Monthly Archives: January 2018


Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the second Open Meeting of the season and welcomed the lady guests in attendance. He advised that nine apologies had been received.

Under ” Initial Notices” the Chairman confirmed Ray Snowden’s funeral arrangements which would be on Thursday February 1st at 11.15 a.m. in the Wesley Chapel followed by a private cremation.

Today, as well as an Open Meeting, was President’s Morning and the Reverend Christine Gillespie was given a warm welcome.

Reverend Christine’s talk focussed on a short visit she had made to Sierra Leone in 2011 in an official representative capacity to celebrate the bicentenary anniversary of the Methodist Church involvement in that country. The Methodist Church in Sierra Leone had its roots in groups of freed slaves who arrived from 1792 from England and Nova Scotia (1,190) and indeed the capital of Sierra Leone is Freetown. The group started to organise into a church but had to appeal for help from Britain. This resulted in the sending of the first Wesleyan missionary in 1811, the Reverend George Warren with three others, and it was this event and their support that were being celebrated.

Although only in the country a short time the Reverend Christine gave us a flavour of the country and in particular the capital Freetown, it being a poor country, hot and humid with a need to drink plenty of liquid and with water being sold in plastic bags!! The Sierra Leone civil war was mentioned and related to her visit to the Freetown Peace Museum. The University was also visited and this was the site of the last battle in the civil war which was interestingly ended by a certain Tony Blair sending in troops and he is a highly regarded person in this country. Limited sightseeing opportunities were afforded but visits along the coast were made and the sight of young children at work breaking rocks on a mountainside gave pause for thought.

The Reverend Christine shared these highlights of her trip:

— a conversation with the night-watchman at the Maroon Church.

— the official celebration dinner for the bicentenary and observing an american auction.

— leading communion and the outstanding singing of the church choir and congregation.

The talk concluded with a number of questions and answers.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Frank Ellis on behalf of the thirty-five member attendees and the six lady guests.



The Work of Barnes Wallis

The chairman His Honour Judge Clarkson opened the meeting. 42 members attended plus one guest. There were 7 apologies. Malcolm said a few words in memory of Ray Snowdon and there was a minutes silence in his memory.

The chairman welcomed the speaker Peter Rix. His talk was entitled: Airships to Astro-physics: The Work of Barnes Wallis. When we think of Barnes Wallis he is inevitably linked with inventions which greatly contributed to the Allied victory in World War 2 in particular the bouncing bombs.

The main thrust of Peter’s talk was to illustrate that Barnes Wallis was a ‘genius of our time’, an aircraft designer and engineer who made a contribution that hastened the end of World War 2 and much more.

He was born in Ripley Derbyshire in 1887. He was educated at Christ’s Hospital school, however, he did not wish to study Classics and became an apprentice at Thames Engineering at Blackheath. When work became slack he left home and went to J Samuel White’s shipyard at Cowes in 1908. He trained as a marine draughtsman and engineer. His work included building torpedo boats, destroyers, and learning about diesel engines.

In April 1913 he was chief assistant to H B Pratt of Vickers. Wallis turned his mind from the restless sea to the almost unconquered mysteries of the air. He designed Britain’s second rigid airship, the R.9, for the Navy.

Wallis was a key member of the team that built the private enterprise airship the R100. This airship was 709 feet in length with a diameter of 133 feet. Its Maximum speed: 80 m.p.h. carrying capacity: 100 passengers. It was as big as an Atlantic liner, yet only weighed 150 tons.

The R. 100 escaped the disastrous fate that overtook the R. 101, but her life was all too brief. Supreme effort had gone into design and construction and her successful double Atlantic flight to Montreal and back to Cardington seemed to argur well for her future. But she was put into the Cardington shed to allow the Government-built R. 101 to attempt her flight to India. The official bungling and her terrible end virtually killed the airship in Britain. The R. 100 never flew again. In 1931 she was handed over to the breakers for £450.

Barnes Wallis’s life was not only centred around aeronautics and aerial warfare; he participated in the development of radio telescopy and nuclear submarines, he pioneered work in the de-icing of trawlers, and he gave much time and money to educational advancement and to charity. Above all, he was a devoted family man who believed in many of the steadfast Victorian ideals.

He made a wood-carving of his wife Molly. This illustrated he was a very good artist as well as a brilliant engineer.

References: Barnes Wallis by John B Rabbets and R.100 July 5th 1928 M.F. Wallis.

RAY SNOWDEN…Funeral Arrangements

I can now advise you that Ray’s funeral will be held at Wesley Chapel on Thursday February 1st at 1115 a.m.

Malcolm Wood will attend as one of the chief mourners and John Taylor will also attend on behalf of the Forum.

Members who knew Ray personally may wish to make their own arrangements to attend.




It is with sadness that I have to advise of the passing of Ray Snowden.

Ray has died in Bilton Hall Nursing Home after a year of declining health. With Malcolm Wood he was a regular worshipper at Wesley Chapel and he joined the Forum in October 2010 at the beginning of Malcolm’s year as Chairman. Most Tuesdays after the meeting Malcolm and Ray would join their wives for lunch usually in a village pub.

