An Annual Bulletin about Local History and the Trust – Issue No. 53 November 2021
Residing in Langstone High Street and at Warblington from the late 1920s to the early 1940s, Dudley North served with the Royal Navy for nearly fifty years and can rightly be called a local resident.
He was born in November 1881 at Great Yarmouth into a family of military heritage. His father Roger Edward North (1846-1897) was a General who had served in Burma with the Royal Artillery. Grandfather Charles Napier North (1816-1869) was a Colonel in the 60th rifles, decorated for his roles in both the siege and the relief of Lucknow, India.
Roger North, Dudley’s father, actually encouraged him to join the Navy where he initially served on HMS Powerful and HMS Terrible. Dudley was described as a
Lieutenant in the 1911 census living at 10 Somerset Place, Stoke, Devonport with his wife Eglantine née Campbell whom he had married in 1909 at Sydney, Australia. In 1917 she died without issue in London, aged 29.
Dudley North saw action at Heligoland
Bight, Dogger Bank and Jutland during World War I, initially as First Lieutenant and later Commander of the battle cruiser HMS New Zealand. After the Great War North commanded HMS Caledon and HMS Tiger.
In 1924 Dudley married Eileen Flora Graham at Charminster, Dorset. Daughter Susan was born at Langstone Towers, High Street, Langstone in 1925. Other children – Roger, Mary and Elizabeth – were also local. The latter was an accomplished author whose eight novels included Least and Vilest Things (1971) and Ancient Enemies (1986).
Captain North was residing in the former Warblington Castle with his wife and family in 1930 when he hosted the Church Pageant and took a leading role as Henry VIII. Four years after the pageant Dudley North held the post of Vice Admiral commanding the Royal Yacht, HMY Victoria and Albert III.
During this period North befriended the Prince of Wales who became King Edward VIII. Local historian, the late John Reger maintained that North is likely to have hosted the abdicating King briefly during his clandestine journey to Paris via Portsmouth in December 1936.
As World War II approached Vice Admiral North was in charge of the Royal Squadron for the Royal Yacht on an official visit to the United States (7-12 June 1939) and Canada (17 May-3 June, 12-15 June 1939). His diplomatic skills were tested to the limit.
Three weeks after the start of Britain’s entry into the Second World War in 1939, a register of the population took place. The information obtained included the names, addresses, occupations and dates of birth of everyone in the population of England and Wales except active servicemen not on leave. Since Vice Admiral Dudley North was listed as residing at Warblington Castle one assumes he was on leave.
This snapshot survey was employed to produce identity cards, issue ration books, administer conscription and direction of labour, and to monitor and control the movement of the population caused by military mobilisation and mass evacuation. After the war it was used to help set up the National Health Service records in 1948. The 1939 Register was designed to capture the details of every member of the civilian population on a specific date. It contains details of around 40 million people, recorded in more than 65,000 volumes (transcript books).
Soon after Britain declared war on Germany
Admiral North found himself in charge of Gibraltar. On 9th December 1940 he was relieved of his command, controversially. It was alleged that he had failed to challenge a Vichy French Naval Squadron of six warships passing through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Atlantic. The arrival of these ships at Dakar on the West African coast frustrated
the capture of this port by an Allied attack and a catastrophe ensued.
Admiral North was put in an invidious position by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Dudley North did not know of the planned attack on Dakar but had orders not to interfere with any French naval force unless it was sailing to a German-held port. At a time of great peril the War Cabinet and Admiralty dared not admit their blunder. North was the scapegoat in this tragic episode. He was summarily dismissed from his post of Flag Officer Commanding North Atlantic Station, based in Gibraltar. North returned home in disgrace, blamed for the errors of others.
Admiral North had previously narrowly escaped replacement because of his opposition to the attack on Mers-el-Kébir near Oran on the Algerian coast in July 1940. This action by the British on the French was designed to neutralise the French Fleet, part of Operation Catapult. Potentially an aggressive act of war, it was actually intended to prevent the fleet being controlled by the German Navy in the aftermath of the Battle of France. Nearly 1300 French sailors were killed at Mers-elKébir, mostly when the battleship Bretagne sank after a shell hit its ammunition store. Five other warships were damaged. The Vichy French eventually scuttled their own ships at Toulon on 27th November 1942 to counteract the Nazi Operation Lila which was thwarted.
After this sorry incident the Norths left Warblington and moved near Beaminster in Dorset, from where Eileen hailed. Around Christmas 1942 Dudley received instruction from the Admiralty to take command of the naval base of Great Yarmouth and environs, the most easterly part of England incessantly subjected to air raids. He was not exonerated but it is clear the Admiralty respected him as a leader without reversing their decision.
North was refused an inquiry or court martial, even when the war was over. King George VI and Earl Mountbatten of Burma sympathised. Although he fought to clear his reputation with support from historians, Members of Parliament and five Admirals of the Fleet, Dudley North was never completely vindicated until well after his death in May 1961.
The jettison of Admiral Sir Dudley North is described in detail in the book A Matter of Expediency by Charlotte and Denis Plimmer, published by Quartet Books in 1978.
“To my daughter Leonora, without whose never failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.”
