The meeting was opened by Chairman Roger Bancroft with six apologies having been received. A reminder about the Harrogate Theatre tour on this coming Thursday was given, cost£3 and meeting in the theatre foyer at 10.55 a.m. John Taylor then asked the audience for views on the offer of a prospective speech from Collective Legal Solutions which appeared to be part informative and part of a commercial inclination. The expressed views were noted.
Today was “President’s Morning” with the Reverend Mark Godfrey giving his annual talk. Whilst his topic was ostensibly about his last holiday in Norway he made it both entertaining and informative for those assembled. From information on transport(Newcastle to Bergen ferry no longer runs!) to geography and the places he visited including Rjukan, Bergen–the wettest place in Europe!! and Oslo where the Nobel Peace Centre was visited as well as the many lakes, mountains, waterfalls and glaciers he observed on his travels. Historical events got a mention with tales of Telemark, the Saboteur’s Trail and the damage inflicted to the German’s heavy water programme during World War Two. Culturally we were informed about Ole Bull a famous Norwegian violinist but who more importantly was a mentor to Grieg. As usual Rev. Mark backed up his talk with some superb photographs which included the places he visited including Konisberg Silvermines and some of the Stave Churches such as Heddal which are U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Sites. He also showed scenes of bungee jumping(he was a non participant), walk sites and white water rafting which he did take part in!! Judging by the questions and comments at the end of the talk it had been well received by the 27 attendees.
The Vote of Thanks was given by Neil Ramshaw.
Chairman Roger Bancroft welcomed everyone to the meeting and announced three apologies had been received. A reminder of the Harrogate Theatre tour on Thursday 30th January with a £3 charge was given and he advised that an acknowledgement of a £50 donation to Harrogate Theatre (authorized by the Treasurer) had been received from Mrs Anne Cherry.
The talk today was given by Mr Michael Greatorex and Mr Paul Evans two members of the ancestorresearchteam.com whose genealogical topic was “Family History — Trials and Tribulations”. The background to the three members of this group was all were ex-service personnel and subsequently Civil Servants at Menwith Hill who retired in 2011 and realized they had a shared interest in family history research which resulted in the formation of their research company. The two speakers gave a double handed presentation of some of their own personal investigations together with tips on how to start and proceed on individual family trees; where to source information from e.g. Relatives, Census Sites, Wills and Probates, Parish Records, National Service and Immigration/Emmigration Records etc. In what proved to be an absorbing and educational talk there followed a number of comments and questions which displayed the high level of interest from the assembled audience.
The Vote of Thanks was given by Mr Gordon Richardson and there were 39 attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY
All attending the Forum’s second “Open Meeting” of the season were welcomed by Chairman Roger Bancroft including the Speaker’s husband and a member of Harrogate Theatre’s staff together with a number of member’s ladies. Five apologies were given.
News of two members gave some concern with Honorary Life Member Reg Jackson now in Borage House Care Home Ripon and Alan Norton following his fall is in Belmont Care Home Starbeck and awaiting an operation—the Forum sends best wishes to both.
A letter of thanks from Jennyruth’s Workshops for the £170 charitable donation raised at the Christmas lunch had been received.
Mrs Anne Cherry was today’s speaker with her topic being “Harrogate Theatre–Behind the Scenes”. This proved to be an extremely entertaining and informative talk on one of Harrogate’s local treasures and was backed up with some splendid slides and photographs. The theatre opened in January 1900 as Harrogate Grand Opera House with its first performance on January 11th raising money for the Boer War Fund tickets being priced from 10 shillings down to 2 shillings and 6 pence! The Managing Director from inception until the early 1930’s was William Peacock and many famous names from the theatre world trod the Harrogate boards. In 1932 and not for the last time financial pressures saw a threat to turn the theatre into a cinema but the reins were taken over by his highly capable wife and daughter Mrs Peacock and Marie Blanche who together took the theatre forward with the introduction of the White Rose repertory players and weekly plays up until the mid 1950’s. Notable assistance during this time with regard to scenic art for productions came from Oliver Richardson. Other noteworthy personalities linked with Harrogate Theatre were Trevor Howard and Sonia Dresdel, the latter succeeding to the post of Artistic Director. However various closures over the years threatened the theatre’s future but efforts by local businessmen Raymond Sandover and Robert Smethurst then the Local Council and the Theatre Trust have seen it come through various funding crisis’s, closures and refurbishment programmes including up to the present day. The current state of play is healthy with a varied and well supported main theatre programme, the Studio theatre in regular use and support from local business sponsors. We were also entertained by tales of the theatre’s ghost “Alice “. Some lively comments and questions were raised at the end of the talk.
The Vote of Thanks was given by His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson and there were 33 member attendees alongside the guests.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY
Chairman Roger Bancroft opened the first meeting of 2014 by hoping everybody had enjoyed a good Christmas and wished all a happy and healthy New Year. Two new members, John Corby and Malcolm Rawdon were welcomed to the meeting and two apologies were received from Ken Burcher and Bill McNicol. The Christmas lunch at Ascot House had been enjoyed by those attending and an amount of £170 was collected for the Forum’s chosen charity Jennyruth’s Workshops.
The Forum speaker was our very own member David Essam whose topic “How a Cheshire Cat strayed into Harrogate” took us on a journey and sharing of his personal life and career with a promise of three speeches in one as he would touch on other speeches he had given on Gustav Mahler and Static Electricity! David was born in August 1942 in Hale Barns Cheshire a mile from R.A.F. Ringway and at age 11 became a young commuter to the large city of Manchester for his secondary education. For a young village boy the City Centre, Old Trafford and Trafford Park areas were a real eye opener as were things like the ever present smog and the different daily colours of the River Irwell. His education gave him strong interests in engineering and art—the engineering helped by early exposure to Meccano! He also joined a music group which led to his life long interest in classical music as he attended weekly performances of the Halle under at that time Sir John Barborelli who gave prominence to Mahler’s music. As a student he benefited from early and paid work experience on the Christmas post and with British Steel, B.I.C.C. and Banner Shirts amongst others. His further education saw an industrial placement at I.C.I Billingham and a train journey that saw him exposed for the first time to the delights of Ripon and more importantly Harrogate. He went on to further research at Birmingham University before starting his career at I.C.I. including work at Harrogate in the Fibre Research Department including textiles; a spell at Wilton I.C.I. and then a troubleshooting role at Kilrea Northern Ireland, Heidelburg Germany and Pontypool amongst others. International work for I.C.I. followed and he ended his career as a Du Pont employee following the takeover of the Polyester chemicals division in 1997. David punctuated his talk with some amusing incidents from his travels including plane and taxi journeys and a high tech bathroom story from Japan. Judging by the questions and response the audience had thoroughly enjoyed the morning’s entertainment.
The Vote of Thanks was given by Roy Smith and there were 37 attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY