The first half of the 2017/2018 season concluded with the now traditional Christmas Lunch organised by Programme Secretary John Taylor and his wife Margaret and hosted by Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. Sixty eight members and guests enjoyed a splendidly prepared and served meal in lovely surroundings courtesy of the Ascot House Hotel. After Lunch  interest was provided by anecdotes from both the Chairman and long-standing Member Malcolm Wood.

The normal charitable collection was taken following lunch and a fantastic amount of £280 raised which will be divided between The Girl Guides Appeal to renovate their facilities at Birk Crag and Harlow Hill Methodist Church to assist in providing blinds.

Following such a connvivial event all members and guests moved forward towards the forthcoming Christmas Festivities in good heart.





The meeting opened at 1030 a.m. prompt with Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. advising of seven apologies. His opening anecdote this week concerned a primary school teacher, a sleepy girl pupil and an exchange of views on paying attention!!

John Taylor Programme Secretary outlined next weeks Christmas Lunch arrangements and he confirmed that the normal charitable collection would be split between the Birk Crag Girl Guides Hut Rebuilding Fund and also Harlow Hill Methodist Church Funds which might indirectly benefit our Forum as a user group.

Todays Speaker was Miss Sue Wood, Horticultural Officer, with Harrogate Borough Council who visited last season and has now returned with her talk entitled “Behind the Scenes at the Tour De France”.

A promotional video (2/mins.) headed “Welcome to Yorkshire” started proceedings and illustrated the outstanding and varied scenery in Gods Own Country! Sue then took us back to the Tour De France in 2014 to describe the amount of planning, work and effort that was necessary to deliver such a successful outcome. Harrogate was fortunate to host the opening stage and have an involvement in the second stage with it being the fourth time this event had started in this country (1974; 1994; 2007). This 101st Tour involved the closure of 300 miles of roads and the logistics of delivering to a 3.5 billion T.V. audience in 188 countries. Harrogate Borough Council planning and work actually commenced in 2012/2013 and would involve event specific creations which included flower beds, elm tree sculpture on Montpelier Hill, masses of bunting, other sculptures and various displays across the whole District e.g. Knaresborough; Ripon.

2014 was also the centenary of World War One and the 100th anniversary of the Brownies which was also reflected in floral displays in various locations. We heard about the number of bicycles refurbished and repainted then erected and displayed; Knaresborough Schoolchildren “designed” Tee Shirts displayed on bunting in their town; a stained glass window feature on Montpelier Hill; entries at the Chelsea Flower Show and Harrogate Spring Flower Show with the “Welcome to Yorkshire Garden”; a Cairn in Masham and many other sculptures/ designs located around Harrogate and surrounding areas to publicise this major sporting occasion. One of the more impressive campaigns was the Knitted Jumpers initiative targeted at 3,00 but resulting in over 23,500 and hung on bunting and placed in displays in many locations. Refurbished ,freshly painted bicycles could be seen in shops, museums, on grass verges and in allotments to mention just some of the places.

In the build up to the big day(s) pothole repairs were effected on race roads, street cleaning received focussed attention and the immense and considerable logistical exercise for the race itself swung into operation…for example spectator areas on the stray; V.I.P. stands and marques erected all needing equipment and an allocated work force. There were also 8,000 stewards in addition to the police numbers to attend to the massive crowds that descended on the centre of Harrogate. Before, during and after the race the collection of rubbish needed to be addressed and the re-opening of roads once the race had passed through.

What was clearly evident was that the planning and efforts of Harrogate Borough Council and others reaped great dividends in the hosting of a superbly organised and successful event of which they could be rightly proud. This success has been recognised and reflected since by involvement in the Tour De Yorkshire and the awarding of the 2019 U.C.I. Road World Cycling Championships which will see Harrogate act as the main competition town and finish location.

After taking questions from an enthused assembly the morning concluded with Roy Smith giving a Vote of Thanks on behalf of the forty-two attendees.




Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting at 1030 a.m. and advised of five apologies. He welcomed Richard Cobbald, a guest of last week, who has now joined as a member. Today’s warm up anecdote concerned a dinner, stuffed shirt guests, a five-year old boy’s twist on the act of saying grace causing adult red faces and which received a mirthful response from the audience.

Under “Initial Notices” the Chairman advised that at last weeks meeting £153–40 was raised from the Forum and its individual members for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, a splendid effort, and warmly acknowledged by Mike Bevington (Speaker) and in writing by the organisation.

Making a regular and welcome return to today’s Forum was the popular Professor Martin Curzon with his chosen subject of “Teeth, Trees and Totem Poles” or more accurately “The Tribulations of a Backwoods Dentist”.

