Throughout the running of the current exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum people get to choose their favourite items from the Portsmouth City Collection that are on show in A Hard Choice (you can see and read our preview of the exhibition HERE). Every month different items chosen by many visitors are given rosettes showing the current favourites. Strong Island, working with the Portsmouth Museums and Visitor Services (with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund), are asking over a dozen different people from around Portsmouth what their personal favourite items are in the exhibition and why.
To kick off this series of articles we met up with Mark Waldron, editor of The News, at Portsmouth City Museum and after a walk around he let us know what were his own Best in Show.
Hi Mark, what, in no particular order, are your three favourite items in the A Hard Choice exhibition?
The first object is a dead mole, a bit of a bizarre one to start with. I think a lot of people when they are younger they find dead animals and insects and your immediate thoughts are to pick it up, put it in a box and preserve it. A dead mole Rosalinda* found when she was 4 years old started off her fascination with conservation and got her in to curating. I just love that this mole is so different to everything else in the exhibition, there are a lot of historic parts to the exhibition but this tiny mole preserved from way back when is an incredible artefact that leapt out at me and caught my curiosity.
Next are the visiting cards from a certain Mr & Mrs Charles Dickens, it is the cards that they had when living in Tavistock House in London, which they occupied between 1851 and 1860. They are the actual cards they would have given out to guests at the time.
I think we celebrate and are proud of our links with Dickens and I think these really take you back to this man who is so pressed in to all our memories even 200 years later. These cards would have been in his wallet, in his pocket, and he would have been handing them out to the important guests that would have come to see him. The fact that they are preserved in this collection really adds to what Dickens is all about and what he means to this city.
This item is labelled Hippodrome Bomb and it is a bomb that fell in Portsmouth in 1941 but lay undiscovered until 1984 when there was work taking place at the Hippodrome Theatre in Guildhall Walk**. Some interesting ceramic tiles were found but suddenly everyone was evacuated because also found was this large unexploded bomb. Royal Engineers had to come in and did a controlled explosion and the remains of the bomb were donated to the collection.
So much of Portsmouth’s landscape changed during the war, obviously the city was a target of heavy German bombing. The Guildhall was destroyed and many parts of Portsmouth were changed forever. Just to see here as you walk in to the exhibition this massive bit of ordinance, the fact that it didn’t go off but you look at the size of it…what damage that would have caused…it is just an incredible reminder of what is a massive part of the history of our city.
If you could donate something from your own personal collection(s) or something else in the city or relates to the city…what would be good to add to the Portsmouth City Collection for future generations?
Growing up I was very heavily in to music and a place to be for a lot of touring bands at the time was the Guildhall. Most of the bands from the 80s would come down and I saw many great concerts down there like New Order, The Cure, The Jam, Depeche Mode…a lot of great nights out. We would get the bus from Cowplain, over Portsdown Hill in to the big city so it was always a big night out. I just remember being packed in to many concerts seeing the great bands at the time. So the tickets from those occasions, which bring back fantastic memories of growing up in a great city.
* Rosalinda Hardiman, who curated the A Hard Choice exhibition.
** The building was destroyed during the Portsmouth Blitz.
Don’t forget you can visit A Hard Choice exhibition and the rest of Portsmouth City Museum and other museums in the city for free the Easter and beyond. You can find out more about the museums and what activities are taking place at:
Democracy Street is a national interactive digital arts project designed to get broad public engagement and to encourage people to think about the role and importance democracy plays in our lives. Portsmouth based artist Jon Adams has been creating the project in collaboration with Si digital, who have developed a mobile application and accompanying website that everyone in the UK can use to find out about the history of our democracy and how it is hidden all around us in the names of our streets.
Drawing upon data from partners that include the National Portrait Gallery, The National Archives, History of Parliament Trust, and the Houses of Parliament themselves, it’s no coincidence that the project is released during a general election year – and is part of Parliament’s 2015 celebrations, centred on the 800 year anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta.
Democracy Street is a national collaborative arts project commissioned by the Speaker’s Art Fund and Arts Council England. Use the collaborative mobile app to help develop an Interactive Map to highlight the importance democracy plays in our lives.
The app is truly interactive, people can upload photos and go on journeys of discovery that will be validated by the award of Digital Badges representative of different stages of your engagement and learning within the project. The content of the interactive map will then form the basis of further artwork to be generated by Jon, and displayed in a series of exhibitions across the UK running from November 2015.
The mobile app and website go live to the general public at a launch event hosted by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, at the Houses of Parliament on March 26th. However, though the project is national, this is truly a Portsmouth based development drawing upon local talent to make it a reality.
