Northshore Meeting Friday 4th October

This month, members from the five WIs that make up the Northshore group met in Wootton. The ‘Welcome’ was given Dorothy Maskell, a member of Creekside WI and convenor of the Northshore group this year. Following a short business meeting, Dorothy then introduced the speaker, Andrew Negus from Hampshire.
Portsmouth Harlots Dung and Glory Part 2 1780-1860. Portsmouth helps create a superpower. Anyone who thought this was going to be a dry subject was in for a huge surprise; from the first word we were in for an interesting, humorous and lively afternoon. We heard how the small town of Portsea was created so that The Norman kings could pop across the channel for frequent visits to Normandy and by 1760 the greatest factory complex in the world had been created building and servicing ships which were sailing to foreign parts to claim new lands that became The Empire. Even though there was a rapidly growing wealth, Portsmouth was known as one of the filthiest, squalid and diseased ridden towns in Europe.
Andrew also gave us a glimpse of some of the interesting characters born in the city such as James Aidkins who ended up ‘ hung from the yardarm’ in Gosport until his body had completely rotted, the bones falling out of the chains to be sold. When one of the town’s harlots caused a gunpowder explosion the powder was moved to Gosport providing work for thousands of people. Henry Ayers another Portsmouth man gave his name to Ayers Rock, John Pounds started the Ragged Schools. Other famous names were Charles Dickens, Isambard Brunell and Ellen Terry, a descendent being Sir John Guilgood. The first fleet sailed to Australia from Portsmouth with 800 convicts. Phillip Sidney, one of the Captains is well remembered in Perth.
Suddenly it was all over and members were heard to say ‘What a lovely afternoon!’ and ‘Can we come back for Part 3 next year?’
The ‘Thanks’ was given by Dorothy Maskell.
Next year East Cowes WI will organise the Northshore Meeting.