To dear Buddy (Baldwin King-Hall, Headmaster of Emsworth School)
“We have been friends for 18 years. A considerable proportion of my books were written under your hospitable roof. What will be the verdict of Posterity on that? The fact is, I have become rather superstitious about dedications. No sooner do you label a book with the legend: TO MY BEST FRIEND than X cuts you in Piccadilly, or you bring a lawsuit against him. There is a fatality about it. However, I can’t imagine anyone quarrelling with you, and I am getting more attractive all the time, so let’s take a chance.”
Writing about himself working for the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank:
“I was just a plain dumb brick. I proved to be the most inefficient clerk whose trouser seat ever polished the surface of a high stool. I was all right as long as they kept me in the postal department, where I had nothing to do but stamp and post letters, a task for which my abilities well fitted me, but when they took me out of there and put me into Fixed Deposits, the whisper went round Lombard Street, ‘Wodehouse is at a loss. He cannot cope’. If there was a moment in the course of my banking career where I had the foggiest notion of what it was all about I am unable to recall it. From Fixed Deposits I drifted to Inward Bills – no use asking me what Inward Bills are, I never found out – and then to Outward Bills and to Cash, always with a weak apologetic smile on my face and hoping that suavity of manner would see me through …”
On a Bank Holiday Monday in 1982 a group of young people aged between 8 and 15 years old stood in pouring rain in Emsworth Park playing drums, glockenspiels and flute as the last visitors to the Horticultural Show fled for their cars and homes whilst a few loyal family members watched and listened until the last notes of the final march faded away. Following a quick round of applause parents grabbed their shivering children and squelched homeward across the park. The Emsworth Marching Band had completed its first ‘gig’.
The son of a Royal Marine musician, Ken Mann was educated at a military school before following his own musical career in the Royal Artillery Band. Following retirement from the Army he became Emsworth’s park-keeper/groundsman and lived in the house in the park. He wanted to form a band – not for any self-indulgent reason but simply because he wanted youngsters to enjoy the making of music and the sense of being part of a group.
Membership would be open to those between the ages of about 8 and 21 irrespective of ability or knowledge. It would not be essential to have either a musical instrument or the ability to read music, but the willingness to learn to read music was essential. Loyalty to the band, especially on band practice nights, was also essential. However, he made it clear that education was the first priority; he did not expect attendance at band during periods of examination preparation.
Ken insisted that music was not out of the reach of anyone. Those without instruments would usually begin on cymbals. These people were not second-class citizens; they were part of a band whose members all played an equally important part. Mutual support was encouraged and those with the ability to play and to read music were expected to help others.
Recruiting, obtaining music and musical instruments plus giving group and individual tuition became Ken’s priorities. Early jobs like the Emsworth Show and playing in shopping centres helped pay for a practice hall. He took particular interest in those who could neither read nor play music. A simple, smart and relatively cheap uniform brought a sense of belonging and pride whilst the commencement of drill for marching and display encouraged discipline. The band grew in size, instrumentation and ability under Ken’s guidance. School fetes, town parades and static displays became regular weekend engagements, providing additional income. Whilst no rank structure existed within the band, a group of ‘seniors’ naturally evolved and began to take responsibility for aspects of band engagements and also looking after younger band members.
In 1988 Ken took the band to the country’s major youth band competition, the National Championships at the Royal Albert Hall. No selection of band members would take place; everyone had a right to take part. Competing in the most junior of the four classes they were Best Band in the class winning seven out of eight individual and section awards. Resultant publicity generated requests for the band to play at the Basketball Championships at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth; at a Portsmouth First Division football match at Fratton Park and in Portsmouth Guildhall supporting a concert by the Band of the Irish Guards and the Portsmouth Choral Society.
Following a request for help, two members of the Portsmouth Royal Marines Band came to teach the drummers how to master the rudiments and coordination necessary to improve their playing. These two men were impressed by the standard of the band, by Ken’s attitude and by everyone’s commitment.
The band went to the Royal Albert Hall in 1989 and entered the Championship Class winning Best Band and five out of the eight possible awards. A judge’s comment endorsed Ken’s philosophy of never rearranging music to make it easier. He wrote, “Adult marches with no concession made for youth – well coped with’’.
A month later the band led one of the four processions at the famous Lewes Fireworks Parade. The Gulf War crisis had forced the withdrawal of the military band that should have led this. The Emsworth band received the call for help only six hours before the parade stepped off!
The following year (1990) the band entered the National Class and won it, becoming Supreme National Champions. They were then invited to perform on the children’s premier television programme, ‘Blue Peter’.
Ken then decided to change the band from a marching band to a concert band. No personnel were lost, all being incorporated into the Concert Band. More challenging music was played; this encouraged more mature players to join who then shared their knowledge and skills with the younger members, and so the cycle continued.
Co-operation with members of the Royal Marines Band Service encouraged an interest in enlistment. Over the next few years, one band member joined the Royal Navy, two joined the Royal Marines Band Service, one joined the Royal Air Force and several joined the Army.
From 1992 the band gave regular concerts in the Emsworth area, including two each year in St James’ Church. These events attracted more musicians to the band. Recognising that the standard of the band was approaching the limit of his musical and directorial ability Ken began the search for someone to replace him. With a new director in place Ken then settled into a regime of playing whatever instrument was required and also, when required, conducting.
