Archived Talks: 2014

(Most recent first. Click on the titles for fuller descriptions).

25th November 2014


For 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 2014


One 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 2014

Guest 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.

14th October 2014


Peter 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.


23rd September 2014

For 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 2014


Roger 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.


26th August 2014


In 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.

12th August 2014


By 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.


22nd July 2014

In 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.


8th July 2014


Today’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.


24th June 2014


It 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.


10th June 2014


This 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.


13th May 2014


At 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 2014


Illustrated 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.


8th April 2014


For 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.