Monthly Archives: October 2017

I Did it for Kicks

The Chairman said that he was sorry that Mrs Coggan was unable to attend the Memorial Meeting and sent his good wishes to her on behalf of the Forum. John Taylor will write to Mrs Coggan.
In 1886 John Tiller watched the precision of guardsmen on military exercise and decided to extend the principle to female dance when he founded the Tiller School of Dance in Manchester. The girls were to be ladies, not chorus girls of ill-repute and their nails were regularly inspected as symbols of general cleanliness.
When our speaker Pam Harcourt joined the Tiller Girls as a teenager in 1951, the troupe was run by the strict Miss Doris and Miss Barbara, following the death of the founder and his wife. Pay was parsimonious and 24 girls were given 1 bottle of sherry between them to celebrate the New Year. Pam appeared in pantomime with Albert Modley, did several seasons in Blackpool and at the Victoria Palace with the Crazy Gang and her group co-starred on Shirley Bassey’s first appearance. She became Head Girl and danced on ITV’s Opening Night in 1955 and later on Sunday Night at the London Palladium.  The Tillers were on ITV, the Toppers, their great rivals, on BBC TV.
The talk was made more interesting because Pam showed that life in show business is often far from glamorous. In 1952 the girls had to struggle back in London smogs to digs in Brixton. Arriving in towns on tour on Sundays led to evenings watching old films in seedy cinemas and lodgings in Llandudno and Liverpool were pretty primitive. The dancers in their white ankle socks often shivered on stage although they were allowed tights eventually. Nevertheless as kicking Tillers they considered themselves superior to “pantomime” Tillers.
A reunion in 1987 led to a revival of the 60s Tillers and Pam still appeared occasionally until a few years ago. At the end she showed that she could still do a high kick.  After several questions from an enthralled audience, Peter Belton gave the vote of thanks on behalf of the forty attending members and six guests.


Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting at 1030 a.m. and advised of four apologies. He extended a warm welcome to new member Vic Welborn and guest/prospective new member Rob Allison. The audience was then treated to two short but entertaining recollections about, first the actor Warren Mitchell, and secondly a follow-up from last week relating to Sir Robin Day.

We are indebted to our Speaker Mr Terry Michael Williams, who for a second time, has come to our rescue as a replacement Speaker with today’s offering being “A Pictorial History of New Park”.

A teacher by profession he commenced by advising how a pupil enquiry set him on the road to researching New Park history. This eventually led to him becoming responsible for New Park Heritage Centre covering 157 years of history in that area of Harrogate.

New Park’s origins began in 1500’s Harrogate with the discovery of spa spring wells—Tewit Well being the first discovered. Subsequent wells were found which led to the formation of the two villages in High Harrogate and Low Harrogate and the advent of tourism.

In the 1840’s the Harrogate Improvement Committee decided to have a Gas Company established at Rattle Crag linking the two villages and July 4th 1845 saw the birth of the area of New Park with its growth from the Little Wonder Coaching Inn and Knox stimulated by said Gas Company. We saw how the Little Wonder Inn was, over the years, extended in three stages. Terry advised that the boundaries of New Park were essentially Yewdale Avenue (West), Eastville Terrace (North), Knox Avenue (East) and Jennyfield Drive (South). With the establishment of the gas works coal was brought by steam traction locomotives from Starbeck and the community which developed in a dirty industrial area was both hardworking and community minded with a sense of social togetherness. In 1882 the Electric Works were built on the site which is now a gym (formerly the Academy).

The first three streets built in New Park were Park Row, Park Street and Prospect Terrace. The growing community needed a school and New Park School opened in 1897 with 75 children ranging from 5 years to 14 years. As the community continued expanding the school was extended in 1910/11.

In 1907 the Gas Company installed a narrow gauge railway, having observed the one operating in Masham, which was built to reduce road wear and tear and would be cheaper to run.

The talk was illustrated with many socially poignant photographs that reinforced the industrial heritage of this part of Harrogate and the morning was informative and entertaining. Sadly the hour soon passed with still a considerable piece of this story to be told and questions and comments from members reinforced the view that a further return visit would be appreciated to conclude the New Park history.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the forty-one  attendees was given by Neil Ramshaw.