Development Manager Joseph Cavalla has worked with Jon since the project’s inception, and together with Fratton Big Local they have engaged My Dog Sighs to run two Democracy Street themed ‘Free Art Friday’s’ taking place at Make and The Craft Kitchen in Fratton on March 12th and 13th. Head over to the Make website for more details and to book a place on one of the workshops, where you can beta test the app, contribute to the artwork, and get a preview of things to come on this incredible project.
You can find out more about Democracy Street on the website:
Collecting is something that goes way back to the early edges of the modern human psychology, a motivation to draw objects together that have a sense of meaning for the collector, that can illustrate aspects of an identity through representations of places and times past. Pretty much everyone has succumbed to the urge to collect at some stage in their life, be it stamps, stickers, shells, postcards, geology, fine art, sculpture and even aeroplane sick bags and My Little Pony. Beyond individuals, other groups create collections too, from small groups and trusts through to councils and right up to nation states. Portsmouth, like many other cities all over the UK and the World has its own collection of objects that represent its past, its culture and the people who have called it home.
The Portsmouth Collection began with the foundation of the Portsmouth museum service, established by order of the council back in 1892. The Victorians had a strong tradition of philanthropy which allowed the collection to grow from inception with people donating objects and art, the collection in essence owned by the then town (we became a city in 1927) and its people.
The collection was homed at The Market House & Guildhall on High Street in what is now Old Portsmouth, designed by Benjamin Bramble and opened on June 28th 1838. The building was the civic centre with council chambers plus an open market and even an early police station too. The building quickly ran out of space for city officials so the new Guildhall in Guildhall Square was opened in 1879. With this move the building became the city’s museum and home to the collection.
Market House and Guildhall by Calcott, published by Charpentier.
During the blitz in 1941, the city suffered with a huge loss of life and much of the city damaged and broken. On one air raid on the city the museum was bombed, with much of the city collection destroyed. Around 750 objects were saved from the destruction but it is impossible to know how much of the collection was lost as well as what these objects were specifically because all records were destroyed too. Only a handful of paintings were saved and some still show signs of burn damage. These objects that survived (to this day cataloged with ’S’ numbers to signify salvage) were the basis for a new museum service in 1945 with the end of the war.
Market House and Guildhall after the bombing.
From 1945 the museum service looked to acquire material relating to the history of Portsmouth and the natural history of the local area but also aimed to collect decorative art and modern British art. Under the theme of ‘The History of British Taste’ a national appeal was launched for donations to the collection from both individuals and organisations.
‘Outskirts of Portsmouth Dockyard’ charcoal drawing by W.H. Clarkson.
The Portsmouth City Collection 70 years later is now both vast in size and scope. The collection contains archaeology, art, literary history, local history, military history and natural science with many of the objects donated or bequeathed to the city. The collection can be viewed at the city’s different museums including: Portsmouth City Museum, Charles Dickens’ Birthplace, The D-Day Museum, Southsea Castle, Cumberland House Natural History Museum & Eastney Beam Engine House. Even with all of these museums and exhibition spaces no more than approximately 15% of the City Collection is on display at any one time.
With our next article we’ll be exploring the role of a curator for the museum service. If you want to see some of the finest items on the collection be sure to visit the A Hard Choice exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum. Many items on show in this exhibition were acquired by Rosalinda Hardiman over the last 35 years during her curatorship.
This Sunday there is a free guided tour around the exhibition by Rosalinda from 3pm to 4pm. Find out about some of the stories behind the objects on show and Rosalinda’s reasons for choosing them. Pre-booking is advised.
Throughout this year you can find out more about the Portsmouth City Collection and the many works of art and objects in contains with a Twitter account, simply follow: @PortsCityCollec
‘Portsmouth Harbour’ by Edmund T. Crawford.
‘Combat’ by Jack Canty.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is home to some of the finest historic ships in the UK, with HMS Victory, HMS Warrior & The Mary Rose all iconic and tourist attractions helping bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city. Soon to join this elite flotilla of ships is the HMS M.33, dry docked opposite the Victory and currently undergoing a huge refit inside and out ready for opening to the public in August. The M.33, a Monitor gun platform, was built in only 7 weeks specifically for ship to shore bombardment with it’s two heavy 6 inch guns. The shallow draft with it’s flat bottom design meant it could come close to the shoreline. The ship is one of a handful of Royal Navy craft left from WW1 and the only craft from the Gallipoli campaign, which occurred 100 years ago this year.
The redevelopment of the ship is restoring and redeveloping it from the bare metal up. The craft (and the dry dock) will welcome visitors in through new access points with the lower decks converted in to exhibition spaces. Working upwards the on deck cabins will be restored with the feel of a ship from 1915. The guns are also being lovingly restored by dedicated volunteers too.
