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Southern Daily Echo, 30 July 1940

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On the 30 July 1940, under the headline “Aged Resident’s Act of Love”, the Southern Daily Echo featured the commitment of Alice Jane Wiber to the upkeep of a memorial to 101 men from Princes Street, Northam who had served in the Great War.
This was one of many “War Shrines” that had been erected in streets up and down the country 1916-1919. Although they did record “those who have died” they were primarily lists of men from that street who were serving in the forces.
The Hampshire Advertiser, 4 November 1916, reported the novel idea of “Street ‘Rolls of Honour’ in Southampton. “The idea originated in the parish of South Hackney, was taken up with enthusiasm by the Rev T l Murray, Vicar of St Chad’s, Longton, Staffordshire, and has now spread to Southampton, where the introduction is due to the efforts of the Rev Neville G J Stiff, incumbent of St Agnes, Hampton Park, in whose parish the street shrines are rapidly becoming familiar landmarks.” War Shrines are known to have been put up in Belgrave Road, Northcote Road, Mayfield Road, and Broadlands Road in 1916, and in 1917 there were others: at 38 Melbourne Street, Albert Road, Duke’s Road, Granville Street, Marine Parade, and Standford Street. By 1918, the local papers had recorded War Shrines in French Street and Princess Street, at the Girls’ School in Grove Street and Hurst Leigh Boys’ School.
The Princes Street War Shrine had been erected outside Mrs Wiber’s home at 52 Princes Street in 1919, and she had been “appointed its custodian. Ever since she has tended the green flower box at the base of the shrine and kept bright with gay flowers the memory of the men who did not come home. Princes Street is proud of its shrine, for it is believed that it is the last of the many that were erected in Southampton during and after the last war. Today, as she filled the flower box with simple marigolds, she said: it has been a privilege to look after our memorial. Lots of the men whose names are on it have joined up again.” Grandma Wiber, who is 78, intends to look after the shrine just as long as she can lift up her arms to put in the flowers.” (Southern Daily Echo, 30 July 1940.)
Alice Jane Wiber was born in Northam as Alice Jane Blake in 1863, and married seaman John William Wiber in 1883. Their daughter Lilian Mabel Wiber was born in 1885, and the family appear on the 1891 census occupying two rooms in the same house, 70 Melbourne Street, as Alice’s father, James Blake, her mother and three brothers and one sister, who occupy the other four rooms. By 1901, Alice’s brothers and sister have left home, and John is away at sea. He was the donkeyman on board the Solent, which was in Sunderland on the night of the census, the master having been given the schedule to fill in when they were at Barry Dock on 24 February. John was at sea again in 1911, on the Hampshire in Wellington Dock, Dover. Alice was by now at 52 Princes Street, living with her widowed father and brother Robert. Lilian had married John Mclean in 1901, and by 1911 they were living at 108 Princes Street with their six children.
J. W. Wiber appears in the “National Roll of the Great War” for Southampton, which says “He volunteered in 1914, and was posted to SS Hampshire in which ship he served in the English Channel. He was chiefly engaged in conveying coal to France and Belgium and did much good work until discharged in 1916. He holds the General Service and Mercantile Marine War Medals.” John was 62 when he was discharged.
In 1921, John and Alice are living in two of the six rooms at 52 Princes Street, with Lilian and nine of her children living in the other four rooms. John Alexander Mclean, aged 15, is boarding with his grandparents.
John Wiber died in 1926, and Lilian Mabel Mclean in 1927. The 1939 register shows the widowed Alice J Wiber and her granddaughters Winefred, Lily and Ruth McLean at 52 Princes Street. Alice “Grandma to Princes Street” died in 1943.
The War Shrine was still visible on the front of 52 Princes Street when the Borough Engineer took his photographs of the streets that were cleared for the Northam Estate in 1956.

52 Princes Street in 1956, just before demolition.
The War Shrine can be clearly seen on the wall by the window.

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Remembering Southampton's war day by day

See Air Raids, World War 2

19 October 1942
Robert George Diffey, a National Fire Service messenger, died in the Royal South Hants Hospital from injuries received earlier that day in Totton. He was 17 years old.


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Sotonopedia last updated 11 November 2022

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