Southampton School of Art was founded in 1855, partly due to the revival of interest in art following the Great Exhibtion in 1851. Its first home was in the Victoria Rooms on Portland Terrace, but when the Hartley Institution was opened in 1862 the school relocated to the Institution’s premises on the High Street. Among its early pupils were Hubert Herkomer and Edward John Gregory (both of whom became Royal Academicians), Rowland McFadden and George Washington Sandell, father of local historian Elsie Sandell.

A prolonged dispute between the school and the head of the Institution eventually led to the school relocating to the upper rooms of the Philharmonic Rooms on Above Bar Street. This accommodation, however, was too small and inadequate for the needs of an expanding school, and in 1908 new premises on Havelock Terrace (rented from the Southampton Savings Bank) were acquired (see clipping below). In 1925 the school was taken over by the local education authority, and in 1939 it moved into new premises next to the Art Gallery in the newly-built Civic Centre and renamed the College of Art.

On 6 November 1940 the Civic Centre art block was badly damaged in an air raid. The Principal of the School, Percival Moore, told the Southern Daily Echo: “The afternoon session was in progress when the raid began. I remained in my office, but many of the students and members of staff went to the air raid shelters in the corridors in the basement of the school. One class of senior students elected to go on working until gunfire was heard. Fortunately for them they did not go to the shelter, and so escaped… Immediately the explosions occurred I ran along the corridor leading the the shelters. It was full of blinding dust and choking fumes. Water pipes had burst, and the corridor was ankle deep in water.” (7 November 1940)
Mr W. Wood, foreman of the Art Gallery, was talking to one of the masters in a corridor when the air raid began, and he said he believed that discussion saved their lives. Like the school’s principal, and the Mayor, R N Sinclair, (who “injured his right hand slightly”), Mr Wood joined the rescue squads helping to move wreckage off victims. The work went on for many hours, bringing out survivors, but also those killed outright.
A class of fifteen girls from the Central District school had been taking a dressmaking class, together with full-time student Patricia Alison Ann Hine and mature student Olive Marjorie Bonwick, who both died.
Eleven students, girls aged 13 and 14, were killed on the day:
Eileen Margaret Bartlett
Pamela Georgina Blackford
Emily Nelly Boyd
Betty Irene Davies
Hilda Agnes Dick
Norah Christine Edson
Thelma Millicent Fry. Thelma was taken to the Royal South Hants Hospital, but died there the same day.
Brenda Frances Hambidge
Lilian Isabel Routledge
Freda Edwina Sheath
Violet Edith May Webb
Three members of staff were also killed:
Horace Clarence Harvey, ARCA, Vice Principal of the Art School. At his funeral, Mr Moore said he was “essentially the highly skilled craftsman … easy to work with, a complete gentleman, and an entirely loyal colleague… He was a sincere teacher, of wide and profound knowledge.” (Southern Daily Echo, 16 November 1940)
Iris Daisy Mercer, known as Daisy, head of the dress design department and embroidery mistress. She was buried at her home village of Kennington, nr Ashford, Kent, where she had been a member of the WI and the Amateur Dramatic Society. She studied at the Bromley Art School, passing her course with honours, “one of the first five for the whole of England. Miss Mercer was most talented, and did exquisite work.” (Hampshire Advertiser 16 November 1940)
Alice Muriel Mary Griffin, Dressmaking Mistress.

Two further people died at the Civic Centre that day:
Town Sergeant George Edwin Brown, who was patrolling the shelters beneath the school. He was the son of George Brown, a Hampshire cricketer (Hampshire Advertiser 16 November 1940). Representatives from the Art Gallery staff and the Town Sergeants were present at his funeral on Tuesday 12 November, at Hyde Church in Winchester.
One of the bombs wrecked the flat occupied by the superintendent of the building whose wife and daughter were just about to leave the flat to go to the shelter when the explosion occurred. The girl was thrown back into the flat and injured, but her mother Alice Lottie Grace Lanham was killed.

Three girls from Central District School died later at the Royal South Hants Hospital: Sheila Kathleen Stockwell died on 7 November,
and Esme Clarissa Calwood and Thelma Dorothy Edwards died 8 November.
There is a memorial in the Art Gallery lift lobby to the teachers and students of the Art School, and the others who died as a result if the bombing of the Civic Centre on 6 November 1940.

The school moved to Winchester for the remainder of the war.

In 1945 the college moved back to Southampton, initially to the Deanery School in Marsh Lane. In 1973 new premises were built on East Park Terrace next to the Technical College. In 1978 the College of Art and College of Technology merged to form Southampton College of Higher Education. In 1984 the School of Navigation, joined the College of Higher Education, which was renamed Southampton Institute of Higher Education in the same year. In 2005 Southampton Institute became Southampton Solent University.

After the air raid, 6 November 1940

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Newspaper clipping:

see also

Solent University


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