Lord Mayor visits Southampton Old Cemetery

On the morning of 25 April, bringing with her lovely sunshine, Lord Mayor, Cllr. Jacqui Rayment came on a visit. 

She was greeted, on arrival, by the Chairman and Secretary of FoSOC, Billy and Val Ferguson with their new ‘rescue dog’, Skye in attendance. The Lord Mayor was escorted to the former non-Conformist chapel of which, thanks to the kindness of the city council, FoSOC now has the use. The interior features of the building, previously obscured, can now be seen and this will, in future, be a meeting place for FoSOC and all our future Guided Walks will begin there. At the time of the visit, an extensive display, all related to Titanic, was still there, at which the Lord Mayor looked with great interest. She was also able to meet members of FoSOC’s Task Force, who, completely voluntarily, do so much in the cemetery, by arrangement with Bereavement Services, to help with conservation of the grounds and cutting back scrub and brambles. 

The tour of part of the cemetery was led by FoSOC’s Projects and Publicity Officer, Geoff, with Val, and looked at parts of the Anglican and non-Conformist areas. It included a visit to the Hebrew section. In November, at our Remembrance Commemoration part of the service had been held at the Belgian Memorial that is within the Roman Catholic part of the cemetery.

Geoff talked about Hugo Lamb Hickman who was greatly concerned, after the Second World War, with supporting veterans and campaigned for compensation for ex-Prisoners of War of the Japanese. Close to him, Geoff pointed out the grave of the first Chairman of Red Funnel, Andrew Lamb, that has lasted extremely well and is in very good condition. After that Geoff explained something of the way the cemetery was laid out as to Anglican and non-Conformist areas and how the division of the land, originally, just as to two thirds for the Anglicans, one third for the non-Conformists had emerged. He pointed out the grave of Richard Andrews whose statue is in East Marlands (Andrews) Park and told the story of the Southampton Volunteer Ambulance Corps whose memorial one of, he thinks, just three memorials (as opposed to burial commemorations) are within the city boundaries. 

The Lord Mayor was very impressed with a very recent stone, donated by a member of FoSOC, that remembers all in the cemetery with no marked grave, whether family did not provide one or people buried in ‘Common’ graves where usually there is no memorial stone. It was possible to go in to the porch of the former Anglican Mortuary Chapel and look through the glass to see how it has been transformed.

The story of Southampton’ youngest Mayor, Alfred Leighton McCalmont was told at the graveside. The Lord Mayor was then taken to the Hebrew Cemetery passing the grave of Arthur Weston, of Misselbrook and Weston fame. The story of the Hebrew section was told and Geoff spoke of specific graves there including Southampton’s very first Hebrew Mayor, Samuel Emanuel. General Rosas was not forgotten, though there was not time to visit the monument and Geoff concluded with Sir Frederick Perkins, like Richard Andrews, a five-time Mayor of Southampton.

The group photo shows Billy and Val, left of the Lord Mayor, Geoff to the right and at the back, left to right, Peter (Vice Chairman and former stonemason), Tim (FoSOC’s Treasurer) and Jean a FoSOC member.

It is a great pleasure being with Cllr. Jacqui who takes such a great interest and puts everyone at their ease. A very pleasant time was had on this visit. 

Special thanks to our own Bruce Larner for the selection of pictures recording, for FoSOC, this visit.

Geoff Watts