WITH a city as rich in history as Southampton, it's hardly surprising many of the facts and tales have become shrouded within the mists of time.

A new book from local historian and SeeSouthampton guide Martin Brisland lifts the veil from Southampton’s less-known history, and offers a glimpse into the people, places and events which helped shape the town and city.

As well as exploring when big names such as Harry Houdini and Muhammad Ali came to town, many other notable characters are featured within the book’s 96 pages - including Sir John Jellicoe.

“Born in Southampton,” writes Martin, “Jellicoe lived at several addresses, including 1 Cranbury Terrace, and was educated at Banister Park School.

“Jellicoe controversially commanded the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.

“The public wanted a major naval victory like Trafalgar; instead it was a stalemate clash of the dreadnoughts, and some thought him too cautious.

“However, the German High Seas Fleet retreated to port and never seriously engaged in battle again during the First World War.

“In November 1916 he was promoted to First Sea Lord, made a viscount in 1918 and Admiral of the Fleet in 1919.

“In 1929 Southampton awarded him the Freedom of the Borough.”

Daily Echo:

1 Cranbury Terrace

Other notable characters featured include the last Viceroy of India Lord Louis Mountbatten, spitfire designer RJ Mitchell, pop star Craig David and many more.

Explored are the grisly locations of the Old Admiralty Gallows and other public executions at the Bargate.

Martin ask the interesting question: “Why is a pineapple on top of our former Royal Pier entrance building?,” and follows up with the comprehensive answer.

“In 1493, Christopher Columbus had arrived on Guadalupe and his landing party came across a village.

“Outside the huts were fresh fruits, one of which was anana, the Carib word for ‘excellent fruit’.

“Columbus recorded it in his log as looking like a pine cone with the sweet flavour and firmness of an apple.

“By the 1660s, Charles II had posed for an official portrait of him receiving a pineapple.

“The trophy for the men’s singles tennis at Wimbledon has a pineapple design that adorns the top of the lid.

“There was a tradition where captains in the British navy coming back from sea put a pineapple on the gateposts of their home to show that they were ‘at home’ to visitors.

“Some older houses in Southampton still have stone pineapples on top of the entrance gates.

“The pineapple has become a symbol of welcome, friendship, wealth and hospitality.”

A section titled “Secret Stories” compiles many fascinating tales about the city, including its role in the release of the much-loved tea-time treat - the fish finger.

“Clarence Birdseye test marketed herring fingers, a product he had discovered in the United States under the name ‘herring savouries’.

“These were tested in Southampton and South Wales against ‘cod sticks’, a bland product used as a control.

“Shoppers confounded expectations by showing an overwhelming preference for the cod, and the rest is history.

“Birds Eye launched their fish fingers in September 1955.

“The advertising campaign was ‘No bones, no waste, no smell, no fuss’.”

Daily Echo:

As well as stories, Martin peppers the pages with fun facts.

“Southampton was named ‘Fittest City in the UK’ by Men’s Fitness magazine in 2006.

“The city’s residents had a higher percentage of gym memberships, less heart disease and consumed less alcohol and junk food than any of its counterparts.

“Another report soon after, however, found it to be in the top three for ‘fat cities’!”

Too many fish fingers maybe.

Secret Southampton is published by Amberley Publishing and is available in paperback at the price of £14.99 or on Kindle at £12.99.