|13th June||Sixty Years at Chatsworth||Guest speaker John Oliver will describe the changes that he has seen at Chatsworth throughout his long career there.|
|27th June||To be arranged|
|11th July||To be arranged|
|13th June||Sixty Years at Chatsworth||Guest speaker John Oliver will describe the changes that he has seen at Chatsworth throughout his long career there.|
|27th June||To be arranged|
|11th July||To be arranged|
(Most recent first. Click on the titles for fuller descriptions.)
A Trek and a Train Journey
23rd May 2017‘A land of blue skies and distant horizons’ is how today’s speaker, club member Neil Spaven, described Mongolia. In the company of his son and a group of other walkers, he had taken part in a week-long sponsored trek in that country in support of the charity, Teenage Cancer Trust. Illustrating the accuracy of his description, many of Neil’s photos showed a sparsely-populated country of rolling grassland under cloudless skies.
Three times the size of France but with a population of only three million, Mongolia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world and possibly one of the least travelled. Sandwiched between Russia and China, it is mountainous in the north and west. These mountains then give way to grassy steppe (where Neil’s party trekked). Finally, in the south of the country is the Gobi desert. Much of the rural population is nomadic, living in large portable round tents (‘gers’) traditionally made of animal skins but, as Neil’s photos showed, now often with more modern materials (plastic and metal sheets) included in their construction.
At the end of their trek, Neil and his son chose to travel from Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, to Beijing by train rather than flying. This was a 30-hour journey on the Trans-Mongolian Railway which is a branch of the most famous Trans-Siberian.
Neil Spaven and Ainslie Kelly
The Late Duchess of Devonshire
9th May 2017The life story of the late Duchess of Devonshire (born Deborah Mitford) has been told many times but at today’s meeting a new perspective on the history and achievements of this remarkable woman was given by the speaker, Simon Seligman. From childhood Simon had wanted to work at Chatsworth and it was after he had graduated with an Arts degree that he took the bold step of writing to the Duchess and asked for a job. His letter must have caught the Duchess’ attention because it eventually led to his being given the opportunity to join the staff at Chatsworth. This was in 1991 and, for the next 19 years his career progressed to the point at which he had become Head of Communications there. Over this time, he developed a close working relationship with the Duchess and, as was clear from the way in which he talked about her, he came to admire and respect her immensely.
As is widely known, Deborah Mitford was the youngest of six sisters, most of whose controversial lives were notable for their political sympathies, ranging from communism to fascism. Deborah, however, was more conventional. At her marriage in 1941 to Andrew Cavendish, second son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire, she would have expected her future life to be one of straightforward, if upper-class, domesticity with, at the time, no idea of the high profile public life that was to follow as a result of the premature death in World War II of the heir to the dukedom, William Cavendish.
When the 10th Duke died in 1950, the Inland Revenue claimed £4.8 million in death duties from the Cavendish estate and it fell to the new Duke and Duchess (Andrew and Deborah) to settle this enormous claim. By disposing of many of the Cavendish lands, property and works of art, they finally cleared the debt but it took 17 years to do so. Throughout her life as the Duchess, working in close partnership with her husband, she was the instigator of, and driving force behind, the hugely successful business that Chatsworth has now become.
Ainslie Kelly and Simon Seligman
History of Ophthalmic Tumours
25th April 2017It is now widely accepted that excessive exposure of the human skin to strong sunlight can lead to a form of cancer known as melanoma. Less commonly known is the fact that melanoma can form within the eye; and it was these ophthalmic tumours – their diagnosis, treatment and prognosis – that were the subject of today’s talk.
Introduced by club member and retired General Practitioner Ken Fleming, the speaker was Professor Ian Rennie of Sheffield Medical School who described the important advances made in this particular field of medicine over the past thirty years, many of which were developed by his team in the Sheffield Ocular Oncology Service. The success of this department led to its being included in the NHS National Commissioning Group of highly specialised services in 1997, which increased its funding significantly. It is now widely recognized for the excellence of its work, both nationally and internationally.
At the time that this specialised unit was established in 1985 there was little effective treatment available for dealing with ophthalmic tumours, with the result that, in most cases, the diseased eye would have to be removed. There was also a high incidence of misdiagnosis, which meant that a patient’s eye would have been removed unnecessarily. However, thanks to the work carried out by Professor Rennie’s team in developing several techniques involving different forms of radiotherapy and surgery, there is now a much better chance that the patient’s eye can be saved and, in most cases, restored to full vision.
Ken Fleming and Professor Ian Rennie
The Unexamined Life is not Worth Living
11th April 2017Today’s speaker, club member David Grattidge owned up to a fear that his audience, on learning that his talk was to be about philosophy, might find it to be a dull and uninteresting topic. He need not have worried because he proved to be extremely knowledgeable and skilled at communicating his enthusiasm for the subject to others. As an introduction he said that his talk was aimed at explaining why he has spent a great deal of time since retirement reading, writing and generally thinking about philosophy. He gave details of his personal history as a way of showing how philosophy became important to him. He tried to answer questions like: 'What is philosophy'? and 'What is the point of philosophy'? .
David also gave an outline of his project to try and appreciate the whole history of Western philosophy - a task he described as unachievable but worthwhile. In distinguishing philosophy from other related areas of study he quoted Bertrand Russell: "Science helps us to have some degree of certainty about the world, and theology gives us reasons for feeling certainties about faith or religious beliefs, but philosophy deals with those things we cannot know, and it helps us to live with that uncertainty". Unsurprisingly, in view of the nature of the subject, there was much discussion among his listeners at the end of David’s talk.
Ainslie Kelly and David Grattidge
Horatio Nelson: his wounds, the Seventh Commandment and the Festival of Priapus
28th March 2017The talks given to our Club are invariably of a very high standard but even the best of these were eclipsed by today's guest speaker, Simon Harris. The full (and intriguing) title of his talk was 'Horatio Nelson - his Wounds, the Seventh Commandment and the Festival of Priapus'.
A retired consultant anaesthetist, Simon could appreciate the serious and traumatic nature of the many wounds suffered by Nelson during his career in the Navy and, despite the gruesome nature of these wounds, Simon described, in a very knowledgeable and unexpectedly entertaining manner, how they had been sustained and treated. Having lost the use of an eye at the siege of Calvi in 1794, Nelson subsequently suffered severe wounds to his abdomen during the battle of St Vincent in 1797 and, later that year during fighting off Santa Cruz in Tenerife, received injuries requiring the amputation of his right arm. Early in the following year, at the battle of The Nile, he received a serious head wound. Finally, as we all know, this heroic man was killed at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
As well as discussing Nelson’s wounds, Simon also took a somewhat irreverent look at this famous man’s legendary love life – hence the references in the title of his talk to the Seventh Commandment and the Ancient Romans’ notorious erotic art dedicated to the god, Priapus.