In 1965 the Professor and his newly acquired wife (also a dentist!!) took a professional placement to British Columbia to bring dental services to around eleven Indian tribes situated in some really remote areas. Outreach Services had begun its operations in 1948 to bring dental services to outlying areas and by 1960 faced in this geographically immense District around two million people requiring dentistry and medical services. We were told about the core programme aimed at 3–9 year olds funded by the Government with clinics run from 830 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day with other patients being charged and seen between 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. Whilst the main and large dental equipment was provided by the British Columbian government each individual practitioner was responsible for their own supplies and instruments.The difficulties and extent of travel to about twenty-five communities was highlighted including the use of Float Planes; the vagaries of the climate noted  and the prevalence of very bad teeth in the populace requiring all aspects of dentistry. Payments were made solely in cash and promptly resulting in vastly depleted local economies much to the chagrin of the local storekeepers. Professor Curzon advised us of the make up of the indigenous (Amerindian) Indian Tribes such as the Coast Salish and Haida all with different languages and all with variances on the types of craft works produced which included Totem Poles, Baskets and Blankets. A number of items were circulated by the Speaker during the meeting which reinforced his comments on the workmanship and fast escalating values of recent years. The heraldic influence on Totem Poles was explained with some of the ancient native tales relating to such as the Raven and Bear Mother  narrated. The type of tree wood used for carving and the inclusion of teeth in many of the carvings was also noted. The impact of modern-day Indian Artists such as Bill Reid (1920/1998) was illustrated.

Many of the clinics operated were based in logging camps and a variety of children’s health problems were evident and not just dental e.g. abscesses, head lice and impetigo. Professor Curzon concluded by stating his time spent in British Columbia had led to his career long involvement in children’s dentistry and he fielded a number of questions and comments from members who had obviously appreciated and comprehended the scope of the subjects covered.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of 44 attendees was given by Vincent Naylor.




Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting at 1030a.m. advising of five apologies. He also warmly welcomed a new member Allan Anderson and an attending guest Richard Cobbald. His well received icebreaker for this morning paid reference to the recently appointed Bishop of Ripon with a non related anecdote about two bishops and aspects of their secular life!!

Under “Initial Notices” a reminder of the Church Christmas Fayre on Saturday November 25th at 10a.m. was given and John Taylor advised that the Christmas Lunch on December 12th was now fully subscribed.

A welcome and regular returning Speaker for today was Mike Bevington who would give us a “Yorkshire Air Ambulance Update”. He reminded members that Yorkshire Air Ambulance, motto “Saving Lives across Yorkshire”, was divided into four geographical quarters, North, South, East and West with each having a Regional Fund Raising Manager and an Assistant Community Fund Raising Manager supported by establishing a team of Volunteers.

Formed in 2000 as an independent charity Yorkshire Air Ambulance serves some 5 million people and attended 1543 incidents last year with 322 in North Yorkshire alone. 2013 saw the Y.A.A. move to a new flagship airbase at the Nostell Estate where one helicopter is located and Topcliffe also provides a base for a second helicopter and there is a Head Office to be found in Elland. In 2016 two new Airbus H145 helicopters became operational at a cost of £12 million. These new vehicles had the benefits of reduced running costs, longer flying hours and night-time operations; also they had bigger internal space and were fitted out with state of the art medical equipment including a specialist stretcher. The crew of each helicopter includes a pilot, two paramedics and up to two passengers if required with recent developments seeing the addition of a Doctor. The Y.A.A. service covers 4 million acres in Yorkshire and operates within 20 minutes flying time of a major trauma centre. It is in service 365 days a year from 6a.m. to 12p.m. (18 hours) There is a dedicated Air Desk at Nostell Air Base which is advised of all Yorkshire ambulance incidents and determines priorities which could include road accidents, pedestrian incidents, motor cycle and cycle crashes , sport and leisure mishaps and episodes relating to Industry or Farming etc.

The increasing costs of the service are currently £12K a day reflecting medical advances and technical developments, increasing activity and longer operational hours. Mike touched upon the cross regional support that may happen with other Air Ambulance Charities and other medical rescue liaisons.

He finished by reminding the audience that no funding support is made by Central or Local Government  and the charity is dependant on support from individuals and groups and pointed us in the direction of the Y.A.A. website which details the role of volunteers in fund-raising, recycling through their textile banks and the importance of Gift Aid with donations.

An interested and appreciative audience asked questions during and after the talk and individual donations were gratefully made and received  at the end of the meeting. A total of £113-40 was given by individuals and £40 from Forum funds gave a total donation to the Service of £153-40

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of 45 attendees was given by John Corby.




