Local history 3 articles

Local history 3 group articles

Visit to State Funeral Gun Carriage, Whale Island

Our group was very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Whale Island and see the State Funeral Gun Carriage.

After security checks, we were given photo identity tags to wear and escorted around HMS Excellent, this being the oldest shore training establishment within the Royal Navy, and the location of the Naval Command Headquarters.

We had an excellent guide, Paul Barker who had a wealth of knowledge and presented an interesting and illuminating talk.

The Gun Carriage was very impressive and kept in pristine condition by Paul and his team. We learned about the history of the carriage which was first used for the State Funeral of Queen Victoria. This was pulled by a team of horses but there were delays because of inclement weather and the horses became tired and restless which resulted in some safety issues. The horses were unharnessed and Royal Naval ratings who were lining the route were seconded to take up ropes and pull the gun carriage. From this time, it has been the custom at all state funerals that Naval Ratings perform this duty. HMS Excellent seamen have had this honour at four State funerals.
At Ceremonial funerals the Gun Carriage is pulled by horses.

In the same building alongside the Gun Carriage there is a museum where there are photos of several state funerals showing the ratings pulling the carriage, it takes 150 seamen, quite a spectacular sight.

Also, here was a replica of the old warship HMS Charlotte, the original Naval Gunnery School, whose name was later changed to HMS Excellent. Built at Whale Island to perpetuate the memory of the original Naval Gunnery School. This is an incredible model, every detail exact to the original, the gun ports with canon, rigging, and figurehead. Originally outside the entrance to HMS Excellent in 1936, over the years deterioration set in and it is now housed inside and being renovated.

We were then taken on an extended tour and learned more of Whale Island history.

Originally a small island in Portsmouth Harbour, a narrow strip close by Portsea Island; it is now predominantly reclaimed land using deposits dredged from the harbour during the 19th century, increasing the land area by 125%. It was constructed with the help of the many prisoners taken in the Napoleonic Wars.

The island is linked to Portsea Island and thence to the mainland by road bridges.

We were amazed to hear there had been a zoo from 1913 - 1940. Part of the Island was known as the 'Captain's Garden' and it was here that animals, which had come back on Naval ships mainly ended up at the 'Zoo'.

Overseas countries often gifted animals to visiting ships and animals were often adopted as ship's 'mascots' by naval personnel.

These eventually ended up at Whale Island. hence the zoo.

There was an aviary with rare waterfowl, pheasants, peacocks, and cranes. By 1924, beavers had been presented and Naval ships brought a leopard and bear to the zoo. Eventually there were porcupines, a wallaby enclosure, a monkey house, lions, polar bears, and various other animals. There is a pet cemetery which shows the various types of animals which were kept there.

Unfortunately, in 1939 at the start of the war amid fears that more dangerous animals, including several big cats would escape during the intense bombing of Portsmouth, most animals were relocated throughout the country to more rural locations but others regretfully, shot.

We concluded our tour by seeing the Queen Charlotte figurehead in the grounds, and the Parade ground where the Platinum Jubilee rehearsals were held. As well as its reputation as a gunnery school it is renowned as the Royal Navy's experts in drill and ceremonial.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our visit and to learn so much about this historical Naval establishment, right on our doorstep!

Karen Walker

Group report

Well, we have all been finding many things to keep us occupied but have certainly missed our interest groups.

Each month we kept in contact and shared poems and circulated by email past subjects of local history. Many subjects which have been presented can easily bear revisiting, having been going for eleven years we have files which have long been forgotten or newer members of the group have missed. It is certainly a way to stay connected and engaged in the group.

We actually had our first 'meeting' in a member's lovely garden the first week in August. Six members all socially distancing really enjoyed catching up and planning for the future.

While the weather allows we plan to meet outside and when the weather is inclement we will have to find suitable accommodation inside or failing that it will be circulation of past papers!

Here is just a taste of the many poems circulating.

Moving On

It's been six weeks of being home,
What have I done so not to moan?
First do all the jobs I hate,
Get rid of stuff I do not rate.
Out go the clothes I used to love,
But at my age? 'Heavens above!’
Photos meant to recollect the past,
Just prove one’s looks do not last!
So pack away for future kin,
Who may well exclaim my, she was thin!
Onto jigsaws, not my thing and never done,
But oh! why choose a thousand piece one!
Lost a piece that caused me to lament,
After hours of harassment,
Piece by piece my interest grew,
Vintage aircraft which once flew.

Weeks of sun and time to spare,
Can't just at daffodils stand and stare,
Into the garden, so much to do,
Won't do itself, it's up to you,
Cut, sow, dig and feed,
Make it clear of every weed.
Now sit back and read a book,
One's from my shelf I need to look,
Those gathering dust for far too long,
Now's the chance for Hiawatha's song.

Well, I seem to have kept up pace,
But must not forget my bike to race,
All along the seafront way,
Back and forth each single day.
Now I count the miles I've done,
Don't believe it, hundred and forty one!
So now what of weeks to come?
Till we, this virus overcome.
Carry on with hope and cheer,
Look forward to a time without this fear,
To future health for young and old,
We all stood firm and bold.

Karen Walker

This is an article published in the Autumn 2020 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter .

Group report

In September, we had a very interesting visit to Hilsea Lido and we invited the Local History Group 1 to join us.

Group members admiring the hand knitted swimming costumes! There is an exhibition of photos, posters and swim wear relevant to the decades of the Lido's history.