In 2011 Ken decided to retire from the band to spend more time with family, and also playing golf with friends. The band continued practising and performing until it became a victim of Covid restrictions. Group practice has now restarted. The original Emsworth Marching Band was formed for the benefit of youngsters in a way that current, and necessary, regulation would not allow. The young people who had that unique opportunity will surely look back on that period with great pride and pleasure.
The article below first appeared in Shorelines, Issue 19, Aug-Sept 2016, and concerns Owen Gape who, when still a young teenager back in 1944, witnessed a collision between a Wellington bomber and a Mosquito fighter over Chidham. The Mosquito plane crashed in Brook Meadow and that side of the story was featured in The Emsworth Echo for 2020. Cathy got in touch and related what happened to the Wellington bomber. Here, in Owen’s own words (transcribed by Cathy) is his personal description of what happened:
I witnessed a dramatic incident that occurred in 1944, 72 years ago. I was then 14 years old, and lived on Main Road, Southbourne, opposite the Harvest Home… now long gone. I was a member of the Southbourne Sea Scouts and spent many hours either in or under the waters of Chichester harbour.
During the evening of 8th February 1944, I decided to go for a walk round the sea bank of Prinsted bay. In those days there was a gate across the end of the lane leading to the bay, and just inside the gate the army had built a hut in the grounds of what is now the Sea Scouts centre. They had a small lorry, an anti-aircraft gun and a search light. On this evening they were away, and I didn’t see anyone around.
I walked westwards towards Thorney Island, where there was an RAF base, but there was no activity there that evening. Eventually, I turned round and walked back towards the gate. Still, no-one about, but I did see my friend Cyril Mapley (thought to be aged 8 at the time). He lived in a small cottage at the end of the lane just before the gate, which was a local checkpoint.
We stood at the gate chatting. It was about 8.10 pm and starting to get dark. We could hear aircraft overhead but took no notice because we knew the engine sounds belonged to ‘our’ planes — the German engines had a different sound.
Within a few minutes we heard a loud crash in the air. Looking up we couldn’t immediately see anything. Until eventually we saw what looked like the rear end of a large bomber, it was floating down, going round and round like a sycamore ‘wing’. As far as we could see the tail plane looked intact, which probably enabled it to spiral down rather than plunge.
The tide was out, and we watched the tail end fall into the mud, just inside the ‘Cuts’, a large bank once built across the bay to reclaim land lost to the sea. Realising that the rear gunner was probably still in the tail plane, Cyril decided to go out over the mud to look, and I went with him.
We knew the mud well, but it still took us some time to get to the wreck. When we reached it, the mud looked like a saucer and the tail plane looked in a right mess, all twisted and crushed, so despite pulling and pushing we could not get in. We needed something to cut away at the fuselage, so I went back to the shore edge to try and find a hacksaw.
By then the soldiers had returned and I told them what we had seen. We found a hacksaw and they asked if the searchlight would help to illuminate the wreck. So, they brought the dynamo-powered searchlight on to the shore and aimed it at the wreck. Although the sea bank obscured the light beams, as I returned to the plane it did help to light the scene with a glow above our heads.
We were now able to cut and shove our way into the rear of the tail plane turret, but we could not pull the gunner out. His foot,
I think it was his left one, was jammed into the squashed ribs of the bomber.
Cyril had a good idea, and unzipped the gunner’s boot and was able to get the man’s foot out. He was free and I held his hand, and it was still warm. In my young innocence I knew that dead people were cold, so, as this hand was warm, to me he was still alive.
We then had another problem — how to get the gunner back to the shore. Thinking a stretcher would help, once again I made my way over the mud back to the shore. By then a crowd had gathered to watch the scene.
The soldiers gave me a stretcher from their lorry. It was a standard wartime-issue one, a large oblong of canvas with the side rolled up and stitched to a long pole either side. I carried it back over the mud on my shoulder, being very careful not to get it muddy, but back at the wreck Cyril, to my horror, flopped it down on the mud!
I haven’t the faintest idea how we got the gunner on to the stretcher. Brute force, I imagine. We both took an end of the stretcher poles and dragged it over the mud. It took us a while, but we got there.
Waiting for us on shore was a man with a stethoscope, a doctor I imagine, maybe from the RAF base on Thorney. He knelt down and examined the gunner, whose hand I was holding again. It was still warm. But the doctor suddenly looked at me and said, “This man is dead.”
I burst into tears. I am not a hero.
Memorial plaques recording the crash can be seen at Southbourne Sea Scout HQ and also at Brook Meadow in Emsworth.
After the war ended Owen went on to join the RAF and, after only five hours training, went solo in a Tiger Moth. After he left the service, Owen joined the police in Brighton, but was at one time stationed at Southbourne, where he often had occasion to visit the RAF base down on Thorney Island.
The citation states:
This plaque overlooks the site where on 8th February 1944 a Wellington bomber collided with a Mosquito fighter bomber resulting in the loss of both crews.
Two scouts from 1st Southbourne Sea Scout Group received awards for bravery for assisting with the rescue attempt.
The rear gunner was Sgt William (Bill) Varley aged 21, not much older than Owen Gape. Bill Varley was a member of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and is buried in St Helen’s Cemetery, Merseyside. Two other members of the crew, N C Jones and J Riddell are interred in graves by St Nicholas Church, Thorney Island. The Wellington bomber had a crew of five men.