Simon Harris and Ainslie Kelly
Annual Club Debate
14th March 2017Now a regular event on the Club’s calendar, the annual debate this year took as its topic the proposition that ‘The British railway system should be re-nationalised’. The two club members leading the debate were David Webb who made the case for re-nationalisation and Robbie Jones who opposed it. Following the opening submissions, both of which had clearly been carefully researched and which were delivered in articulate and persuasive terms, the debate was enthusiastically continued with numerous contributions from the floor.
The overall mood of the discussion was that, although there are many problems associated with the privatised railway network, re-nationalisation would not be the answer to solving them. The point was made that irrespective of the criticisms that can be levelled against the current arrangements, such as the complexity of the fares structure and the lack of a properly integrated transport system, the fact remains that passenger numbers have doubled since privatisation and, thanks to private investment, new trains are continually being introduced.
Several contributors to the debate expressed their view that the efficiency of nationalised industries frequently suffered from interference by politicians and incompetent direction by civil servants in matters beyond their experience. The debate concluded with a vote, which returned an overwhelming majority against the proposition.
David Webb, Robbie Jones and Ainslie Kelly
A Voyage of Discovery
28th February 2017The spectacular coastline of Norway was the subject of an illustrated talk by Gillian Dengel, wife of club member Theo. Showing a selection from the hundreds of photographs taken on the journey, Gill described a return voyage which they had made between Bergen and Kirkenes (on the Norway/Russia border) via the North Cape.
They had travelled on board one of the Hurtigruten fleet of Norwegian ferries and cargo ships which operate on this route. Hurtigruten (meaning ‘Fast Route’) was founded in 1893 and now has a fleet of a dozen vessels. Originally providing the only direct means of communication between many of the isolated settlements along the Norwegian coast, and the fastest between the major towns, the ships were an important life-line. However, more recently, as the road network on the mainland has been improved, the Hurtigruten role has changed to some extent and the later ships have been built to accommodate the cruise market as well as the existing ferry service.
The voyage made by Gill and Theo covered 2,500 nautical miles and the ship called at thirty four ports, of which twenty two were within the Arctic Circle. It being September, they were too late in the year to witness the midnight sun and too early for the Aurora Borealis but, as proved by their photos, they saw many interesting and attractive sights en route.
Theo and Gill Dengel
The Personal Computer
14th February 2017
Club member Don Naybour looked at how the big companies failed to capitalise on the use of new technologies in the growth of the Personal Computer, leaving newcomers like Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Steve Jobs (Apple) to come from almost nothing to lead two of the largest companies in the world. This was a story of people and their decisions taken in a fast-changing world.
24th January 2017Our guest speaker was local hotelier Eric Marsh whose main subject was aircraft aerobatics. However, before embarking on this topic, he described how his career in the hotel business had developed. After leaving school he attended a catering college and then trained in hotel management in some of the finest hotels, including the Dorchester in London and the George V in Paris. In 1975 he acquired the lease of the Cavendish Hotel in Baslow. On the expiry of this lease in 2008 and the emergence of Peak Hotel Management, Eric was awarded the contract to manage the Cavendish as Chatsworth’s key Derbyshire property. He now owns and runs the George Hotel at Hathersage and continues a long-standing association with aviation.
He is a member and Contest Director of the British Aerobatics Association. As he explained, the main purpose of aerobatics is the flight testing of new aeroplanes. From this follows the sport of aerobatic displays and contests. To illustrate how competitions are judged, Eric showed video clips of aerobatics displays and gave a commentary on the manoeuvres being carried out and the method of marking each competitor’s performance.
Eric Marsh and Ainslie Kelly
The Work of a Coastguard
10th January 2017We started the New Year in fine style with an informative and entertaining talk by club member, John Broughton, whose topic was The Coastguard Service. John started his talk by pointing out that a 999-call can be dialled to summon the assistance of not only the Fire, Police and Ambulance emergency services but also the Coastguard or Mountain Rescue. Here in Derbyshire, a county further from the sea than any other in Britain, we are generally unfamiliar with the work carried out by coastguards but in many respects it is similar to that of our local Mountain Rescue teams. In both cases, teams of (mostly) volunteers give their time and energy to helping people in difficulties or injured, usually outdoors.
The speaker, who had been a member of a coastguard team in West Wales for fifteen years, described the specialist role – cliff rescue - carried out by his team. He related several anecdotes to illustrate how they had saved lives in a variety of complicated and often humorous ways. He also explained the overall structure and workings of the Coastguard Service with its responsibilities for the safety of shipping, one of which is the coordination of search and rescue missions at sea. This was a fascinating talk which prompted a lively question and answer session at the end.
Ainslie Kelly and John Broughton
Big Beasts of Africa
22nd November 2016For our final meeting of 2016 we were taken on a photographic safari in Southern Africa by club member, Peter Donaldson. However, this was no ordinary safari because the primary object of the speaker’s travels had been to hunt down and take photographs of the rapidly dwindling numbers of steam locomotives working in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa during the course of five visits between 1993 and 2002.
For those in his audience who might not share his great enthusiasm for railways, he also showed photos of other aspects of these countries, including aerial shots taken by him from a small plane flying over and around the magnificent Victoria Falls on the River Zambesi. Further downstream, on the shores of Lake Kariba, the speaker had been privileged to encounter a pride of eleven lions, on this occasion not from the comparative safety of a vehicle but when actually on foot - albeit with an experienced guide. This was certainly a thrilling if, at the time, a heart-stopping moment! To conclude his talk, the speaker showed a collection of photographs of steam trains taken in the spectacular scenery of South Africa.
Daddy; What did you do in the Great War?
8th November 2016Every year, November is the month of Remembrance but this year it has special significance because it marks the centenary of the end of the Battle of the Somme in which more than a million men were killed or wounded, making it one of the bloodiest battles in history. It was fitting therefore that at this meeting in early-November, we heard a talk about The Great War by one of our own members, Brian Barry, whose father had fought in that conflict.
