His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting at 1030a.m. and advised of three apologies having been offered.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw advised of the final call for the A.G.M. on April 24th with no candidates forthcoming as yet for Second Vice Chairman and two items for discussion under “Any Other Business” (Meeting Room–Mike South and Ray Coggan Memorial Meeting–Neil Ramshaw).

Programme Secretary John Taylor updated members on the collection for the previous Speaker Geoff Queen which amounted to forty-five pounds from members and his Speaking Fee taking the total to close to one hundred pounds which goes to Great Ormond Street Hospital. He also outlined the Hollins Hall coffee morning arrangements for Wednesday May 23rd, also detailed in his written handout to members.

Chairman Derek introduced today’s Speaker Ms Wendy Eccles whose topic would be ” I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside” and gave a quote about the seaside relating to the unnecessary volume of space taken up by water!!

Wendy then took her audience on a trip down memory lane recalling the origins and early days of seaside breaks/holidays and how adults particularly wore the same day clothes as normal even when on the beach. The initial attraction of the coast was the fact that if offered “free fun” for the whole day.

We were advised of Scarborough’s development as a resort staring in the 1600’s with the discovery of Spa Water by Mrs Farrer and Dr Wittie’s book about Scarborough Spa. The first spa was built in 1698 and was very successful with many middle class visitors coming from afar for weekend breaks. Transport was initially, in the 19th century, by way of stagecoach with railways providing a substantial improvement as the century developed. Blackpool became popular in the 1840’s and whilst the railways brought an increase in the number of visitors some concern was expressed about the rough stock of the largely textile workers arriving. In Blackpool three piers opened with a penny charge on one and featured what would now be understood as freak shows or lots of popular extravaganzas. Talbot Railway Station in Blackpool was established for holidaymakers convenience  and we were told about bathing machines for use in the sea.

The developement of Skegness was touched upon. Accomodation was mentioned including big, old hotels such as the Grand in Scarborough and the Imperial in Torquay. Most visitors however went to the archetypal boarding houses run by the dreaded (and unfairly maligned) landlady’s.

Beach activities centred on Buckets and Spades, the Sea, Picnics, Donkey Rides, Gypsy Rose Lee Fortune Tellers and everything needed to spend the full day on the beach at low-cost. Later developments included Fairgrounds and Punch and Judy Shows which were introduced from Europe. Blackpool Rock was highlighted and Ben Bullocks credited with putting the letters in said rock. In 1879 the Illuminations began life in Blackpool.  Holiday Camps made a 20th century appearance and Wendy told us about Cunningham’s on the Isle of Man and the ubiquitous Butlin’s.

Moving to more modern times the impact of motor cars as a form of easier and flexible travel along with parking difficulties started to impact the seaside economies which were further affected by caravans and their associated sites.

The talk was illustrated with pictures, postcards and a number of books which overall provided a very pleasant mornings interlude for the gathered members. Comments following the end of the talk showed how many memories had been stirred in the audience.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of 39 attendees was given by Mike Jones.




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!!



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.