The Diaper Heritage Association
Fisherman, Ferryman, Sailor, Spy - the Diapers of Itchen Ferry
News Newsletter
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Fisherman, Ferryman, Sailor, Spy - The Diapers of Itchen Ferry

Review of the Year



Good morning delegates my name is Cheryl Butler and of behalf of the Diaper Heritage Association I would like to welcome you to the Diaper Family Conference Day, and we would like to extend a special welcome to those family members who have come from around the UK and from overseas.


I hope you have picked up your conference programme which details what will be happening today. If anyone needs to powder their noses the toilets are out of the door, turn left and right. The buffet lunch will be served in the music room adjacent to this room.


If I can introduce the top table to you our guest speaker Chris Pomery, our secretary Angie Turtle and our Oral History project leader Anna Welch.


So to start off the day, we wanted to have a guest speaker who might make us think about what future research could be done on the Diapers.


With so much speculation on the origin of the name which has been linked to conquering Normans, Spanish smugglers, brickmakers, linen workers and even servants who wiped Henry VIII’s bottom, it seemed a good idea to invite someone who might be able to point us in the direction of answers to the question.


We have also been curious about why there are so many Diapers in Southampton and so few elsewhere and if there is a connection between the Southampton Diapers and Diapers to be found in East Anglia, so we decided to invite along someone who not only knows about genealogy, but who has also studied a single family and who has written a book on DNA and family history.


So without further ado I would like to introduce Mr Chris Pomeroy.


Some of you have been involved in this project from the beginning and some have discovered it over the course of the last 8 months through the exhibition and events programme, we wanted to take some time to reflect on what has happened as we developed this Diaper Heritage project and share with you some of the images and memories.


It was in 2004 that the idea was formulated about the possibility of staging a small exhibition about the life of Captain Thomas Diaper, yachtsman and writer who had written his autobiography in 1949 when he was in his eighties.


The Southampton Maritime Museum was approached to see if they would be interested in devoting a small place in the Woolhouse Museum on the subject, as part of the national celebration called 'Sea Britain' in 2005. Although they agreed to consider the possibility they said they could not programme anything until 2006 and they had a couple of provisos.


Any exhibition had to have a wider interest, have a strong maritime Southampton theme and there needed to be three dimensional objects that could be displayed. The assistant curator, Rachel Wragg, was familiar with the book 'Tom Diaper's Log' which she proposed to read whilst I sought to find out who else might be interested in supporting an exhibition and where objects might be found.


Thanks to the web, I discovered there was a genealogical site dedicated to research on the Diaper family and my message for interested parties to get in touch led to my making contact with the people who would over time become the organising committee for this project. Angie Turtle, Julie Barker and Sue Diaper.


It transpired that Angie was married to my mother's first cousin and had become involved in tracing the family tree to assist her sister-in-law who was researching from Canada. Julie had also been 'adopted' into the clan via her stepfather, Sue along with her sister Hazel had become interested in looking into the family history having recently lost their father.


We needed to know if there were any more Diapers out there with stories and artefacts that they might be willing to lend.


So in June 2005 we set up shop in a community hall in Woolston, near to the place from which the Diapers hailed, and via press releases, mailouts and leaflets invited any one interested in the Diaper Family to attend. We hoped that may be 50 people might come along and that we could talk to them about our ideas.


In the event 300 people came through the doors, with their documents, photos, and memories filling out questionnaires, and meeting up with long lost relatives.


When we met up again with the museum service we could guarantee them a whole range of artefacts and information not only on Captain Tom Diaper but about his brothers, cousins, nephews, aunts and uncles.


The result being that far from being offered a small display board the Diaper exhibition was going to be the main temporary exhibition for the museum between July and December 2006– a date that was soon to be extended until 4 March 2007.


All we needed to do now was to get the exhibition designed, organise the promotion, do the research, arrange events and raise £57,000.


To achieve any of this we first had to formally set up The Diaper Heritage Association and our first success was to receive a start up grant of £500 from Southampton City Council, we also appealed for donations from supporters and began looking for a sponsor as any successful grant application would need some partnership funding.


Thanks to David Diaper whose branch of the family had links with Red Funnel Ferries we raised £2000 to support the production of the heritage trail leaflet


This leaflet placed the Diapers within the wider history of Southampton and included a heritage trail around Southampton, and the IOW. The leaflet was also the main promotional leaflet for the events programme.


The next success was a £5,000 award from the Awards for All fund, which would help to support the events, but the make or break for the project, was to be able to make successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. We submitted our phase one application in July 2005 and then we waited, and waited, and waited.


Staff shortages at HLF meant that they were weeks behind in assessing applications but for us the clock was ticking. We needed to know by December 2005, if we were going to have enough time to get an exhibition open by 14 th July 2006. It was not until September when we were told we could proceed to a full application.