At the age of eighteen, Brian’s father had enlisted in the London Rifle Brigade and, two years later, in 1914 was sent to a sector of the Western Front in Flanders known by the British as ‘Plugstreet Wood’ (a corruption of its Flemish name, Ploegsteert). Here he was injured in early 1915 and returned home to recuperate. Later in the year he was promoted to Second Lieutenant after which he returned to fight in Flanders. After the war, he remained in the Territorial Army until 1927.
To put his father’s wartime experiences into context, Brian described several of the World War I battles including not only the Somme but also the 1917 offensive at Bullecourt where Australian forces suffered devastating losses. In the midst of all this carnage, Brian’s father was clearly fortunate to have survived the war.
Brian Barry and Ray Smith
(Most recent first. Click on the titles for fuller descriptions)
Yemen 1962-68 Implications for the present day Middle East
25th October 2016This meeting was the AGM and the chairmanship was handed over to Ainslie Kelly who then introduced the speaker, club member Malcolm Young.
During Malcolm’s career in the armed forces he had been involved in several campaigns including Aden and Dhofar (Oman) and, with this background, he talked knowledgeably about the recent history of Yemen, a desperately poor country that has been plagued with insurgencies and civil war for the past half-century. Malcolm told us that these conflicts are rooted in numerous causes which include tribal, sectarian and political differences between the various peoples of Yemen, together with interference from the Western powers (such as the USA, Britain and France), and from Middle Eastern countries, in particular Saudi Arabia but also Jordan, Egypt and even Israel.
In 1962 Yemen, Aden and associated territories were under the control of Britain but in that year Nasser (the leader of Egypt) started to provide support for Marxist sympathisers against the ruling royal elite. Britain initially backed the Royalists but, failing to contain the insurgency, withdrew in 1967. Years of civil war followed which, now with Saudi direct involvement, shows no signs of ending. Malcolm argued that the consequences of interfering in Yemen in the 1960s should have taught lessons to the Western powers, but alas these were not learned, with the tragic results later repeated in Iraq.
Malcolm Young and Ainslie Kelly
Saving the Portland Works
11th October 2016The Portland Works was the subject of today’s talk by guest speaker Derek Morton who described how this, one of the few surviving cutlery works with a continuing history of manufacturing in Sheffield, had been saved from the threat of conversion into residential use and instead had been preserved and developed into a community owned home for traditional crafts and creative arts. The Works were opened in 1879 and, in 1914, became the birthplace of stainless steel cutlery; the material having been created the year before. Full scale stainless cutlery production was prevented by the outbreak of war and the requirement that all available stainless steel went into aero engines, but after this initial delay cutlery production was in full swing all over Sheffield by 1919 and the business prospered.
However, by the 1950s, overseas competition was taking its toll on the steel industry and Portland Works entered a period of decline and decay such that by 2009 its owners applied for planning consent to convert the buildings into apartments. At this stage a campaign was launched to save the Works and to convert it for use by small businesses. This campaign was successful and in 2013 it was purchased by a social enterprise group who, using mainly volunteer labour, have been undertaking an extensive renovation. Currently there are more than thirty small businesses within the site; approximately half of which are involved in the metalworking or woodworking trades; thus perpetuating the former nature of the work carried out here.
Derek Morton and Alan Grant
From Silent Spring to the Sixth Extinction
27th September 2016
Club member Roger Truscott took as his theme the titles of two iconic books (Silent Spring and The Sixth Extinction), published half a century apart, which tell the story of the rapid growth in awareness of our (i.e. humanity’s) disastrous impact upon the wildlife with which we share this planet.
Where was Miss Marple when we needed her?
13th September 2016Club Treasurer David Leech related a story from the time when he had been a Police Officer in Essex. One morning he and a colleague had been called out to investigate the unusual behaviour of a public house landlord who, on the previous evening, had received a telephone call and without any explanation, had abruptly closed the bar, ejected the customers and driven away at high speed. On the morning in question, the landlord’s car was back on the premises but there was no sign of the man himself and the doors of the property were all locked. David and his colleague therefore broke into the building only to find a blood-stained knife on the bar and traces of blood elsewhere in the room and in the landlord’s private quarters. Here they were alarmed to come across a gun-locker with the gun missing and, in another room, an overturned chair and an extremely vicious looking dog. All the evidence pointed to a violent incident and they retreated to their police car to summon assistance, which duly arrived and took over at the apparent crime-scene.
It was not until later that they learned the full details of the case. The telephone call to the landlord had been an urgent summons by family members who had been involved in a traffic accident; he had returned home at a very late hour; had accidentally stabbed himself with the knife and gone for help. (And, as for the gun-locker, it was empty because the gun was away to be repaired; and the chair had been deliberately overturned to keep the dog off it!). This was an intriguing and engrossing story which was greatly appreciated by the audience.
David Leech and Alan Grant
The Lifecycle of a Business
23rd August 2016It made a welcome change for us to have a lady speaker at today’s meeting. Gill Fearn, the wife of Club member Brian, started by explaining that the lifecycle of a business can be compared to that of a person. In the natural course of events it is born, grows, matures, declines and finally dies, although these later stages may not occur in the case of a business if it experiences a merger or take-over.
Using the specific example of their Darley Dale business (Abbey Brook Cacti), Gill described how it has developed since it was set up in 1956. At that time, it was based in Sheffield but moved to its present site at Darley Dale in 1976 after which it grew rapidly, mainly through mail order including some to export markets. By then Gill and Brian needed to employ more staff and the business expanded further in the 1980s when they started to supply cacti and succulents to a number of garden centres, eventually dealing with almost 300 of these. A natural progression was then to create a garden centre themselves within the existing site and they ran this until the mid-1990s when that aspect of the business was sold. Thereafter, Abbey Dale Cacti has concentrated on growing cacti and succulents, and supplying the wholesale trade. Currently, the extensive collection of glasshouses and polytunnels at Darley Dale contains approximately 4,000 plant types.
Brian and Gill Fearn
Entirely Motivated by Idleness
9th August 2016By its title and in his earlier synopsis of this talk, Club member Don Mackenzie had given the impression that his life and career had been controlled by taking the line of least resistance in a number of key areas, largely (and luckily) with positive outcomes. Indeed, the first part of his talk which dealt mainly with his early life suggested that here was a very late developer, both academically and to a lesser extent in his sporting and recreational activities.
