eventually became Parkhouse and Wyatt. (Southern Daily Echo 5 December 1940)
30 October
Soren Marius Busk died at the Royal South Hants Hospital from injuries received on 15 September 1940.


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Links to local history societies and other resources.

News and Events

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Bitterne Local History Society

City of Southampton Society

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West End Local History Society

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Sotonopedia last updated 30 October 2020

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