Monthly Archives: February 2018

Funeral Arrangements—Gordon Richardson

Gordon’s funeral will take place at Stonefall Crematorium on Thursday March 8th at 340 p.m. and afterwards at the Traveller’s Rest.

Member’s who knew Gordon are welcome to attend.




Vice Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the meeting advising that five apologies had been received. He then took a few minutes to pay tribute to recently passed member Gordon Richardson highlighting his time in the Forces and on the Railways with his move late in life to Harrogate to be nearer his daughter. His funeral will be at Stonefall Crematorium on Thursday March 8th at 340 p.m. and afterwards at the Traveller’s Rest.

Today’s Speaker was our very own Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson who would share with us “Still More Curiosities”. He started with a definition of the word “curiosity” but his anecdotes would focus on where curiosity led people and the consequences.

The first story concerned Kenneth Barlow and his recent second wife Elizabeth. In May 1957 Kenneth Barlow apparently discovered his wife unconscious in the bath, tried to revive her and called his own Doctor. The Doctor had concerns about the unexpected death, having an awareness that a first wife had also died at a young age, and called the police and requested a pathologist and a Dr. David Price subsequently attended. The husband’s story about his wife’s death started to unravel due to suspicions about his attempted resuscitation with water in the cavity of her arm and it being rare for a healthy 32-year-old woman to drown in a domestic bath–also, whilst not unusual as Kenneth was a nurse, a couple of used syringes were found in the kitchen. Dr. Price’s post-mortem noted widely dilated pupils in the deceased, noted she was two months pregnant, and took blood samples for analysis for poison. Further detailed investigation on the body revealed two injection sites and were able to ascertain insulin in the body although she was not diabetic.

Kenneth Barlow was eventually charged with murder (which he denied), tried at Leeds Assizes in December 1957, was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment being released after 26 years in 1984.

The next Curiosity led to the discovery of the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe who in May 1981 was tried for thirteen murders, seven attempted murders, found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. His reign of terror in West Yorkshire was carried out over five years and led to a massive investigation carried out from Millgarth Police Station Leeds under the control of Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield. The investigation made little initial progress and was gravely hampered by the disgraceful actions of “Wearside Jack” with hoax letters and an audio tape which wrong-footed enquiries and was given too much credence by the officer in charge.

However on 2nd January 1981 in Sheffield Sgt. Bob Ring accompanied by a probationary officer found Sutcliffe and a sex worker in a car, in suspicious circumstances, and took him in for questioning (not as a Ripper suspect at this stage) but subsequently found Sutcliffe trying to dispose of a hammer and knives which led to a confession. According to Ring it was “old-fashioned coppering!!”

The Weardside hoaxer eventually faced justice in 2006 due to D.N.A. matches and John Humble received an eight year stretch.

Derek concluded his morning’s talk with the tale of the Halifax “Slasher” from 1938 which created mass hysteria in the area with the attacks on females subsequently found to be false and shared some information about Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address ,very short and more prepared than legend has it, and interestingly preceded by a long-winded oratory from Edward Everett that took over two hours.

A number of questions were answered at the end and the Vote Of Thanks was given by John Taylor on behalf of the thirty-four attendees.




I am sorry to have to advise of the death of Gordon Richardson last Sunday just a few weeks short of his 92nd birthday. Gordon was a Forum member of 7 years standing and on two occasions he contributed his memories of his time in the Services to Members’ Mornings.

He moved to Harrogate from Mirfield in West Yorkshire after the death of his wife to be nearer his daughter and until the last couple of months was remarkably fit and looked ten years younger than he was. Gordon was good company in the “League of Gentlemen” who meet in Tilly Peppers after Forum meetings and he will be missed.

Any funeral details will be posted here when advised.




Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting promptly advising that four apologies had been received. Sadly, he also reported the passing of member Gordon Richardson last Sunday following a short period of illness.

Today saw what has become a regular annual fixture in the Forum’s season namely “Members’ Morning” where five members would take centre stage to entertain and inform fellow members on a topic of their choosing.

First up was our longest-serving member of over twenty years Frank Ellis who shared some memories of the great variety comedian Al Read starting with how a 1952 incident changed his life as a sausage maker in his father’s business–it involved a domestic story about Albert Wilkinson , a decorator, and eventually led to appearances on B.B.C. Variety Bandbox. Other “Read” sketches were delivered too and well received by the audience.

