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The University of Southampton

Laughter and tears as Southampton's history is remembered

Published: 3 October 2011
Harbour Lights Cinema

A hundred years of history in Southampton have been celebrated with a unique project that brought together academics from Humanities with the BBC, the City Council and the Harbour Lights Picture House.

Colleagues from English, History, Film, and the Parkes Institute were all involved in preparing an afternoon screening of archive film of Southampton across the whole of the 20th century. This was part of a BBC initiative in conjunction with Melvyn Bragg's new TV series, A Reel History of Britain.

Nearly 100 members of the public had their memories and emotions stirred by footage of the floating bridge, trams trundling under the Bargate, the camp for child refugees from the Spanish civil war, the docks, the cruise liners, and the week-long series of celebrations for the coronation of Elizabeth II - among many other events and places.

A panel consisting of James Jordan, Alicia Pozo-Gutierrez, Linda Williams, and Mike Hammond, from Humanities, along with archivist Sue Woolgar from Southampton City Council, gave expert commentary, while the audience were encouraged to add their own reminiscences to the footage; one former docker recognised the faces of his workmates. James and Mike, aided by the archivists, chose and edited the film, while Mike was interviewed by Radio Solent, as were several members of the audience.

“It's clear that the afternoon was a great success because so many members of the audience left their contact details for follow-up events,” says Professor Ros King. “Our thanks must also go to Claire Reynolds and Roger Hammett from the BBC, David Lee from Wessex Film and Sound Archives, and Louise Scutts from Harbour Lights Picture House, who provided the perfect venue.”

Dean of Humanities, Professor Anne Curry, adds: “Congratulations and thanks to all who participated in the Reel History event. It was an excellent example of outreach.”

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