The Lido was built on the site of the fortifications known as Hilsea Bastion which was demolished in 1919. Early on this was known as Hilsea Bastion Gardens and as a forerunner of the Lido was an amenity with a tea stall and open-air music. In this area there were terraces, pergolas plus lovely gardens known as Hilsea Lagoon. The whole site was eventually known as Hilsea Lido, an Art Deco building with deco terraces and two large fountains, an adult pool large enough for swimming competitions and high diving, children's pool, cascades, flower beds and plenty of space for sunbathing and physical recreation. Previously considered 'a dirty corner of Hisea' the Lido became the seafront in the north of the city.

The opening ceremony in 1935 was a grand affair attended by dignitaries, the workers who constructed the pool, hundreds of spectators to whom the lido was a source of great pride and a 'fine city achievement.' It was a great success, immensely popular, used by hundreds of people and was visited by the 1936 Olympic British Diving Team who gave a demonstration in August 1936.

During WW2 the main pool was closed to the public and was given over to various military units in the area for their recreational use. After the war it came back to life, boating on the lake and the roller skate rink were very popular. A miniature railway ran along the Lido site from 1946 -1951.

In 1949 Sean Connery was in the Royal Navy, training at HMS Excellent when he was snapped rising from the pool, much to the delight of the girls!

Other notable visitors were the GB Diving Team who trained there for the 1952 Olympics. The Lido continued to provide a wonderful amenity for local people for several decades.

In 1974 the Lido was used as the set for Bernie's Holiday Camp when Oliver Reed and Ann Margaret visited to film a scene for the film 'Tommy'.

However, in the late 70's the diving platforms were removed, the advent of cheap package holidays abroad saw the attendance drop off. This triggered a downward spiral of under investment and it fell into disrepair over the next 30 years with limited use. The Council spent years trying to close it but there was an outcry from people of, 'no you can't possibly do that!'

It was close to being flattened in 2008 when Portsmouth City Council (PCC) abandoned plans to refurbish the Lido but with great support from the community, a group stepped in and has helped return the historic site from the brink of extinction.

In 2010 'Hilsea Lido Pool for the People' (HLPP) acquired the Lido and adjoining Blue Lagoon Building on a 99 year lease from PCC. The rejuvenation of the Lido began!

In 2011 the splash pool was damaged by freezing conditions and PCC replaced the pool with a new design featuring two pools named Hilsea Jubilee Splash Pool.

In 2012 Sport England gave HLPP £50,000 grant towards restoring the pool and the money was used to refurbish the pool's pumps and fit new lockers and showers.

The Lido reopened in July 2015 and in 2015 a new 2 metre diving platform was added to the pool. The Blue Lagoon Tea Room and Venue is open and providing great food and music events every Sunday and some Wednesdays.

This was an extremely interesting visit; we had a very good lunch, an excellent tour and talk. We learnt how the HLPP Trust volunteers have brought life back to the Lido, students from Highbury College have become involved using skills they are studying to help with renovation issues. The pool is open and swimmers come to train there as well as the recreational swimming available. There is obviously a long way to go but the Trust works hard to take steps to secure funding to help reinstate Hilsea Lido as a premier venue at the heart of the community.

Karen Walker


This is an article published in the Spring 2020 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter

Group report

This is an article published in the Christmas 2018 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter….

We continue to be amazed how many really interesting topics and places we can research and see in our local area.

Earlier in the year we learned of the sterling work of the Lord Mayor Treloar hospital, founded by Sir William Treloar in Alton as “Lord Mayor Treloar’s Cripples’ Home and College Trust” and the first children were received in 1908. Treloar’s was to provide education, care, therapy, medical support and independence training for disabled young people.

A new branch was opened at Sandy Point, Hayling in 1919 with 50 patients, these being mainly children with TB and polio, for treatment or to convalesce. Doctors had realised fully the beneficial power of the sun in maintaining health and in curing disease, and the location of this seaside branch was selected with great care after the whole of the south coast of England had been explored.

The site consisted of 2 wards for children under the age of 18 and was right on the pebbly beach overlooking the sea. Fine days were spent outside, to reap the benefits of open air and sunshine. Children were immersed in the sea to improve circulation and promote wellbeing, and they began to thrive and laugh again. This environment brought sunshine and joy into lives which had been filled with dreariness and pain and helped rehabilitate children to live as independently as possible. The hospital continued into the late 1950’s treating TB and polio patients and later treated children with mental health problems.

Sandy Point hospital, with its mile of beach continued to provide this unique environment to treat and transform children’s lives until it was demolished in 1988. The Treloar Estate which includes the Sandy Point nature reserve, is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest, taken over by Hampshire County Council and as a conservation area now has restricted access.

The group found this a very interesting subject, yes, many of us were aware of there being a hospital for many years at Sandy Point but did not know the significant role it had for decades, to improve so many children’s lives, just along our shoreline. This is what we find, there are so many things “just around the corner”, for a local history group to investigate.

Karen Walker

North Hayling poorhouse

This is an article published in the Spring 2018 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter....

It is interesting that Hayling once had a “Poorhouse” and that this was situated in North Hayling rather than in the south of the Island. It was built on a piece of land in what is St. Peter’s Road today. An Article in the Portsmouth Evening News dated 22nd October 1932 states that it was then a picturesque row of cottages known as North Terrace. In the 18th century the Parish of North Hayling had considerably more inhabitants than South Hayling. (A census taken in 1788 gave the population as being considerably the larger of the two parishes) so it is not surprising that the Poorhouse was built here.