Saturday, 16th October 2021 was an auspicious day for Emsworth’s Community Pottery, the Hole in the Wall Group. Fifty years after its inception the Group’s home was renamed the Clive Yeomans Pottery by Clive’s daughter, Claire.
Clive, who died last year, was an Emsworth institution. He had set up the pottery along with John Hampshire in 1971 and was involved with it over the next 50 years as a builder, fundraiser, publicist, negotiator, teacher, trustee, and potter.
It all began when the local Rector, Rev. David Partridge, and the Church Council were looking for someone to organise and run an artistic group for 8- to 14-year-olds in the Parish Hall. Crafts mentioned were painting, macramé, linocut printing and pottery. Clive pointed out that pottery was a messy business, and that the equipment needed such as heavy kilns and pottery wheels required permanent fixings. A special building was needed. Much to Clive’s surprise a week later, the Rector knocked on Clive’s front door and invited him to “Come and have a look” at a building he had found.
The dilapidated brick building was in a landlocked area bounded by shops and offices, the churchyard, and St James’ Church School. The only access was through the school playground. The area was like a bombsite: junk and weeds outside, rotten doors, broken windows, unsafe roof within; the debris list was endless. However, it was for sale for £500. The building was originally built as a stable in 1899, then used as a bakery and latterly as an artist’s studio in the 1960s.
Those youngsters hoping to join the youth group registered an interest. The would-be group got its name from the holes in the walls of the building and from the popular film of the time Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, both of whom were members of ‘The Hole In The Wall Gang’.
Clive became a fundraiser. Small amounts of money began to trickle in and a highly successful Autumn Fayre was held. By September nearly £200 had been raised but it was not enough. The Fayre had been well publicised and as a result, Mr Humphries of Hayling Island saw a write-up in the Portsmouth News and donated the whole £500. Now they had enough to purchase the land. Legal possession was granted in June 1972.
While awaiting planning permission, fundraising continued with competitions, a disco, coffee mornings and suppers. Over £200 was raised by modelling one fundraising activity on the Boy Scout bob-a-job week. Clive commented, “never before in Emsworth have shoes been so clean, gardens clear of weeds, shopping done with enthusiasm and poor dogs walked until they dropped with exhaustion”.
The first objective once planning permission was granted was to stabilise the building. Access was difficult and it was agreed that the movement of building materials should take place out of school hours. Several Emsworthians contributed not just cash but labour. Many visited the site and came back in old clothes to clear the rubbish and the weeds, others offered expert help as plumbers, builders, and electricians.
There was great enthusiasm for the project. One day a bonfire was started, and a sofa thrown on the fire. Unfortunately, the sofa was full of latex rubber and the heat became intense. A hose was used to dampen the inferno, water coming from the boys’ toilets in the school. Someone suggested calling the Fire Brigade but luckily one of the helpers was a part-time fireman and he said that the fire was coming under control thanks to the constant deluge of water.
One of the conditions for use of the site was the erection of a six-foot-high security fence. One hundred and twenty-five foot of fencing was needed. A wine and cheese event was held and invitees were asked to ‘Buy a Foot of Fence’. Within 20 minutes all the lots were sold. Lord Bessborough donated the wood from his sawmills which also bought the cost down.
The building lacked all services – electricity, water, and sewerage. Electricity came first but how to get water and sewerage. Then a water pipe was discovered while digging fence post holes. It had probably been put in when the building was first constructed in 1899. New pipes and valves were installed, and the pottery had water. Now the building work began in earnest and many children as well as Mums and Dads came to help. Professionals also gave their expertise, time, and materials and by the summer of 1973 the pace of the rebuild and the fundraising was accelerating. Lights were fitted, toilets and cloakroom built, walls rendered and then in September, yet another benefactor appeared. Not content with doing some painting, he also provided two electric heaters.
Fitting out and decorating continued until in October 1973 all was ready and the first session with the youth group could begin. So many youngsters were interested that three groups were held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. The workbench was divided into two sections with a partition in between. On one side was clay work while on the other the original range of craft activities had been expanded to include candle making and model aircraft. It soon became obvious that too many activities were taking place in such a small space, and it was decided that the group should concentrate on making ceramics and stone and gem polishing for jewellery making.
In the pottery today
Other problems arose. For instance, which clay was best to use? The group had been using red earthenware clay and that clay stained clothes and did not wash out well!
It was decided to use a reasonably priced stoneware clay which could be washed or brushed out of clothing. The drawback was that the glaze firing had to be done at a higher temperature of 1220˚C to 1260˚C but that turned out not to be a huge expense.
By March 1974 such was the interest that sessions for adults were also started. The school moved to a new site in Bellevue Lane and the idea of a Community Centre on the site was first mooted. A fire at the new school in 1980 meant that the children relocated back to their old classrooms until the school was rebuilt.
The group flourished throughout the 1980s. Craft pottery is a great hobby: the different designs, the decoration, glazing and firing all contribute to a never-ending adventure. You are never too sure what will come from the kiln firing.
In the 1990s interest began to diminish, equipment needed renewing, finances were low and the group became smaller and smaller. By the end of the 20th century, though, the refurbishment was almost complete, and interest had begun to pick up.
