Monthly Archives: January 2017


Chairman Peter Staples opened the meeting promptly at 1030 a.m. and advised of one apology. He offered a warm welcome to new member Peter Wilson and attending guest Keith Acum. Members were advised that *Bill McNicol was not well and in hospital and best wishes for a speedy recovery were given.(*Subsequently advised due to a misunderstanding that he was at a Doctor’s appointment)

Today’s Speaker was the Forum’s Secretary Neil Ramshaw whose topic was “Some Well Known Inventions and their Lesser Known Inventors”. Examples of the inventions were displayed to the audience and included The Zipper; Velcro, Dyson Bagless Vacuum; The Light Bulb and The Sliced Bread Machine. Pen pictures of the Inventors were drawn including known names such as Dyson, Wellington, Issigonis as well as lesser known or anonymous figures like Nesmith Graham, Sundback and Rohwedder. Engineering appeared to be a common feature with many of the Inventors and evidence of an enquiring and inventive nature from an early age displayed. Members raised a number of pertinent questions at the talk’s conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Vincent Naylor on behalf of the forty-two attendees.




Chairman Peter Staples opened the meeting by announcing four apologies. An apology had been received from St. Michael’s Hospice with regard to their misdirection of an acknowledgement following our Christmas donation. Roy Smith (Treasurer) suggested a link with Bilton Men’s Forum to allow members the benefits of sampling their respective meetings.

Today’s Speaker was Mr Brian Greenwood whose talk topic was ” Shop Talk: A Short History Of Retailing”. Brian formerly ran the Greenwood menswear shops which at its height consisted of 300 branches from Dumfries to Torquay. His experience made him the ideal person to deliver his topic and he advised of the gradual development of shops over the years which began with peasants who sold goods in the local market deciding that they needed secure and weatherproof storage to avoid taking their goods home every night. Some eighteenth century shop fronts with tiny panes of glass still survive in London where Debenhams opened in 1778. The first department store was the Cast Iron Palace in New York in 1846. The largest store in Britain is Harrod’s with one million sq.ft. of floor space, the equivalent of 1000 standard size shops. Macy’s in New York was the largest store in the world for many years (2.7 million sq.ft.) but was overtaken by a store in South Korea (5.5 million sq.ft.) in 2009. These mega stores could only develop with the introduction of lifts and escalators in the 1890’s. A nurse with brandy stood by to reassure nervous ladies making their first journey on an escalator!!

Brian then spoke about other store types–multiples like Boots and Smiths; long-lost men’s outfitters like Horne Brothers and the 50 shilling tailor; variety stores like Marks and Spencer which went more upmarket after the war; supermarkets; shopping malls and mail order, finishing with the amazing growth of Amazon.

Audience interest was displayed by the five or six questions raised by members and whilst Brian mentioned the adverse trading conditions in the early 1990s which affected his business his sales prowess was still in evidence as he promoted his book “Use it or Lose it” to encourage mental and physical activity and increase life expectancy in old age.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by John Taylor on behalf of the 37 attendees.





Chairman Peter Staples opened the second Open Meeting of the season which was also the “Ray Coggan Memorial Meeting” in memory of a former member and officer who made an outstanding personal contribution to the life of the Forum in many capacities. A warm welcome was extended to the nine lady guests in the audience and four apologies had been offered prior to the meeting.

John Taylor Programme Secretary gave the attendees a short pen picture of Ray Coggan and also advised about the St. Michael’s Hospice acknowledgement of our Christmas Charitable Donation which had been addressed and sent to Harrogate Men’s Forum!! John also gave a plug for Hampsthwaite Village Society’s showing of the film “Eddie The Eagle” this weekend.

Today saw the return of Mr Alun Pugh, now an established and regular Speaker with us, who was to complete the second part of his “A Journey Along The Leeds- Liverpool Canal”. Alun started with a brief resume of his first part Journey and commenced the second part of his talk today at Chorley in Lancashire. We were taken along the canal towpath to places such as Blackburn, Burnley, Barrowford Locks, Gargrave, Skipton and finishing at Kirkstall in Leeds. As he and his companion Martin transversed the Canal on bicycle and sometimes foot with the occasional lift from a barge various hostelries were visited, beer brands examined and sampled in detail and menu’s compared particularly those involving cooked breakfasts!! Interspersed amongst the amusing anecdotes and asides was historical information and  examples of architecture found on the route as well as advising of the original purpose of the Canal and Bridges to transport both non-perishable and perishable goods and also people. Lancashire dominoes , leggers and the colour coded mating habits of rams were other facts shared with the audience. Backed up by a sizeable slide show the morning passed in a thoroughly interesting, informative and highly entertaining manner, much appreciated by those in attendance with comments and questions following the conclusion of the talk.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by Neil Ramshaw on behalf of the 36 members and 9 lady guests.




The first meeting of 2017 and the start of the second half of our Ruby Season was opened under the auspices of Chairman Peter Staples who welcomed back members and wished all a healthy and prosperous New Year. Four apologies had been offered prior to the meeting and a “welcome back” was made to Peter Weatherill who had been absent for a spell following an operation.

John Taylor Programme Secretary thanked members for his Honorary Life Membership awarded at the Christmas Lunch and he made it clear it was something he much appreciated. He added thanks to Malcolm Wood for arranging flowers for his wife Margaret.

A letter had been received from Yorkshire Air Ambulance acknowledging and thanking The Forum for our Christmas Lunch Charitable Donation of £135.

Today’s Speaker was the Forum’s own Frank Ellis, a long-standing member, whose topic was “The Knut From Knotty Ash”. It seemed an appropriate choice of subject to start the New Year given the announcement of Ken Dodd’s knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List and a recent two-hour Channel Five documentary on January 2nd  2017. Frank shared with us some of Dodd’s life details having been born in Knotty Ash in November 1927 and even though in his 90th year still scheduled for 3/4 live appearances each month up to August this year!! His performing career started at the age of eight when given a Punch & Judy outfit; two years later he took up ventriloquism and developed his singing voice as a choir boy. His professional debut was at the Empire Theatre Nottingham in 1954 and four mid fifties seasons followed at Blackpool with him reaching top of the bill at the Central Pier in 1958. In the 1960’s/70’s he had seasons at Blackpool Opera House, two record-breaking seasons at the London Palladium and two show stopping Royal Variety performances. In tandem he also had a successful recording career with some chart topping singles.

The Dodd style of humour was discussed from its speed, surrealism/nonsense standpoint with the performer alternating between clown and stand up comedian but always conscious of and developing his relationship with the audience. Comment was made regarding his physical appearance and his trademark protruding teeth were the result of a bicycle accident as a youngster. Frank flavoured his talk with some of the material used by the artiste which gained audience approval!! A number of recollections and comments were shared by audience members at the conclusion of the talk.

Malcolm Wood gave the Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the 38 attendees.