The Poorhouse was a place where those who were unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment by their local parish. Life “in the workhouse” was intended to be harsh to ensure that only the truly destitute would apply. The Parish Council, who administered the Poorhouse, would use the free labour of inmates on tasks such as breaking stones, road mending, picking oakum and crushing bones to produce fertilizer. Inmates were required to surrender their clothes when they entered and wear standard workhouse uniforms.

The parish records for North Hayling exist from 1783, previous records having been lost. The Poorhouse was administered by the North Hayling Parish Council with a monthly meeting of ratepayers being held, its accounts and minutes kept by the churchwarden and two overseers, verified twice a year by two Justices of the Peace. Levying a Poor Rate on all local inhabitants raised income.

The minutes tell us that in 1787 the old almshouse was falling down and John Rogers (then the Church Warden) raised loans and was granted land to build a new Poor house. The house was thatched and had attached to it a hog pen and a furze-house, both also thatched. In his book “The King holds Hayling”, F.G.S. Thomas tells us that “Wm. Palmer was master at 6 shillings a week, then came Mrs. Warren at about 4 shillings a week and Mr. Parr taught the children at two shillings and sixpence a week.” He also tells us that “in 1801, when all the poorhouses in the country were full and overflowing Hayling North spent £60 a month on its poor.” This was the year of the first official National Census and the parish of North Hayling was reckoned to have 254 residents. Of these only 25 were ratepayers and, as Thomas states, “it almost passes belief that they should have had to find £740 for their poor”. 1801 was a disastrous year throughout the South of England because of a series of crop failures.

In the year 1834, when parish workhouses were superseded by Union Workhouses, the Havant Board of Guardians took over the duties formerly carried out by the parish of North Hayling. The Poor of Hayling then became the responsibility of Havant Borough Council and were then all accommodated in the Havant Workhouse.

This is a very short introduction to our former Poorhouse. Those interested in finding out more are directed towards an article published in the Portsmouth Evening News – 22 October 1932 and reproduced in “A Collection of Articles on Hayling Island Volume 2. (Havant History Booklet No.47) produced by The Spring. Also “The King holds Hayling” by F.G.S. Thomas, chapters 13 and 14 “The Poor we had with us” and “Save the Parish Harmless”. Both these sources provide fascinating glimpses into the life of the poor and the ways in which they were “cared for” in the 18th and early 19th centuries. This article relies heavily on both these sources for information

Sue Humphrey

Group report

This is an article published in the Winter 2017 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter...

We have covered many interesting places, events and people this year but the most interesting was an English Artist who lived and painted in Portsmouth under sad and unfortunate conditions.

Edward King, an English artist in Portsmouth from 1926 until his death in 1951 was known for his Blitz paintings. He went mad and was committed to St James' Hospital, Portsmouth. However, this seems to be all that is common knowledge of the Impressionistic painter and illustrator, and does not do him justice. On researching further we found out more about the sad circumstances of his life in Portsmouth.

Born in 1862 Edward King was a relatively notable British artist. Early in his career his illustrations were featured in the Illustrated London News and his paintings shown in museums and galleries including the Royal Academy where he exhibited over 50 works up until 1924. He was a member of the Society of British Artists and a contemporary of J M Whistler, Augustus John and Paul Nash. He joined the Plein-Air Movement in St Ives, an artist’s colony founded by Walter Sickert and James McNeil Whistler. Van Gogh admired his work and bought one of King's drawings and is commonly believed to have influenced the young Van Gogh.

After his wife died from TB, King suffered a breakdown and in 1925 he was committed to St James' Hospital in Milton. The conditions under which mental health patients lived, at that time, would have plunged him into even more depression, loneliness, and desolation, without stimulation, he would withdraw and become unresponsive. His drawing and painting became his solace and salvation. Staff recognised the importance of his art to aid his recovery and after several years he was allowed to wander around the hospital grounds to paint and was a familiar sight around the hospital farm, painting the landscape and trees.

Eventually he was free to go to the beach at Langstone Harbour and Milton Locks where he became a familiar character, painting everything around, houseboats, seascapes, buildings and self-portraits. He would use any surface to paint on, be it wood, cardboard or paper. People would sit and watch him paint and he was found by all to be 'a most loveable, eccentric gentleman, who could talk lucidly and graphically.... his very blue eyes carefully studied and weighed up all he saw'. He created a huge number of works during this time, every day, all day he would sit and paint, often giving paintings to the locals.

After the 1941 Blitz he was commissioned by the Mayor of Portsmouth to paint the devastation that Portsmouth had suffered. His Impressionist style shows scenes of crumbling architecture, burnt brick and the desolation of a blitzed city. His beautiful haunting paintings of the bombed buildings of Old Portsmouth are a testament to his wonderful talent. Despite this, Edward King remains largely unknown. He died in 1951 and his works were bequeathed to Portsmouth City Council, in whose care they have remained.

An exhibition of the Blitz paintings is on show at the Portsmouth Museum until December 31st 2017. A rare opportunity not to be missed.

Karen Walker

Road access to Hayling in the 18th and 19th centuries

compiled by Sue Humphrey from a variety of sources

At the beginning of the 18th century Hayling, according to Butler’s Hundred of Bosmere, was a backward little place; “its farmhouses were old and cold; wages averaged eighteen shillings a month (including perks). The hours of work were, in summer 6am – 5pm, at harvest from dawn to dusk, and in winter from morn till night”. There was little or no contact with the mainland.

What was needed was a reasonable network of roads to service the Island but this was not to happen until the health-giving properties of seawater and ozone were “discovered” in the mid 18th century! Almost overnight, small fishing villages all over the country were transformed into “seaside spas”. Brighton was the largest on the south coast. Hayling attracted the attention of promoters in the early 19th century when a small group led by Sir Richard Hotham planned to convert the island into a resort which would rival all others on the south coast. Before any building could begin, the systems of communication on the Island had to be improved, particularly the roads.