This was submitted in October and covered the exhibition costs, oral history, genealogy project, web site, education work, promotion and extended events. And again we waited and waited and waited. In early January we finally were told that we would be receiving £46,000. Our target was reached and now the real work began. The story of the project attracted a wide variety of press coverage including TV.


So now the only question was, would any body come?


The following montage covers a whole range of activity, the putting together of the exhibition, the launch of the trail leaflet, the training of oral history interviewers, the setting up of the website, the collection of photographs and putting together the family tree. The exhibition launch, events such as ‘Meet the Relatives’ ‘The Old Wives Tales’, the education trail, the walks and talks, the civic service, the relaunch of the exhibition at Southampton Boat Show, the plays such as The Sad Tale of Richard Parker, Save Our Souls and The Ship Titanic. The writing of newsletters, commissioning of songs and the oral history phone line ….


How busy have we been!


We have sent out dozens of press releases. Distributed 10,000 Trail leaflets, 5000 Education leaflets, 3000 leaflets about talks, the same for theatre events and events in Peartree, 3000 Finale leaflets, we have to date interviewed 20 people for the oral history project and of course collected data, and images of many of the 7000 Diapers for the family tree. Over 115,000 people have visited our website.


There are many people that need to be thanked Julie and Angie for all their work on genealogy (and they will be giving us an update shortly),


Gloria Tack for taking the bookings for all the events, Sue Diaper for help with the website and organising along with Florrie Taylor the Diaper Civic Service. Rachel Wragg and Claire Watson from the museum service for staging the museum exhibition, Anna Welch for leading on the oral history project along with the interviewers Fiona Kennedy, John Fulstow and Lee Tudor-Pole,


all those members who made loans to the exhibition, too many to mention individually but thank you all, the members of the Sarah Siddons Fan Club theatre group for all their incredible performances, our speakers Rosemary Joy, Mary South, David Clover, Chris Pomeroy, Geoff Watts for the guided walks, Paul Firman, vicar of Peartree and Jo Smith at Southampton Archives, Brian Hooper and Jeff Henry for re-creating original ferry songs and writing some new ones for us,


Richard Judd who has designed so much of our publicity material and given endless technical support, Crispian Cook for our film work, all those who have attended events and visited the museum. Literally, thousands of people. (And thank you to those who have returned evaluation forms). This is in danger of becoming an Oscar speech, so if we have forgotten anyone we apologise.


It has been an exhausting couple of years and it is not over yet, although today the exhibition comes to an end, we have a guided walk around the old cemetery on the common on the 25 th March and we still have one major event, when we will be going back across the river to where we held the Diaper Day nearly two years ago.


This time it is to stage an event at Peartree Church in April. Called Rev Davies Historical Pageant – and named after not only a former vicar of the church but someone who was probably the greatest historian of Southampton's history - it will be a mixture of theatre, songs, presentations, guided walks and history.


We also have to complete our Oral History Project and if any of you have family memories you wish to share our oral historians are with us today, we also have a couple of publications planned. We are looking at putting together a souvenir publication based on the oral and written history we have gathered. Its current title being ‘We only wore shoes on a Sunday’, which was, one of the best comments from one of our oral history interviewees.


We would also like to achieve the publication of a new edition of 'Tom Diapers Log' complete with new introduction and footnotes. Publishers are a little sceptical as to whether there is a market, we feel fairly confident it would be of interest to our widening family and the yachting fraternity. Our latest publication of the family tree is available to day and if you haven’t ordered your copy we have a few extra with us today.


We have to complete our evaluation report to the Heritage Lottery Fund by July and there is still plenty of research to be done on the family archives as well as a major update on the website which will take place over the next month. You never know what is going to be turned up next, a Titanic Survivor, a transported criminal or a piece of all film about the launch of a yacht called Shamrock.


So before opening up the floor for questions I would like to invite other members of the committee to give us an update on their projects, firstly Angie & Julie on the geneology.


Anna Welch is now going to give us a quick update on the oral history programme


So now it is up to you to tell us what you have thought of last twelve months and any thoughts you have about the future of the Diaper Heritage Association and we are of course happy to take any questions on any aspect of the project.


Thank you all for your input, we have put aside plenty of time for lunch so that you can not only eat but have time to look at the publications, or have a chat to your relations! If you have any documents or photos with you for the archive Angie will be available with the scanner. We will also screen the films Making Sail and the short film that some of you might have seen on Wednesday about John Diaper of the Titanic. The Museum is 10 minutes walk away from here and is open between 1-4pm today and there will be a guided walk starting at 2pm and taking about an hour around historic Southampton and that starts from Holyrood Church, which is just to the left of this building. Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day.