Report 17th January 2012

The Time of Your Life

The Forum’s second special Anniversary Lecture, “The Time of Your Life”, was given by David Davies, current Chairman of Harrogate U3A and former Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University.

In an outstanding Power-Point presentation delivered with great authority without notes, Mr. Davies recalled the years of austerity after 1945 and up to the Festival of Britain in 1951, years which most but not all the audience remembered well.

The presentation comprised a beguiling mixture of serious historical analysis and illustrations of popular culture of the time.  Mr. Davies showed how Churchill was outwitted by Roosevelt at the Yalta Conference and how Britain was effectively broke by the end of the war.  He rejected the Corelli Barnett thesis that Britain should have placed industrial regeneration ahead of establishing the Welfare State after 1945: after years of wartime hardship, the public would not have accepted it and all parties had accepted the Beveridge Plan.  Mr. Davies went on to analyse the personalities of the Labour Government and praised Attlee and Bevin as true patriots.  He also analysed the Cold War, including the Berlin airlift of 1948 in which Britain played a much bigger part than the USA now admits and the Korean War of 1950-53  (Pictures of the ‘Glorious Glosters’ ). 

Alongside the serious analysis an appreciative audience enjoyed photographs of life of the period  –  days at the seaside where formal dress still appeared 

( no leisure clothes ), the great snows of 1947 and the transport of the period

( the Morris Minor, the Pacific locomotives and the De Havilland Comet with its faulty window design ).

Ken Roberts, our own ‘Bevin Boy’, gave the vote of thanks and hoped that Mr. Davies would return for the 2013 season to continue the story of the years which we have all experienced.  A richly nostalgic morning!

                                                         John Taylor     

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