The roads of Hayling had gradually evolved from old cart tracks and were subsequently very winding with numerous bends incorporated into them. Some improvements had been made by the early 19th century but there was nothing so sophisticated as tarmacadam! Neither was there any bridge across to the mainland. How then did islanders use road travel to reach the mainland? In the first place they could walk and many did! You could hire a horse – expensive but practical when one needed to travel long distances, as there were stables and blacksmiths in almost every village in those days. Then there were horse-drawn vehicles of many sorts. Travel from Hayling was limited by the fact that the Wadeway was the only link with the mainland and this limited the size of vehicle using it and also time of travel was limited by the state of the tides.

In the year 1823 an Act of Parliament was passed authorising the building of a bridge across Langstone Harbour and fixing the rate of tolls which could be charged for using it. The bridge was built in double quick time and it was opened in 1824. From that time, access to the Island was assured – especially the possibility of using coaches. The tollkeeper of the first Hayling bridge used to say that it was the loss of two horses by drowning when crossing the Wadeway which gave the final impetus to the proposal to build the bridge. When the preamble to the Act was published however, there was not a word about horses nor the expectations entertained by the promoters of profitable developments to follow the building of a bridge. The preamble reads as follows:

“Whereas for the space of 12 hours out of every 24 there is no direct communication between the mainland and Hayling Island in the County of Southampton (except by boat) owing to the Passage commonly known as the Wadeway, which runs in a very uneven, unequal and circuitous manner from Langstone in the Parish of Havant across Langstone Harbour to Hayling Island aforesaid, being overflowed by the Sea; and whereas, from violence of the winds and sea, the passage, called the Wadeway is frequently covered by the tide the whole twenty four hours together and boats are often totally prevented from crossing the said Harbour, by reason whereof any communication between the mainland and Hayling Island becomes impracticable and great Inconvenience, Difficulty and Loss are thereby occasioned and the lives of his Majesty’s subjects are much endangered”

The Act of 1823 also prohibited any conveyance for hire or reward, by land or sea, within 1000 yards of the bridge; thus putting out of business any commercial cross-channel service not merely to Langstone but to Pook Lane and Bedhampton Quays as well. This ban was greatly resented by Hayling inhabitants who now had to pay a toll in place of their former free passage across the Wadeway!

Once in Havant, travellers could catch coaches to Portsmouth, Brighton, Southampton or London. If a traveller could get to the Bear in Havant by 7.30am he might find room in the Independent Coach, which ran once daily to London. One coach service known as the Queen Coach, was the first to include a stop at Hayling. The Queen Coach could be boarded at the Royal Hotel at 9am every morning except Sundays. It proceeded via Havant, Bedhampton, Cosham and terminated at the Fountain Hotel, Portsmouth. From here, one could either spend the day in Portsmouth, returning to Hayling in the late afternoon, or take a coach to London – the final terminal being the White Bear Inn in Piccadilly. The coach fare from Hayling to London was 24 shillings for an outside seat or 14 shillings for the hardier who could travel outside the coach.

Coaches reflected the traditions and occupations of the region through which they ran. On the Portsmouth road you could choose between “Hero” and “True Blue” or between “Nelson” and “Trafalgar”. Other coach names I have been able to find were “Regulator”, “Rocket”, “Telegraph”, “Defiance” and “Brittania”.

Hayling did not develop into a coastal resort even though transport links were improved. It did, however, over the next century, develop as a holiday resort.

Pubs in Portsmouth

compiled by Sue Payne (Local History Group 3)

Portsmouth has had a reputation in the past of having more pubs to the square acre than any other place in the country, closely followed by Gosport. The reason of course for this is the presence of the Royal Navy. In 1864 Portsmouth had 277 public houses and 545 beerhouses. This meant there was one drinking establishment for every one hundred residents.

Drinking establishments in earlier times could be placed in three categories. At the top of the scale were the old established coaching inns in which surroundings were usually more palatial and comfortable; the George Inn in the High Street and the Star and Garter in Broad Street being two examples. Next on the list were the better known alehouses and taverns that maintained fairly reasonable standards and service. Thirdly, the poor relations, beerhouses. They could vary considerably, some of them being worthy of development into fully fledged public houses in later years, others were little more than dwelling houses in which the front parlour had been converted into some resemblance of a bar and the concoction that passed as beer was brewed in the yard at the rear of the house. Beerhouses were introduced in 1830, the authorities being under the impression that drinking beer was healthier than the evils of gin and spirits. On the other hand drinking beer or spirits was probably healthier than the water supply at the time. Throughout their history, drinking establishments have adapted to changing social conditions. The splitting up of the bar counter occurred during the industrial era when tradesmen and managers took exception to drinking in the same room as their workers and were quite happy to pay an extra halfpenny on a pint for the privilege of drinking with those of their own class. This brought about the introduction of the saloon bars, private bars, public bars, ladies wine bars and that select inner sanctum known as the snug. Each class appeared to have their own preference for which game they should play. Working men usually went for dominoes or cribbage but their bosses had bagatelle boards in their parlour and sometimes a skittle alley.

