James Mason

When I think of the Victorian era, the images in my head are torn between the splendour of the architecture and grandeur of the upper classes, and the destitution and squalor of the poverty-stricken lower classes. Southampton in the Victorian age had both, from the impressive South Western Hotel that catered for society’s finest, to…

The Battle of Cobden Bridge

Cobden Bridge opened in 1883, and was built by the National Liberal Land Company (NLLC), who had just constructed the brand new Bitterne Park housing estate nearby. The bridge was named after Richard Cobden, the liberal politician who had died in 1865, and it linked the new estate with Southampton, spanning the River Itchen and…

William Mintram: Convicted killer on the Titanic

There were over five hundred households in Southampton that lost a family member or lodger when the Titanic sank in April 1912. The town had of course experienced maritime losses before, but nothing quite on this scale. For many poor families, ships like the Titanic provided much needed work and income, and this is why…

The Opening of the King George V Graving Dock

In 1927 construction had started on the new Western Docks, where 400 acres of land was reclaimed and a 1.4 mile long quay was created. At its most western point was to be a new dry dock, and when complete, it would be the largest in the world. The dock was actually complete in 1934,…

The 1837 Fire

I was walking down the High Street recently and stopped to look at Holyrood Church. I’ve been inside many times, but have never really stopped to look at the details on the outer walls of the bombed out ruins, upon which are displayed two memorial tablets dedicated to the memory of twenty two men who…

Frederick Fleet

Frederick Fleet reluctantly entered the public eye in 1912, on the fourth day of the United States Senate Inquiry in to the sinking of the Titanic. He confirmed his name, his place of residence, and his age. He then confirmed that he was a sailor, more specifically, a lookout man. Fred Fleet was the lookout…

The Slade Brothers’ Lucky Escape

On the morning of the 10th of April 1912, the area around Southampton Docks was abuzz with activity as people made final preparations for the maiden voyage of largest ship in the world. Workers signed on, passengers arrived, and a vast array of goods were loaded on to the ship that sat calmly at Berth…