The Diaper Heritage Association
Fisherman, Ferryman, Sailor, Spy - the Diapers of Itchen Ferry

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Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


Southampton Heritage Association scoop major Lottery Grant

'FISHERMAN, FERRYMAN, SAILOR, SPY' Unique family history inspires new exhibition.


A project to chart the history of a lost Southampton village and its connection with one of the area's best-known families has been boosted by a 42,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.


The Diaper family was associated with the village of Itchen Ferry for many years but were especially prominent during the hundred years from 1850. They made a name for themselves as fishermen and ferrymen and were renowned as excellent sailors. Their colourful history included a family member who was among the crew on the Titanic and who survived and another whose cousin was a cabin boy eaten by fellow members of the crew on a yacht shipwrecked in the 1880s.


The village of Itchen Ferry became the suburb of Woolston which was virtually destroyed during the Southampton Blitz in 1940 when the area was heavily bombed because of the proximity of the docks and factory that built the Spitfire.


Now the newly formed Diaper Heritage Association, working with the Southampton City Council's Museum Service, is to mount an exhibition and series of events tracing the lost village's fascinating history and the Diaper's contribution to the area's maritime history. The community that grew up at Itchen Ferry made a living transporting people across the river to Southampton but because of their relative isolation developed a range of specific local crafts, customs and folk songs that will feature in the project.


An exhibition, 'Fisherman, Ferryman, Sailor, Spy - The Diapers of Itchen Ferry' will be mounted at the city's Maritime Museum from July till March next year. Commenting on the project, chair of the Diaper Heritage Association and herself a descendent of the family Dr Cheryl Butler said


'The grant will enable us to present the family heritage in a range of ways including dramatisations of remarkable aspects of the family history such as their role in the notorious landmark court case; The Crown v Dudley, concerts of traditional ferry songs, readings from Tom Diaper's Log, guided walks around the old ferry village, talks by specialist historians on the J Class yachts and the screening of a newly commissioned film.'


For the Heritage Lottery Fund Stephen Boyce, Deputy Director of Operations for South East England said:


'The grant will not only raise wider awareness of a fascinating aspect of local history, it will also be a great boost for the newly-formed heritage group who will be recording oral history and folk songs, putting on exhibitions and involving schools'


The association believe their project to be unique in its scope and development and that it will tap into the burgeoning interest in genealogical and local history and inspire others to delve into their family history


For further information contact Cheryl Butler, Tel 023 8068 8187 Email


Sir Thomas Lipton with the crew of Shamrock IV

At least seven Diapers are in the above crew, including five brothers.

(Courtesy of the Mitchell Library)