Pharmacist gets political

Margaret Thatcher is greeted by newsmen as she leaves her Chelsea home

THIS WEEK IN 1975: Portsmouth ‘loyal’ to Margaret Thatcher

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On this day in 1892 Ferdinand Green Foster entered public life when he was elected councillor for All Saints ward in Portsmouth.

He had built up a successful business as a pharmacist and in 1907 he became mayor for the first time and, as a widower, installed his five-year-old daughter Doris as mayoress.

Foster became an alderman in 1911, was mayor again in 1922 and lord mayor in 1931. His most noteworthy achievements were in education and he opened the Municipal College in 1908.

He served as the first chairman of the higher education committee and also chaired the education committee.

Secondary schools were expanded under his chairmanship and he was instrumental in setting up a teacher training college against considerable opposition, a contribution later recognised in the naming of Foster Hall at the college at Milton in 1938.

He set up the Naval Disasters Fund after the accidental sinking of two ships in April 1908, HMS Tiger, where 35 lives were lost, and HMS Gladiator, where 30 men died. This fund was so successful it continued to help the families of men killed in later accidents – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.