DEDICATED TO HELPING OTHERS
Among the men and women who dedicated their lives to helping others, two have a special place in the annuls of Portsmouth - Father Robert Dolling and
Miss Sarah Robinson.
The priest's legacy to Landport was St Agatha's Church, conceived in rading controversy. which, for different reasons, flared up again and again in
Hitler's bombs wiped out the old slum parish described in a book by Father Dolling, but the church miraculously escaped destruction, only to become a
bone of contention in road-building and Dockyard extension schemes, in the path of which it defiantly stood.
Father Dolling championed the slum dwellers nof his parish and mimistered to their bodily and spiritual needs with a tenacity of purpose which
inspired the warm affection of his people.
His High Church principles brought him into conflict with his Bishop over the furnishings and rites to be observed in the new church. In the end,
rather than to submit to the wishes of his eccliastical superiors, he quit the parish, to the deep sorrow of his flock.
The doomed church on which he lavished such care became a naval store in 1957, and efforts to save the graffiti of Heyward Sumner, a friend of William
Morris, were unsuccessful.
Sarah Robinson enjoyed the distinction of having her effigy burned on Southsea common. Her zeal in steering soldiers away from the sharks and harpies
who battened on them in Portsea brought down on her head tne vicious detestation of those whose business she was threatening. Mud was literally thrown at her in the streets, and her proteges were
mocked as "Miss Robinson's lambs".
Her Highly coloured descriptions of the seamier side of life in Portsmouth, delivered at gatherings of out-of-town sympashizers whose purse-strings
she endeavoured to loosen, also aroused the indignation of councillors and respectable citizens, who accused her of exaggerating to play on subscribers' feelings.
She became known as the "Soldier's Friend". Women who were also ready to act as soldier's friends, at a price, had other words to describe her. The
hostel she founded was later taken over by the Y.M.C.A.
A block of flats in Portsea, where she worked for twenty years up to 1892, now bears her name.