Monthly Archives: March 2018


We had a substitutes bench today: the Deputy Chairman was Richard and the speaker was Geoff Queen.
The Deputy Chairman welcomed the ladies to this open meeting and advised that three apologies had been received.
The programmed speaker Tim Fee was unable to attend. Geoff Queen was thanked for substituting at short notice.

Geoff displayed pictures from the UK and the Isle of Man. He tested the members of the forum’s knowledge with a photographic quiz.

The slides started with ones of pictures from Yorkshire and became more difficult as the talk progressed.
The pictures covered landscapes, castles and churches from different areas of the British Isles.
The Forum members were on form it was a whitewash!

Some questions were asked and Geoff said his favourite Cathedral was Hereford.

The vote of thanks was given by Tom Snelling. The proceeds of the talk today were in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Richard Wright took the chair and welcomed 31 members and 9 ladies to the meeting. He explained how grateful we were to our old friend Geoff Queen for stepping in when Tim Fee was unable to attend. Geoff has raised over £11000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital through his talks and in total we gave him around £85 after today’s meeting as fee plus generous donations from our members.

Unusually Geoff’s talk was close to home and in the form of a quiz to see how many well-known places in Great Britain we could recognise. On nearly every occasion we won the contest with Tony Bills being exceptionally knowledgeable (even remembering the gaelic name of a mountain in Glencoe). Starting with Knaresborough railway bridge we were taken through familiar Yorkshire landmarks from Bolton Abbey to Whitby Harbour, then processed around the country to some of Geoff’s favourite places from Liverpool where he enjoyed the Scouse humour when working there to Worcester where he had combined his love of cricket with his love of Cathedral music on the same day. One of his favourite images was Barmouth railway bridge with the Welsh peaks including Cader Idris behind. Altogether we recognised over 40 places and finished our journey seasonally with the crocuses on Harrogate Stray.

We also enjoyed two splendid anecdotes. Richard told us about the horticulturist who was nearly arrested for terrorist offences and Geoff told us how the cricket writer Neville Cardus treated his wedding as a small interlude in a slow day’s batting by Lancashire at Old Trafford.


Unfortunately there is a late change to next weeks Open  Meeting as Mr Tim Fee is unable to attend and will be replaced by Mr Geoff Queen who will present a Great British Quiz.

Geoff Queen has been a regular visitor to the Forum and will provide a more than able replacement.




The meeting was opened with Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. advising that six apologies had been received. Two guests of Speaker Terry Byrne , Tony Brown and Keith Jones, were welcomed.

Chairman Derek shared a short anecdote about Sir Gerald Dobson who through the 1930’s–1960’s spent time as a Judge/ Recorder in London but as he approached his dotage was having hearing and understanding issues. He started to sentence a felon by initially confusing burglary charges for a more serious and personally intimate crime and when corrected indicated no less severity for the crimes actually committed– a tale that caused much amusement amongst members!!

Secretary Neil Ramshaw gave the second call for the April 24th A.G.M. and stressed the urgent need for members to consider taking the position of Second Vice Chairman.

Today’s topic was provided by the Forum’s own Terry Byrne and titled “A South African Journey”. The discourse was provided in three sections beginning with the Capetown Area; secondly the Drakensberg Mountains and finally time in the Kruger National Park. Terry’s talk was supported by an extensive slide show and some illuminating videos.

Terry displayed to his audience the sights and sounds he experienced on his trip highlighting the enormous size difference between South Africa and the U.K. He started with the Cape of Good Hope, its nature reserve including a baboon area. The National Flower of South Africa, the Protea, was shown, and told about a sunshine cruise around the Capetown Area with some stunning pictures of Table Top Mountain.

The Speaker moved on to Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Hermanus Bay, all very scenic, and our taste buds were aroused with his meal of Wildebeest and Pumpkin Pie in the Haute Cabriere, a restaurant in the French Quarter of Franschhoek. We were shown one of  the largest Penguin colonies in South Africa at Stoney Point Nature Reserve and saw them living in harmony with the Rock Hyrox (the Dassie).

The final stage  of his journey saw a stop at Fugitive’s Drift Lodge (also used by Prince Charles and his sons but on a different occasion!!) and he then detailed the locations and account of incidents from the Zulu Wars notably Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift both in 1879. Some of the actions and characters involved were described.

His final stop was Arathusa Safari Lodge in Sabi Sands, flanking the Kruger National Park, and excellent pictures/videos of Lion families; Rhinos; Elephants; Hippos; Water Buffalos and a Leopard concluded an interesting and informative morning with a small number of questions /comments in the remaining time.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty-six attendees was given by Peter Staples.





Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting promptly at 1030 a.m. and advised of twelve apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” Secretary Neil Ramshaw gave notice of the 2018 April 24th A.G.M. and asked for members to consider taking office/helping with the small tasks needed to make the Forum operate efficiently and successfully— in particular 2nd Vice Chairman candidates needed and Catering assistance welcome!!