In 2011 Clive was 70 and the pottery 40 years old. He looked back over those years and decided to write a book, “A Hole in the Wall, A personal account of Emsworth’s Community Pottery”. The book was published in 2013 and all the material in this article came from that book. There are no longer specific classes for children, but school children often visit for morning sessions.
As Clive said, pottery is great fun, and his legacy is the work that is still being created in the newly renamed Clive Yeomans Pottery.
GP in Emsworth, 1983 to 2014
I finally retired from being a doctor in 2015 at the age of 60 and looked forward to a retirement of travel and leisure. I certainly did not believe I would ever practice medicine again and the Covid-19 pandemic was a surprise for everyone. In April 2020, all doctors who had retired in the previous five years were written to by the General Medical Council and advised that unless we objected, we were back on the register as licensed GPs under emergency Covid powers.
In the early days, no one was really sure what would happen and although intensive care units were under extreme pressure, the NHS coped and did not need either retired doctors or the large, planned Nightingale hospitals. In fact, GPs seemed to be less busy during the early stages of the pandemic as most consultations were on the telephone and everyone tried not to use medical services unless essential.
In December 2020 a key change in dealing with Covid appeared. I took my 99-year-old father Michael, a naval veteran of the Second World War, to be the first person in the Southeast and, for a time, the oldest person in the world to Queen Alexandra Hospital for his first Covid-19 vaccination. There was due ceremony. He was vaccinated by the chief nurse and was then interviewed by the press and TV. Dad encouraged everyone to follow his example and have the jab.
Just before Christmas, the Emsworth vaccination centre opened in the Baptist Church chosen because it provided plenty of space, car parking and transport links. With some apprehension, many retired doctors and nurses decided that their turn had now come to be useful – myself and my ex-GP wife Caroline included. We have now vaccinated (as of June 2021) 44,000 people at the church and have a wonderful team spirit with returned and active doctors, returned and active administration staff and amazing volunteers. Our volunteers make the clinic run smoothly by helping at receptions, directing those to receive vaccines, supervising the post immunisation wait following Pfizer vaccine and possibly the bravest job when we were vaccinating the oldest cohort was to supervise the parking of drivers in their 90s.
We have been able to vaccinate about 1000 people a day in the Baptist Church – definitely enough to have a real impact on the disease locally. At the moment, with discussion of a third dose for the most vulnerable and vaccination of teenagers, there is no end in sight. I have found it a fulfilling occupation.
Dr Tibbs added: The pleasure of meeting old friends from when I was in practice, the feeling of being useful and recalling medical knowledge which does not seem to have completely left my brain when called upon for advice was very rewarding.
The article below was first published in The Emsworth Echo in November 2003, Issue 34. Southleigh House has again been in the news in 2020/2021 over the controversial plans to fell 100 trees on the estate which is earmarked for housing development. The house is a hidden Emsworth gem which is not visible to the passerby.
Southleigh Park (Map Ref. SU E737 N 080) lies in the extreme north-west border of Emsworth Parish. The mansion is bounded on the North by Barton’s Road, to the East by the B2148 and to the West by Eastleigh Road. Today, the house and garden cover a mere 15 acres, but one can glimpse the parkland studded with mature trees from Eastleigh Road.
In 1820, a Mr Charles Short must have realised the potential of a dairy farmhouse that had views to Langstone Harbour and the Isle of Wight. He purchased the house, called it Woodlands, and made extensive alterations, constructing a house built of brick, with dressed flint, in castellated style. The house is not visible from any road, as effective screens of shrubs and trees were planted many years ago, but the Lodge on the Horndean Road, at the Barton’s Road junction, is an imitation of the large house.
Charles Short was a barrister of considerable repute. His daughter, Emily, was born in 1793 and became the third wife of the Reverend William Norris, Vicar of Warblington. His son, Augustus, who was born on the Feast of St Barnabas in 1802, founded the Cathedral in Adelaide, Australia and was installed as the first Bishop. He remained there for 34 years. He retired in 1881 and died in 1883. In Warblington churchyard, the distinctive pink tomb of Augustus, his wife Millicent, and unmarried daughter, Isabella Emily, nestles in a north-east corner of the outer wall of the church. The tomb bears a Bishop’s mitre, a crook and two stars which may indicate the Southern Cross. Next to it lies the slab tomb of Charles Short and his wife, Grace.
At the time of Charles Short’s death in 1838, Woodlands was one of the largest estates in the neighbourhood. The next owner was Lancelot Arthur Burton who purchased the property in 1840 and lived there for 10 years. He altered the interior.
In December 1850, Henry Spencer bought it but let the house and lived in Woodlands Cottage. In 1870 the garden contained not only a vinery but also a Camellia House, Banana House and Orchid House. The gardens and surrounding park now amounted to 55 acres, and boasted walks known as Havant Walk and Emsworth Walk. Henry Spencer died in 1875 aged 57 and is also buried in Warblington Cemetery.
Henry Spencer’s widow sold the house, set in 312 acres, to a Mr Barkworth in 1889. The latter lived there for only four years but changed the name to Southleigh Park. It was during Mr Barkworth’s ownership that the Water Tower was built. His initials were on an ornamental tablet above an inscription: Nihil Quod tetigit non Ornavit (He touched nothing without adorning it).