However, it became clear that once he had found the things in life that really interested him (such as his love of geology) his career really took off and he rose to occupy a senior position on the staff of the University of Derby (previously Derby College of Art & Technology). During his time there he was instrumental in the development of a computer-based system designed to test and assess the higher level skills of students in many disciplines which was eventually applied to test the competence of medical practitioners in the NHS up to Consultant level. This provided a more objective and fairer method of assessment than had previously been possible when the results of such tests could perhaps be influenced by the inconsistencies and prejudices of the person carrying out the assessment.
Alan Grant and Don MacKenzie
Adventure Travel: Rationale, Risks and Rewards
26th July 2016The members of the club are a fairly well-travelled group of people but Ian Johnston is probably more adventurous than most in his choice of travel destinations. As a keen fisherman and bird-watcher he finds himself travelling to many unusual and remote places in pursuit of his interests and it was at this meeting that he discussed the reasons, risks and rewards involved in his journeying. Firstly, he spoke about the rationale behind his decisions for visiting places. Apart from the need to satisfy his curiosity about a country’s culture (its politics, history and customs), he considered other attractions such as its climate and its natural history.
As for risks, Ian gave a long list of these but, as he pointed out, many of them apply equally at home as abroad. However, those more often associated with foreign travel can include exotic viruses and bacteria, poisonous insects and snakes and, of course, the remoteness of the place itself. In spite of such hazards, the rewards can be amazing, with the traveller experiencing wonderful cities, stunning scenery, remarkable wildlife and a totally different way of life.
Ian Johnston and Alan Grant
A Pictorial History of Great Longstone
12th July 2016For his talk on this occasion, club member Robert Cumming enlisted the help of local historian, Frank Parker, to give a joint presentation on the recent history of Great Longstone. Frank showed a number of extracts from a video of Longstone village life which he had made in 2005 as a community project to record aspects of the rural economy. He also showed a film in which he had recorded the story of the concept, development and building of Thornhill House in Great Longstone. This is a care home for elderly residents of the village no longer able to live independently but who wish to remain in their own familiar village surroundings. In addition to these specific projects Frank has researched many old documents and photographs to compile a comprehensive history of much of Longstone life.
To conclude the meeting, Robert Cumming talked about the recent history of the church choir and the musical achievements of other village residents.
Robert Cumming and Frank Parker
Distilling Peace out of Chaos
28th June 2016
At this meeting our guest speaker, Dan Moss, talked about some of his experiences in the Middle East, with his musings as to what the future holds. He also discussed some of the constraints placed on the Western powers when approaching negotiation and success when tested on tribal societies.
14th June 2016Even after more than a century the sinking of the Titanic continues to generate interest and on this occasion our guest speaker John Craike fuelled this fascination by describing the background events leading up to the tragedy, and the influence of many of the leading characters involved. He explained how the rigid class system of the day had directly and indirectly led to the situation in which so many lives had been put at risk and lost. He narrated stories of both heroic and despicable actions by individuals during and after the ship’s sinking. He finished his talk by commenting on the subsequent Board of Trade enquiry which was little more than a whitewash in which the chief culprits were mostly exonerated.
Alan Grant and John Craike
Memoirs of a 'Suitcase' Scientist
24th May 2016
Club member Kim Rainsford talked about some of his experiences as a researcher, teacher and in developing academic groups and departments in academic institutions in six countries on four continents. His research in the fields of experimental and clinical sciences has been on the effects of anti-inflammatory analgesic drugs and inflammatory-pain mechanisms.
A Coconut Paradise in the Indian Ocean
10th May 2016Continuing the nautical theme of a couple of meetings ago, today’s speaker club member John Robinson talked about a voyage which he had made from Southampton to Diego Garcia in the 1990s. He had been invited to join the crew of a 60-ft sailing boat “Aztec Lady” as the engineer in charge of all equipment. The purpose of the trip had been to take part in a scientific research expedition in support of the eventual setting up of the Chagos Marine Protected Area - a marine reserve in the British Indian Ocean Territory covering a sea area equivalent to twice that of the UK itself. Diego Garcia is the largest island in the Chagos archipelago and was forcibly depopulated after the British government in the 1960s negotiated a 50-year lease with the United States for the latter to establish a military base there. With the help of video film taken throughout his voyage, John described the route and the ports visited. From Southampton Aztec Lady sailed across the Bay of Biscay, through the Mediterranean Sea, Suez Canal, Red Sea and finally out into the Indian Ocean to journey’s end at Diego Garcia, a total distance of 8,000 miles.
Alan Grant and John Robinson
Children of the Recession
26th April 2016Against the background of the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath our speaker, club member Malcolm Cameron (a former bank executive who had retired before these events occurred), described how the character of banking had changed during his career. Having started his working life in Belper, Malcolm was moved by his employers every couple of years to a different location until, in the Birmingham city office of the NatWest Bank, he became directly involved in a number of management buyouts. In these schemes, the existing managers of a company take over its ownership (with the aid of bank loans) in situations where, for example, the business would otherwise close or be divested by its parent company. From the bank’s point of view the viability of any MBO would depend primarily on the quality of the people involved and their detailed knowledge of the business.
As long as the financing arrangements were manageable these businesses thrived and Malcolm gave numerous examples of successful MBOs which he had helped to negotiate. However, in the changing circumstances of increased indebtedness towards the end of the last century many businesses found themselves overburdened with debt, and the banks and other lending institutions were exposed to unmanageable risks, with the disastrous results that we have all seen.
Malcolm Cameron and Alan Grant
Suffolk and Essex Rivers and the Thames
12th April 2016For this talk, club member Peter Coffey described the coast of Suffolk and Essex between Great Yarmouth and London, with particular emphasis on the numerous rivers which discharge from these counties into the North Sea. Starting in the north with the River Alde/Ore, he took us on a voyage which included the rivers Deben, Orwell, Stour, Colne, Blackwater, Crouch and the Thames itself. For sailors in small boats these rivers offer plentiful safe anchorages although approaching them from the sea can be difficult in unfavourable weather and tidal conditions; added to which, there are several offshore sandbanks that can present their own hazards. In times past, much of the coastal trade between East Anglia and London was in the hands of the famous Thames sailing barges whose shallow draft made them ideal vessels for these waters.
Peter Coffey and Alan Grant
A Trip to Jordan
22nd March 2016A visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was the subject of this talk given by club member John Broughton. This fascinating country contains a wide variety of historical sites including the Crusader castle at Kerak and the enormous Roman city of Jarash with its remarkably well-preserved forum, hippodrome, temples, theatre and many other buildings. In the south of the country is Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of great antiquity. Described as ‘a rose-red city half as old as time’ it was built in pre-Roman times and is most notable for the structures carved into the sandstone rock cliffs that line the sides of its main valley. The modern approach to the site is through a rocky defile, known as the Siq, which at its narrowest point suddenly emerges opposite one of Petra’s most spectacular monuments, Al Khazneh (The Treasury).
