On High Street, Old Portsmouth.
John Pound's House
John Pound's House c1930s
Power Station Plaque (1)
Power Station Plaque (2)
1766 - 1839
whose work for the poor of
this district inspired the
Movement is buried
in the Memorial
Inscription (Plaque 2)
OF THE FORMER UNITARIAN CHAPEL
WAS LAID ON 24TH SEPTEMBER 1955 BY
SIR ADRIAN CEDRIC BOULT
COMMEMORATING THE UNION OF
ST THOMAS'S STREET
GENERAL BAPTIST CHAPEL
FOUNDED IN 1640 AND
FOUNDED IN 1662
THESE HISTORIC CHAPELS WERE
DESTROYED BY ENEMY ACTION IN 1941
"THE LATTER GLORY OF THIS HOUSE
SHALL BE GREATER THAN THE FORMER"
Monument Inscription - 1
John Pounds was born in Portsmouth on 17th June 1766. He was apprenticed as a shipwright in the Dockyard at the age of 12 but only three years later he fell into a dry dock and was crippled for life.
Unable to follow his chosen trade, John became a shoemaker and by 1803 had his own shop in St. Mary Street (now Highbury Street), Old Portsmouth. The building was a tiny two roomed house, one up and one down, the latter being his workshop in which he cobbled. While working in the shop, John began teaching local children how to read. He attracted them initially by frequently having some simple food, often baked potatoes available for them. His reputation as a teacher grew and he soon had over 40 pupils attending his lessons. Unlike other schools, John did not charge a fee for teaching the poor of Portsmouth. As well as reading and arithmetic, John gave lessons in cooking, carpentry and shoemaking.
When he began teaching he had few, if any, books and it is said he used old posters and notices hanging on the walls, but before long he had attracted the attention of ministers at the Unitarian Chapel who henceforth supplied him with books. When the Chapel opened a Sunday School, John Pounds sent some of his pupils along.
John Pounds died on New Years Day, 1839 at the age of 73.
After his death, The Reverend Thomas Guthrie who practised in Scotland proclaimed John Pounds as the inspiration for the idea of "Ragged Schools" - a movement offering free education for poor children.
The Unitarian Chapel survived until the Second World War when it was destroyed by German bombs. In it's place arose the current chapel dedicated to the memory of John Pounds and in it's grounds is buried the man himself. As a further homage to John Pounds a replica of his shop has been constructed at the back of the Chapel.
The Memorial Stone over his grave is inscribed on two faces as follows:-
REST THE MORTAL REMAINS OF
THE PHILANTHROPIC SHOEMAKER
OF ST MARY'S STREET PORTSMOUTH
WORKING AT HIS TRADE IN A VERY
SMALL ROOM GRATUITOUSLY
INSTRUCTED IN A USEFUL EDUCATION
AND PARTLY CLOTHED AND FED
SOME HUNDREDS OF GIRLS AND BOYS
HE DIED SUDDENLY
ON NEW YEARS DAY MDCCCXXXIX
WHILE IN HIS ACTIVE BENIFICENCE
AGED LXXII YEARS
Monument Inscription - 2
HAS BEEN ERECTED CHIEFLY
BY MEANS OF PENNY SUBSCRIPTIONS
NOT ONLY FROM THE CHRISTIAN
WITH WHOM JOHN POUNDS
IN THE ADJOINING CHAPEL
BUT FROM PERSONS OF WIDELY
DIFFERING RELIGIOUS OPINION
THROUGHOUT GREAT BRITAIN
AND FROM THE MOST DISTANT
PARTS OF THE WORLD
IN CONNECTION WITH THIS MONUMENT
HAS ALSO BEEN FOUNDED IN LIKE MANNER
WITHIN THESE PRECINCTS
A LIBRARY TO HIS MEMORY
DESIGNED TO EXTEND
TO AN INDEFINITE FUTURITY
THE SOLID MENTAL AND MORAL USEFULNESS
TO WHICH THE PHILANTHROPIC SHOEMAKER
WAS SO EARNESTLY DEVOTED
TO THE LAST DAY OF HIS LIFE
The two lowest photos on the left show two plaques which were believed to have been sited on the wall of the Electricity Generating Station which when built covered the area previously occupied by the end of St Mary's (later, Highbury) Street which included No. 78 Highbury Street, the original site of John Pounds house. The upper plaque was unveiled by the Lord Mayor, Frank Miles JP on 22nd February 1954; the date of erection of the second is unknown, but the photograph is known to have been taken by Mick Cooper at the John Pounds School on Kent Street before it was demolished to make way for the John Pounds Centre. The current whereabouts of both plaques is unknown.
See: www.johnpounds.org.uk which is the website of the John Pounds Heritage Appeal
And: www.johnpounds.org.uk/church/ which is the website of the John Pounds Memorial Church