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TOPIC: Supermarine dispersal sites in and around Southampton

Supermarine dispersal sites in and around Southampton 21 Mar 2018 22:18 #1

  • AlanMatlock
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I'm writing to see if you might be able to help me with some research I'm trying to do.

My name is Alan Matlock and, have recently been part of the community company of local people who performed at the new Nuffield Theatre in Southampton, alongside the professionals in the hugely successful play entitled, The Shadow Factory.

The theatre is now sponsoring a 6 month project called Out of the Shadows to take the story of the bombing of the Supermarine works and subsequent dispersal of production into local schools and neighborhoods.

I have been involved in some of these visits, with 3 actors playing the parts of a wartime requisition officer, police constable and a Supermarine engineer. They enter classrooms unannounced and convince the students the classroom is needed to build Spitfires! The class is then taken out to the playground where, on the upper deck of vintage double decker bus, they see a video about the bombing of Supermarine and the dispersal programme. (Photos attached). A classroom debrief seeks to elicit what they have gathered and if they know of family stories linked to the war years in the area and Southampton and Supermarine in particular.

I am keen to get as much information as possible about the dispersal sites. I have been able to find some details, including a partial list on your amazing website, but I would love to be able to find, or put together, a complete list.

Ideally, I'd like to get a full breakdown of where all the dispersal sites were, primarily the ones in and around Southampton itself, what they were used for before and who owned them. Also what Spitfire work was done in each one, by whom, number of workers etc. Finally, to find out what is on the site today.

I realise, from how difficult I've found it already, that this information, if it is 'out there', is not easy to gather and I understand that it may well not exist in a single place. However, if you could please send me any information you may have, or links, hints, clues etc to where it could be good to investigate further, I would be really grateful. I have already been in touch with Dave Key the volunteer historian at IBM but not the Solent Sky people yet.

After Easter the school visits will switch to community based work with two buses, a travelling exhibition, guided visits to dispersal sites etc. Ultimately the project is aiming to gather and record the stories of locals who lived through those days and, with recorded interviews and possibly some artefacts, have a fuller picture to keep in the city archive for all to access.

Thanks for reading this email and if you can think of ways to help me take things forward I'd really appreciate it.
Best wishes,
Alan Matlock

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Supermarine dispersal sites in and around Southampton 22 Mar 2018 08:59 #2

  • Paul Francis
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Alan we have quite a bit on the production of the Spitfire, mostly concerning sub-contractors.

The Southampton area locations were as follows (this list may not be complete, but its the one I have to hand).

Weston Shore Rolling Mills, one bay from Dec. 1939 used as coppersmiths and petrol tank shop taken December 1939, whole building req. mid-1940 to 1944

Woolston works attacked 24 Sept. 1940 and heavily bombed 26 Sept. with the result that works relinquished.

Head office to Polygon Hotel Sept 1940, admin and management to Hursley Park, Dec. 1940. Design office to Southampton Uni, then to Hursley Park Dec. 1940.

Wages and Salaries to Deepdene, Midenbury, Southampton.

Accounts to Southend House

Fuselages to Hendys Garage, Pound Tree Lane Oct. 1940

Fuselages to Sewards Garage, Winchester Road, Southampton

Details and Sub-Assembly to Sunlight Laundry, Winchester Road

Wings to Hants and Dorset Bus Garage, Winchester Road

Finished Parts Store to some huts near Hollybrook Cemetery, Shirley

Machine Shop to Lowthers Garage, Park Street / Road, Shirley

Pre-Production to Hendy's Agricultural Equipment Showroom at Chandlers Ford req. 22-10-40

Machine Shop to Shorts Garage, Southampton

Leading edge, tank coverings and training to Carey & Lambert, Austin House Showroom, Southampton

Inspection and AID to Holt House

Press Shop and Sheet Metal Detail to Chiswells Garage

Stores to Leigh Road

Transport and Workshop Repair to Garats Garage

Finished Components to Marwell Hall

Rivet Sorting to Park Place

Finished Parts Store to Sholing

Finished Parts to Bishops Waltham

Accounts and Records to Sleepy Hollows Barn

Woodwork and Metal Assemblies to Newton Works

Central Stores to Hursley Road

Embodiment Loan to Wonston
You can tell a builder from an archaeologist by the size of his trowel. Mine is a small one!
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Supermarine dispersal sites in and around Southampton 22 Mar 2018 17:15 #3

  • AlanMatlock
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Paul,
Thanks for your prompt and detailed reply. You have mentioned quite a few places that I had only heard of verbally, eg "Transport and Workshop Repair to Garats (Garrett's?) Garage" - (someone had mentioned such a place as being a Shell garage and somewhere in Chandlers Ford) and "Marwell Hall". However, as is often the way with these things, there are invariably more questions than answers!
I'd love to be able to verify the original location of all these sites and, although some for me are well documented others remain shrouded in mystery. I have, for example, ascertained that:
* "Central Stores to Hursley Road" is now Draper's Tools in Chandlers Ford and
* "Finished Parts Store to some huts near Hollybrook Cemetery, Shirley" was known as Hollybrook Stores and I have a photo of it in operation and know what is there now.
* "Machine Shop to Lowthers Garage, Park Street / Road, Shirley" is now a Kwik Fit and there is a wartime photo of it with a policeman on guard outside it in Denis Le P Webb's book, "Never a Dull Moment".
See below for photos.
If you can provide any further details, in text or photos, that would be wonderful. Perhaps you may also have some suggestions as to where I could look myself or contact details for anyone who might know more about these sites.
Thanks again,
Alan

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Supermarine dispersal sites in and around Southampton 10 Apr 2018 10:25 #4

  • DavidKey1
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Hi Paul,

Alan pointed me to this thread as I've been helping the Nuffield Theatre with their research into the locations of the Supermarine Dispersal works (glad to see Alan is also asking around for other information as we're all here to learn and add to what we know, or think we know, already). The Hollybrook Stores detail came from a Facebook post I'd done on the stores at www.facebook.com/Supermariner

I'm doing this as part of a wider project to tell the story of Supermarine, and more significantly The Supermariners, i.e. those who worked for Supermarine.

On the whole I think most of the Supermarine locations in the Southampton area (Botley, Hamble, Winchester, Hursley, Chandler's Ford and Eastleigh included) are relatively well documented and I'll help Alan with those, what interested me however was your comment that you have quite a lot on the sub-contractors.

I'd be very interested in further detail on these.

Denis Webb gave a detailed list of over 200 contractors in 1941 (which reduced to over 100 later in the war) but putting locations and details to these has proved more difficult, in part simply because of a lack of local knowledge and the way names changed. So anything that can help link these contractors back to the work they did would be of great interest, particularly those in the initial stages of Spitfire production.

Cheers
Dave

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Supermarine dispersal sites in and around Southampton 10 Apr 2018 20:42 #5

  • Paul Francis
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Me and my 'big mouth'. Yes we do have a fair bit, not all on Southampton, and it is part of a much larger collection of large files on the fringe factory organisation, FWW aircraft manufacture and the main aircraft companies. This was originally put together by the late Barry Abraham, which I am slowly going through and sorting, into smaller company files, as I have an interest in aircraft and aero-engine manufacture. I am compiling a list of newly registered aviation companies from 1909, having so far reached 1936 (some 3,000 named so far) with details such as address, directors, company details etc. This is taking up all my time right now. It might be best therefore, if it is an address that you require, to list them here and I will try and locate them.
You can tell a builder from an archaeologist by the size of his trowel. Mine is a small one!

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