It was a common sight to see drunks on the street in the 18th and early 19th centuries, however Temperance campaigners were particularly active in trying to improve the situation. People drank to forget their depressing and appalling living conditions. Drinking dens provided a means of escape for a few short hours and although many beerhouses could not be called places of grandeur, they provided a conviviality that could not be found at home. Authorities did their best to reduce drunkenness by embarking on a programme to cut the excessive number of drinking outlets and the Church was only too happy to support this. As early as 1825 several alehouses were fined £5 each for allowing drinking in their houses during the hours of Divine Service on Sunday. The Town Council, on August 11th 1866, decided to adopt the Public House Act of 1864 requiring the closure of public houses between 1 o’clock and 4 o’clock in the morning. Eight years later this was changed to 11pm instead of 1am. In the 18th century the coaching inns flourished but by the mid 19th century this had changed due to the railways. However in Portsmouth the railway brought passengers for the seaside at Southsea and to use the harbour, so the inns and hotels still enjoyed good trade.

By 1915 Portsmouth had 305 alehouses and 372 beerhouses but the population had increased considerably to support this trade. During the Second World War many pubs and streets were bombed reducing numbers considerably. Portsmouth has lost hundreds in the last century, many have been converted. These may be identified by glazed tiling on the frontage or half timber decoration to upper floors. Today there are less than 150 pubs in Portsmouth and only 8 in Old Portsmouth.


  • “Pubs of Portsmouth” by Ron Brown
  • Portsmouth Local History – Stephen Pomeroy
  • History in Portsmouth 1860 project

"The bravest of the brave"

compiled by Sue Humphrey (Local History Group 1)

Whilst browsing through my copy of “The King Holds Hayling” the other day, I came across a snippet of information about a former resident of Hayling, Admiral Sir James Startin, KCB, AM, JP. This prompted me to find out more about him. The passage which particularly impressed me was the following:

“One wild September night in 1908 the lifeboat was about to be launched when Coxswain C.H. Cole found that he was a man short and called for a volunteer. The Admiral, who had rushed down to the beach in pyjamas and a mackintosh, jumped in and took an oar.”

I now reproduce a full account of the incident, which I found posted on the Hayling Forum, though I do not have the original source. (It probably comes from Hayling Lifeboat Records as Admiral Startin served on the Hayling Lifeboat Committee. It is entitled “Prompt reply to signals of distress. Admiral on board.”)

“On the 13th October 1910 the “Charlie and Adrian” was launched at 10.20 at night, together with the Southsea, Bembridge, Littlehampton and Selsey lifeboats, when distress signals were reported off the Nab Lightship. The weather was rough with a northeasterly gale blowing, causing a heavy sea. Coxswain Miller was ill, so the Second coxswain Charlie Cole was in charge of the lifeboat. As the lifeboat was being pulled out of the boathouse, Admiral Sir James Startin arrived. He had not long vacated his command of the Home Fleet, and this trip out in the lifeboat this time would be under rather different circumstances. He jumped into the boat and informed Charlie Cole that he wished to be included in the crew. The Coxswain had received instructions after the last time the Admiral had been out on a service, that it was not considered advisable that he should form one of the crew and that a younger man was to be taken. Charlie Cole explained to the Admiral that he had his crew, and that the Institution never allowed supernumerary members on service. Reluctantly Admiral Startin left the boat, which was pulled down to the waters edge, and into the surf that was thundering on the shore. No one thought any more about the Admiral; but not to be outdone, he had gone down into the sea, scantily dressed as he was, and waited until the boat was being launched from her carriage, and at a psychological moment, mounted one of the wheels and jumped into the boat just as she was afloat, every crewman at the time being employed at his respective duty. The lifeboat had a good launch, and the crew being soaked to the skin, as she entered the water in the teeth of the gale which was blowing. Once the Admiral was discovered there was nothing more to be done than to accommodate him, as to turn the boat back would have entailed great delay. Charlie and his crew made for the Nab, which was reached at midnight where the crew were informed that they were repeating signals that had been fired by the Owers lightship asking for assistance.

Feeling that it would be impossible to reach the Owers Lightship before daylight, and knowing that the Selsey lifeboat had been launched, the “Charlie and Adrian” was turned round to return to the shore, but when about a mile from the boathouse the Nab was seen firing rockets again. The boat was put about, and the Nab was visited a second time. This time they were informed that a steamer was requiring assistance, being driven before the wind about ten miles south-west of the Nab. Knowing that it would be impossible to overtake the vessel, Charlie Cole again turned the lifeboat for home returning at 6:00 in the morning having found no vessel. For all this time Admiral Startin only had on his pyjamas and slippers, except for an oilskin that one of the crew had given him. The steamer turned out to be the Naval oil fuel ship “Isla”. She had lost her propeller when off the Nab and signalled for assistance. She was blown before the gale round the back of the Isle of Wight until off the Needles and was met by a tug from Portsmouth Dockyard and towed to safety.”

Admiral Startin and his wife, Alice, lived at Wyndlawn, Hayling Island. The house no longer exists, but from information gleaned from various items posted on the Hayling Forum I feel that it is almost certain that it was located on the south side of Hollow Lane close to where the entrance to Mark Anthony Court is today. It was damaged by bombing in World War 2, and was finally demolished in 1960/61. Wyndlawn, whilst Admiral and Lady Startin lived there, gradually earned the name of “The Fort”. F.G.S. Thomas states: “By the gateposts stood two awe-inspiring 13.5 inch shells, and mounted outside the kitchen was a German 4 inch submarine gun presented to him by the Admiralty in recognition of his successful submarine hunting in the Great War. Other trophies included relics of the Zulu and Benin wars, boarding pikes and a German mine!”