In 1903, or possibly 1905, the house was sold to Sir Woolmer White of Salle Park, Norfolk. Sir Woolmer, first baronet, was the son of Major Timothy White (of Timothy White, a chain of chemist’s shops).
Sir Woolmer was Justice of the Peace, High Sheriff of Norfolk, and a County Councillor for Hampshire. He donated £55,000 to the Royal Portsmouth Hospital. The sale notice of 1903 describes the mansion as situated in a good residential neighbourhood in “Capital Hunting and Shooting District. The house has a due South aspect enjoying lovely land and sea views extending to the Isle of Wight”. It then had 20 bed and dressing rooms, two bathrooms and several water cisterns. At the time of the sale the estate comprised some 356 acres. The gardens contained ‘ornamental water’ and a rustic bridge. The Pump house, with its engine connected to a deep well, ensured that the house had its own water supply. Sir Woolmer was regarded as a stern but fair employer. Kathleen Grant was a maid in service at Southleigh Park, 1926-1930, and she describes Sunday attendance at Warblington Church as mandatory, walking in both directions. On Sunday afternoons she and other staff waited under the clock tower for 4 pm to strike. She then walked home to Bedhampton, returning by the same means to parade again at 7 pm.
Sir Woolmer White’s elder son was killed in the First World War, and the choir vestry in St Faith’s Church, Havant, was erected in his memory by Sir Rudolph Dymoke White, the second son. Sir Dymoke succeeded his father in 1931 and moved into Southleigh Park in 1934 after a fire and modernisation.
Derek Parker, the last farm manager, told me that the estate comprised some 520 acres in Sir Woolmer White’s time, which included Mays Coppice Farm. In 1963, the tenant at Locks Farm surrendered his tenancy and the farm was “taken in hand” making 640 acres of agricultural land in all. In addition, there were 500-600 acres of woodland. On certain Sundays in spring some of the woodland was opened to the public to pick bluebells and this was enthusiastically supported.
Sir Dymoke White was generous in an undemonstrative way. He donated to his old school, Cheltenham College, paid for the restoration of Salle Church in Norfolk, and gave to local charities. Lady White was a keen supporter of the British Red Cross, particularly during the Second World War.
Sir Dymoke was Conservative MP for Fareham 1939-50, High Sheriff of Hampshire, County Alderman, and Justice of the Peace. His great passion was for horses, and he used them on the farms up to the Second World War. After an absence from home his first visit was to the stables to inspect the horses. During his time in Westminster, he succeeded in getting a Private Member’s Bill through on ‘The Docking and Nicking of Horses (1949)’ to prevent this treatment of horses and the importation of horses so treated. Sir Dymoke was often seen driving his coach and four along the lanes, training for the Coaching Marathons at the Agricultural Shows.
Both Janet Searle and Joan Phillips, in their oral history tapes (available at the Museum) mention the coach with its bay horses parading through Emsworth. In 1962 he won the Coaching Marathon at the Royal Windsor Show for the second year in succession. He collapsed in May 1968 with the reins in his hands as he entered the ring at the Aldershot Show and died soon after.
After his death his coachman, Arthur Showell, went to the Royal Mews to become
Head Coachman to the Queen. Some of Sir Dymoke’s carriages went to the Carriage Museum in Maidstone, Kent and others to Arlington Court, a National Trust property in Devon.
In 1969 there was a large sale of the contents of the mansion and the house was sold to Plessey Electronics. The Museum has a good aerial photograph from that period, showing a helicopter pad in the garden.
Since 1994 it has been owned by Snell and Wilcox, who describe their work as ‘the design and manufacture of Image Processing Plant’. This company owns the former mansion and the immediate garden only.
The owners of the remaining land are the Trustees of the Southleigh Park Settlement.
The walled gardens, conservatories and water tower have all been demolished. The house and lodge are listed Grade Two by English Heritage.
A History of Woodlands. Later known as Southleigh, by J E Bury.
Havant Museum, HAVANT HOUSES: Southleigh House.
Southleigh Park. Anne Wellstead. Hampshire Garden Trust. Mr Derek Parker. Conversation.
The Guides and Brownies moved their Headquarters from the Central Hall to the Council Offices, North Street, Emsworth. The yearly rental for the large room on the top floor of the Offices and the Committee Room was £5.
Now home to Emsworth Museum
“A nice guy” Bob Smyth
“A lovely man, I feel privileged to have known him” Sarah Long née Tier.
“a customer and friend”, “a private man”, “a wonderful sense of humour”
This is the man whom many Emsworthians knew when he made his home here in retirement with his third wife, Pene. To the world at large, he was a marvellous dramatic actor with great presence whose successful career in theatre, film and television spanned almost 60 years.
Albert Finney was born in Salford, Lancashire on 9th May 1936 to Alice and Albert Finney. His father was a bookmaker and Finney never abandoned his working-class roots. “It’s part of you,” he later said. “It’s in the blood really.”
Finney acquired a taste for acting while studying at Salford Grammar School and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) where fellow students were Peter O Toole, Frank Finlay, and Tom Courtnay. He worked first with Birmingham Repertory Theatre before moving on to the Old Vic and the National Theatre.