Next to take the floor was a more recent member Gordon Percy whose topic was about his career as a Diamond Prospector in Sierra Leone following his graduation with a degree in geology from 1962. Ostensibly taking this overseas role for a couple of years he spent sixteen years between 1962 and 1978 moving progressively to more senior positions within the company. He advised that his initial employment owed something to his prowess as a Otley Rugby Union player!! The work he was involved in was varied and interesting underpinned by an excellent social and sporting  life style. Gordon detailed the geographical make up of the country that led to Diamond Prospecting and told us about the investigative work and analysis that took place to determine prime locations for mining and detailed some of the early 1960’s procedures used in the afore said mining.

Our third Speaker was Brian Gallagher, a new member to the Forum this season,who talked about his military posting to Borneo in the early 1960’s and in particular to Labuan. This period coincided with hostilities emanating from Indonesia under President Sukarno and a number of incursions from rebels that were dealt with by amongst others the Gurkhas. By the mid 1960’s and with a change in the Indonesian regime peaceful relations were established in this part of the world.

Taking fourth spot in our lexicon of Speakers was John Corby, a member of five seasons, and a member of Harrogate Rotary Club who helped establish over forty years ago a Charity Housing Association “Harrogate Flower Fund Homes” which set out to provide housing (flats) for elderly people in reduced circumstances. Funds for this project were by donations from monies diverted away from funeral flowers and wreaths. The first units opened in 1981 at Jennyfield and were added to in 1992/2011 with further flats in Starbeck and the Association now owns twenty-seven units.

Last but not least saw Alan Barker, another new member this season, bring proceedings to an entertaining finish causing much merriment in the audience with his original three verses  “A Bridge To Far”; one about his mother in law and a final one “Sat Nav” which focussed on the ever-loving advice he receives from his good lady!!

All in all a splendid morning enjoyed by the thirty-five attendees who really appreciated their fellow members efforts.



Report 13th February 2018

FORUM 13 FEB The Chairman welcomed 39 members to the meeting and announced the sad news of the death of Roland Moor, a friend of Roy Howard and George Wells and a former member of the Forum. Our speaker Chris Helme from Brighouse is a former police officer but his subject was “Other People’s Rubbish”. He alluded in an amusing introduction to the way that men hoard bits of plugs, wires and pieces of wood in their sheds in the mistaken belief that they will be useful one day. Women hoard buttons in the same way. He collects items that other people would throw away – old 78s and EPs, tapes, council minute books and newspapers for significant dates that reveal bits of local history such as a proposal to name a local street after Elvis that would otherwise be forgotten. Chris is a keen local historian and wrote a column for the local press for 30 years on the nostalgia theme, drawing his material from his collection saved from the skip or bought for a few pence. To show that he is not a stick in the mud, he told us that he has run a class helping older people to use mobile phones. Many of us had to admit that we mostly keep our phones switched off – typical apparently! Chris could have talked for hours but we had to call proceedings to a halt at 11.50!

Report 6th Feb

FORUM MEETING 6 FEBRUARY 2018 The Chairman welcomed a good number of members on a snowy day. He mentioned the 100th Anniversary of women over 30 gaining the vote and the 66th Anniversary of the Queen’s Accession. He then told a good joke involving the Queen Mother and Fokker Aircraft. 4 Forum members had attended Ray Snowden’s funeral which had been a celebration of his life and Malcolm Wood showed a photograph of Ray in typical form at Ascot House enjoying a knickerbocker glory. The popular Alun Pugh returned “to augment my pension” with his Illustrated History of Leeds. In an hour he showed us some of the familiar buildings still standing from the city’s past including the Minster,St. John’s Church, Kirkstall Abbey, the waterfront warehouses now apartments, Temple Newsam (founded by the Knight’s Templar) and the Egyptian-style mill. Other important landmarks in the city’s history have long since gone, such as Leeds Manor House, the Moot Hall in the middle of Briggate and the Coloured Cloth Hall for the textile trade which made Leeds important. In general much more has survived south of the main railway line than north of it. Until 1700 Leeds was insignificant in comparison with York but the Aire and Calder Navigation, the coming of steam power developed in the city by Matthew Murray and the railways led to rapid growth but also massive pollution. Charles Dickens called Leeds “the nastiest place I know”. The grand Town Hall of the 1850s opened by Queen Victoria showed anew civic pride and Roundhay Park was bought for the city to give the working population somewhere to relax and exercise. Alun finished his talk around 1905 with the building of Kirkgate Market, the shopping arcades and the opening of City Square. Malcolm Wood, himself a Leeds “loiner”, origin of the phrase unknown even to our speaker, gave the vote of thanks to our speaker on behalf of 38 members who showed by their applause how much they had enjoyed the talk.