In this grand residence Admiral and Lady Startin raised their four children, three boys and a girl. Their eldest son was killed at Gallipoli. They bought Wyndlawn in 1907 and according to FGS Thomas, they soon became two of the most popular personalities on the Island, immediately becoming involved in all sorts of local affairs. He was made a JP and Assistant Commissioner of Sea Scouts for Hampshire. He founded the Hayling Men’s Brotherhood and was a great friend of the Vicar, the Reverend Charles Clark, and a Church Warden at St. Mary’s. She was equally active in Island affairs until her death in 1923. She was buried in the Churchyard at St. Mary’s. Despite the fact that he lived in Shropshire for much of the time after his second marriage, Admiral Startin always kept his affection for Hayling and it was at his old home, then occupied by his second son, that he died in 1948 at the grand old age of 93. He was buried alongside Alice in the family grave under a yew tree in St. Mary’s Churchyard. The Times headed his obituary notice “The Bravest of the Brave” and this is engraved at the base of the memorial cross above the family grave.

I would like to acknowledge the information in this article, which I gleaned from the Hayling Forum Website and also the information contained, in F.G.S. Thomas’s seminal work “The King Holds Hayling”, Sue.

A history of Hayling Island holiday camps

by Karen Walker

Since the mid 1800’s the health giving properties of seawater and ozone were being recognised and by the 19th Century there came the age of the seaside resort. Hayling was regarded as a healthy and pleasant place to live and visit for the day. Entrepreneurs were not slow to realise the prosperity that could be enjoyed by coastal resorts that attracted visitors.

The Royal Hotel, built in 1825, a commodious building with excellent facilities was built to cater for holiday makers. This was an hotel for the sporting gentlemen and genteel ladies, with facilities such as a large billiard room, lounges and stunning sea views. The Royal was close to the Library with its classic pillars, picture gallery and chess room. Also, nearby was the Bath House for a hot, tepid or cold bath. There were bathing machines on the waters edge, for the privacy of bathers who were hardy and preferred the invigorating delights of sea bathing and around 1909 there were many tents and a few huts on the beach for adults to shed their heavy clothes before sunbathing, even so men still kept their trilby hats on!

By 1887 the Hayling Railway Company were bringing even more visitors to Hayling and her sandy beaches therefore excursions to the beach were brought within the reach of many. Day excursions were becoming even more popular; however, there were still few places for the working classes to stay.

Over the next couple of decades people were beginning to buy inexpensive plots of farming land, particularly at the Eastern end of the Island to build holiday homes or to site old railway carriages for holiday use. Southwood Road was principally developed for holiday homes. By 1935 there were new estates being built, Sandy Beach Estate and Sea Front Estate being two of these, the agents advertising them as holiday homes by the sea. The complexion of Hayling was rapidly changing and had become a desirable holiday location, not purely for day-trippers.

This was very soon recognised and addressed by the establishment of the first holiday camp at Northney in 1931 by Captain Harry Warner who took retirement from the Royal Artillery in 1925 and began a successful involvement in a seaside restaurant business. This led to his diversity into the holiday camp business and the provision of holiday accommodation for the working classes. Northney camp remained virtually unchanged with the exception of a period during World War 2 when it was co-opted as a Naval Barracks and called HMS Northney In 1951 Northney camp was still very popular. ‘Holiday Camps’ magazine’s description was glowing:

"Its spirit of friendliness, its setting in the beautiful countryside by the waters of Chichester harbour, and the bracing Hayling Island climate have given Northney a popularity that has grown over the years."

This camp remained a very successful camp until the 1980’s when it closed to leave the way open for a development of housing at the Northern end of the Island.

In the 1930’s a new generation of holidaymakers began to discover the delights of Hayling, helped by the fact that a faster service provided from Waterloo and Brighton via Havant was electrified. The working classes were having more holidays and more camps were being built to accommodate them, the object was to provide a complete ‘package holiday’. Everything was provided, self contained, ‘artistically constructed suntrap chalets’, food, entertainment and leisure facilities for the whole family, without the need to even leave the camp. A ‘Home Away From Home’, family fun, sun, sea and sand. This proved to be a recipe for an incredibly successful type of holiday.

In the early 1930's the Civil Service established a holiday camp on Hayling but it was not a success. Capt. Warner purchased it and renamed it Southleigh, which was sited in St Mary’s Road. This continued as a flourishing holiday camp for some 50 years until in the 1980’s it closed and was demolished to make way for a housing development.

During the 1930's there were several more camps built, an independent one, Silver Sands at Eastoke being one, which ran for many years. In 1936 a consortium of Portsmouth businessmen built Coronation camp, but like the Civil Service camp it was an immediate flop and was sold to Warner. Coronation camp, completed in coronation year, hence the name, was and is, in Fishery Lane. It had a capacity then of approx. 800. The lake was originally open to the sea and tidal, until a causeway was built in 1986 and the site renamed Lakeside Coastal Centre. The pitch and putt golf course at the back of the site was built on land reclaimed from old oyster beds.

The Sunshine Camp, situated by Pound Corner, was originally a farmhouse, Hudson’s, with some land and modest surroundings. Building started in 1938 but was not finished by the outbreak of World War 2. It was offered as a prisoner-of-war camp but was rejected because the accommodation was not considered up to standard ! Eventually it was used by the Royal Marines. Sunshine opened its doors to the public in the early 1940’s, owned by Freshfields, a local management team who were later bought out by Pontins, one of the biggest names in Leisure and Tourism. However, it was later bought out by Warners and known as Mill Rythe Holiday Village. It was here that the BBC shot scenes for the extremely popular sit-com Hi Di Hi, the movie ‘Confessions From a Holiday Camp’ was filmed entirely at Mill Rythe and, more up to date in 2004, scenes from Eastenders were shot there.

