Monthly Archives: April 2019

Sad News…deaths of George Thomas and Dennis Smith

It is with regret that I have to advise you of the passing of Member George Thomas who has not been seen at Forum meetings for some time due to a long period of ill health.

The death has also been reported of Dennis Smith , a former member and Registrar of the Forum this week.

Our condolences are sent to the families of both men and I am assuming funeral details can be found in the Harrogate Advertiser.


Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the final “normal” meeting of the 42nd Season at 1030 a.m. and advised of four apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” the last call for the April 30th 2019 A.G.M. was made in respect of proposals and nominations for office with a number of vacancies required to be filled. It was also the last day to book attendance at the Spring Lunch on May 7th 2019.

Today’s Meeting was the popular “Members’ Morning” with five members lined up to offer a short ten minute discourse on a subject of their choice.

First out of the pavilion to entertain was Mike Tutt who told us about his break in Belgium last year, an 80th birthday treat by rail on which he and his wife travelled under the Channel to Brussels with an expectation of seeing the spring flowers in Holland. Unfortunately his good lady suffered a sidewalk fall and experienced a genuine break in her shoulder and the memories became more of the European Medical system and its associated costs.

The next Speaker was Matthew Jessop (Tom Snelling’s grandson and supported by his mother in the audience also!!) who spoke well and knowledgeably about the Old Harrogate Railway Station and Goods Yard from about the mid 19th century to date. Accompanying his talk were some rail artifacts that were passed around the audience.

Long standing member Malcolm Wood then took centre stage to regale members with some “Hair Raising” episodes experienced by himself, his father and one taken from the Oldie magazine. All the cases had logical outcomes but at the time caused initial goose bumps and concerns to those affected.

Fourth man out was Alan Barker who reminded the audience of his North Eastern heritage, his long-standing missionary work in Harrogate and shared some anecdotes and amusing tales with the gathered assembly.

To complete the morning’s performances our Treasurer Roy Smith gave members an overview of the upcoming World Cycling Championships later this year ( September 21st–29th) and the chance to see for free a world sporting pinnacle event with the best cyclists in the world and the accompanying caravan of supporters and teams with Harrogate being the main competition town. The cycling routes will take in and pass through West Park, Otley Road, Beckwithshaw, Penny Pot Lane, Cornwall Road , parts of the Duchy, Harlow Moor Road and Drive, Ripon Road, Swan Road and back at the finish in West Park. His considered advice to those listening –if you like it ,make arrangements to watch it; if you don’t, arrange a holiday!!

With the morning’s proceedings concluded Chairman Mike asked the thirty attending members to show their appreciation in the normal way.



The background and History of Sweets

Michael Cochrane opened the meeting and welcomed the members, guests and the speaker Mr Keith Tordoff MBE.

This mornings talk was the The background and History of Sweets.Keith had a table covered in bags of sweets, over twenty packets!

He explained that the Oldest Sweet Shop in the World has been trading continuously since 1827 and this was confirmed by the Guinness Book of records in 2014. The building itself dates from 1661.

Keith told us about the various sweets and their ingredients, often liquorice. He spoke of Pear Drops to Raspberry Bon Bons.

Keith’s talk was entertaining and well received by the audience.

It is worth a look at his web site: for further information.


Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the meeting at 1030 a.m. by advising of four apologies. Matthew Jessup (Tom Snelling’s grandson) was again in attendance as a guest.

Under “Initial Notices” a reminder was given about the Spring Lunch at Hollins Hall on Tuesday May 7th 2019 and the fourth call for the A.G.M. on Tuesday April 30th 2019 was made with any proposals/discussion items to Secretary Neil Ramshaw by Tuesday April 16th 2019. The Officer Nomination form was again available and its becoming urgent for some take up of positions to be made.

Today’s Speaker was Forum Member Peter Wilson whose topic was “Back to Front”. Peter recounted his biography to members being born in 1933 reminding us Hyperion won the Derby that year; failed his eleven plus in 1944 (blamed the War!!) but still went to grammar school and then Sheffield University studying architecture with two life changing events in 1955 namely marriage and National Service. For many years Peter was the staff architect for the well-known firm of John Collier. He stressed the importance in his life of making time for hobbies and in particular for him photography and sailing. Backed up by a comprehensive slide show the audience were treated to many of his photos and sketches taken over the years of places visited including Arran, the South of France, Suffolk  and Milton Keynes. He had detailed photographs of shops departed from the Harrogate scene such as Preston’s Photographers and Beardmore, Dobson and Sons Hardware and Ironmonger’s.

More revealing were the internal photographs Peter showed of his former property in Westminster Drive and the amount of space taken up in storage by his work and hobby materials. A move to Beckwith Crescent saw the establishment of “The Wilsonian” which acts as a workshop, studio, gallery, library, museum and drawing office…very much an upmarket man cave!! He entertained members with stories of how his pipe-smoking days came to an end at the hands of his fourteen year old daughter and Monday rice pudding day was similarly ended by his daughters who used a piano stool to effect the disappearance of the offending dessert. His father’s motor bike adventures were shared including a court appearance of said pater and his vehicle!!

The conclusion of the talk was illustrated with pictures of vintage cars and places such as the Tate Gallery in St. Ives.

Comments and questions were taken at the end and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty-six attendees was given by Peter Staples.