Monthly Archives: October 2016

Secretary’s Report

33 members attended for a talk by the Forum’s own Derek Clarkson whose experience as a judge always gives his contributions particular interest and authority.

He told us first about Jane Austen’s aunt Jane Leigh-Perrot, a well to do lady who was accused in 1799 of stealing white lace from a draper’s shop in Bath. To us such a case might appear a small matter in relative terms but at that time the penalty if convicted was death by hanging or 14 years transportation to Australia. Aunt Jane was imprisoned for 7 months before her case came for trial. Although she was found not guilty, rumours circulated afterwards that she might have been a kleptomaniac. The story served to illustrate the savage penal code around 1800 when 150 offences carried the death penalty. The story also reminded Derek of the sad case of the TV personality Lady Barnett who was convicted of shop-lifting in 1980. Four days later after the newspapers had given the case wide publicity she committed suicide.

Judge Clarkson went on to tell us the story of the Gartside murder case in 1947. As a Sixth-former at Pudsey Grammar School, he had attended part of the trial and it may have influenced him to go into the law as a career. Then to lighten the mood we heard some amusing anecdotes about criminals who were not very successful in their chosen profession.

Finally during questions Derek gave us an eloquent defence of the jury system. Richard Brooks gave the vote of thanks and suggested that Derek talk to us sometime about his work obtaining compensation for injured miners.

At the beginning of the meeting the Chairman announced that the invitations for the Christmas lunch would be available on 8 November.


Peter Staples (Chairman) opened the meeting by advising of another good attendance and also that five apologies had been offered. He also welcomed new member Gordon Percy to the meeting in the normal manner.

Mr Dennis Taylor was today’s Speaker with his topic of “Aviation: A Private Pilot’s Licence”. His interest in flying had begun from an early age just before World War Two and was then piqued in January 1940 when his elder brother joined the R.A.F. In 1945 he commenced employment with the G.P.O. and retired after 40 years in 1985 when he decided to take his interest in flying to an active level and train for a private pilot’s licence. After overcoming some obstacles he eventually achieved this through training at Elmet Flying School. His flying education was courtesy of a Piper Warrior aeroplane,next to the Cessna, the second most popular training craft. We were advised that a cost of £37,950 was needed to achieve an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (A.T.P.L.) status.

Much of the talk was conducted in an interactive fashion with the audience being encouraged to ask questions throughout. Dennis advised about the pilot sitting on the left hand side of the aircraft; explaining the functions of the instrument panel and displaying the aircharts he used. We learnt about flying zones and obtaining the requisite permissions to enter or not!; the use and development of radar and the fact that the International Language of the air is English!! Different types of runway were discussed e.g. grass and asphalt and the requirements of flying above or below cloud or at night. He also used projected pictures to illustrate different aeroplanes, the interior of cockpits and airfield layouts. It was obvious from the ongoing engagement that Members had enjoyed the morning’s topic.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of 38 attendees was given by Gordon Richardson.





The meeting was opened promptly at 1030a.m. under the auspices of Chairman Peter Staples. Four apologies had been offered prior to the meeting and a welcome was extended to new member Michael Jones. The Chairman also congratulated Honorary Life Member Roy Howard on his 88th birthday and appreciation was shown by the audience. John Corby advised members that former member Dave Essam had moved to Beverley and had asked to be remembered.

Today saw a new Speaker for the Forum Dr. Alan Ogden reccommended by our old friend Professor Martin Curzon. A trained Dental Surgeon with 20 years at the Leeds Dental Institute he retrained in archaeology about 15 years ago and is now Honorary Research Fellow at the Biological Anthropology Research Centre at the University of Bradford.

