Once again the Members’ Morning (Short talks by our own members) proved very successful. Ken Roberts, one of our most senior members, who was conscripted into the mines as a Bevin Boy spoke about his typical day in the pit at Frickley Colliery in early 1945. He spoke vividly about the price of coal – every miner could expect to be injured every four years.
Vince Naylor asked us questions about Zambia, and we were surprised how much we knew. He had been there for several months in this green, peaceful but sparsely populated land. The copper industry there virtually collapsed in the 1970s but political stability has returned and free elections, unusual for Africa, have led to changes in government. Zambia is landlocked and has borders with 8 other countries, the most in the world.
Our hardworking registrar Derek Simpson reminisced about his first job on the railways at Gisburn station near Clitheroe in the days when even village stations had half a dozen staff. We enjoyed his anecdotes about racehorses arriving at the wrong destination and the station cat which travelled to Fort William and Truro!
John Taylor spoke about dialect expert and broadcaster Stanley Ellis who died in Harrogate. He regretted that he had never spoken at the forum. Ellis collected 88 words for “left handed” from many dialects and was consulted during the “Ripper” enquiry when he located “Wearside Jack” within two streets of his eventual arrest.
Roy Smith told us that he was over 50 before he took up cycling seriously as a hobby. He reminded us of the amazing achievements of the late Beryl Burton who lived in Harrogate – she had averaged 23mph on one occasion in a 12 hour time trial and had beaten all the men. Roy attends the Tour de France each year and is looking forward to watching the road races and time trials at the 2012 Olympics from the roadside.
Derek Clarkson gave the vote of thanks and spoke movingly of “the price of coal” and the need for some national memorial for those who died in industrial accidents. He said that he learned something new every week at the forum and was once again impressed by the breadth of knowledge and interests of forum members.