About Gosport Local History Luncheon Club

Where did the Gosport Local History Luncheon Club Start?

The Luncheon Club started as a further education class taken by Joan Russell at the St Vincent College. The course had to be closed down as funding was withdrawn. The person at the college who passed on the information, suggested to Joan that she could change it to a lunch-time club where Joan and others can continue encouraging the group in their interests in local history. This involved picking an area of research, carrying out that research then presenting it to the group. At the time they had space in St Vincent.

History of The St. Vincent Local History Luncheon Club (Gosport Local History Luncheon Club) By Joan Russell

THIS LOCAL HISTORY CLUB  was started in 1985 as part of the St Vincent Adult Education programme. Wendy Thorpe, the Centre Head was facing hard financial cuts. So she cut out the Tutor’s fee for our  Researching Local History Class  on the 3rd  Thursday of every month, and replaced it with Gosport’s St Vincent Local History Club.

She  organised it completely herself,  She collected together  people from her other daytime classes. She tempted them in with the prospect of an hour’s talk about new-found aspects of Gosport’s amazing history. This was given by  Class tutor, Joan Russell, her students & others.

Over biscuits and coffee Wendy “chose” the officers…  “You, you and you” – Audrey Brett  Chairman, Joyce Kilham Secretary and Pat Marsden Treasurer! Ok? I’m sure you’ll all be wonderful. (AND THEY WERE!) And I’ll rent you a meeting room, so 8 times a year you can have  a lunchtime Local History talk  from some  of the Class members about Gosport’s fascinating history.  And you can all go and chat over coffee in the lounge afterwards. How about  charging £1.50 per meeting for rent and postage  and coffee and biscuits?

So, for over 20 years, St Vincent L.H. Club members  have met 8 times a year. After 10 years we were obliged to move from  St Vincent to a more central meeting place at 151, Stoke Road. There, Health and Safety regulations restrict us to 50 members. But alas, over the years many a familiar face has been replaced by a new one, as age has taken its toll.  Gradually our knowledge of Gosport’s dramatic past has expanded. We’ve covered many topics, from 10th Century Saxon and Viking times up to the end of the 20th Century  including  the  making of our 21st C. Millennium Promenade.

OUR AIM NOW IS to summarise the best of 150 odd talks onto this website. Our Class explored Gosport’s history back centuries at a time. But the most popular talks have been by our oldest members. Vivid childhood memories growing up in old Gosport-town from 1900-1945, before and during World War 2 appeal to all ages! So gradually you too can get a feel of Gosport’s long amazing past (this will now not being done, due to founder not being available for this work). As many as can be found and sorted out, will be added.

Chairman of the FRIENDS OF GOSPORT MUSEUM, Mr Robert Whiteley fights to keep its identity, now it is inside the new 2005 DISCOVERY CENTRE.  Copies of papers donated to the old Gosport  Museum Archive,  now in store, would enhance OUR Gosport archive.


1. Name of Club – Gosport St Vincent Local History Club (Now Gosport Local History Luncheon Club) as no longer held at St Vincent – or has been for quite a number of years.

2. Date formed – May 1985

3. Charity status – never applied for, but non-profit making

4. Attendance  30 – 50

5. Active volunteers vary – 9  on committee plus a number of other at the meetings. Including setting up and putting down tables, giving out the meals, washing up. transporting members and lunches and the person who prepares them.

6. No paid personnel

7. Client Group includes:-

  • A)  Active older people interested in  Gosport’s History, free to attend a 2 hour lunchtime meeting on the 3rd Thursday  during  8 months a year.
  • B) A number of organisations large and small – Church groups,  “Friends Groups”. Townswomens Guilds. Discussion Groups, Luncheon Clubs, Womens’ Institutes, Political  Clubs etc. who have  asked  us for a speaker.
  • C) Members of the public who have attended Community-based functions or talks. Or where we have had stands and exhibitions, or heard our occasional appearances on local radio,

8. The main activity of our group is to provide  interesting factual stories  about  many aspect of Gosport’s fascinating past. Be it anything from fossils to the Romans and  Saxons, from the medieval foundations of Portsmouth and Gosport and  Rowner’s Grange Farm to  Gosport’s Millennium Promenade. From the 1642 battle between Royalist Portsmouth and Roundhead-occupied Gosport,  to our long rise and fall  as a military seaport. EVERYTHING has a past, and the past is always replaced by the present.

Joan Russell,  President Gosport St Vincent Local History Club.

Current Position of Gosport Local History Luncheon Club
In 2010 the St John Ambulance were closing their building 151 Stoke Road in Gosport and I understand a building in Fareham to merge and have a building in Fareham Reach. After a lot of looking around the Committee found the place that seemed to most suit the club was the Parish Hall behind Christ Church in Stoke Road. I feel there have been some advantages, such as the admission place can be in an entrance lobby and there seems to be more room in the new hall. The last meeting in the St John Ambulance Hall was 18th  March 2010 with the first in the Christ Church Parish Hall was on the 20th May 2010 after the Easter break.
Over the following year the Committee felt with the change of meeting place, which was included in the Constitution some amendment was required. The original Constitution was created in 1985 and amended in 2001 and even though the club no longer met in St Vincent the name had been kept. The feeling was that is caused some confusion for new members. On the 23rd May 2011 a new constitution was agreed by the Committee, this was passed at the AGM of the 15th September 2011. So the name was changed from St Vincent Local History Luncheon Club to Gosport Local History Luncheon Club. Ian Jeffery


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