In addition to visiting these major historical sites, John spent time in the country’s capital Amman and, following in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia, camped under the stars in Wadi Rum. This was followed by a swim in the Dead Sea, a search for Sodom and Gomorrah, and a visit to see where Jesus Christ is reputed to have been baptized in the River Jordan.
Annual Club Debate
8th March 2016For this year’s debate the club could have chosen no more topical a subject than ‘Britain and the EU: In or Out?’ The case for remaining a member of the Union was proposed by club member Roger Truscott and opposed by fellow club member John Robinson. Each of these main speakers argued his case in articulate and persuasive terms, concentrating on the basic principles and facts which will need to be considered by the British people in the forthcoming referendum. This approach was in marked contrast to the often emotive and ill-informed arguments currently being presented by some politicians and media commentators. As is now customary on such occasions, there followed a lively debate with further contributions from the floor. At the end of the debate a vote held among the audience resulted in a significant majority in favour of Britain remaining a member of the EU.
Roger Truscott and John Robinson
Hidden Secrets of Gillfield Wood
23rd February 2016At this meeting we welcomed a guest speaker, the naturalist and wildlife photographer Derek Bateson who talked about the smaller and often unnoticed creatures and plants to be found in Gillfield Wood, a stretch of woodland on the outskirts of Sheffield. In only three years of studying the different species of flora and fauna in this relatively small wood, Derek had recorded a massive increase in the number of known sightings. Indeed, a very large percentage of his findings were actually new to the area, never previously having been recorded here. To accompany his talk, he showed a series of spectacular photographs whose wide-ranging subject matter included beetles and bugs, snails and slugs, spiders and flies, lichens and mosses, and many other small creatures and plants.
Ken Watson and Derek Bateson
Crime and Punishment in England
9th February 2016This talk was given by club member Peter Stubbs, who began by saying that in a criminal prosecution the most important document a defendant receives is the indictment, a concise statement of his alleged crime. This has been the practice in England since the 11th century. However, the way that indictments were resolved in the early middle ages was far from satisfactory. A defendant could face Trial by Fire or Water or, in some circumstances, could request Trial by Battle. The obvious problem with these methods was that they bore no relationship whatever to the facts of the case or to the evidence. Trial by battle fell into disuse due to its unpopularity (not least because of the risk of death or serious injury). Trial by ordeal was banned after 1200 by the Church, and trial by jury was developed in its place. However, there was no right of legal representation until 1866 and it was not until 1898 that the defendant himself was permitted to give evidence.
The modern jury system works well, although it is constantly under attack from politicians wanting to save money. Juries can and do take robust decisions when they feel it is right to do so. In 1800 there were over 200 offences that carried the death penalty and juries became reluctant to convict when they felt the penalty was too harsh. In the mid-1800s there was a substantial reduction in capital offences, essentially limiting them to cases of murder and treason. In due course, after a number of miscarriages of justice where the defendant had been wrongly convicted and hanged, the death penalty was abolished for murder in 1969 and for treason in 1998.
The River Amazon
26th January 2016This amazing river was the subject of a talk given by club member Roger Taylor who had been on a cruise which included sailing up the Amazon as far as the ‘City of the Forest’, Manaus. Draining an area that is 40% of the total area of South America the river, at just under 4,000 miles, is generally regarded as second only in length to the Nile. At its mouth it is so wide that, from a ship, both banks cannot be seen at the same time and the flow of fresh water discharging into the sea extends for up to 200 miles.
Having conveyed a sense of the sheer size of the river, Roger continued by describing his experiences and impressions as his ship sailed upstream, stopping at Santana to take on board a pilot and then at Santarem and Manaus. The size of the river is matched by the extent of the tropical rain-forest through which it flows, although human activity through logging (both legal and illegal) and ‘slash-and-burn’ clearance for cattle raising is having a dramatic effect. On average, 1½ acres of forest is being destroyed every second and already an area the size of France has been cleared. Also at risk from this encroachment are the indigenous peoples of the forest whose traditional way of life and intrinsic knowledge of their environment are being lost.
Roger Taylor and Alan Grant
Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife
12th January 2016Today’s speaker was club member Malcolm Young who took as the title of his talk a quotation from T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia): “Making war upon insurgents is messy and slow, like eating soup with a knife”. Insurgencies and counter-insurgency are a particular interest of Malcolm, whose career included the Parachute Regiment, the SAS and as an Army helicopter pilot, later transferring to the RAF as a ground attack and reconnaissance pilot. He had been involved in campaigns in Aden, Borneo, Burma, Northern Ireland and Dhofar (Oman), gaining first-hand experience of counter-insurgency operations.
In his fascinating and knowledgeable talk he defined insurgents as those seeking to destroy the legitimate authority of a country, and counter-insurgency as the measures taken against them. Such measures include military force but Malcolm stressed that political and economic solutions also have to be found if counter-insurgency is to be successful. In Afghanistan and Iraq, it was the failure to address the political and economic issues that has led to the emergence of the self-styled Islamic State, and the re-emergence of the Taliban.
Alan Grant and Malcolm Young
The History of the Sheffield Cutlery and Silverware Industry
24th November 2015On this occasion our speaker was a guest, Ian Bright, who was introduced by club member John Bentley. Before his retirement, Ian had been in business in Sheffield and in his talk he gave a brief history of the development of the steel and cutlery industry in that city. He explained that it was the combined factors of the existence of coal and iron ore, together with the availability of wind and water power that lay behind the establishment of steel-making there in the thirteenth century. In 1624 the Cutlers Company was founded and since then has sought to maintain the standards and quality of Sheffield manufactured cutlery and to promote the name of Sheffield. To illustrate his talk, Ian brought several examples of Sheffield cutlery and associated silverware, much of it lavishly ornamented and all of the highest quality.
