JUST over 125 years ago, on September 22, 1882, at a meeting at the Rocks Hotel (now The Rock), it was decided that a name was needed for the suburb growing on the farmlands on the western side of the Backwater.

Thus the area of Westham was christened.

Originally 'West Ham' in 1882, the two-word spelling soon became Westham, to avoid confusion with the London suburb.

To mark the occasion, the Westham Community Orientated Problem Solving (COPS) are organising a community celebration day on Saturday, April 26 at Conifers School on Radipole Lane for which they have National Lottery funding.

Chairman of Westham COPS Chris Edwards said: "It will start at 2pm, Alderman Hutchins will be guest of honour and will open the event.

"There will be a raffle, tombola tables, majorette displays and police dogs as well as static displays of fire engines, and possibly some of the Hampshire and New Forest Harley Davidson clubs.

"There will be the procession of the Westham princess, and all that will go on until 4.30pm.

"From 6.30pm to 10pm we will start an evening show with a community play giving a brief history of Westham and some local bands playing."

As part of the daytime event, Samantha Spracklen, Debby Rose and Marian Lye are preparing a display of Westham memorabilia, which will include items such as photos, postcards, documents, maps and family trees.

They would like to appeal to anyone who has got anything that is Westham-related to come forward and loan it for the exhibition.

The memorabilia could be from any decade of the last 125 years and anything to do with Westham from pictures of old businesses, shops, houses and schools illustrating the changing face of Westham to pictures of the housing development, or new buildings, over the years. Photographs of people such as Westham residents now or in the past will also be gratefully received.

Also welcome are pictures and details such as family trees of Westham families; old maps, plans, documents relating to the area; and anything from Westham schools, clubs, pubs and associations. Rations books, food and clothing coupons and wartime memorabilia will be exhibited as will pictures of coronation, jubilee, VE and VJ day street parties.

Samantha said: "Any item, no matter how small, will be gratefully received. I will, as far as possible, scan all pictures and documents and display only copies, so as to preserve originals."

She continued: "I'm also hoping to stage an exhibition of wedding dresses and photos. So, if you were married in Westham and still have your wedding dress, or bridesmaid dresses, and would be willing to display it along with a photograph, please let me know. I already have two from the 1940s, so dresses from any other decade would be fantastic."

Debby Rose said: "On the history side of it, I'm transcribing Kelly's Directories and the transcripts will be on the website (www.westham. weymouth-dorset.co.uk) after the event.

"I'm also transcribing the 1901 census - there were 1,515 people living in the parish of St Paul's then.

"From my research, I will get an idea of what was built at certain times and what was built later on.

"On the day, there will be a map displayed of 1901, which will tie in with the 1901 census."

One exhibit that Samantha and Debby are particularly proud of is the documentation concerning the first brick house to be built in Westham in 1880 on Abbotsbury Road, which was originally Backwater Lane. Once residential development began in Westham (around the 1890s), it did so at quite a pace.

From a community of 550 in 1882, it has become one of 12,000 today.

Westham became part of the borough of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in 1895 and by that time there were 4,000 residents.

'Old' Westham ends at today's Adelaide Court with a rough boundary along its northern edge of Longcroft Road and Longcroft Lane and to the south along the line of Southview Road and the Marsh.

Westham was where Weymouth's first ever power station was built in 1904; in 1906, Cromwell Road School opened and, in 1913, the grammar school finally opened.

In the wake of the Great War, 'new Westham' developed with council housing schemes spreading north and west of the original development, taking in wartime camps occupied by Australian and New Zealand troops.

More than 120,000 injured Anzac troops were sent to medical camps in and around Westham, and the Weymouth Cemetery in Westham contains hundreds of graves from the soldiers that died. One of the projects that the Westham COPS is looking into is to have test pits dug in back gardens, as in the Time Team television programme.

To enquire about or contribute to the display, call Samantha Spracklen on 01305 784688 or email sammilou1965@aol.com If you would like to have a craft table on Saturday, April 26, call Erika Patterson on 01305 774725.