John Taylor Programme Secretary updated members on the late Gordon Richardson’s funeral last week and also regarding Ken Roberts who has been absent for some time and now in a Care Home off the Knaresborough Road— a long-standing member and former Bevin Boy !!

Today’s talk saw the return of Mr Malcolm Neesam, noted Harrogate Historian, whose subject would be “Harrogate in the 20th Century”. For the next hour the attentive audience were entertained with an excellent recounting, supported by a complementary slide show, of Harrogate’s development both good and bad throughout the last century. Harrogate’s progress was enhanced by its reputation as a premier Spa Town and further consolidated with the arrival of the Railway.

In 1900 Harrogate’s population stood at 26,583 increasing by 2001 to 71,594. Before the Great War Harrogate was a genteel community attractive to the aristocracy and the well to do–very much upmarket in terms of its appeal. This would dramatically change both after the First World War and accelerate again after the Second World War. Significant building took place prior to the First World War—1900 Harrogate Opera House; Majestic Hotel with one gold leaf dome!! In 1902 the Grand Hotel opened on Cornwall Road with eight gold leaf domes!!; 1903 Kursaal opened and other developments also took place—all funded from within Harrogate itself.

Following World War One the Council had three priorities to action with housing improvements urgently required leading initially to the developement of the St. Andrews Estate in the 1920’s and then others. Secondly suitable commemoration of the War Dead was required which eventually saw the Cenotaph commissioned and thirdly responding to as report by Professor Smithells on Spa Facilities, initiated in 1918, with plans for pavement canopies and the training of Bath Attendants being progressed.

We were shown Valley Gardens improvements, even though part of the Stray, and Malcolm described what was between the wars the big business of Harrogate Spa Water. 1930 saw new Council Offices in Crescent Gardens and the Council publicised an”Up Market” image of the town. Council interference with the properties of the Stray led to the formation of the Stray Defence Association in 1933 and an outbreak of internecine strife thar was eventually won by the Association and the removal of the offending flower beds and shrubs from the said Stray.

The Second World War saw slum clearances put on hold; billeting taking place on a large-scale in the town; bombing in 1940 and following the war’s end the further acceleration of change with Conference Halls, Bus and Railway Stations replaced (not for the better!); start of the International Festival in 1966; refurbishment of the Royal Hall and other changes/ developments up to the end of the century.

Whilst not a lot of time for questions it was apparent that the morning’s proceedings had been much appreciated and well received by members.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty-nine attendees was given by Richard Brooks.




The meeting was opened at 1030 a.m. by Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. He advised that six apologies had been received and reminded members of the arrangements for Gordon Richardson’s funeral this Thursday at 340 p.m.

A reminder was also given to members that the talk on March 20th by our own Terry Byrne would be entitled ” A South African Journey” and not as titled in the Club Membership Card.

Before introducing the day’s Speaker,  Chairman Derek shared an anecdote about the perils of memory recall as one advances in age illustrated by an incident involving Sir Thomas Beecham and Royalty which was well received by the assembled audience.

Today saw the return of Mr Michael Duncombe who previously told us of his experiences as part of the Saxon’s music trio in his youth and today’s talk “Thanks for the Memories” would take us back to his days of growing up and early adulthood,  sharing his remembered recollections from some of the many people he had met and who had left an indelible impression on him.

Growing up in Whiston Rotherham he attended Whiston Infant and Junior School and told us about his teachers, headmistress and games played such as Marbles, Hopscotch, Conkers and Whip “N” Top. The girls games he remembered were Skipping and Hand Stands. (which the boys enjoyed watching!!)  Teachers with names such as Miss Lines, Mrs Winspear and Miss Royal were recalled; singing Auld Lang Syne (with variations!) and Monitors for every thing were brought to mind including the Ink Monitor with a blue arm and the Ball Monitors who recovered balls from the school roof in an era before the advent of Health and Safety taking effect. Michael was the School Money Monitor taking a bus ride into Rotherham each week to bank dinner monies and any other miscellaneous amounts something that would no doubt be severely frowned upon in these so-called enlightened times.

At secondary school his memories centred on his drama and football teachers (P.T.), his exam for technical school which saw him opt for Engineering rather than Agriculture, Commerce or Building.

Leaving school he took a job in B.T. Communications following a familiar family pattern but then made a major career direction change early in his married life by retraining at a National College in Leicester for Youth Leadership, a career path he subsequently followed. Again we heard some interesting and amusing tales of his experiences in this field involving individuals decried as reprobates but who displayed some remarkable skills (guitar playing) or whose ambitions were affected/limited by coming from a difficult or violent background and upbringing.

The morning concluded with audience questions and reminisces and it was evident that Michael’s memories had elicited recognition and familiarity amongst many members of their own earlier lives.

The Vote of Thanks, on behalf of the thirty-nine attendees, was given by the ever youthful Mike South who claimed not to recall the early scholastic memories!!