The Christmas Truce - Gary Gowans

Posted on November 20, 2014            

A warm welcome was given to Gary who has spoken to our Club before.

Gary is a member of Probus in Nailsea and today gave a historical account of a little known truce which took place on the front lines during the Christmas period of the Great War in 1914.

A slide show complimented Gary’s spoken word, detailing not only the bizarre truce events, but also outlining the severe conditions our troops had to deal with. Mud being one of the major factors.

Obviously these conditions were experienced by all ‘sides’ fighting at this time.

With regard to the truce, it seems hard to believe that the troops from both sides, exchanged gifts, sang songs to each other and even took part in a football match!

Support Dogs - Simon Anderson

Posted on November 6, 2014             

Simon, a former police officer, now paraplegic following an accident, raises money for a cause that can transform peoples lives. He is assisted by Claire and their dogs Miele and Olga.

Support Dogs are trained to be disability assistant dogs, seizure alert dogs, or autism assistant dogs for children.

When former police officer Simon Anderson found himself wheelchair-bound and paraplegic following a motorcycle accident his wife, Claire, and the dogs, became vital supporters. The accident, which happened when he was riding his police patrol motorcycle, left him paralysed from the waist down.

Over the years Simon and Claire have raised more than £35,000 for the charity.

Working across England, Scotland and Wales, Support Dogs work is life changing in every sense of the word. The charity is dedicated to increasing independence and quality of life of people with various medical conditions. They provide, train and support specialist assistance dogs to achieve this.

This was our first meeting at our new venue and was very well supported with the inclusion of the ladies and visitors.

An informative and sometimes humerous talk given by Simon along with a demonstration by their two dogs, Miele and Olga, was very well received and enjoyed by all.

Victorian Servants - Pat Hase

Posted on October 16, 2014 

We welcomed Pat to our meeting today who gave us an insight into the lives of servants in the Victorian period.

As revealed in the recent TV sitcoms it was no disgrace to be in service; those who lived “downstairs” were proud people, but knew their place.

A typical day for a housemaid at that time started at 5.30am and involved cleaning the kitchen, clearing and relaying the fires, keeping the range lit, washing and ironing the linen and keeping the house clean. She would be kept busy until 10pm.

Many servants had their own quarters in their employer’s house. But others lived in tied cottages and came in to work daily.

In Bath there were many rich families living in large houses; hence a high percentage of its population were in service. Conversely, for example, in Lancashire, with far fewer rich houses and many women employed in the cotton mills, this percentage was much lower.

On the 1901 census some unmarried housemaids were often recorded as married or widowed because that was felt to be more respectable than showing them as single. In some cases a female may have been entered on the census as a “housekeeper” whereas she was, in truth, not employed as such, but the nomenclature was a convenient way of expressing an unconventional marital relationship!

On The Buses - Alec Lewis

Posted on October 2, 2014   

Alec was warmly welcomed back again to give a talk this time about his experiences as a ‘bus conductor’.

The ‘journey started in the 1960’s when he applied to be a seasonal conductor with Devon General.

Most of his exploits centred around Exeter and surrounding area.

Not dissimilar to the TV series of the same name, Alec reminisced the colourful characters and jolly japes during his summer season employment.

FreeWheelers - Rod Sinclair

Posted on September 18, 2014          

This was a thoroughly absorbing and interesting talk by Rod Sinclair on “Freewheelers” in which he

explained in great detail the work of the Association of Blood Bikers. This is a charity in which

members give freely of their time to transport urgently needed blood, baby milk, equipment, records

and other essential equipment to and from hospitals by motor cycle – around the clock.

The members also had an opportunity to view Rod’s bike and all of its specialist equipment.

Pests I Have Known - Mark Tilley

Posted on September 4, 2014              

Mark, who is in the business of pest control, opened the meeting by distributing ‘samples’ of ‘pests’ for the members to identify.

He then proceeded to talk about various insects, animals, birds and rodents that he has to deal with during the course of his work. This was interspersed with humerous recollections of various situations he found himself in.

At the end of the talk, he identified the samples distributed and members scored accordingly.                                                                                             

A top score of 5 was accomplished!

War Paint - Martha Perriam

Posted on July 3, 2014             

Martha gave the members an interesting talk with a slide show of paintings, painted during First and Second World Wars.

Some of the paintings were actually commissioned and others purchased by museums after the wars.

Members were encouraged to participate by giving their own interpretations of what the artists were trying to convey.

Martha’s presentation of this topic was well received by the members.

The End of Bristol Trams - Peter Davey

Posted on June 19, 2014      

A very informative and sometimes humerous talk with slides presented  with passion.

Peter introduced the slides as photos taken by his father.

There were those that included Peter and his sister as children, posing aboard a tram.

The end of the trams was a sorry ending as they were unceremoniously set on fire one by one at a depot in Bristol.

Peter also brought along some historic tram artifacts to show the members.

My Life Volunteering - Roz Willis

Posted on May 22, 2014        

We were delighted and honoured to invite the new Mayor of Weston to our Club.

