Southampton Stories

Focusing on different aspects of the Southampton’s history, this exhibition showcases the city’s rich and diverse maritime, local history, archaeology and archive collections. Featuring topics such as the docks, working life, sport and leisure and Southampton during wartime. On display will be ship models, maritime ephemera, historical costume, artworks, photographs and much more.

The latest display ‘Southampton Commemorations’ looks at some of the significant events and individuals commemorated in Southampton, including the Mendi disaster, Remembrance Day and the sailing of the Mayflower. The importance of the Mayflower story as a world changing event with both positive and negative consequences is commemorated in this year in 2020 as a small part of the wider Mayfower 400 programme.

This exhibition ties in with Southampton’s Treasures NPO project funded by Arts Council England, the aim of which is to make Southampton’s collection more accessible to everyone.

Other Southampton Stories in this exhibition include:

Southampton at War

First World War: More than 2,000 Sotonians died in WWI and the port witnessed the embarkation of more than 8 million troops, with their horses, supplies and equipment.
Second World War: The importance of the docks in WWII made Southampton a target for heavy bombardment and much of the city centre was badly damaged during the blitz in November and December 1940. The damage was immense and its effects are still visible around Southampton today.

Sport & Leisure
Covering Power boat racing: In the 1920s and 1930s, Cycling and Southampton Football Club which has been an integral part of city life since its foundation in 1885.

Ships & Shipping
From the launch of the first great ocean liners at the end of the 19th century to the rise of the mega-cruise ships of today, Southampton has been at the centre of the liner industry. Hundreds of ships have travelled thousands of journeys, beginning or ending in Southampton, nicknamed ‘Gateway to the World’.

The Docks
The first dock opened in 1842, enabling larger ships to berth and soon many shipping routes opened, linking Southampton with destinations across the world. As the size of ocean liners continued to increase, Southampton Docks needed more quay space and a deeper dock. The Itchen Quays were opened in stages between 1875 and 1892, Empress Dock in 1890 and in 1910 White Star Dock was opened.

A Working city
This section will include objects relating to large and small businesses, such as Day and Summers, The Yacht Laundry: based in Freemantle, and Walter Taylor: an engineering inventor and entrepreneur.

A Trading port
Southampton has served as a point of arrival and departure for goods, passengers and troops over the centuries. From Saxons to the Tudors, to becoming Britain’s second largest container terminal.

Daily Life
As a port city, Southampton has always had a changing population, with seafarers and others from far and wide visiting or settling in the town. Looking at shops, shopping, council estates and more.

Community Project
This is an area within the exhibition that will feature a display of objects picked by a specific community group. The first display will be a selection of maritime ephemera picked by volunteers from the Arts Society Southampton who have worked one day a month since the beginning of 2017 to catalogue more than 3,000 items from the collection. They have focused on the menus in the collection.