Monthly Archives: February 2016


The meeting started at 1030 a.m. and it was good to welcome back Fred Gillibrand after a considerable absence. Four apologies had been offered prior to the meeting.

In “Initial Notices” thanks were given to Peter Belton who has offered his services in assistance to Mike South. A few volunteers are required to complete the Vote of Thanks Rota up to the end of the season.

Today’s talk was given by the Forum’s own member David Siddans and was titled “Jam Tomorrow”. Having grown up in Sleaford Lincolnshire David had always ambitions to be a Civil Engineer which after a full-time and university education he achieved. Much of his career was spent working on Road Projects and it was Traffic Jams (Congestion)which provided the focus of his discourse.

The amount of traffic having trebled on the roads over the years has led to increasing congestion and the quandary of what can be done to alleviate it. David took us back to 1826 before the huge transport revolution when roads and turnpikes were poorly maintained, transport being largely horse powered and journeys undertaken limited or non-existent for much of the populace.In 1830 railways began to open and the Liverpool– Manchester line was the first to link two cities reducing travel time from five hours to two hours. From a standing start in 1830 to 1870 three hundred and twenty million passenger journeys took place. In 1890 the first cars appeared on the roads but it took a century to achieve the capacity covered by rail. Two other developments contributed or were impacted by the changing transport situation namely in 1840 the Universal Penny Post and then the Telegraph system.

Moving forward to 2014 there were almost  thirty-six million licensed vehicles on the roads and this has been increasing at 2/3% for many years apart from a lull in 2008.The amount of roads equated to 246,000 miles but motorways and strategic roads (mainly “A”roads) contributed only  1-2% of this although taking the vast amount of traffic overall. Car growth of 10% in the last ten years saw only a corresponding 2% increase in road growth. An examination of car ownership and the reasons for travel were then shared with us before David moved on to traffic congestion highlighting the economic and environmental issues. He showed us some of the options considered as ways of reducing congestion such as planning control, new roads or widening, reducing demand, public transport etc. and finished with some interesting and alarming projections of where traffic volumes may go other the next twenty years.

A number of questions/comments were made by audience members and Dave Essam gave the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty-seven attendees.




Chairman Neil Ramshaw opened the meeting promptly at 1030 a.m and advised of four apologies once he had corrected the wrong “Fred” in his list!! A very appreciative “Thank You Letter” had been received from John Shackleton following last weeks talk and the collection taken on behalf of his charitable works.

Today’s subject was titled “The Yorkshire Dales–An Insider’s View” and saw the return of a popular Speaker Geoffrey Queen who has appeared at the Forum on a number of occasions. As a long-standing resident of Kettlewell he offered to give a resident’s or insider’s view of the village and surrounding Dales advising that his talk had been prepared originally for an inner city audience. He started by asking and outlining some of the advantages and disadvantages of living in the Dales including the weather (featuring on both sides of the coin!) , walking routes, scenery and being in the National Park against remoteness (perception), lack of public transport, language dialects and midges!!(summer evenings in particular).

Kettlewell had early involvement with monks from the local Abbey’s and some aspects of the village are still governed by the mysterious Trust Lords. The geological make up of the area being limestone and minerals lends itself to farming, tourism and particularly at one time lead mining. Again the Abbey’s demand for lead for its roofing encouraged the blossoming mining industry. Whilst tourism is important to the village and area this has led to an impact on local housing stock with nearly half the one hundred and fifty dwellings being holiday lets or weekend cottages/ second homes nowadays.There is also limited employment opportunities particularly on the youth side. Geoffrey backed up his discourse with an excellent slide show that displayed Kettlewell and the surrounding area in all its glory and also showed how it looks in the different seasons of the year. We saw Bolton Abbey, Burnsall Village, Linton and of course Kettlewell with slides of fields delineated by dry-stone walls and lambing times.He told us about the Racehorse Hotel, showed us Rose Cottage and touched on the village being well in the vanguard of electricity usage thanks to its hydro-electric power dating from 1915 and then more contemporary the impact of the Tour De France in 2014.

Interest and warm appreciation had been aroused in the audience as evidenced by the questions and comments at the end.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Tom Snelling on behalf of the forty one attendees.

Peter Belton spoke to the Chairman at the close of the meeting offering to assist Mike South in answer to requests at earlier meetings and this offer was gratefully accepted.





