Monthly Archives: March 2016


The meeting opened at 1030a.m. and Chairman Neil Ramshaw advised that three apologies had been received.

Under “Initial Notices” a second reminder for the April 26th 2016 A.G.M. was given and the need to advise proposals/A.O.B. or Officers for election by April 12th.

Soundings had been taken in respect of the Members Spring Lunch on May 3rd and consensus was for the Bay Horse Goldsborough with details to be advised in due course. Thanks were given to Malcolm Wood for his painstaking personal research at the various hostelry options!!

Today saw the return of a popular and regular Speaker Mr David Davies whose topic was “Wilson and the Sailors 1964–1979”. For the next hour the audience were entertained, informed and reminded of many of the key events in United Kingdom history from 1964–1979. David enhanced his discourse with slides and outlined the situation and events facing the country from 1964 including high public debt/ inflation, the Israeli–Egypt Six Day War and the need for Trade Union reforms. This period also saw the grammar school boys (Wilson; Heath and Callaghan) move into the political ascendancy replacing the old “aristocracy” but whilst Great Britain had made progress through the 1950’s, manufacturing particularly was in decline internationally against emerging economies such as Japan…industries in retreat included Motorbikes, Cars and Shipbuilding. The dismantling of Empire was inevitably taking place and other issues such as Rhodesia had to be contended with. Brief pen pictures of some of the key players from the period were given e.g. the three Prime Ministers and other secondary but significant personalities  such as  Enoch Powell; Anthony Wedgwood-Benn; Roy Jenkins; Barbara Castle; George Brown and Denis Healey were recalled. We were reminded of Mary Whitehouse, John Poulson, T Dan Smith, Idi Amin, Germaine Greer and Henry Cooper. Carnaby Street was brought to mind along with Concorde, the film “Zulu”, the start of I.R.A. terrorism and the “Cod Wars” with Iceland. The amount of political consensus that existed was stressed and the ongoing similar problems faced by successive Governments was often unresolved. Centralised Planning, Wage Restraint, High Inflation, Industrial Disorder, Devaluation, “Three Day Week” and the 1978/9 Winter of Discontent were all touched upon as well as the vexed question of E.E.C. Membership (vetoed by French in the 60’s) agreed and achieved in 1973 and subjected to Referendum in 1975!! Great Social change occurred–the end of Flogging/ Capital Punishment; Homosexual and Divorce Reform and Theatre Censorship being relaxed. Labour were in power 1964–70; Conservatives 1970-74 and Labour again 1974-79 but all failed because of the same difficulties; a failing economy and adverse Industrial Relations issues. At the close of the talk an appreciative audience made comments and asked questions on the matters raised.

The Vote of Thanks was given on behalf of the thirty-nine attendees by John Corby.




Chairman Neil Ramshaw opened the meeting ay 1030a.m. and advised of six apologies.

The previous week’s Speaker Lynne Ditchburn had sent her thanks for the warm welcome she received from members. In his capacity as Secretary Neil Ramshaw gave notice of the A.G.M. on Tuesday April 26th and asked for any proposals or any other business items to be advised to him two weeks prior to that meeting (April 12th). There was also a request for members to consider putting themselves forward as potential ” Officers 2016/2017″ with in particular a need for Vice Chairmen.

Programme Secretary John Taylor discussed the possibility of the Wetherby Whaler at Guiseley being the location for the informal lunch on Tuesday May 3rd and would welcome views or alternatives at the end of the meeting and hopes to finalize for next week.

Today’s Speaker was the Forum’s own Richard Wright whose topic “Gambia-No Problem” would inform and educate the audience about this African Republic. Richard had spent half his working life there and had first become aware of the country when in Malaysia in 1973 and in conversation with a couple of engineering colleagues. In 1979 he took a road project job on the Trans Gambia Highway and as a precursor to the main part of his talk showed a short film “The Exchange” which showed us the views of some normal day-to-day Gambians, their activities and aspirations with a great emphasis on the importance of education to them and their families.

Gambia generally is a poor country with families living in poverty, managing in a hand to mouth fashion albeit friendly and welcoming with a “No Problem” attitude to reasonable requests. The country is located on the west coast of Africa with a very attractive tropical climate comprising a four-month wet season and eight months  from November to June warm and dry. With little written history the country in the early first millennium was fought over by the Ghana, Mali empires and in 1500 A.D. the Songhai empire. Berber traders introduced the now main religion of Muslim to the country.The first settlers were the Jolo tribe and the population is now made up of them and various other tribes including the Fula’s, the Serahule’s, the Wolof’s and the largest group the Mandinka tribe. Integration through marriage has led to the absence of tensions between the different tribes and contributed to the harmony amongst the population. The arrival of the Portuguese then English led to the eventual colonisation of the country with the ongoing blight of slavery continuing and growing although it had been present pre-European times and was facilitated with the involvement of African middle men.