With The Second World War, holidays were put on hold but the camps were used to good effect to house military personnel, Marines, Navy and Army etc. However, after the war everyone came out of the gloom and descended upon the coast once more, determined to enjoy themselves. Holiday camps fell in with this spirit, with the Hayling camps attracting many thousands each summer. Obviously this increased the population of Hayling considerably and must have offered a lot of employment for the ‘locals’. These camps were hugely successful and thousands of people holidayed here over the next few decades.

Another camp was built in the early fifties and that was Sinah Warren, which of course is very well known right up until today. Sinah Warren started life as a "health farm", run by Monks, in the late 15th Century. The origin of the name ‘Sinah’ has raised much debate, one proposed theory states Sinah was the name of a herb used to cure a wide range of ailments, the other that Sinah was once a breed of long-tailed rabbit, hence Sinah Warren. Which is correct, you can choose! Following extensive religious and cultural changes in the 16th Century, Sinah was sold to the Duke of Norfolk and remained in the family for generations until it was sold to Andrew Arbuthnot in the 1930’s. Arbuthnot, a millionaire businessman, was an outstanding character who married Miss Lambert, from the Lambert & Butler tobacco family. He built a large residence, Sinah Warren, and established one of the first ‘factory farms’ in the country, to help deal with food shortages during the war. Here he had a battery hen farm, with vast sheds housing poultry in battery cages, which covered the area of Lime Grove and part of Sinah Lane. Needless to say the residents around Sinah used to complain of the smell when the wind blew their way over the great manure heaps which built up there. However, his hen houses always passed the health inspections; it was said he had plenty of finance to keep the inspectors quiet, so perhaps that is the reason why! On his travels abroad he brought back various species of trees and plants, his aim, supposedly was to plant every known tree in the world, hence the extensive and varied tree cover in this area. During the Second World War the Royal Navy took over the house and Arbuthnot left for London and apparently never lived at Sinah Warren again. After the war it lay vacant until in 1952 it was sold for £8,000 to a Portsmouth builder who began to turn it into a holiday camp. He sold it to Warners before it was finished, however. Warner’s went on to finish building Sinah Warren as a Holiday Camp and it opened in the summer of 1958.

Capt. Warner’s sons, Bill, Alen and John became directors of the Warner camps which remained a family concern until 1982 when they were taken over by Grand Metropolitan hotels who continued to run them in the same way. These camps, located at prime waterside sites on Hayling Island, covering the north, south, east and west, made Hayling one of the first huge UK Holiday Camp destinations. The concept of holiday camps was a runaway success and the formula of the holiday they provided was enormously popular. During their hey day on Hayling these camps provided not only affordable holidays for thousands of people from throughout the UK but provided ample employment for Hayling Island residents and put the Island on the map as a major tourist attraction.

87 years on, Hayling Island still has three holiday camps up and running. They have moved with the times, altered and reinvented themselves to provide a holiday camp experience to suit the needs of the 21st Century. Two of these camps or should we now say, hotels or holiday resorts, still carry the Warner brand even though owned by a large Leisure company called Bourne Leisure. They are Sinah Warren and Warner Lakeside Coastal Resort. The third camp, now owned by an independent company is Mill Rythe Holidays. All three of these Holiday resorts are in prime locations and continue to draw guests to this lovely Island. Butlins was always the biggest and most well known holiday company, it was Billy Butlin who, when opening his first camp had the slogan ‘A week’s holiday for a week’s pay’ and this was a great success. The company continues to offer these holidays today but it is interesting that Warners, the brand most associated with Hayling, still has 13 Holiday Resorts under this brand, which are for adults only and constitute Historic or Character Hotels. These thrive and are throughout the UK and continue to occupy a niche in this unique holiday industry in the 21st century.


  • Butlins/Warner Memories
  • The Story of Hayling - by Ron Brown
  • H.I. Camp archives
  • Havant Borough Council

A history of Hayling Island Sailing Club

by Belinda Cook and Leonie Austin

2011 has been a very special time for the Hayling Island Sailing Club, celebrating its 90th anniversary year. It was in 1921 that a small group of sailing enthusiasts gathered at Wall Corner, (where Mengham Rythe Sailing Club now exists), and formed HISC, using the constitution of East Cowes Sailing Club to guide them. With 120 members, racing mostly took place during the summer months, with a Regatta in August. This was attended by visitors from the sailing clubs of Chichester Harbour, with not only sailing and rowing races, but races over the mud using pattens. Sailors met initially in a small wooden hut, and in Quay Cottage, but in 1930 built a more substantial clubhouse. Boats were wooden, mostly clinker built, with sails of canvas and none of the modern “gadgets”, were available. Sailing was definitely for the summer months! Wet suits for winter sailing did not become compulsory until 1970! Recently, the archives group at HISC recovered a minute book covering the years 1927 to 1930, recording the minutes of the General committee, the sailing committee and the committee overseeing the clubhouse activities. The minutes make fascinating reading – a member of the archive group has transcribed the handwritten pages to enable easy reading.

During the late 1920s and early 30s, the membership grew slowly and members raced and met other sailors enjoying the use of the harbour at high tide. In 1935, Captain Ivan Snell who lived at Mengham House on Hayling, offered to build a new clubhouse at Black Point (Sandy Point), enabling sailing to be undertaken at all states of the tide. In 1936, the cruciform shaped building was opened having been designed by Captain Snell, and one of the first events was to host the defence of the New York Challenge Cup in International Canoes by Roger De Quincey, a HISC member, and Uffa Fox, later to become known as Prince Philip’s sailing master. In 1939, when war was declared, sailing was suspended. In 1943, the clubhouse was the headquarters of the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPPs), a highly secret organisation undertaking reconnaissance in canoes in preparation for D Day. So secret was their work, that it is only recently that many of the details have been known. Hayling residents will know that recently there is a plan to provide a suitable memorial on Hayling seafront to these very brave men.