His mantra for this morning’s talk was ” Bringing The Past To Life” which he proceeded to do with his illustrated slides and accounts of the case studies he had worked upon. His interest in this topic and his retraining was sparked by the mass grave at Towton and the Bog Bodies found there. He showed us Tollund Man particularly well preserved to the face with leathrised skin, the bones being not as well preserved. The preservation had been enhanced by the skeleton laying in sphagnum moss. He advised us that in Austria skulls with names and dates of death are stored in ossuaries as body burial is limited to ten years duration. In ancient civilisations such as Egypt and Rome we have a clearer idea of what people looked like and who they were from detailed pictures on Mummy Casks and Statues or Busts.

The essence of Dr. Ogdens work involves examining skulls, cleaning them up, examining them and reporting on there age, gender and what they possibly looked like. Most of the skulls/skeletons came from U.K. sites although sometimes from abroad. He explained how his investigations worked where creamations or mummification were involved and how bone fragments were analysed. Hot, dry conditions (sand) enhanced preservation as did Eygptian methods of embalming and mummification. Conversely in South America cold or freezing conditions helped with the preservation of skeletons and bones. Regular requests from the Police to analyse bones that had been found proved often to be of animals!! He explained to us how sexual determination was arrived at with emphasis on sexual dimorphism and how ageing of the skeleton changes from child to adult. His real area of research has been facial reconstruction and we were taken through some of his case studies including Gristhorpe Man at Scarborough Rotunda Museum in 2008; the Franklin Expedition of 1845; Medieval Chichester Leper and Portmahomack Man, a facial reconstruction of a 5th century Pict. His talk engaged the audience and a number of questions were asked at the close.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by Michael Cochrane on behalf of the 36 attendees.




Chairman Peter Staples opened the meeting and welcomed member’s to the start of the Forum’s 40th season. He also extended a warm welcome to new member Richard Pugh and mentioned with sadness the passing of former member Richard Barker. Two apologies had been offered.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw reminded members to keep him updated with any changes of personal details.

Treasurer Roy Smith issued an audited Receipts and Payments Accounts for the Forum Year Ending 30th June 2016. He commented on the figures as appropriate and was open to questions on them from the audience.

The first meeting of our 40th season introduced Mr Howard Driver who gave a talk on behalf of the “Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association”. Formed in 1948 the Fell Rescue Team consists of eighty well-trained and equipped volunteers who are on call 365 days a year to rescue cavers, climbers, walkers and also animals. Howard painted a picture of the history and early days of the group and its association as part of the Mountain Rescue England and Wales although entirely autonomous in its daily operations. Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue is one of five separate teams in North Yorkshire with rescue being free but teams have to raise their own finance with no ongoing grant support. Its geographical area is determined by Wensleydale to the North; Skipton–Keighley bypass to the South and Masham in the West.

Its first H.Q. in Grassington “The Hut” was an old Railway Carriage supplemented in time by a Signal Box bought for £10 as a meeting room and for extra storage. In 1978 a purpose-built H.Q. was built and opened by H.R.H. Prince of Wales and this has subsequently been upgraded and extended in recent times. The Group continues to be based in Grassington.

The Group operate in varying weather conditions but particularly wet, cold and misty with casualties often being in difficult locations e.g. open country; high exposed terrain or underground in cramped or almost inaccessible places. Any treatment given has to be fully recorded and we were advised that lower leg injuries were the most common occurrence.

Backed up by an excellent slide show Howard took us through the extensive and thorough training procedures volunteers receive on an ongoing basis; the various vehicles used together with the volume of equipment in use including the different types of stretchers. We were advised about the regular liaison with S.A.R.D.A. rescue dogs and with the R.A.F. and more recently H.M. Coastguard facilitating the use of helicopters. Yorkshire Air Ambulance are another body who interact with the Fell Rescue Association. Many of the rescue scenarios were illustrated and the care and professionalism demonstrated by this dedicated group was apparent.

A lack of time at the end negated audience questions but it was obviously a much enjoyed presentation and a charitable collection was put in place for exiting members to contribute too and this raised approximately £100 (£35 fee and £65 donations)

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of 38 attendees was given by John Taylor.