The meeting started at 1030 a.m with His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. in the Chair. Six apologies had been received .A warm welcome was extended to four new members namely Derek Mitchell; Brian Gallagher; John Pearson and Eric Smith. The Chairman warmed the audience up with an amusing and well received recollection about the late and abrasive Question Time host Sir Robin Day.

Under ” Initial Notices” John Taylor Programme Secretary advised the Forum that Frank Ellis had achieved a splendid 25 years membership with the Group and is on target and in form to achieve even more attendance records–well done Frank!! John also advised of a change of Programme for next week when Mr Terry Mike Williams will now be in attendance to give ” A Pictorial History of New Park “.

Making a welcome return to the Forum today was Mrs Jocelyn Brooks with, for the time of year, an appropriate talk title ” Gunpowder, Treason and Plot “. Whilst in some ways a familiar tale we were promised to be intrigued with tales of spying, shoot-outs, conspiracy, treachery, torture, gruesome deaths and religious intolerance!! We were not disappointed and the talk enhanced our understanding of those times and circumstances which have made such an indelible imprint and remains an annually remembered part of our history.

Jocelyn introduced us to the two main protagonists and painted comprehensive pen pictures of both the main players and also other involved characters. Firstly Guy Fawkes, born in 1570 in York , moves to Scotton at the age of eight and converts to Catholicism in 1891, becoming a zealot and changing his name to Guido. The second main character King James VI (Scotland) and Ist (England), born 1566 at Edinburgh Castle the son of Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley of Temple Newsam.

The background to the Gunpowder Plot centred around Protestant and Catholic tensions and the accession of James I following Queen Elizabeth I’s death in 1603. Whilst the nobility of England in the House of Lords was primarily Catholic, the House of Commons was 100% Protestant and with a strong puritanical leaning. King James, initially tolerant and prepared to relax restrictions on Catholics was pressured by the Commons to renege on his original agreements and stance. This would lead to the well documented Gunpowder Plot which included Guido Fawkes; Robert Catesby (leader); the Wintour and Wright brothers and Thomas Percy. Spy elements picked up on the Plot which was further compromised by an anonymous letter sent to Lord Monteagle. The initial plot scheduled for May 1605 was delayed due to an outbreak of plague (a delay which dampened the gunpowder’s effectiveness) and unwound during a search of the House of Lords at midnight on 4th November when Fawkes was arrested. Other conspirators fled but were pursued to Holbeche House Staffordshire where Catesby was one of those shot and killed. Other survivors including Fawkes suffered torture and after a trial faced a grisly death!!

The thwarting of the Plot was commemorated for many years afterwards evolving into the bonfire night of today. The talk was thoroughly enjoyed with questions and comments at its conclusion.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of 35 attendees was given by Gordon Richardson.




Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting promptly at 1030a.m. and advised two apologies had been offered. He gave an amusing anecdote about Lord Soper, the Methodist Minister, which was appreciated by the audience.

Under “Initial Notices” Terry Byrne advised members of a concert being held on behalf of the Friendship Group on Wednesday October 11th at 2 p.m. for 2.30 p.m. at the Green Hut with a cost of £2 to help raise funds–as an additional delight Mr Byrne will be singing as part of the entertainment!!

Today’s Speaker Mr Charles Lubelski was in attendance to give a discourse on “The History of Printing and its Technology”, having been involved in the printing world for nearly seventy years.

His talk commenced with a few lines courtesy of William Wordsworth and members then received some technical instruction on three principles of printing to aid understanding namely Letterpress, Lithography and Intalagio. The history of printing was touched upon with reference to the Egyptians but with an initial focus on the age of the Scribes, an important part of printing history, who did all the medieval writing of books, bibles and indulgences using parchment and vellum to write on. Many of these products were highly decorated and colourful works as demanded by the Church or Princes who mainly had the wealth to make the purchases. These books were bound in leather by professional binders adding to their cost and quality. Word Block Printing had been available but a major step change took place in 1440 driven by Johannes Gutenberg, a German blacksmith and goldsmith who invented the Movable-Type Printing Press regarded as a seminal event in the Second Milennium. His type method used a metal alloy of lead, tin and antimony and a hand mould for casting type.