Ian Bright and Alan Grant
Chile and I - A Tale of Two Journeys
10th November 2015This was an absorbing talk by club member Alberto Hinrichsen who had grown up in Chile in an extensive family whose European forebears had arrived during the mid-nineteenth century and settled in the area of Concepcion. Having sketched out his family background, Alberto went on to describe the political and social changes that had occurred in his native country since the 1920s, starting with the socialist-leaning bourgeois populism that lasted until the rise of fascism in the 1930s. Then, in response to this new threat, there developed in Chile – as also in France and Spain at this time - movements which based their policies on the communist principles of state involvement in the country’s economy. Later, in the 1960s, events in other parts of the world, such as the Cuban Revolution, the American Civil Rights movement and even the wave of student protest in Europe in 1968, together with the influence of liberation theology all had an effect on Chile’s domestic politics, which underwent radical reform during the period when Allende was in power in the early 1970s until, in 1973, he was ousted by the military coup led by the notorious General Pinochet. (At this dramatic point of his narrative, Alberto ran out of time but he promised to complete his story at a future date).
Alberto Hinrichsen and Alan Grant
Thief of Pain
27th October 2015An anaesthetist during his professional life, club member John Gibson gave an informative and entertaining talk about the history and development of the use of anaesthetics in medicine. In medieval times the methods by which patients requiring surgery were rendered unconscious were crude in the extreme and included the use of herbal potions, alcohol and even knock-out blows to the head. However, in the 18th Century, with the discovery of nitrous oxide by Joseph Priestley and its anaesthetising properties by Humphry Davy, a more scientific approach began to evolve. Further advances in the following century saw the introduction of substances such as ether and chloroform. These were used for surgery and also, when administered during childbirth, greatly reduced the amount of pain suffered by the mother. Today’s anaesthetics are vastly more developed such that they fulfil three main functions during surgery. These are: to provide pain relief, to act as a muscle-relaxant and to ensure unconsciousness. John concluded his talk by describing the lengthy and intensive process whereby anaesthetists receive their training.
John Gibson and Alan Grant
ETOPS - The Evolution of Long Haul Twin Engine Passenger Aircraft
13th October 2015This was a talk to give assurance to anyone worried about flying long haul on a twin engine aircraft. Our speaker, club member Brian Holland, demonstrated how the reliability of such airliners has vastly improved to the extent that the most recent types (e.g. Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ and Airbus A350WB) are capable of flying for more than five hours on a single engine in the event of an in-flight failure of the other engine. In his talk, Brian described the development of commercial passenger aircraft from the pioneering days of the last century, through the era of ever-larger piston engines into the turbo-jet age. In particular, he explained how aviation regulations had originally limited twin engine planes to routes on which they were within 60 minutes of a diversion airport. However, with the development of increasingly reliable engines and enhanced operational procedures these regulations have allowed the 60-minute rule to be extended in stages to the current levels.
Brian Holland and John Barkley
The Cromford and High Peak Railway (Part 2)
22nd September 2015Having run out of time on the previous occasion when he came to talk to the club, guest speaker Andy Pollock returned to complete his story of the Cromford and High Peak Railway. Few people can know as much about this pioneering railway as Andy whose entertaining talk was greatly enhanced by his extensive collection of photographs taken throughout the lifetime of this line. In his talk, he described the railway’s route from Cromford to Whaley Bridge over the limestone plateau of the Peak District. This alignment involved climbing several hundred feet up to the high ground from each end of the line; a problem that was overcome by the use of steeply-graded inclined planes up which wagons (and occasionally locomotives) were hauled by ropes driven by stationary winding engines. Altogether this was a remarkable railway, being one of the earliest built and surviving for over 120 years.
Andy Pollock, John Barkley and David Grattidge
The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre
8th September 2015In this talk Professor Richard Jones, who is the son of club member Robbie, described how Sheffield University, working with industry partners such as Rolls Royce and Boeing, has created a new Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with the aim of revitalising high value manufacturing in Sheffield and elsewhere. Working directly with industry, the Centre develops new materials, new processes and new products to improve the productivity and competitiveness of UK manufacturing in high value sectors such as aerospace, nuclear and medical technology. In addition, the AMRC offers high quality engineering apprenticeships, with a clear pathway for able young people to progress to an Engineering degree from Sheffield University and beyond.
John Barkley, Richard Jones and Robbie Jones
Fifty Years as a Non Academic
25th August 2015On leaving school with a total of three ‘O’-level passes, club member Ray Smith received a report from his headmaster which was less than complimentary about Ray’s academic abilities. Clearly, this failed to dampen his spirits because, as he related in his talk, he then joined the RAF and, for several years, pursued a successful career within the Service, firstly as a radio fitter and later as an aircrew navigator. Finally he was involved in air-to-air refuelling operations. Ray’s entertaining narrative about his experiences in the RAF was interspersed with stories about a succession of cars which he had owned, several of which seem to have come to an untimely end in a variety of accidents and incidents. Taking advantage of favourable conditions available to Commissioned Officers when the time came for him to leave the Service, he then trained to be a solicitor; a profession which he followed for the rest of his working life.
Ray Smith and John Barkley
Was Exporting Fun? (Part 2)
11th August 2015Returning to the theme of a talk which he had given last year, club member Andrew Lloyd related more stories of his experiences as an export agent for specialist steel products manufactured in the Sheffield area and the West Midlands. Using the skills acquired during his university degree course in foreign languages and later from a time in banking, he was well equipped to join, and subsequently take over, the firm set up by his father in the late 1960s. In his wide-ranging talk, Andrew described the sort of products handled by his company and the markets in which he had operated. His enthusiasm for his work is demonstrated by the fact that, although having retired from the business in 2009, he re-commenced work – albeit on a smaller scale – the following year.
Andrew Lloyd and Alan Grant
The Flames of Calais
28th July 2015This was an absorbing, thought-provoking and humbling first-hand account of the fall of Calais in May 1940 given by club member, Colonel Leslie Wright who had been involved in the fighting throughout the siege and, injured and wrapped only in a blanket, succeeded in being picked up by a British boat to escape capture by the Germans as the city was overwhelmed by them. Starting his talk by quoting General Sherman’s assertion, ‘War is Hell’, Colonel Wright proceeded to demonstrate the truth of this by describing his own experience of the fighting, confusion, constant bombardment and the ever-present danger of suffering injury or death. For his audience, the majority of whom were – even as pensioners themselves – too young to have had any personal experience of war, this was an occasion to reflect upon and be thankful for the efforts and the sacrifices made by Colonel Wright and his companions.