The meeting opened at 1030a.m. under the auspices of His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. who advised of three apologies having being offered.. His ice breaker for this week saw him share an amusing Snow White cartoon involving seven felons and relating to the current Westminster shenanigans. He gave an additional tale that had an international flavour looking at the Paris approach to female harassment and authority’s response as represented by the Gendarmerie!!

Under “Initial Notices” John Taylor stressed the need for Christmas Lunch bookings to be made a.s.a.p. as there is a limit of seventy-two and received orders are already in the sixties.

Mike South took to the floor to advertise the Church Christmas Fayre on Saturday November 25th and encouraged members to attend and spend some money!

Today’s talk was provided by one of our own long-standing members Keith Wadd who invoked his professional expertise as a lecturer up to 1993 to deliver “What You Need To Know About Sociology”. This proved to be a thought-provoking and intellectual topic which would challenge the listening audience individually and in a number of ways. Using an analogy relating to wasps we were told about Sociology being about Society and all the social phenomenon that humans have created. Society is complicated and difficult to understand and has an invisibility about itself. Keith stressed it was about relationships between people and not necessarily as equals.e.g. Teacher/ Child; Parent/ Child where inequalities relate to power/ authority and thar rules or assumptions were enforced by the most powerful although not always of a static nature. Conflict in relationships arose where rules were not adhered too or respected. Social inequalities were created and reinforced by man and not neutral with groupings such as Feudalism; Castes; Social Class and Communism. Differences were highlighted by wealth, income, social status/power and civil rights and a brief overview of these followed. Our Speaker touched on social mobility with some interesting statistics…..two thirds of people do not change social class…and the impact of culture which is passed from one generation to another e.g. knowledge; values; technology etc. and he illustrated in the nature versus nurturing conflict how people are most affected by their personal environment He also positioned cleanliness at a much higher level than godliness, a brave thing to do given the location of his talk!!

Sex and gender differences and developments were noted, with the position of women in Society being considered including some slow-moving changes of recent years. He gave a definition of Sociology to finish with which stated that it was a “study of social phenomenon; how people make it; perpetuate it and are affected by it”.

Questions and comments were given by an interested, stimulated and appreciative gathering.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of forty-five attendees was given by David Hopkinson.




Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting by advising of five apologies. He also welcomed two guests to the meeting Alan Hainsworth and Douglas McFarlane and hoped they would enjoy proceedings. The Chairman continued by commenting on last weeks meeting and advising that he was looking for volunteers to perform the cancan at the Christmas Lunch and then shared a well received “bon mot” with the audience.

Mike South, due to increasing audience numbers, advised of evacuation procedures and toilet protocols to minimise lock-ins!! Members were advised that John Taylor was taking orders for Christmas Lunch and it would be helpful to have orders back in the next fortnight. Tom Snelling took to the floor to advise about Otley Men’s Forum which takes place on a Thursday morning and which would welcome increased numbers of attendees.

Todays Speaker was Forum Secretary Neil Ramshaw whose chosen topic was “The Great Schnozzle”. This talk looked at the life and career of Jimmy Durante, the New York born son of Italian immigrants, and whose stellar show business career traversed much of the 20th century. Starting as a Rag Time and Jazz pianist in venues frequented by gangsters and other less desirables , he and his partners Clayton and Jackson moved into Vaudeville and onto Broadway where Durante himself became an individual star of many mediums including Broadway; Films; Radio and the Golden Age of American Television. On Radio and T.V. he had his own shows as well as making frequent guest appearances on many others and he was involved with the biggest and most celebrated performers and personalities of the day from across the spectrum of performing arts. Although he developed a multi faceted and diverse career his great love remained performing live in night clubs and he maintained these appearances throughout the years appearing at the biggest and best venues in the States.

His extensive career of over 60 years was brought to a close at the age of 79 following a massive stroke even though he survived a few more years, albeit in poor health, before passing away at the age of 86.

In all his years in show business Durante established and maintained a reputation for staying true to his roots, displaying loyalty, generosity and kindness and this was reciprocated by the great affection he was regarded with by family, friends and the general public and he was paid many heartfelt tributes both during his lifetime and after his death—-a legend of show business who still lives on in popular culture!!

The Vote of Thanks was given by Peter Staples (my thanks to Peter for the Durante Toby Jug he allowed me to display) on behalf of the forty-five attendees.