William Caxton received a mention as the first Englishman to introduce, from Europe, printing into England at Westminster in 1476 and he used the English language in his printing and the first book known to have been produced was Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

The 15th–17 century time frame saw the eras of wooden printing presses and was also a time of exquisite bindings and the production of expensive and valuable works such as Bibles which were locked to Church pulpits because of their great value.

Through the 18th and 19th centuries we were advised about the impact of the Industrial Revolution on printing; Lord Stanhope’s building of the first Iron Press; the importance of Bradford in the printing world( Percy Lund Humphries & Co 1895 Print Company); the Wharfedale Machine produced in Otley from 1856 which revolutionised printing and saw thousands of machines made and exported. In a speedy conclusion matters pertaining to printing were brought up to date with emphasis on the enormous impact made by computers in and on the printing industry. A literary end saw Charles share a few lines from Charles Dickens’. Questions and comments were taken from the audience adding to the interest generated by the talk.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the 37 attendees was given by Michael Cochrane.




The first meeting of the 41st season came to order under Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. Five apologies had been offered and a welcome was extended to Mr Charles Lubelski, a visitor, but also next weeks Speaker. Two new members were in attendance and introduced to the assembly namely Mr Jim McPhail and Mr Alan Barker.

There were initial notices from the Secretary Neil Ramshaw, who requested members keep him advised of changes to personal information and he gave an update on some absent members, and from Treasurer Roy Smith who issued and talked through the audited receipts and payments account for the year ending 30th June 2017.

Today’s Speaker was Mr Tom Goodhand whose topic was “Taylor’s Tea”. We were then entertained to the history of tea and all the different types—40 being sold by Taylor’s. Tom had also set up a table full of samples which could be tasted and he explained the intricacies of tea tasting involving double strength brews; the use of two spoons; the impact on our 9,000 taste buds on our tongue and the vocabulary encapsulating tea tasting. A pen picture of the different types was then given including Gunpowder Green, Lapsang Souchong (Kipper of tea), Earl Grey, Darjeeling (Champagne of teas), Assam and of course Yorkshire Tea! The difference and benefits of green tea as opposed to black tea were touched upon and the use of milk or lemon on its flavour.

Tea  was first discovered and used in China 5,000 years ago more by accident than design and remained as that countries secret for many centuries. In 1606 the first shipment was made to America from China, introduced to France (not popular) and then England where its popularity saw it become the National Drink. 1658 saw the first advert for tea in this country and in 1662 its consumption took off due to the patronage of Charles The Second’s wife, receiving a further boost under Queen Anne who replaced beer for tea as her chosen breakfast beverage.The English preferred Indian Tea and that country is now the largest producer of teas although it is grown in around 50 countries with black tea being the main preferred choice in the West. Tea needs warmth and moisture and the tea-plant can grow to large heights but is normally restricted to five feet to enhance flavour which is also impacted by soil types/ quality and locations. The best flavour tea comes from the higher level leaves and we were also told about tea dust used in tea bags.

Yorkshire Tea is a careful blend of different teas by Taylor’s, a company started in 1886 by Charles Taylor in Leeds and Yorkshire Tea is now the second biggest brand in this country. Tea Kiosks were opened in Harrogate and Ilkley along with successful coffee shops and before World War 2 the Cafe Imperial was opened in Harrogate also. On a similar timeline Frederick Belmont opened Betty’s Cafe’s and in the early 1960’s the two companies merged.

Speciality teas were mentioned although not being derived from the tea-plant but from non traditional sources e.g. mint; fruit. Tea picking is a laborious hand picking process with leaves transferred into a back carried basket and then moved to central factories to produce black tea. Tom then handed audience members a variety of objects including a scallop shell, trowel, whisky, dustpan and brush and a bag and tried to elicit connections from members as to tea or the tea process which he then clarified. A lively and pertinent question and answer session followed the finish of his talk.

The Vote of Thanks was given by John Taylor (not of Taylor’s Tea or wealth!!) on behalf of 38 attendees and Malcolm Wood was thanked for providing apples from his orchard for members to take home.