Colonel Leslie Wright and John Barkley
The History of Haddon Hall and its Families
14th July 2015On this occasion our speaker was a guest, Mandy Coates, assisted by her husband Stephen. Her subject was Haddon Hall, with particular reference to the two families, Vernon and Manners, most closely associated with the property through most of its long history of almost one thousand years. In the early 18th Century Haddon’s owner was newly created as The Duke of Rutland and he and his family, deeming Haddon to be not sufficiently grand as a main residence for them, abandoned Haddon in favour of Belvoir Castle, and Haddon spent the following two hundred years in an almost unchanged and neglected state. Through the efforts of the 9th Duke at the start of the 20th Century the building was restored to its former glory, as can be seen today.
Stephen Coates, Alan Elsmore, Mandy Coates and John Barkley
The Kelsey Case
23rd June 2015For this talk, club member John Winkworth-Smith recounted the events leading up to one of the largest enquiries conducted by the South Yorkshire police at the time (1985) of the infamous ‘Kelsey Case’. This was a story of deception, fraud and corruption perpetrated by one man in particular, Bill Kelsey, whose criminal activities had funded a lavish lifestyle and which involved arson, bribery and even a mock marriage to one his mistresses. Others drawn in to this case included corrupt police detectives and many of Kelsey’s associates in the Sheffield steel industry. As a result of a two-year police enquiry and the subsequent trial, Kelsey was found guilty of twenty-five offences and sentenced to 7½ years in jail.
John Barkley and John Winkworth-Smith
The Anniversary Walk
9th June 2015Our guest speaker, Sally Mosley, is a well-known columnist for our local newspaper, the Peak Advertiser, which has now completed 30 years of publication. To mark this anniversary, she undertook a series of walks totalling 30 miles through the Peak District. In her talk today Sally described, with the help of her own photographs, one of these walks which, starting and finishing in Bakewell, encompassed several of the local villages en route. This was more than simply a photographic tour but included many interesting snippets of information on the way.
Sally Mosely and John Barkley
The Conwy Crossing
26th May 2015With the help of a wide selection of photographs and diagrams, guest speaker David Shaw, who had been intimately involved in the project, talked extremely knowledgably about the complexities of constructing an immersed tube tunnel to carry the A55 North Wales Coast Road beneath the estuary of the River Conwy. Completed in the early 1990s, this was the first such tunnel to be built in the UK
David Shaw and John Barkley
The Monte Carlo Rally of 1991
12th May 2015
Club member, Brian Fearn, gave a wonderfully illustrated talk about the time when he and his navigator took part in the 2nd Monte Carlo Winter Challenge. In Brian's 1937 Aston Martin 2-litre Sports, they started out from Edinburgh Castle on the 18th February 1991 and covered 1,830 miles over 5 days, experiencing the worst winter weather for 25 years, with snow-covered roads for the first 1,000 miles. Brian drove all the way, managing only 15½ hours of sleep over the whole five days. Despite the appalling conditions, 90 of the 120 competitors, including Brian, completed the Rally.
Numbers Large & Small: Autobiographical Reflections
28th April 2015A man of many interests and several different careers, our club member Ian Johnston, gave a thought-provoking talk in which he considered a range of subjects which were significant to him in terms of their number and/or size, being either very large or very small. For example, he talked about the enormity of the cosmos, the complexity of the human brain with its 30,000 billion neural connections, the atomic structure of metals and, topically, the alarming scale of the British National Debt and Deficit.
Ian Johnston and Alan Grant
A Wand’ring Minstrel I
14th April 2015As one who has spent his whole professional life talking to groups of people - first in education and later as a priest – our own Robbie Jones was sure to give us an accomplished talk; and so it proved. He started by explaining that the title of his talk was a reflection of his own experience which, thanks to the nature of his career, had been one of frequent and numerous house moves, making him into something of professional gypsy. In telling his story – in a wonderfully humorous and entertaining way - he included examples of the music and poetry which have held especial significance for him.
Robbie Jones and John Barkley
Osteoblasts – a Moving Experience
24th March 2015Our speaker, club member Neil Spaven, had spent his career as an orthodontist and gave an extremely informative, knowledgeable and humorous talk about his experiences in the profession. With the aid of photographs of several famous people (including politicians and entertainers), he illustrated the types of irregularities in dental structure that can occur, and he described the methods of correcting these by means of appliances attached to the teeth. He also described the importance of dealing sympathetically but firmly with the patients, many of whom, being teenagers, could be less than cooperative.
Malcolm Cameron and Neil Spaven
Annual Club Debate
10th March 2015The proposition for this year’s debate was ‘This House believes that the UK should be a Federation’. It was proposed by club member Malcolm Young and opposed by club member Brian Holland. After a lively debate which included contributions from the floor, many of which raised concerns that a federal United Kingdom would almost inevitably result in yet another tier of government, the proposition was put to the vote, where it was defeated. There were nine votes in favour but sixteen against (with six abstentions).
Brian Holland, John Barkley and Malcolm Young
Hitler’s Last Army
24th February 2015Having been conscripted as a teenager into the German army in the mid-1940s and subsequently taken Prisoner of War by the Allies, club member Theo Dengel gave a first-hand account of his experiences during the time of his imprisonment. His talk was in the form of a synopsis of the recently published book ‘Hitler’s Last Army’ by Robin Quinn, to which he and many other ex-PoWs had contributed. We learned that the treatment of the German PoWs by the Allies was often at variance from the spirit, and at times even the letter, of the 1929 Geneva Convention. Very much as a result of this unsatisfactory state of affairs, the Convention was updated in 1949.
John Barkley and Theo Dengel
A Little Bit about Everything
10th February 2015Our guest speaker was George Curley who, among many other accomplishments had served as a J.P. for 32 years. The underlying theme of his amusing and highly entertaining talk was that ‘you never know what’s around the next corner’, and he gave us several examples of events that had had unexpected consequences during his life.
Mesopotamia, Medicine and Making Doctors
27th January 2015This was an exceptionally interesting and informative talk presented by guest speaker Dr Nigel Bax, Professor of Medical Education at the University of Sheffield. In his wide-ranging illustrated presentation he described how medical science, whose origins date back to Mesopotamia more than 4,000 years ago, has developed to the present day. He explained that too many doctors are currently being trained, whereas the greater need is actually for general health workers (nurses, &c.) who are more effective in dealing with the problems of poor health caused by social deprivation. The role of doctors is to take responsibility for making difficult decisions and applying sound judgment in support of other health workers. Dr Bax concluded by discussing the requirements for selecting candidates suitable for training as doctors, of which one of the most important is an ability to communicate with others.