I Did it for Kicks

The Chairman said that he was sorry that Mrs Coggan was unable to attend the Memorial Meeting and sent his good wishes to her on behalf of the Forum. John Taylor will write to Mrs Coggan.
In 1886 John Tiller watched the precision of guardsmen on military exercise and decided to extend the principle to female dance when he founded the Tiller School of Dance in Manchester. The girls were to be ladies, not chorus girls of ill-repute and their nails were regularly inspected as symbols of general cleanliness.
When our speaker Pam Harcourt joined the Tiller Girls as a teenager in 1951, the troupe was run by the strict Miss Doris and Miss Barbara, following the death of the founder and his wife. Pay was parsimonious and 24 girls were given 1 bottle of sherry between them to celebrate the New Year. Pam appeared in pantomime with Albert Modley, did several seasons in Blackpool and at the Victoria Palace with the Crazy Gang and her group co-starred on Shirley Bassey’s first appearance. She became Head Girl and danced on ITV’s Opening Night in 1955 and later on Sunday Night at the London Palladium.  The Tillers were on ITV, the Toppers, their great rivals, on BBC TV.
The talk was made more interesting because Pam showed that life in show business is often far from glamorous. In 1952 the girls had to struggle back in London smogs to digs in Brixton. Arriving in towns on tour on Sundays led to evenings watching old films in seedy cinemas and lodgings in Llandudno and Liverpool were pretty primitive. The dancers in their white ankle socks often shivered on stage although they were allowed tights eventually. Nevertheless as kicking Tillers they considered themselves superior to “pantomime” Tillers.
A reunion in 1987 led to a revival of the 60s Tillers and Pam still appeared occasionally until a few years ago. At the end she showed that she could still do a high kick.  After several questions from an enthralled audience, Peter Belton gave the vote of thanks on behalf of the forty attending members and six guests.


Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting at 1030 a.m. and advised of four apologies. He extended a warm welcome to new member Vic Welborn and guest/prospective new member Rob Allison. The audience was then treated to two short but entertaining recollections about, first the actor Warren Mitchell, and secondly a follow-up from last week relating to Sir Robin Day.

We are indebted to our Speaker Mr Terry Michael Williams, who for a second time, has come to our rescue as a replacement Speaker with today’s offering being “A Pictorial History of New Park”.

A teacher by profession he commenced by advising how a pupil enquiry set him on the road to researching New Park history. This eventually led to him becoming responsible for New Park Heritage Centre covering 157 years of history in that area of Harrogate.

New Park’s origins began in 1500’s Harrogate with the discovery of spa spring wells—Tewit Well being the first discovered. Subsequent wells were found which led to the formation of the two villages in High Harrogate and Low Harrogate and the advent of tourism.

In the 1840’s the Harrogate Improvement Committee decided to have a Gas Company established at Rattle Crag linking the two villages and July 4th 1845 saw the birth of the area of New Park with its growth from the Little Wonder Coaching Inn and Knox stimulated by said Gas Company. We saw how the Little Wonder Inn was, over the years, extended in three stages. Terry advised that the boundaries of New Park were essentially Yewdale Avenue (West), Eastville Terrace (North), Knox Avenue (East) and Jennyfield Drive (South). With the establishment of the gas works coal was brought by steam traction locomotives from Starbeck and the community which developed in a dirty industrial area was both hardworking and community minded with a sense of social togetherness. In 1882 the Electric Works were built on the site which is now a gym (formerly the Academy).

The first three streets built in New Park were Park Row, Park Street and Prospect Terrace. The growing community needed a school and New Park School opened in 1897 with 75 children ranging from 5 years to 14 years. As the community continued expanding the school was extended in 1910/11.

In 1907 the Gas Company installed a narrow gauge railway, having observed the one operating in Masham, which was built to reduce road wear and tear and would be cheaper to run.

The talk was illustrated with many socially poignant photographs that reinforced the industrial heritage of this part of Harrogate and the morning was informative and entertaining. Sadly the hour soon passed with still a considerable piece of this story to be told and questions and comments from members reinforced the view that a further return visit would be appreciated to conclude the New Park history.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the forty-one  attendees was given by Neil Ramshaw.





The meeting started at 1030 a.m with His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. in the Chair. Six apologies had been received .A warm welcome was extended to four new members namely Derek Mitchell; Brian Gallagher; John Pearson and Eric Smith. The Chairman warmed the audience up with an amusing and well received recollection about the late and abrasive Question Time host Sir Robin Day.

Under ” Initial Notices” John Taylor Programme Secretary advised the Forum that Frank Ellis had achieved a splendid 25 years membership with the Group and is on target and in form to achieve even more attendance records–well done Frank!! John also advised of a change of Programme for next week when Mr Terry Mike Williams will now be in attendance to give ” A Pictorial History of New Park “.