Throughout his working life, Finney moved seamlessly between films, television, and stage performances. He came to prominence in the early 60s as one of the ‘angry young men’. His breakthrough came with his portrayal of a disillusioned factory worker in the film version of Alan Sillitoe’s play Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. It also earned Finney the first of 13 Bafta nominations (he won two), this one for best British actor. Throughout his career, Finney received several awards. His rugged good looks, powerful frame and resonant voice made him a bankable star.
Finney is perhaps best remembered in those early years for performances in the Academy award-winning film Tom Jones (1963), and as Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express (1974).
While being known for his dramatic roles, Finny sang in two musical films: Scrooge and the film version of Annie. Later he began to specialise in more flamboyant characters. There was the fading actor-manager in The Dresser, opposite Tom Courtenay, which gained him another Oscar nomination. He also received nominations for Under the Volcano in 1984 (“a drunk act to end all drunk acts”, said one critic) and the 2000 film Erin Brockovich.
He never lost his love of the theatre performing in plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Beckett amongst others. His last stage appearance was in 1997 in Art written by Yasmina Reza.
As he aged, Finney appeared in two of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne movies and played the lovably gruff Scotsman Kincade in Skyfall, one of his final roles. A lovable bluff character was also portrayed in the television series My Uncle Silas, based on short stories by H E Bates.
In 2001, he was given BAFTA’s Academy Fellowship award, which has been compared to a lifetime achievement Oscar. One year later, he won an Emmy for his critically acclaimed portrayal of Winston Churchill in the BBC-HBO telefilm The Gathering Storm. He switched seamlessly between brash roles, such as when he played Winston Churchill, and performances of great wit, charm and elegance.
After a diagnosis of kidney cancer he mainly disappeared from public view which is when the people of Emsworth came to know him. He quietly supported many causes and will be remembered for his kindness, friendliness and love of football.
Local historian, Bob Smyth, recalled “As well as being a great actor, Albert was a nice guy. At my late mother’s 99th birthday lunch…., taking in the nature of the celebration he came to the table and gave her a hug – which made her day. The least luvvie of actors, at his usual table in the Blue Bell with his wife Pene, he chatted to all and sundry.”
“Albert Finney was one of the loveliest customers we had (at R A Tier and Son). You would never know he was famous, he was always so kind and friendly to everyone. I feel privileged to have known him x x”
Sarah and all the staff.
These three earthworks acted as supplementary defence to the main fortifications constructed on Portsdown Hill between 1861 and 1870. Forts Wallington, Nelson, Southwick, Widley and Purbrook can lay claim to being the greatest British peacetime fortification construction costing many millions of pounds and several human lives. It generated much debate and assessment as to their necessity and their effectiveness. In brief, the main advocate of the project, designed to improve the country’s defences and especially those of its predominant naval and military port, Portsmouth, was none other than Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston (1784-1865).
Since 1815, following the French defeat at the Battle of Waterloo ending the Napoleonic Wars, a groundswell of opinion had grown in this country believing that the French would avenge this great reverse at some point. Periodically, this level of belief was raised, sometimes almost to fever pitch, depending on the fluctuating political situation both here and in France and the amount of acerbic comment in the newspapers. Further concerns came with the seizure of power in 1848 by Bonaparte’s nephew Louis Napoleon as Napoleon III (1808-1873) and growing French naval strength. Could the Royal Navy, the country’s first line of defence, halt a French invasion before it had even made land? Whatever Palmerston’s thoughts on the Navy were, he believed that it was fallacious to rely on it alone and thus, in his capacity as Prime Minister at this time, between 1859-1865, he set up, through his Secretary of State for War, Sidney Herbert (1810-1861) a Royal Commission to assess the Defences of the United Kingdom.
Their 1860 report recommended nationwide improvements to cost £10.3 million of which Portsmouth’s upgrade would account for £2.8 million.
The purpose of the line of five forts was to prevent an enemy, having routed the Royal Navy and landed forces and artillery in strength nearby, from utilizing the heights of Portsdown to bring artillery fire to bear on Portsmouth Dockyard. With smooth-bore artillery, the range involved was too great, but the game-changer was rifled artillery and the adoption into British service in early 1859 of William Armstrong’s system. The authorities must have known that the French were at the same stage of development with their rifled artillery, the Système La Hitte. Achieving a range of five miles with relative accuracy was now possible and other closer Portsea Island targets such as the Hilsea Lines and Gatcombe Park, purchased to house the Royal Artillery in 1854, inviting.
The five forts designed by the Royal Engineers were of the polygonal style characterised by an ability to provide overwhelming fire from rampart guns, ditch defence afforded by guns in caponiers and even a degree of local defence within the forts should they be stormed. Additionally, the forts were positioned in close enough proximity to provide a degree of covering fire for its neighbour. Strong though this arrangement was, land attack from the east remained concerning. An enemy might land in the Bracklesham Bay area for example, head inland and attack Fort Purbrook from the north-east thrusting down between Havant and Purbrook along a line roughly occupied by the present day A3. Alternatively, or perhaps even additionally, outflanking the forts with a drive along the coast south of Havant along the line of the railway. These three redoubts were proposed to negate these threats.
