The Southampton Skating Rink stood on the North side of the junction between Shirley Road and Janson Road 1910-1923.

It was a business venture cashing in on the roller skating craze: shares were sold as “an exceptional investment” and adverts highlighted the experience of the proposed managers. The plan was to acquire a “properly equipped, up-to-date Roller Skating Rink.” The original plan seems to have been to build the rink near the County Cricket Ground in Northlands Road.

Shares were reported as selling quickly, and by early January 1910 adverts were appearing for a “commodious roller rink in the Shirley Road” to be opened Wednesday 12 January 1910 by the Mayor of Southampton, C J Sharp. It had a “special spring floor of 2 in Canadian maple, bedded for smooth running and little sound,” there was a “luxurious cafe” and the Police Band played from the balcony. “Prof F Scott and Miss Gladys Ivy gave an exhibition of fancy skating.”

There was a regular programme of gala events: in the first year, there were Grand Fancy and Evening Dress Carnivals with prizes for prettiest or most comic costumes. Admission was 1s (5p), skates 1s. The “last of the season”, 1 June, started at 7.30, and culminated in a Grand Confetti Battle 11.30 to 12 o’clock. Between seasons, the rink was available to hire for concerts and private parties. The rink re-opened 31 August with a military band and the confetti battle, this time 10-12.

The Echo of 20 October 1910 advertised the rink’s perfect floor, competent instructors and best skates. Under new management, it was now possible to spend just 6d in total on skates and admission for a morning session (half the price of the afternoon and evening sessions)

The Grand Costume Carnivals were still being held in 1914, on the eve of the First World War, along with other events: political meetings and religious missions. However, the rink soon began to fulfil its most well-known purpose: as a transit camp for German prisoners of war. The International Red Cross published a postcard showing prisoners inside the building, and the Southampton and District Pictorial showed sightseers waiting outside the building 4 November 1914. Later that month, the Echo reported how the prisoners disturbed the neighbourhood with “impromptu concerts” dancing to a concertina until their boots on the bare floor (that special sprung floor) resembled “the tramp of a mighty army.” This was followed by the mass singing of hymns.

The building continued to be used by the Disposal Board until 3 January 1920, when it was one of several sites for the sale of surplus Army Huts and timber etc.
On the 17 January, the Southampton Skating Rink Ltd was calling a meeting of its creditors, setting in motion the winding-up of the company, completed in September 1921.

The Rink appears in the street directories 1910-1922, but after 1921 there is no sign that it was used for skating, only as a hall for hire for events. In January 1923, a William James "owner of the Skating Rink Shirley" was summoned for allowing gambling on the premises: the men who had run "a Derby race game, an aeroplane game and a spinning jenny in which prizes were awarded to winners" were ordered to pay costs. Mr James had stopped the games as soon as he was told they were illegal. The rink was sold in June 1923, although the Refreshment Bar was advertised as to let for a Christmas Carnival, 8 December 1923.

Skating Rink in Shirley Road

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Ordnance Survey Southampton Street map, 1919

Waiting for German POWS

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Southampton and District Pictorial, 4 November 1914


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