Councillor Roz Willis was voted in as the new town figurehead for 2014-15 during a Weston Town Council meeting in March, replacing outgoing mayor Keith Morris.

Roz gave an enlightening talk on the various volunteering groups that she belongs to.

She also brought chains of office for the members to ‘touch and feel’.

A question and answer session concluded the talk.

Movie Musical Magic - Terry Merrett-Smith

Posted on May 8, 2014            

Members welcomed back Terry Merrett-Smith to give a very enjoyable and entertaining presentation, this time entitled, ‘Movie Musical Magic’.

Listening to music and viewing slides from films past to present interspersed at times with some humerous comments.

We also learnt about the composers and the film stars and even took part in some singing at the end!

Bulb Fields of Holland - Chris Cudlipp

Posted on April 24, 2014         

Todays speaker was Chris Cudlipp, who gave an interesting talk about the bulb fields of Holland.

There were slides showing the fields of most beautiful tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and narcissi and slides illustrating the visit made to Keukenhof where the nurserymen display their individual exquisite flower beds in coordinated colours.

We were told that each year every bulb is replaced by new specially selected varieties.

Members who had not visited this part of the world, now had no good reason not to!

Big Bands - Terry Merrett-Smith

Posted on April 10, 2014       

Due to a last minute cancellation we were grateful to Terry to deliver a talk on Big Bands.

This presentation included musical inserts from some of the well known and not so well known Jazz and Dance Bands through the ages.

Indeed the earliest ‘Band’ was around even before recording equipment was invented!

Along with visual photos of some early ‘phonographs’, which many members remember, we were entertained right through. Terry had so much to show that we could have been listening and watching all day!

At one point, the audience was encouraged to ‘sing-a-long’, with the words displayed ‘karaoke’ style.

Ladies were to join us on this occasion and it was good to see so many taking up the invite.

A Life on the Ocean Wave - Cyril Routley

Posted on March 6, 2014       

After reading many journals written by the early travellers on Brunel’s ss Great Britain, we were taken back 150 years and embarked on a journey to Australia. The realities of life on board the ship for men and women of all classes were explored. We learnt about the accommodation, religious observances, food and the inevitable health issues these early travellers experienced before their arrival in Melbourne.

Electrical Appliances of a Bygone Age - Peter Lamb

Posted on February 20, 2014 

Peter Lamb gave an interesting talk with projected images on the historical inventions of our modern day electrical appliances.

The first electric lights began to be commercially produced in the 1850s but could not be generally used until electrical power supplies became available. Taunton led the way in the West Country with a public supply available in 1886; Bristol caught up in 1893. These first lights were arc lamps and were used for street lighting. The arc lights’ principal flaw was that the electric arc was formed between two carbon rods which gradually burned away over a period of eight hours. Each street light would contain two pairs of rods and could switch from one to the other when the first pair burned out; nevertheless, they required constant maintenance and in the Temple Back area of Bristol the lights were switched off at midnight to increase the lifespan of the rods.

The filament bulb was invented by Joseph Swan of Newcastle, who patented his invention in Britain about a year before the more celebrated Thomas Edison was granted a U.S. patent for his bulb. Swan and Edison’s lights burned up the oxygen in the bulb, creating a vacuum and thereby ensuring that the filament itself was not consumed. Advertisements for electric light bulbs proclaimed that users could “do without the annual whitewash”, as the new bulbs did not leave brown strains upon the ceiling, as their gas predecessors had.

Electric irons were first developed in the 1880s and the workings of the device remained essentially unchanged until 1938, when the thermostat was developed, overcoming one of the electric iron’s most significant design flaws: prior to this the only way to regulate the temperature was to unplug the iron!

The first practical domestic electric cooker was produced by the General Electric Company. However, the development of the cooker was also held back until the invention of the thermostat: earlier models had relied upon a thermometer fixed to the outside of the door. Thermostats only began to be mass-produced after the Second World War.

After using electric elements for lighting and heating, one of the most significant developments in electric technology was the electric motor. Hubert Cecil Booth created a motorised vacuum cleaner in 1901. He also developed the popular Goblin vacuum cleaner, so called because it “gobbled up” dust.

Mr Lamb illustrated his talk with a number of historical advertisements for electricity and electrical appliances, one which caused great laughter from the members: “Gentlemen! Don’t let hard work kill your wife….let electricity do it.”

A Fair Cop - Mike Rowland

Posted on February 6, 2014   

Mike Rowland gave an entertaining account of his time as a Policeman.

The talk was interspersed with hilarious ‘incidents’ of true life experiences.

He also brought along a few ‘props’ which were displayed for all to see.

My Train Collection - Peter Grinter

Posted on January 23, 2014 

Peter Grinter a member of Probus Weston, delivered a presentation on his ‘train collection’.

The collection of train models and books were of the Somerset & Dorset Railway, which Peter has great fondness with.

Members participated in a question and answering session, adding their own memories along the way.