Even with all this activity and work ongoing on the ship the National Museum of the Royal Navy is hoping to raise £19,150 to help finish the £2.4m project. The funding is being done through crowdfunding website Indigogo which is an innovative route for sourcing donations for the project for a ship of this type. You can watch the film below for all the details on how any donation will go towards creating another unique visitor experience celebrating the city and the nations nautical heritage.
I visited the ship to see progress in person on a rainy February day, the ship will be up there with its dockyard neighbours and not only that, you’ll also get to actually be in the scheduled monument dry dock too to see the ship from a completely new perspective. You can find out lots more about the project and make a donation before 18th March at:
Below are a selection of images from the visit to HMS M.33, you can see many more on our Flickr.
Tomorrow sees the opening of A Hard Choice exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum, this year’s main exhibition for the city’s museum service. The exhibition has been personally curated by Rosalinda Hardiman, the inspirational museum collections manager, and draws on her many years of expertise as a curator and her detailed knowledge of the Portsmouth City Collection.
The exhibition features around 120 favourite objects from all the different aspects of the city collection and range from an 800-year-old cosmetic jar to a Second World War bomb found in Guildhall Walk. Other items are a mirror believed to have been owned by royal mistress Lily Langtry, seaside postcards, and a Turner painting of Portsmouth Harbour. Other treasures include visiting cards used by Mr and Mrs Charles Dickens, and works by Stanley Spencer, Walter Sickert and Jacob Epstein.
The 250kg bomb, from 1941, was discovered in Guildhall Walk in 1984. Rosalinda, hoping to retrieve tiles from a building site, clambered over it without knowing it was there. It was later safely detonated.
Items from Rosalinda’s fascinating life will also be on display – including medals and mementoes from her days as a top international swimmer. She competed in the Atlanta and Sydney Paralympic Games, took five world records and swam the Channel.
Rosalinda, who has been with Portsmouth City Council’s museums service for 35 years, said: “If you count every insect in our natural history cabinets and all the prehistoric pieces of flint in the archaeology collection, then we have half a million objects. It’s a mammoth task looking after all those items – and yes, we have parts of mammoths too. I’m so enthusiastic about our collections and wanted to share my sheer joy in being able to work with such inspiring things. As well as the ‘official’ information about the objects I wanted to reveal some of the personal stories attached to them.”
The exhibition opens tomorrow from 10am and will run through to September, with many different activities, events, talks and more happening over the coming weeks and months.
Photo from a photo shoot Strong Island had with Rosalinda in her incredible office at Portsmouth City Museum.
Back in 2013 Britain’s pre-eminent research library The British Library placed over one million images from it’s collection on to Flickr, available to all to view online via it’s own Flickr account. The images made available by the British Library come from books published between the 17th and 19th centuries and include the illustrations plus all decorative artwork within the books. These images are not just free to browse but are also copyright free, which means we can share them here and it means you can download them for use such as inspiration for your own artwork, etc. The source books are also available both in the library and online via a PDF. The online collection does not include what many might define as the ‘masters’ of the collection, but this online resource is a vast collection of imagery spanning two decades of literature.
As a brief dip in to this collection, I’ve picked “Hearts of Oak. A story of Nelson and the Navy” by Gordon Stables, published by Shaw and Co. in 1893. You can view the details of the book on the British Library’s website HERE. The UIN for the book is BLL01003471521 and if you strip the first five prefix codes, replace with ‘sysnum’ and search within the British Library account on Flickr (using ‘sysnum003471521′) you’ll find all of the images from within the book. These images include detailed illustrations of Nelson, the title plate and even the small illustrative designs set within the publication. Some of the images from the book are shown below. You can also search by keywords such as ‘Nelson’ that will bring up not just the images from this particular book but from many others too.
If you are at a creative loose end this Monday lunchtime, you can get exploring for free right away at:
A little late on this one, but make sure you tune into BBC4 at 9PM this evening for “The Mary Rose: A Timewatch Guide”, filmed in Portsmouth with Dan Snow last summer.
Radio Times says the following: “Historian Dan Snow explores the discovery, excavation and raising of the iconic ship, finding out what the latest research has revealed about the vessel and her crew. The presenter also investigates how the project helped create modern underwater archaeology, and examines the techniques, challenges and successes of the divers and archaeologists involved.” The documentary also features long term Mary Rose Trust members Alex Hildred (Curator of Ordnance at the Trust) and Chris Dobbs (Head of Interpretation). Both having been part of the original excavation and raising team. This seriously recommended viewing.
