RESIDENTS and visitors of Bevois Mount - the streets between the Avenue and Bevois Valley – may have noticed a growing number of blue plaques dotted around the area.

They record many different aspects of local history, the oldest being the plaque on Reach Gym (formerly Jojo’s) which gives information about Bevois Mount House which stood just behind from 1723 – 1940.

The first plaque was put up in Alma Road on the house where Tommy Lewis spent the last eleven years of his life. Tommy, also commemorated in the name of the by-pass, Thomas Lewis Way, was a pioneering trade unionist, a long-time town councillor and, along with Ralph Morley, one of Southampton’s first Labour MPs.

He also played a small part in the story of the Titanic.


When the crew survivors landed at Plymouth, as president of the Seafarer’s Union, he rushed down to support them. The Board of Trade refused him access so he hired a small boat and through a megaphone, advised the crew to say nothing until they had union representation.

The Board of Trade backed down and he was able to organise their return to their homes and families.

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66 Alma Road - where Thomas Lewis lived

Another early plaque commemorates Frank and Roland McFadden.

They worked, as did so many in the area, at the Ordnance Survey but they were also artists of note and exhibited at the Royal Academy.

Frank is best remembered for a series of etchings published in ‘Vestiges of Old Southampton’ by T W Shore.

Another Southampton artist came from Bevois Mount and his birthplace in Rigby Road is commemorated with a plaque.

Eric Meadus grew up on the ‘flower estates’ and it has formed the subject of many of his paintings and drawings.

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He spent his adult life working at Pirelli’s and unfortunately died at the early age of thirty-nine.

His motto of ‘Not a day wasted’ meant that he nevertheless produced an impressive body of work in his short life.

One of the most intriguing stories is that of Reverend Thomas Pinckney.

He was the son of a freed slave and after some years doing missionary work in Liberia, he went to teach in a mission school in Canada.

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There he met and fell in love with Elizabeth, a white, English missionary.

A mixed-race marriage strained the tolerance of the town and they were forced to flee from persecution. They settled in Avenue Road and are both buried in the Old Cemetery.

A more recent local personality was John Arlott, best known and loved for his cricket commentaries on the BBC.

It is perhaps less well known that he was a policeman in Southampton for many years, including during World War Two.

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His route to sports commentary was, oddly, through poetry.

He was a keen poet himself and initiated correspondences with famous poets like John Betjeman who introduced him to many people at the BBC.

Eventually he was commissioned to do a broadcast. The subject he chose was Hambledon Cricket Club.

A few weeks ago, a new corner shop opened in Avenue Road. In some ways this was resurrecting a local tradition because from 1910 to 1968 it was a Co-operative Society shop.

This plaque was the first of its kind in the area because it includes a photograph alongside the text showing the Co-op store and its workers lining up outside.

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Similarly, Dharba 59, an Indian street food restaurant and pub on Lodge Road, now boasts a photograph of its previous incarnation as The Honest Lawyer pub which was fully licensed from 1871.

The plaque on the Guide Dog in Earls Road has no photographs but does tell the story of the name change from the Valley Inn.

There are other stories to discover in Bevois Mount like the family who lost both their sons at very young ages in World War One and the Titanic survivor who went on to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Ally Hayes is a tour guide with and a member of Bevois Mount History.