At 1030 a.m the meeting started with Chairman Neil Ramshaw advising that five apologies had been received.

A reminder was given that the Forum required a Deputy for Mike South to assist with the setting up/taking down on a Tuesday morning.

Today’s Speaker was Mr John Shackleton whose topic “Not for the Faint-Hearted” gave a flavour of his charitable activities in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia where he takes an ambulance loaded with medical supplies to places of need. He started his discourse by giving a short resume of his background which included National Service that extended to ten years mainly in Bomb Disposal. His career beyond the Forces saw him as a Greengrocer in Starbeck; an artistic period making Historical and Shakespearian Plaques and some time as a Property Developer.

In the 1990’s John heard about the problems and plight of Romanian Orphanages and orphans and felt a compulsion to provide assistance and he decided to fund raise to buy second-hand Ambulances, fill them with medical supplies and other donations such as knitted hats/scarves which he then transported to identified and researched locations mainly in Eastern Europe, always assisted by two co-drivers. This escalated into an ongoing programme which has seen him visit Eastern Europe forty-two times as well as other locations such as India and Nepal. His worst mechanical problem –a puncture!!..but having to contend with officialdom in different countries and at borders, some of it a little corrupt!  There was always the background of situations involving personal risk; a thirty-two hour enforced “visit” to a Turkish prison cell and occasional inconvenient health problems. Recent visits have included Ukraine (the Crimea) which he is again planning to visit in May this year. The talk was supported by a detailed slide show and a display of artefacts from his visits including the cast of a nose; a spiked “defence” weapon; what passed for bottled water from one visit; mink and a fearsome Gurkha knife/weapon!! Places visited include Nepal, Georgia, India, Armenia, Ukraine, Northern Russia and Turkey with his slides and recollections giving a feel of some of the cultures but bringing home the reality of the very poor living conditions many of the natives live in.  Questions and comments made at the end of the talk displayed the impact  John had made.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty-nine attendees was given by His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson and a collection for John’s works raised £102-40  in addition to the Forum’s £30 contribution for his visit.




“President’s Morning” opened at 10.30 a.m. with seven apologies having been offered. Chairman Neil Ramshaw gave an update on former member Brian Blakey who is now in care at Southlands Home on the Ripon road. Mention was also made of the need for a volunteer to assist /deputize as appropriate for Mike South with regard to setting up/taking down at Tuesday meetings and anyone able to help should make Mike South, John Taylor or Neil Ramshaw aware.

Today was the annual “President’s Morning” and we were delighted to welcome the Reverend Christine Gillespie to take charge of the morning’s proceedings. The entertaining event consisted of tales of Methodism from its earliest origins in the 18th century, Reverend Christine’s ideas for the talk having been inspired by her completing entries in the Methodist Baptism Register and pondering on the history such entries possessed. Stories obviously included John Wesley and Charles Wesley, two sons from a family of nineteen, the father being Church Rector Samuel Wesley and a strong-minded and well-educated mother Susanna! Interestingly Samuel Wesley spent some time in a debtors prison and conversely completed a Dissertation on The Book of Job which he dedicated to Queen Caroline , an act which created discord and for a time separation from his wife. Whilst growing up in the Epworth Rectory in Lincolnshire  John Wesley’s boyhood deliverance from a fire there led to the phrase ” a brand plucked from the burning”  and engendered a belief in his mother that he had been spared for a higher purpose. Home educated until the age of ten, then Charterhouse School and Oxford University John Wesley became leader of a Society started by his brother Charles nicknamed “Methodiser”. We heard about John Wesley’s trip to America, his involvement with the Moravians which included the seminal date of 24th May 1738 when he experienced what he called his evangelical conversion and also some of the opposition faced particularly in the early years and to his outside sermonizing. Strong principled women featured in the early years of Methodism, an example coming from Wesley’s mother and also Mary Bosanquet who from a wealthy background became an itinerant preacher, started an orphanage and married a leading Wesleyan John Fletcher in 1787. Reverend Christine’s tales were told with a view to encouraging visits to places of Methodist historical interest such as Epworth Lincolnshire ( Wesley home and now a new rectory), London (Museums) and Bristol (New Room).

A number of questions and comments were made at the conclusion of the morning and on behalf of thirty-two attendees Frank Ellis gave the Vote of Thanks.