Monthly Archives: March 2012

Annual Visit 1st May 2012

Annual Visit 2012

Note that the Annual Visit will be on Tuesday 1st May and will be to Henshaws at Bond End in Knaresborough.  Plenty of parking and a bus to Knaresborough every 8 minutes.  10.30am start on the day and refreshments will be available.  Please sign-up with John Taylor as soon as possible.

George Mountford 

Report March 27th 2012

Yorkshire Shipping Past and Present

Mr Roy Cressey from Cross Gates in Leeds arrived by 36 bus but his talk took us back to the River Ouse in the 1960s and 1970s.

At the time York was still a trading port.  Nuts arrived at Queen’s Staith for the chocolate industry and a warship, HMS Flintham, was shown moored at King’s Staith.  Considering their age the clarity and colour of Roy’s slides were remarkable as we moved downriver to Selby where ships were launched sideways with spectacular splashes.  The railway bridge carrying the then London – Edinburgh main line was often hit by boats in a particularly difficult and sinister stretch of river. 

We were then shown slides of the port areas of Howden Dyke and Goole, where some activity still remains.  Much of the West Riding coal trade through Goole has been replaced by the shipping of construction materials for wind farms.  The slideshow finished with contemporary photographs of the large Hull – Zeebrugge and Hull – Rotterdam ferries and a wonderful sunset looking westwards from Hull towards the iconic Humber Bridge.

Mr Cressey worked for the shipping trade in Hull and Goole and his deep knowledge of his subject emerged in many amusing and telling anecdotes.

Our own “waterman” Roger Bancroft, who worked on the oceans as well as occasionally on rivers, gave an appreciative vote of thanks.

John Taylor


Report 20th March 2012

In The Southern Sudan 1974 – 80

The breadth of knowledge and experience of the members of the Forum never ceases to amaze.  This week David Hopkinson, a recent recruit, gave an enthralling and graphic account of his experiences in Southern Sudan in the 1970s.  South Sudan was then three provinces with a certain degree of autonomy: since 2011 after two civil wars it has been an independent country.

David was an outdoors boy who decided to devote his career to agriculture.  He joined the Colonial Service in Tanganyika just before independence and stayed in the newly independent Tanzania for ten years as part of British aid to the country.  He then joined the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.  After two years in Jordan he was sent to Wau in Southern Sudan in the immediate aftermath of the first Sudanese Civil War.  His brief was to get agriculture working again through rice schemes, a soil laboratory and a research station.  The staple crop is Sorghum, a cereal which can grow 4m tall, from which beer is made.

David outlined some of the many difficulties under which he worked – a local runway with a steep slope, an intermittent railway in the swamps, a house full of smelly bats and groundnuts at the outset, tropical diseases such as malaria and river blindness and a variety of animal life which we saw from his photographs.

Despite all the setbacks David lived in Southern Sudan for six and a half years with his wife and three children and looks back on his time there with “rose tinted spectacles”.  The writer of this piece assumed afterwards that he came home to Britain for a quieter life.  Not at all – he was sent to Iraq just as the war with Iran was starting.

John Taylor    

Report 13th March 2012

Wonders of the Valley Gardens

The Forum welcomed Jane Blayney as Chairman of the Friends of the Valley Gardens but our Chairman Roy Howard welcomed her as the lady who taught his children to swim.

Mrs. Blayney concentrated on her PowerPoint presentation on the Friends’ Project to restore the Old Magnesia Well Pump Room, now half hidden in the Valley Gardens and overshadowed by the Café in the New Magnesia Well. 

The Old Pump Room is a very attractive small house with fine roof tiles and scalloped barge boards.  The aim is to restore it as a public education and information centre.  Much work has necessarily to be done by volunteers as only 3 gardeners now work full-time in the Valley Gardens (formerly there were 13).  So far the Friends with its membership of 170 has raised £11,000 of the £45,000 which is required.  Various fundraising events are held each year; including a 1940s weekend complete with Vera Lynn lookalike and “Dad’s Army” impersonators. 

The Friends also hope to restore the Japanese garden and to improve the entrance opposite the former Green Park Hotel.  The New Zealand garden has of course already been restored near the Cornwall Road entrance.

David Hopkinson gave the vote of thanks and was then duly announced as next week’s speaker by the Chairman.

John Taylor  

Report 6th March 2012

President’s Morning

Our President, The Reverend Mark Godfrey, gave his fifth talk to the Forum and blew away our late winter blues with excellent photographs and an informative commentary on his visit to Oregon, the US Pacific North-West state.

Oregon apparently has two seasons, winter and August, but the Godfreys enjoyed three weeks of glorious sunshine in this fascinating state.  Impressive vistas of seascapes with rocky outcrops alternating with sandbars and dune scenery. Inland the rocks are metamorphic and we were shown the remains of lava flows and hot springs.  Finally we crossed to Washington state and Mount St. Helens, where the vegetation was beginning to return thirty years after the eruption which mercifully caused minimal loss of life.

The writer will remember three otherwise unrelated facts from this well-researched talk:

  1. The notice warning of the dangers tsunami: ‘TSUNAMI SURVIVAL INSTRUCTIONS – RUN LIKE HELL’.
  1. The large number of covered bridges dating from the Nineteenth century.  The bridges were built in this way because the horses hated water and could be persuaded that they were crossing dry land. 
  1. The strangely-named  TOM, DICK and HARRY Mountains.

Mike South offered the vote of thanks and looked forward to a full report next season of our President’s 2012 holiday.

John Taylor