It was Ray who suggested that our collection at the Christmas lunch in 2016 should be shared between the Hospice and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, enduring good causes which he strongly supported. Sadly Ray was too ill to attend this season to hear the talk about changes in the Y.A.A. from Mike Bevington.

The Forum sends its condolences to his wife Mavis, who herself has been in poor health over recent months. Malcolm and his wife Anita have been very loyal in their support of the family.

Funeral details will be posted here when known or advised.




Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson opened the meeting with the four apologies that had been offered. This week’s “Bon Mot” was about the close proximity of six male jurors and six female jurors in a confined jury room for some hours and “Not Guilty” being reported–unusual in this day and age!!

Today’s Speaker was Mr Ivan Gibson from Knaresborough Men’s Forum and by profession a Consultant Pathologist. His discourse would be titled “Lockerbie: Medical- legal Evidence”.

The talk focussed on the Pan Am 103 flight that was blown up over Lockerbie on December 21st 1988 at around 7 p.m. resulting in the loss of 270 lives (259 passengers and crew; 11 ground casualties). The wreckage was spread over 845 square miles as far as the North Sea and registered at 1.6 on the Richter Scale with a massive ground crater. Many Americans were on the flight but overall twenty nationalities were involved. Ivan, who was Consultant Pathologist at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary at the time, was asked to assist in the investigation of the crash by Procurator Fiscal James McDougall. This involved complex problems and recording of the sites/state of the bodies involved in the investigation and getting all the equipment needed. The Town Hall, School and Ice Rink (refrigeration purposes) were used in Lockerbie as bases for storage and examinations and the process also involved external liaison with other bodies e.g medical; police, military etc.

Supported by a slide show Ivan explained some of the procedures and pain staking processes that were followed such as the means of identifying victims including the use of medical and dental records and identifying marks e.g. tatoos.

He touched on the personal impact of the investigation and although resilient himself how it affected his sleep patterns. A number of questions were responded to at the talk’s conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the forty attendees was given by Mike Tutt.




The first meeting of 2018 was opened by Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson at 1030 a.m., wishing everyone a Happy New Year and with six apologies having been offered. He paid tribute to the organisational skills of Programme Secretary John Taylor and his wife Margaret in arranging the splendid Christmas Lunch at the Ascot House Hotel in December which also raised £280 for two charities. A very nice acknowledgement from the Girl Guides Association in connection with their donation to the extensive refurbishment programme at Birk Crag had been received. The Chairman’s first well received anecdote of the New Year related to a recidivist miscreant in the dock at the Old Bailey receiving a legal aid provided “Rolls Royce” service from his defending and distinguished Q.C. with the Judge pointing out, if found guilty, he was likely to be served a “Rolls Royce” sentence!!

Programme Secretary John Taylor took to the floor briefly to update members on the following:

–Under “Calendar of Meetings” on March 20th Terry Byrne’s Talk should be entitled “South African Journey”.

–Mrs Phyllis Coggan, widow of Ray Coggan,(former Secretary) had sent a letter thanking the Forum for remembering her husband but also offering the Programme Secretary some constructive criticism on his choice of Speaker at a previous Open Meeting!!

–Sadly John had to offer short tributes to a member, Robert Bradwell, who died last month and also a former member and his long time next door neighbour , Harold Dawson, who had also passed on.

Today’s Speaker saw the return of Mr Roger Oldfield, former Programme Secretary at Harrogate Men’s Forum, with his talk topic “From Sea to Shining Sea”. He advised that his title had been appropriated from the lyrics of the song “America the Beautiful” although his speech would traverse from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, a Walk Across England or more specifically the “Coast to Coast Long Distance Walk” originated by Alfred Wainwright. At the age of 23 Wainwright went on a walking holiday in the Lake District, fell in love with the area, and spent the rest of his life devoted to walking, writing and illustrating his beloved Lakeland Fells.

The Coast to Coast Walk covers 193 winding miles across three National Parks starting at St. Bee’s on the west coast and finishing at Robin Hood’s Bay on the east side. Along the way we were taken to numerous places including Ennerdale Bridge, Grasmere, Patterdale, Reeth, Richmond Glaisdale and Grosmont amongst others. The three National Parks taken in were the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors. We learnt about some of the history of the places passed on the route; heard about Cumberland Pencils in Keswick; William Wordsworth’s attachment to Grasmere and the Grasmere Gingerbread made to a secret recipe and still sold there. Notable architectural features were pointed out on Castle’s, Church’s, and Abbey’s as well as landmarks and geographical features in the various dales and fields along the walk. The highly interesting and informative presentation was supported by extensive slides illustrating the route covered and was appreciated by an interested and attentive audience with questions raised at the talk’s conclusion.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by Keith Wadd on behalf of the forty attendees.



Funeral of Harold Dawson

It is with regret I have to advise you of the death of our former member Harold Dawson who lived for many years next door to John Taylor. Harold died in care at the age of 85. He was a member of the Forum for about 4 years and gave us a talk in 2008 about his work as a legal executive, in which he also recalled happy days cycling in the 1950s. The funeral is at St Robert’s RC Church in town at noon on Monday 8 January followed by interment at All Saint’s Harlow Hill at 1 pm and refreshments at the Shepherd’s Dog. Any member who remembers Harold is welcome to attend.