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┬áprogramme.

33 members were in attendance.

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