Richard took us through Gambia’s more recent political history, the end of colonisation, independence in 1965, it’s becoming a Republic in 1970 and discussed its most recent political leaders Dawda Jawara (1970–1994) and Yahya Jammeh following a military coup in 1994…..there had been an aborted coup in 1981 suppressed with Senegalese involvement!!   His slides showed many of the engineering projects his company was involved with including roads and bridges amongst others. The importance of Agriculture particularly Nut Crops, the need for subsistence farming and of the vital Tourist trade and Recreational Fishing was stressed. His interesting and entertaining discourse ended with a number of questions.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by David Hopkinson on behalf of the thirty-eight attendees.





The third Open  Meeting of the season started with Chairman Neil Ramshaw welcoming the thirty-seven attendees and the eleven lady guests who it was particularly nice to see. Three apologies had been offered.

Today’s Speaker was Mrs Lynne Ditchburn, whose topic was “The Upper Crust” ,and she gave us an extremely well illustrated (slide show) and entertaining talk on the history of bread through the ages and both at home and abroad. The use and value of bread in daily life was stressed–“a staple”;” to earn a crust” and exemplified by the Jewish Passover (unleavened bread) with it also being important in other religions e.g. Mayan and Christian.

Bread making/production can be traced back to the early hunter gatherers and there is evidence of early Egyptian bread production involving a fermentation process–in fact Egyptian bakers also acted as early gynaecologists!! The first portable beehive oven can also be attributed to Egypt. Bakeries were important under the Romans with the first mechanical dough making machines and in Medieval France the status of being a baker saw the trade being restricted to devout Catholics only. Lynne gave us the story of Thomas Farriner and his 1666 involvement in The Great Fire Of London. She told us of the laws and regulations governing bread production and bakers dating from early times with some very old legislation only recently having been repealed.

Bread is vital to life across the whole world and the importance of regulation was to stop adulteration and short weights which were considered serious crimes.” Pain Mollet”- the Parisian bread of choice was involved in controversy at the time of the French Revolution leading to the Marie Antoinette “Let Them Eat Cake” comments and her subsequent demise.

The Industrial Revolution saw a change in baking processes with more flour needed to meet increasing demand (large flour mills e.g. The Albion Flour Mill’s of the 1780’s) and the import of grain from the American Prairies.

The discourse finished with a listing of different breads and their origins such as Flat Breads; “Monkey Bread”; Irish Soda Breads; Bagels; Baguette’s; Brioche; Croissants; Sally Lunn Bun; Toast and from the U.S.A. Anadama Bread and 1939 “Hollywood” Bread (Dieter’s Delight !!).

The U.K. Bakery Market is worth over £3 billion with 70% of bread production being of the white variety.

An engaged audience asked some pertinent questions at the end and the Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the attendees was given by George Thomas.




The meeting was started by Chairman Neil Ramshaw who advised four apologies had been received.

David Essam made a heartfelt plea for volunteers to fill the remaining two spots on his “Vote of Thanks” rota.

Today’s Speaker making his Harlow Men’s Forum debut was Mr Mike Greenberg whose topic was “To Russia With Love”. Despite a technological issue causing difficulties Mike entertained the audience with his talk about a schoolboy trip to Russia in 1966. The background he gave to the trip was equally interesting as his parents were members of the Communist Party, his father in particular being committed to the cause. His parents antecedents were (father) Russian…possibly Romanian and (mother) Polish. Like many Jews in the 1930’s they had joined the Communist Party as a response to growing Fascism and Anti Semitism in particular from Mosley’s Blackshirts in the East End of London where they resided. His father’s commitment to Communism remained over the years surviving the disturbing stories coming out of the Soviet Republic under Stalin and his newspaper of choice was the Daily Worker later becoming the Morning Star.

The chance of a school trip to Russia was leveraged by Mike as an opportunity for him to see the Communist System himself although not a cheap trip in a household where finances were tight. His experiences on the visit which took in Berlin (then divided), Moscow, Leningrad and other Baltic locations showed marked contrasts from the heavy state expenditure on refurbishing public buildings (churches; palaces), investments in the arts/culture for the masses against the poor quality of food, queues, lack of consumer goods in the shops and the absence of plugs for sinks/basins!! He touched upon the propaganda wars of the time between East and West highlighting the contrast of a vibrant refurbishment of West Berlin (largely at U.S.A. expense) with the greyness of Soviet Society but also recounted some of the intrinsic good ideas in the Russian State that were perhaps poorly or inadequately executed. He mentioned currency restrictions; seeing Lenin in his tomb in Moscow; visiting the Hermitage in Leningrad; bartering with “valuable” Western commodities and the overall feeling of being under constant surveillance whilst on his trip.

The end of the talk provoked some lively debate and questions..

The Vote of Thanks was given by Terry Byrne on behalf of the forty-two attendees.