Monthly Archives: February 2011

Report 22nd February 2011

A Taste of Edwardian Harrogate

This week Councillor Philip Broadbank gave us ‘A Taste of Edwardian Harrogate’. To our surprise we found that there were three times as many public houses as today. Along side buildings very familiar today we saw images of the old library and hospital and the planned civic centre which was never fully developed.

Councillor Broadbank had some problems with his overhead projector but was a mine of information about Harrogate.  To those that think that the Edwardian Age in Harrogate was a golden period, he told us that animals grazing the Stray sometimes caused damage to gardens and that residents hated the noise and disturbance of the bands and pierrots who entertained the visitors. 

Chris Butterfield gave an excellent vote of thanks and bemoaned the lack of good Local History classes in Harrogate today.

John Taylor  

Report 15th February 2011

This week Roy Smith, a member and former Prison Governor, traced the History of Punishment from the ancient Greeks and Romans through the medieval period to the nineteenth century.

Our Chairman, Malcolm Wood,  described Roy Smith as having enjoyed

 a “…  distinguished career in prison” ….  before adding the word  “service “.  

Prisons were originally temporary holding areas for felons, not places for custodial sentences.   Roy described some of the more extreme punishments of the ancients such as stoning to death and driving victims over cliffs.  In the medieval period decapitation and branding were employed, leading one member to comment afterwards that the talk should have had an ‘ X’ certificate. Later, in the early modern period whole families would live in prison.  Work on the treadmill and the crank was meaningless.

Executions were public spectacles until the 1860s and many felons were transported to the American colonies until the Wars of Independence and afterwards to Australia.  Roy gave us much food for thought and showed us slides from woodcuts of some of the traditional methods of punishment.

John Taylor

Report 8th February 2011

Wainwright and Me

This week Peter Linney, Secretary of the WAINWRIGHT SOCIETY, narrated the story of Alfred Wainwright and his Lakeland Fell Guides with some striking visual images of his drawings. In 2002 he helped found the Wainwright Society which now has several hundred members.

Peter’s illustrations showed how Wainwright progressed from the Treasurer’s office of a mill town ( Blackburn ) to a love of the Lake District hills.

He spent 14 years of his life writing his guides – seven volumes and 729 ways of ascending the 214 mountains in the books.

In 2007, 900 members of the Wainwright Society attended a service of celebration for the centenary of AW’s birth – Peter Linney’s daughter, Susan, a professional singer, took part.

John Taylor.

Report 1st February 2011

Laurence and Lawrence

This week Eric Forster paid his fifth visit with his talk Laurence and Lawrence, connecting his friend Laurie from Leeds with the Imperial Camel Corps and the exploits of Lawrence of Arabia.  A good story, thoroughly enjoyed by members. 

Eric skilfully wove his tale together, first the background of the boy Laurie from Holbeck and his early life in the coal industry and then the story of T.E.Lawrence, born in Wales to an Anglo-Irish aristocrat and his mistress. 

We also learned the story of British involvement in the Middle East in World War One, where 250,000 troops guarded the Suez Canal.

Laurie and Lawrence, together with 703 camels and over 300 handlers, took Damascus in 1917!   Eric now owns two rare books which tell the history of the Imperial Camel Corps. 

John Taylor