The Man who Delivered Nelson's coffin; The Story of a Naval Dirk
13th January 2015Club member, Clifford Mansfield has a great interest in, and knowledge of, the life and times of Lord Nelson and his contemporaries. On this occasion, he talked on two subjects; the first being the remarkable story of how a coffin came to be made from a mast of a captured French warship and was given to Nelson for his eventual use (as it happened, some six years later at the Battle of Trafalgar). In the second of Clifford’s talks he related how a naval dirk had come into his possession and he described how he had researched its history.
Twice Nightly – Variety Theatre Memories
25th November 2014For this meeting, club member Malcolm Fordyce introduced us to his guest speaker, Graham Sellors, whose talk, ‘Twice Nightly’ - variety theatre memories of the 50s was based on 98 theatre programmes which he had acquired. From this material he covered the last years of old time music hall and the social and industrial changes which saw the decline of this style of entertainment. We heard recordings of several of the well-known artists of the day illustrated with their portraits, as well as some of the halls and programmes. The description of the venues, enormous crowds waiting to get in and the fact that smoking was allowed (one theatre had a trap door in the roof if the smoke was too thick!) vividly brought this lost era back to life.
11th November 2014One of several former civil engineers in the club, Alan Pigott talked about his army and later professional life which took him to places as diverse as India, Sudan, Persia (Iran), Nigeria and many others. His initiative and the hard work required for succeeding in such challenging countries was rewarded with a career that culminated in a very senior position as Director of Civil Engineering for a major company.
28th October 2014Guest speaker, John Thorley, gave an absorbing talk about the nuclear research being carried out in places such as the particle accelerator laboratory (CERN) near Geneva. He succeeded in making the subject of sub-atomic particle physics both interesting and comprehensible for his audience.
The Master Mariner
14th October 2014Peter Coffey, a member of the club, give a talk on the subject of his father who had been in the Merchant Navy, Royal Naval Reserve and, following the outbreak of the Second World War, the Royal Navy. Peter also talked about navigation at sea, the problems experienced by shipping and the historic methods of navigating; mainly sightings on stars, the sun and use of rudimentary compasses.
Wagner and Verdi - a Double Bicentenary
23rd September 2014For this talk our speaker, club member Ken Watson, compared the lives and music of the two great composers, Wagner and Verdi, both of whom were born in 1813. To demonstrate the contrasting style of their operatic work, Ken played several tape-recorded examples of their music; thereby adding to the interest of his presentation.
27th May and 9th September 2014Roger Truscott, a member of the club, treated us to the hilarious story of a trip made by him, with friends, around Europe in the 1950s when, in spite of their youthful energy and enthusiasm they were - as the title indicates - wonderfully naïve young people. There were so many stories of their adventures and mishaps that his talk could not be fitted into a single meeting and he was begged to return later in the year to conclude his tale.
The Goyt Valley
26th August 2014In this illustrated talk by guest speaker Dr David Frith, we were taken on a journey down the River Goyt, from its source high on the moors above Buxton to its confluence with the River Etherow in Stockport, where the combined rivers become the Mersey. In his extremely informative talk, our speaker pointed out the many interesting geographical and historical features to be found along the length of the Goyt Valley.
History and Construction of the Panama Canal
12th August 2014By coincidence almost exactly a century after its official opening on 15th August 1914, the Panama Canal was the subject of our guest speaker Dr Murray Wilson. In his illustrated talk he described the enormous difficulties encountered by the builders of this ambitious project; not least in working in such an inhospitable and unhealthy environment. The photographs accompanying his talk showed the massive scale of the works undertaken, especially those required in constructing the locks.
Life and Hard Times on the “Grindleford Flyer”
22nd July 2014In this talk, club member Robert Cumming regaled us with his reminiscences of the days when, as a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, he (in the company of other work colleagues) used to commute from Grindleford Station into Sheffield on trains which, as veterans from the 1950s, were anything but ‘flyers’. His descriptions of the idiosyncrasies of these trains (and of the people using them) were extremely entertaining.
Saws, Snuff & Silver Plate
8th July 2014Today’s guest speaker was Simon Bayley. It had been while carrying out research into the history of saw manufacture on behalf of a friend, that Simon had discovered a true Sheffield entrepreneur, Joseph Wilson, who had been an eighteenth century snuff manufacturer. Simon’s talk described how Wilson’s business interests extended to all aspects of Sheffield steel production and the work of silver smiths and cutlers in that city.
Why Cats make Poor Guide Dogs
24th June 2014It is unusual for us to have an accompanied guest speaker but Kev Rowney’s companion spent most of the meeting asleep on the floor until called upon to demonstrate some of the methods by which guide dogs are trained. In his talk Kev, who works for Guide Dogs for the Blind, described the processes involved in selecting and training these dogs and explained why so few breeds, and even individual animals within these breeds, are found to be suitable for training.
Cerebral Palsy in Today’s Society
10th June 2014This was a truly inspirational talk given by a guest speaker Harold Sharpe who, despite being born with cerebral palsy, had not allowed his disability to prevent him from becoming an active member of society and achieving the position of a magistrate. His narrative was filled with anecdotes, both serious and amusing, about his experiences of life.
Development of Nuclear Submarine Engines
13th May 2014At this meeting, we were fortunate to have as a guest speaker, Alex Porter from Rolls Royce. In his excellent and informative presentation he talked about the history and development of the British nuclear submarine fleet and, in particular, the part played by Rolls Royce in designing and building the engines for these ships. Among many other points of interest, we learned that a modern nuclear engine (with dimensions no bigger than a metre cubed) has an operational life of around forty years before needing replacement; and, if used for civilian purposes would be capable of supplying power sufficient for a small town.
22nd April 2014Illustrated with his own photographs, this talk by club member Ken Fleming took us to the Galapagos Islands which he and his wife had visited on one of their holidays. The apparent lack of fear of humans, for which the wildlife of these islands is noted, was clearly demonstrated in these remarkable photographs, many of them having been taken in very close proximity to the animals and birds themselves.
Automated Information for the Partially Sighted
8th April 2014For this talk, club member John Robinson arranged for his son, Duncan, to speak about a new means of transmitting information from print & packaging. This involves a technology whereby a huge amount of information about a product can be stored on a micro-chip no bigger than a full stop. Such information can include, for example in the case of medicines, their correct uses and dosage; and, being compressed into such a small space, can be incorporated into the packaging itself. Then, by means of a pen-sized hand-held scanner, the information can be ‘read’ and transmitted audibly to the user. Although clearly of particular benefit to the visually impaired, this technology has the potential for a great range of uses.
© Bakewell and District Probus Club, 2014-2016