If you’re a 70s kid you’ll remember the the classic Saturday morning TV programmes through the years of your childhood. Along with the 80s Saturday morning classics like Tiswas, Noel’s Multi-Coloured Swap Shop and the later shows like Saturday Superstore and Going Live! there was ITVs No. 73 which aired from 1982 until 1988. The show was presented through the years by Neil Buchanan, Andrea Arnold, Kate Copstick, Kim Goody, Richard Waites and now University of Portsmouth chancellor Sandi Toksvig. Despite the show always saying it was from a house in Maidstone Kent the programme was originally filmed in studios over in Southampton before moving to Kent when it became a national TV show. For the first series the opening titles were all filmed down in Portsmouth, featuring local kids.
Joel Ransom got in touch with the story of the filming of the titles for the show, in which he himself appears! Author Graham Hurley (many of his series of detective books are set in Portsmouth) was involved with the show and his son was at St Jude’s school, Old Portsmouth. The class were asked to run up the beach down by South Parade Pier and then down Alhambra Rd where they would eventually knock the fictional door to No 73.
You can watch the credits from the 1982 series 1 of No. 73 on YouTube HERE (sadly the video is set so it cannot be embedded) and see lots of other footage from around the city. Below is a behind the scenes photo of the class running up the shingle beach from the filming.
As mentioned back in December, the volunteers of the South Parade Trust are teaming up with the academic might of Portsmouth School of Architecture in order to bring you all an exciting new project:
“The South Parade Trust would like to invite all interested locals and supporters to attend a public consultation event where YOU will be able to give your thoughts on how South Parade Pier could be re-developed. In partnership with the University of Portsmouth School of Architecture and overseen and planned by Catherine Teeling, a senior lecturer at the school, Masters students from the School of Architecture have begun a project that will explore creative ideas and strategies for the regeneration of South Parade Pier.
The project will develop solutions for reuse of the pier that respond to the community’s desires and interests and supports the SPT vision that the pier can once again become both a hub for the local community, a functioning business and an asset for the City.
Students bring a range of expertise to the project from Sustainable Architecture, Historic Building Conservation, Urban Design and Interior Design, however for the ideas to truly represent the future vision as the ‘Peoples Pier’ this live event has been organised for the community to ‘Have Your Say’ on its potential future, to get your thoughts and ideas on what this could be.
Catherine Teeling, Senior Lecturer at the Portsmouth School of Architecture, had this to say:
“This is an exciting project, we try to use local structures for the students and what better than an iconic structure such as the pier. We are also very proud to partner with the Trust on this event, it will be of huge value for the students to speak to the local public and hear their thoughts on how South Parade Pier can be re-imagined for the 21st century”
Vanessa Cooter, travel and tourism lecturer at Highbury College, added: “This is a great example of how the Trust can engage directly with local organisations such as the University and use their skills to collate and quantify local opinion on their pier. We all have an interest in how it is rebuilt in the future, this project will deliver bold and exciting plans which may one day be implemented or at least demonstrate what would be possible with imagination, innovation and drive.”
We hope that as many of you as are able to will visit us during the day at the Royal Beach Hotel opposite the pier and contribute to the Students projects which will, we very much hope, deliver exciting visions for the future use of South Parade Pier. More details will be announced in the coming weeks in the lead up to the event. We hope you will be able to come along! We want to hear from YOU!”
This public engagement event will be held on the 21st of February 2015 at the Royal Beach Hotel, from 9am to 4pm.
While searching through my Facebook feed, amongst all of the selfies and cat photos I noticed a really fascinating post within the Memories of bygone Portsmouth group.
Tony Cook’s five photographs were taken at Fratton Park during the 1978/79 season. Featured in the photographs were the games against Wimbledon on Saturday 14th April and Barnsley on Saturday 5th May. The game against Wimbledon finished in a 0-0 draw and unfortunately the Barnsley game finished 1-0 to the visitors.
I wasn’t even born when these were taken but I can still remember going to Fratton Park in the late 80’s and early 90’s when there was still terracing.
Managed by Jimmy Dickinson Portsmouth finished seventh in division 4 that year, thirteen points behind league winners Reading. For our younger readers the old division 4 is now known as League 2.
Thanks to Tony for bringing these to photographs to my attention, I’m sure there are plenty of Pompey fans reading this who will be equally as interested to see the photographs.
If you would like to see more from Tony’s Fratton Park archive then you can find them on the Memories of bygone Portsmouth page HERE.
No. 3 Keith Viney takes a corner v Barnsley
Derek Showers holds off a Wimbledon defender
Steve Davey attacks the Wimbledon goal.
Peter Ellis can be seen in the foreground with Peter Mellor in goal
Portsmouth defending a corner v Wimbledon with Tony’s father on the right watching on intently