Both the redoubt at Crookhorn (grid reference SU 680070) and at Farlington (grid reference SU 687065) were no more than 800 yards apart. The former, started in 1862, lay around 650 yards to the north of Fort Purbrook and was apparently connected with it via a subterranean tunnel. Its design was a four-sided structure with a proposal for fifteen guns on the ramparts in horseshoe arrangement covering all points of the compass except to the south and six guns assigned for ditch defence in two caponiers. The latter, most likely started at the same time and the same distance from Fort Purbrook, was a more complex six-sided trace with a proposal for eighteen guns on the ramparts covering all points of the compass except to the west and southwest. Langstone Redoubt (SU 692055) was a five-sided trace with eighteen guns proposed for the ramparts and possibly only rifle fire scheduled for wet ditch defence. The construction of this redoubt was never started: it was decided in 1868 that a less elaborate earthwork could be raised as soon as an attack was known.
The exact nature of the proposed artillery for Crookhorn and Langstone redoubts has not yet been discovered but the intention at Farlington’s redoubt was for eighteen, 64-pounder rifled muzzle-loaders, most likely conversions of old smooth-bore 32-pounders on the Palliser principle and on six-foot parapet carriages and slides. In 1876 fourteen were present but by 1891 only eight guns remained: five 64-pounder Rifled Muzzle Loaders of 71 cwt on the same carriages facing north, south-east and south; two of the same type but of 58 cwt, upon special carriages – the so-called Moncrieff Disappearing Gun facing north-east and one four-inch Breech Loading Gun on a six-foot parapet siege travelling carriage facing southeast.
Had all three redoubts been constructed and armed as originally intended there is no doubt that with Fort Purbrook as well, the eastern end of Portsdown packed a powerful punch. If the intention was to include the seven-inch Rifled Breech loading Armstrong Gun as it was at the other forts, then so much the better. The range of these guns was entirely dependent on the barrel elevation that the carriage would allow. Both 64-pounders at around 11 degrees elevation could send a 64 lbs common shell to a maximum range of 3,890 yards (2.2 miles) using an 8 lbs charge of Rifled Long Grain powder and the seven-inch Armstrong Gun at around 10 degrees elevation could send a 90 lbs common shell to 3,600 yards (2 miles) using an 11 lbs charge of the same powder. Neither these guns nor those of the main forts ever fired a shot in anger! The latter were not completed until 1871, ironically the same year the French suffered a heavy defeat in the Franco-Prussian war and the perceived threat from that quarter was never to be the same. But was it unfair to dub the scheme ‘Palmerston’s Folly’? Arguments can be made to support both viewpoints: ‘yes’, because of the massive amount of money it required and ‘no’, based on recent research showing that Napoleon III never had any intention of invading this country.
Philip A. Magrath, “The Artillery of the Portsdown Forts with special reference to Fort Nelson”, Arms & Armour Journal of the Royal Armouries, volume 17, issue 2 (2020), pp.178-197. Treatise on the Construction and Manufacture of Ordnance in the British Service, HMSO (London, 1879).
A. Strauss-Schom, The Shadow Emperor. A Biography of Napoleon III, Amberley (Stroud, 2018).
A. Temple Patterson, “Palmerston’s Folly – the Portsdown and Spithead Forts”, The Portsmouth Papers No.3, Portsmouth City Council (1967).
Whilst setting up the new display on ‘Self Sufficient Emsworth’, our research led us to a variety of occupations held by Emsworth residents over the years. Consulting sources such as census returns (the Museum has a selection on disk) and trade directories, we picked out some of the more varied and interesting trades. Who knew, for instance, that in 1841, Emsworth parish employed a ratcatcher? Overall, thirteen different trades are represented within the display case.
One of the more unusual occupations, however, was that of Jane King who in 1852 was contracted by the Government (Board of Ordnance) to supply handspikes. But what is a handspike? An early reference from 1734 describes Mr Smith, Carpenter of his
Majesty’s sloop the Hound taking up a Handspike and murdering the Quarter Master following a verbal dispute. Smith’s weapon of choice was a large, solid lever (typically made of elm or ash) used either at sea to alter the elevation of a large gun via the steps on the carriage cheeks or on land to move a mortar and bed (see image). Handspikes were sometimes tipped with a steel plate at the lower forward face to protect the wood.
They were readily available on ships and in garrisons where such equipment was a part of daily life.
Jane King can be found in the 1851 census living at King Street, Emsworth, with her daughter and grandchildren. Following her husband’s death, she had been making a living as a timber & coal merchant, and her success is evident in the fact that she was able to employ two local girls as servants. Jane had, in fact, almost certainly inherited the business from her husband John, whose family, having arrived in Emsworth in the mid-1780s, had founded the John King shipyard on what became King Street. An interesting story told about John King’s father is that when an attempt was made to Press Gang his men during the Napoleonic wars, he blockaded the shipyard until a safe conduct could be got from the Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth.
‘London’ Derby Mercury, 30 May 1734 p.3
1851 census, ‘King Street, Emsworth’, H.O.107
https://www.kovels.com/collectors-questions/ nunn-ships-lanterns.html https://thespring.co.uk/wp-content/ uploads/2021/06/f-no-6-a-short-history-of emsworth-and-warblington.pdf
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