A year-long local history project was successfully completed this evening, as a brand new book describing the history of the Velmore estate was launched at the Velmore Centre.
Entitled Velmore: From Huts to Homes (1950s – 2014), the new book is the result of a community project funded by First Wessex, picking up on a suggestion which originated from local residents. In the Spring of 2013 Now Heritage were commissioned to do the research and write the book. The project has subsequently involved local residents at every stage of the process, including for some, a memorable trip to the Public Records Office at Kew.
Written by Emma Golby-Kirk and Barbara Reed, the book describes the events that led to the emergence of the Velmore Housing Estate on land that was once part of the huge Fleming Estate which, from circa 1600 AD onwards, extended across most of the North of Southampton and onto the Isle of Wight too…!
The book continues to describe the evolution of Velmore into a thriving community in the 1960’s, addresses the impact of the Carrefour hypermarket in 1974 and continues to look at how the area has evolved up to the present day, including the recent re-generation of housing and the development of the Velmore Centre.
Introducing the book to an excited audience at the official launch this evening, Emma Golby-Kirk said;
One thing that Barbara and I noted when we were doing a little bit of research on the local area, is that Velmore seems to always get missed out. If a book is about Eastleigh, or research is about Eastleigh, it kind of falls of the edge. There’s been plenty of local history research done about Chandlers Ford, but it doesn’t quite make it down the Bournemouth Road.
So, we thought if we could do something to help put Velmore on the map, tell the story of Velmore….
We knew there was much local knowledge, so we put 800 flyers out and we ended up meeting some wonderful people.
We didn’t realise what we were going to find, but what we did find was that there were so many people who live on this estate, who moved in, in the late 1950’s, raised their families here and stayed. Because it is a lovely place to live.
We also found lots of similarities with the families that have moved onto the estate today, the same concerns, the same sort of lifestyles.
We are hoping that young families are going to pick up a copy of the book and think actually, Wow!, we live in this place with a real heritage and a real sense of history about itself, and feel really proud to live here and maybe feel a bit more connected.
Also at the launch event were two of Eastleigh’s Conservative Borough Councillors.
Cllr Judith Grajewski said;
“I just think the Community spirit in Velmore is absolutely fantastic. This place [The Velmore Centre] is buzzing all the time. It is really good. It would be nice to see this sort of thing in Communities all over the Borough.”
Asked if the investment in the book was money well spent, Cllr Grajewski replied;
“Yes it is money well spent, because it is very nice for people who have always lived here to be able to look back and see everything together. I live in Chandlers Ford and am a newcomer, I’ve only been there for 20 years, but I’ve got all the books because I want to see the history and appreciate the heritage. I think its good.”
Also present was Cllr Godfrey Olson, who told Eastleigh News;
“I grew up near this site. I can remember during the war, we had a lot of anti aircraft guns here. They made a lot of noise.”
“I also remember it before there was any development here, when it was just woods. North End Copse.”
“I can remember as a boy, getting a Saturday penny. Another boy who was a friend of mine, also used to get a Saturday penny. So we had two pennies between us. On the corner of Leigh Road and Bournemouth Road was a Grocers shop and outside was a Woodbines machine. You could put in two pennies and get five Woodbines. So we used to get our five Woodbines and come up in here in the Woods and smoke them. It was part of my mispent Youth…!”
The new book is published in A5 paperback format and extends to 85 pages. Priced at £4.50, it is currently available from the Velmore Centre in Falkland Road or from the Eastleigh Museum in the High Street.
In case of difficulty obtaining a copy, you can also contact Gillian.Towler@FirstWessex.org