In 1946, the clubhouse re-opened and members returned to retrieve their boats and start picking up the pieces after the war. 1946 saw the resumption of sailing but a shortage of funds necessitated Captain Ivan Snell, Captain Rex Janson, Doctor E Wright and Commander Norway (novelist Neville Shute who lived in Pond Head) to form a company called Sandy Point Limited. The HISC property was then leased to the company for 21 years. Almost immediately new classes began to appear, and with the advent of cheap dinghies, mostly being designed by Jack Holt, a large number of members arrived from London. Very soon a few of this group tried to purchase the freehold, and although their efforts were very enthusiastically received, it took until 1959 before this was finally achieved by the full membership.

HISC began to host more and more National and International regattas and many families began to arrive with their children, those children now in 2011, bringing their own grandchildren down to continue the tradition. During the next decades, members have continued to become National and World champions in many classes, and have become part of the British Olympic teams.

In 2003, Princess Anne opened a new clubhouse, members having matched funds with a large grant from Sports England, producing a very spectacular building. In the last two years, HISC has hosted two World championships, the Laser Class in August 2010, and this year the Flying Fifteens. In both events visitors came from all over the World and the flags flying for the Laser championship came from all continents. All over Hayling, competitors were staying, shopping and eating, seeing Hayling at its best. But at its heart, the club is still for families, with the sandy beach for the young, and the sheltered waters within the harbour for the older children to learn to sail.

Belinda Cook and Leonie Austin lead a small archive group, which gathers HISC memorabilia, including photographs, moving pictures, documents and artefacts. They mount regular exhibitions in three display cabinets and link special exhibitions to visiting classes. They have been helped in their work by the Hampshire County Council Living Links project, which encourages Community groups to preserve and conserve their heritage. They received training at Hampshire Record office, and although this project has come to an end, they hope to continue spreading the word about community archives.

A history of some of Hayling's older public houses

compiled from various sources by Sue Humphrey

Hayling rejoices in having several old “hostelries”, the oldest of which is claimed to be the “Ferry Boat”, formerly Norfolk Lodge, named for the Dukes of Norfolk who were once Lords of the Manor of South Hayling. It was the only one in existence in 1776 according to F.G.S. Thomas in his book “The King Holds Hayling”. Many of our other Inns were established to forestall the Licensing Law of 1889 which made obtaining a licence more difficult.

The original Norfolk Lodge is now a burnt-out ruin on the Ferry Road, opposite the Hayling Golf Course. In it and its outbuildings are timbers taken from HMS Impregnable which was wrecked within sight of it in 1798. It was always a haunt of watermen who plied their trade on the south-western corner of the Island. The Spraggs family who ran the Hayling Ferry were associated with this Inn for many years. Tradition has it that it was also intimately connected with smuggling, even though the Watch House was only a hundred yards away! The name was changed to “The Ferryboat” in the 1950’s, its close proximity to the Ferry coupled with the popular song of the time “Down at the Ferry Boat Inn” is the suggested reason for the change.

A “Maypole” Inn is said to have existed on the Island since the 18th century, though the predecessor of the present building (built in 1933) was built in 1803. Rural life revolved around the old “Maypole”. Once a year, members of the Maypole Benefit Club used to parade from their room at the Inn wearing their pagan regalia. Led by a brass band they would march to the Church for a special service following which they would return to the pub, bringing the parson with them who would then preside over a splendid dinner accompanied by “a cricket match, quoits, dancing, love-making and beer!”

The Barley Mow has been extensively altered over the years. It began life as two cottages. In White’s directory of 1878 it is listed as a beerhouse with a Mrs. Lucy Pannell as Landlandy. Lucy was still in charge when its famous Thrift Club was formed in 1875, its annual “share out” being one of the highlights of the Hayling Year. The original Barley Mow was in Station Road, now Jaspers. In the 1970’s it was moved to the corner of the same road in what had been a barn of Walters Farm.

YewTree pubThe Yew Tree, which stands on the border of North and South Hayling was once known as “Seamans” when it was a wheelwright’s shop. On this site the farmer brewed beer for his labourers and his family. It probably became an alehouse after the licensing laws were introduced. A macabre aspect of its history is that there was once a mortuary there where the bodies of drowned sailors were laid out after such disasters as the sinking of the Royal George off Spithead. It was bought by George and Douglas Henty the brewers, in 1877 from Ralph Cutler. It was modernised in 1956 when its indispensable car park was added.

Ralph Cutler also sold “The Rose in June” to George and Douglas Henty in 1873. Although the Henty’s demolished the old thatched beerhouse, replacing it with the present square building, they did leave the thatched barn which remained in a commendable state of preservation until it was so recently burned down. A beam in the barn bore the date “1739”. The name was probably taken from a large white rose bush which grew at the back of the original cottage.

The Olive Leaf owes its name to Hayling’s first lifeboat which was donated to the Service by the London company of Thomas Leaf & Sons in 1865. William Goldring, licensed victualler and first Coxwain of the lifeboat bought some 22 rods of land on the Seafront from J.S. Cutler and built the Inn. It is said that there was a race between the Lifeboat and Olive Leaf to see which Inn could complete its buildings and serve its first customer first. Tradition does not tell us which pub won the race.