Making a welcome return to the Forum today was Mrs Jocelyn Brooks with, for the time of year, an appropriate talk title ” Gunpowder, Treason and Plot “. Whilst in some ways a familiar tale we were promised to be intrigued with tales of spying, shoot-outs, conspiracy, treachery, torture, gruesome deaths and religious intolerance!! We were not disappointed and the talk enhanced our understanding of those times and circumstances which have made such an indelible imprint and remains an annually remembered part of our history.

Jocelyn introduced us to the two main protagonists and painted comprehensive pen pictures of both the main players and also other involved characters. Firstly Guy Fawkes, born in 1570 in York , moves to Scotton at the age of eight and converts to Catholicism in 1891, becoming a zealot and changing his name to Guido. The second main character King James VI (Scotland) and Ist (England), born 1566 at Edinburgh Castle the son of Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley of Temple Newsam.

The background to the Gunpowder Plot centred around Protestant and Catholic tensions and the accession of James I following Queen Elizabeth I’s death in 1603. Whilst the nobility of England in the House of Lords was primarily Catholic, the House of Commons was 100% Protestant and with a strong puritanical leaning. King James, initially tolerant and prepared to relax restrictions on Catholics was pressured by the Commons to renege on his original agreements and stance. This would lead to the well documented Gunpowder Plot which included Guido Fawkes; Robert Catesby (leader); the Wintour and Wright brothers and Thomas Percy. Spy elements picked up on the Plot which was further compromised by an anonymous letter sent to Lord Monteagle. The initial plot scheduled for May 1605 was delayed due to an outbreak of plague (a delay which dampened the gunpowder’s effectiveness) and unwound during a search of the House of Lords at midnight on 4th November when Fawkes was arrested. Other conspirators fled but were pursued to Holbeche House Staffordshire where Catesby was one of those shot and killed. Other survivors including Fawkes suffered torture and after a trial faced a grisly death!!

The thwarting of the Plot was commemorated for many years afterwards evolving into the bonfire night of today. The talk was thoroughly enjoyed with questions and comments at its conclusion.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of 35 attendees was given by Gordon Richardson.




Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting promptly at 1030a.m. and advised two apologies had been offered. He gave an amusing anecdote about Lord Soper, the Methodist Minister, which was appreciated by the audience.

Under “Initial Notices” Terry Byrne advised members of a concert being held on behalf of the Friendship Group on Wednesday October 11th at 2 p.m. for 2.30 p.m. at the Green Hut with a cost of £2 to help raise funds–as an additional delight Mr Byrne will be singing as part of the entertainment!!

Today’s Speaker Mr Charles Lubelski was in attendance to give a discourse on “The History of Printing and its Technology”, having been involved in the printing world for nearly seventy years.

His talk commenced with a few lines courtesy of William Wordsworth and members then received some technical instruction on three principles of printing to aid understanding namely Letterpress, Lithography and Intalagio. The history of printing was touched upon with reference to the Egyptians but with an initial focus on the age of the Scribes, an important part of printing history, who did all the medieval writing of books, bibles and indulgences using parchment and vellum to write on. Many of these products were highly decorated and colourful works as demanded by the Church or Princes who mainly had the wealth to make the purchases. These books were bound in leather by professional binders adding to their cost and quality. Word Block Printing had been available but a major step change took place in 1440 driven by Johannes Gutenberg, a German blacksmith and goldsmith who invented the Movable-Type Printing Press regarded as a seminal event in the Second Milennium. His type method used a metal alloy of lead, tin and antimony and a hand mould for casting type.

William Caxton received a mention as the first Englishman to introduce, from Europe, printing into England at Westminster in 1476 and he used the English language in his printing and the first book known to have been produced was Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

The 15th–17 century time frame saw the eras of wooden printing presses and was also a time of exquisite bindings and the production of expensive and valuable works such as Bibles which were locked to Church pulpits because of their great value.

Through the 18th and 19th centuries we were advised about the impact of the Industrial Revolution on printing; Lord Stanhope’s building of the first Iron Press; the importance of Bradford in the printing world( Percy Lund Humphries & Co 1895 Print Company); the Wharfedale Machine produced in Otley from 1856 which revolutionised printing and saw thousands of machines made and exported. In a speedy conclusion matters pertaining to printing were brought up to date with emphasis on the enormous impact made by computers in and on the printing industry. A literary end saw Charles share a few lines from Charles Dickens’. Questions and comments were taken from the audience adding to the interest generated by the talk.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the 37 attendees was given by Michael Cochrane.