Monthly Archives: March 2015

Meeting 31st March 2015


At today’s meeting John Taylor outlined possible visits to either the police station to meet the drugs support officer or to the Sikh Temple in Leeds in May and promised to investigate further as there seemed to be sufficient interest. The Chairman Michael Cochrane then introduced our speaker Gordon Whitehead from near Scarborough. Gordon spoke very knowledgeably about the fire service (now the Fire and Rescue Service) past and present . For 7 years whilst still working at the Examination Board he had been the official volunteer photographer for the North Yorkshire Fire Service which often involved driving as far as Bentham or Whitby at an early hour of the morning. He showed us some very striking pictures of major incidents such as the fire at Shipton by Beningbrough in 1986 which had led to the closure of the East Coast main line as a precaution. Gordon earned a good fee from regional television which made extensive use of his photographs. Several barn fires were attributed to arson. In 1988 he witnessed the disastrous fire at the Lowther Arcade in Harrogate which led to its closure. Surprisingly during this period Gordon saw only two fatalities. A lively question and answer session followed during which Gordon explained that fire protection was something of a lottery until the Act of 1948 which established brigades on a county basis. Now the Fire and Rescue service also does a massive amount of preventative work and rescues other than in fires but has faced political interference. The Labour government felt that the ethos was too military in style whilst today the Fire Brigade Unions are concerned about the serious impact of cuts. John Taylor gave the vote of thanks to his friend and former colleague and noted that this was the first occasion in over 1000 talks that the work of the Fire Service had been featured in our programme.

33 members were in attendance.


The third Open Meeting of the season was opened by Chairman Michael Cochrane welcoming those attending and in particular the lady guests and advising of a record attendance of 48.Two apologies were offered.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw gave notice of the A.G.M. on April 28th and asked for any agenda items to be advised to him by April 14th.

The Speaker for this meeting was Mrs Pat Osborne whose topic “The Mysterious Life of Agatha Christie” provided an interesting and informative overview of the prolific author’s life backed up by a series of relevant photographs which were circulated as the talk progressed. Agatha Christie (1890–1976) is best known as an English crime novelist who also wrote romances under the name “Mary Westmacott”. Her famous characters include Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Born into a wealthy upper middle class family in Torquay she had a happy childhood although the early death of her father had an adverse impact when she was eleven. As she got older her private life became more troubled and turbulent with her first marriage in 1914 to Archie Christie proving unsuccessful and divorce in 1928 ended it. The marriage did produce her only daughter in 1919 Rosalind and the troubles in her marriage and private life led to her extraordinary lost time in Harrogate in December 1926 leading to a large manhunt which eventually uncovered her at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel (now Old Swan). In 1930 she remarried Sir Max Mallowan an archaeologist and remained married and outwardly happy for the rest of her life although he again took a long-standing mistress to which Agatha turned a blind eye. After her death in 1976 Agatha Christie Ltd continued with her daughter and grandson having controlling influence.

Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time and the third in the world’s most published books behind Shakespeare’s works and the Bible. She wrote more than 70 detective novels as well as short fiction, romance novels and the play “The Mousetrap” which has run continuously in London since 1952–a record!! Her combined works have sold more than 2 billion copies worldwide. A number of questions and comments came from the audience at the talk’s conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Margaret Taylor on behalf of the 48 attendees…39 members and 9 guests.



The meeting was promptly opened by Chairman Michael Cochrane with two apologies given. He apologised for the heating problem and hoped the temporary solution would suffice. A last call was made for ideas for the May Forum visit to be submitted to John Taylor and jumble still required for the Church Jumble Sale on March 28th…bags can be left with Mike South at next weeks meeting.

A returning Speaker Mr Tony Brown gave his title for today as “The Count and Capture Game”. Backed up with an impressive and mobile slide show this topic related to his visit to Ants Lodges in the Limpopo Region of South Africa a private  game reserve which involved participants on horseback working in pairs and groups to count the wildlife population on the land and then assist in the capture of specimens for a number of purposes. Initially we were treated to slides of various birds such as weavers, purple standing and lilac breasted rollers with also pictures of house squirrels and dwarf mongoose. The reason for counting the wildlife on these private reserves was that all the game was owned as well as the land and it was necessary to establish herd size, species mix, carry out health checks and also for land management. The difficulty of making such a count was exacerbated by the need to avoid various types of season e.g. hot summer; rutting season; nesting season etc. This left early Spring as the optimum time for this procedure. Most reserves on this continent have specific conservation projects and this need was illustrated by the Sable Antelope population having been at 36,000 in the 1940’s and having declined to 3,500 in the 1990’s!! Other species on the reserve included Water Buffalo, Giraffes, Eland and Wart Hogs. The need to capture specimens was for reasons such as health checks, breeding purposes and possibly transfer or sale to other reserves. The process of capture was no mean feat given the need to tranquillize, calm and transport some invariably weighty and unpredictable specimens.The Speaker had obviously enjoyed and found the trip a fulfilling experience and answered a number of questions from audience members.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Peter Belton on behalf of the thirty-three attendees.



Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the meeting with five apologies. A letter from a recent speaker Douglas Webb of Cornwall Care had been received thanking members for their attention to his talk and acknowledging the donation made to Harrogate Homeless Project on his behalf. A reminder of the Church Jumble Sale on Saturday March 28th was given with members advised they could leave any bags of jumble with Mike South at Tuesday meetings. Suggestions for the May visit were still required by John Taylor. The Claro Marine Modellers are having a presentation by  R.N.L.I. on March 12th at 7.30p.m. at Park Grove Methodist Church Hall Knaresborough.

The Chairman advised of the auspicious nature of today’s meeting it being the Forum’s 1000th since its inception in September 1977. John Taylor then spent a few minutes giving some” Forum Memories”. The first Forum in Harrogate was formed in 1951 (Harrogate) and demand built up eventually leading to a long waiting list and this precipitated other Forum’s to be started such as Woodland’s in the 1960’s, Bilton in 1971 and “our very own” Harlow in 1977. Foundling fathers of Harlow included Reverend Goy and Councillor Thackray. A variety of Speakers and subjects have featured over the years including notables such as Phil Willis (now Lord Willis), Andrew Jones current M.P. , Geoffrey Smith T.V. gardener and Sir Thomas Ingilby from Ripley Castle. The real strength of the Forum however was its members and their varied support in giving talks, taking on tasks and strengthened by the eclectic background that the membership base was drawn from. John pointed out we are a growing organisation and this should stand us in good stead as we approach our 40th anniversary in 2017.

Following on from our political genesis 1000 meetings ago, it was a privilege to have the Mayor of Harrogate Councillor Jim Clark join us. Appointed Councillor for Harlow (later Rossett) in 2000 and then County Councillor for Harlow in 2001 his pride in the ward he represents was abundantly clear. Having become Mayor in early June 2014 he then shared some highlights of his time in office so far. The Tour De France weekend figured at the top of his list with many functions and gatherings to attend. It also involved meeting and greeting a large variety of people including Royalty, senior politicians such as the Prime Minister David Cameron and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, Geoffrey Boycott and a party including the Mayor from Luchon , Harrogate’s twin town from South West France. He shared his amazement at the 23,000 little yellow jerseys knitted locally and his pride at the friendliness and good nature of the massed crowds over the weekend and Harrogate’s reception of them. Quickly following the Tour was the Great Yorkshire Show with again large crowds making it a great success followed by the success of attracting the Gilbert and Sullivan International Festival from Buxton to Harrogate and hopefully to a new permanent home. The Centenary World War 1 commemorations were noteworthy including a tree planting ceremony, Rotary inspired with each tree representing a Yorkshire Regiment involved in that conflict and adopted by Harrogate Schools as a learning project. He and the Lady  Mayoress visited Luchon for the Festival of Flowers with civic pride being enhanced by Harrogate Band’s contribution to the proceedings. He touched upon the continuing and improving success of Harrogate Christmas Lights and Christmas Market. Attendance at religious events that saw the appointment of Bishops at Durham and Leeds had made a big impact as did attendance at the Holocaust Day Ceremony. The Mayor commented on his two charities ” Dementia Forward” and ” Harrogate Theatre Education and Outreach Project” and spoke well about the youth in Harrogate District and their qualities and strengths as the town goes forward. Questions at the end focussed on house building concerns, the lack of infrastructure and the role councils can play in defending the Local Environment.

His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson gave a warm Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the 32 attendees.


SECRETARY’S REPORT (for meeting March 3rd 2015}

The meeting was opened by Chairman Michael Cochrane with five apologies. Under “Initial Notices” John Taylor asked for suggestions from members for the May Visit to a place of interest. Notice was also given of the Church Jumble Sale on Saturday March 28th and members asked to support if possible by donating stock.

The Speaker at today’s meeting was Professor Tony Wren Emeritus Professor of Leeds University and one of the top innovators in British Universities in the last sixty years. He is an acknowledged expert on world-class work on computers and his devised programmes for timetable scheduling of trains, buses and planes led to a Channel 4 appearance on the “Big Breakfast”. His interest in trams from an early age is the subject of his talk ” First Catch Your Tram” and he detailed issues around devising timetables and schedules for this particular mode of transport and some of the things that can go awry!! The talk was well received with a variety of questions asked.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by Dave Siddans on behalf of the 33 attendees.