Fancy a journey to Chichester’s ‘Little Ice Age’, a plunge in ‘Roman Baths’ or an introduction to needle making in the City? Then this book might be right for you. Local historian Philip MacDougall is the author of Amberley Publishing’s latest book from their A-Z series, this one dealing with Chichester. Within its 96 pages Philip spans the history of the City from the iron age to the present day providing over 70 snippets about places, people, events and curios.
The format (as for all A-Z titles) is an alphabetical list of topics with cross-referencing taking the place of the traditional book index – saving time in preparation perhaps but losing the facility to find that elusive information. Thus, if seeking information about Shippams you would not know that one entry can be found under ’Quintessentially English’.
As to examples of other entries the ‘ Es’ cover the history of ‘Eastgate Gail’, venues of ‘Entertainment’ throughout the years and the housing of ‘Evacuees’ during the second world war with highlighted cross references to the ‘Little Ice Age’, the ‘Corn Exchange’, ‘Sloe Fair’ and the ‘Council House’ for example.
The `Cs’ include the history of the ‘Caledonian Ironworks’, the ‘Canal Basin’ and the ‘Corn Exchange’ and introduce two local personalities, member of Parliament and benefactor Sir William ‘Cawley’ and local poet Charles ‘Crocker’ and include cross references to ‘Union Workhouse’ and ‘Smith Brothers’.
Locations in the City for such as these are often provided but it would have helped the visitor if a street map or some illustrative schematic of the City had been included to aid orientation (this lack also seems to be a feature of all A-Z titles). Having relied on an alphabetical listing the issue arises as to how to deal with the less common letters ‘X’ and ‘Z’ for example. For the former the entry is ‘Xmas Delight’ describing Ernest Shippam’s gifts and support to those of his staff who enlisted in the First World War. This war theme continues under the entries ‘Zeppelin’ and ‘Zealous and Passionate for War’.
The author acknowledges in his introduction that the book provides a light touch to Chichester’s history so those wanting further information or more of an academic study are pointed to other book titles of local interest. Those seeking an easy read and a ‘wetting of the appetite’ to delve further may find £14.99 well spent on this publication and a useful addition to other A-Z titles that they might have already acquired.
The title can be purchased direct from Amberley Publshing at www.amberley-books.com or, if in Chichester, from Waterstones in West Street or Kim’s bookshop in South Street, the latter being an antiquarian and specialist bookseller where you will certainly find a treasure trove of local interest publications.