"On a Monday Morning" - Tim Lewis

Posted on November 17, 2016            

It was a pleasure to welcome back Tim Lewis and Sheila Furneaux for todays ‘offering’ of a performance of more stories and songs from that  musical comedy duo, Flanders and Swann.

The title of the presentation, “On a Monday Morning” , was rather apt as Tim encorouged the members to participate in the chorus of ‘The Gas Man Cometh’, which was todays first song.

The lyrics are below:

‘Twas on a Monday morning the gas man came to call.

The gas tap wouldn’t turn – I wasn’t getting gas at all.

He tore out all the skirting boards to try and find the main

And I had to call a carpenter to put them back again.

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Tuesday morning the carpenter came round.

He hammered and he chiselled and he said:

“Look what I’ve found: your joists are full of dry rot

But I’ll put them all to rights”.

Then he nailed right through a cable and out went all the lights!

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Wednesday morning the electrician came.

He called me Mr. Sanderson, which isn’t quite the name.

He couldn’t reach the fuse box without standing on the bin

And his foot went through a window so I called the glazier in.

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Thursday morning the glazier came round

With his blow torch and his putty and his merry glazier’s song.

He put another pane in – it took no time at all

But I had to get a painter in to come and paint the wall.

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Friday morning the painter made a start.

With undercoats and overcoats he painted every part:

Every nook and every cranny – but I found when he was gone

He’d painted over the gas tap and I couldn’t turn it on!

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.

On Saturday and Sunday they do no work at all;

So ’twas on a Monday morning that the gasman came to call…

The presentation, assisted by slides, with Sheila on the keyboard, concluded with the ever popular “Transport of Delight”, a song all about the “London Transport diesel-engined 97-horsepower omnibus”.

Let’s hope Tim and Sheila will be back with us again.

The Bronte Sisters - Sandy Bateman

Posted on November 3, 2016             

At todays meeting we not only invited the ladies to join us, but were delighted to hear all about the Bronte Sisters from our riveting speaker, Sandy Bateman.

Sandy really brought the subject alive with her passion for the writings of Charlotte, Emily and Anne and her desire to dispel some myths regarding their tragic lives.

From cradle to grave, their stories were told verbally, with enthusiasm and humour.

A wall display showed pictures of the family along with other items.

A thoroughly enjoyable subject.

The Boy Who Wanted 'ventures - Mike Hogan

Posted on October 20, 2016  

We are fortunate to have within our ‘membership’ a Master Mariner.

Capt. Mike Hogan, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Retired Master Mariner in order of priority, gave a spellbinding account of his life.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Mike has been a seafarer all his life. The mantle has now passed to his son who is following in his footsteps.

Mike’s talk was supported with an array of slides, depicting the vessels he commanded, the places around the world he visited and friendships made along the way.

We also enjoyed the company of Mike’s wife, on this occasion, who commented on some of the facts.

Unfortunately time was against Mike as there were many other stories that could have been told.

Thank you Mike for a very enjoyable talk.

Along Three Frontiers - Nigel B. Bain

Posted on October 6, 2016    

Ex school teacher Nigel, presented the talk today entitled, Along Three Frontiers.

Assisted with slides, Nigel took us on a journey along the picture book regions around Lake Constance in Southern Germany.

The three frontiers being Germany, Switzerland and Austria,

Some of the slides depicted ‘Disney’ styled castles along with their lush interiors, elegantly painted and embellished in gold. Plants and flowers grow in abundance and are one of the main tourist attractions.

With views across to the Alps and down to the lake, the projected slides captured their detail.

One interesting fact was the house especially built for Hitler for his 50th birthday, on the top of a mountain.

Named ‘The Eagle’s Nest’, apparently he only visited it once!


SS Great Britain Launch = Re-launch - Ian Caskie

Posted on September 15, 2016          

A really excellent talk was enjoyed today, given by Ian Caskie, entitled SS Great Britain: from launch to re- launch.

Ian works as a volunteer for the SS Great Britain Trust and conveyed his wonderful enthusiasm for this subject giving us an illustrated talk telling the story of the ships remarkable history.

The innovative ship designed by Brunel started life in Bristol as the first iron hulled, 300ft, propeller driven passenger liner taking passengers to America and Australia. Subsequently it was used to transport coal and then spent several years abandoned in the Falklands before returning to its original dock in Bristol where it now stands having been beautifully restored and is open to the public.

Ian was also keen to tell us about a new Brunel museum which will be alongside the ship and opening hopefully in 2018.


The Napoleonic Peninsular Wars - Colin Yorke

Posted on September 1, 2016             

Our Programme Secretary, Colin, once again entertained us, this time with a talk on The Napoleonic Peninsular Wars.

Colin stated that although the actual Wars lasted six years, he wouldn’t be able to cover them in their entirety in the time permitted.

However, he did touch on certain aspects that would not generally be reported on. He painted vivid pictures in our minds of what life would have been like for those involved.

Quotes from actual written experiences of soldiers brought the subject matter to life.

Hopefully Colin will speak again on such an interesting topic.

RAF Operation Against the "Mau Mau" - Graham Hackett

Posted on July 7, 2016             

Graham Hackett gave the presentation today, describing the time when he was a National Serviceman serving as an official photographer for the RAF.

During his served time in the 1950’s, he was stationed for a time in Kenya.

This was at the time when the RAF were operational in the fight against the Mau Mau.

Graham showed photos that he had taken and others obtained from various sources.

Many showed the types of airplane used, which included, Harvard, Valetta, Lincoln and Vampire. Also one helicopter, a Sycamore made up the campaign’s fleet.

Some members having served in the RAF were able to identify the airplanes. Fortunately there were no prizes given for the correct answers!

Most of the photographic duties that Graham undertook were reconnaissance sorties, with many photos being overlaid on each other to give a 3D effect.

Considering the types of camera used back then, photography in a flying aircraft was a masterful feat.

The Roman Army Fact and Fiction - John Smith

Posted on June 2, 2016          

This meeting was one of the most entertaining and interesting we’ve ever enjoyed.

John Smith is an archaeologist who has studied the Roman Army for over 20 years and excavated and worked at Rockbourne and Bignor Roman Villas.

John brought his considerable knowledge and expertise to this presentation about the Roman army, the facts and the Hollywood fiction, and those who attended were privileged to see the many artefacts and equipment he brought along to illustrate his talk.

Without the aid of modern day slideshow equipment, John had us all entertained.

A History of the West Somerset Railway - Lionel Jones

Posted on May 19, 2016         

We welcomed our Speaker today, Lionel Jones, who is a volunteer with the West Somerset Railway.

Lionel, who has given talks previously for us, used a projector and slides to charter the history of this railway.

It was Sir Peregrine Fuller Palmer Acland Bt who chaired the meeting at the Egremont Hotel at Williton, Somerset on Wednesday 9th July 1856 with a view to promoting the building of a Railway from Watchet to connect with the expanding railway network.”

 In the event, the meeting led to the formation of the first West Somerset Railway Company, and later, to the building and opening of the line from the Bristol and Exeter Railway at Norton Junction, just west of Taunton, to the harbour town of Watchet.

The ‘famous’ Isambard Brunel was on board as well but unfortunately died not long after work started.

The railway today is a credit to all the volunteers and staff who work tirelessly to maintain this, which is the longest in the UK, heritage railway.

All Change for Upton Park - Steve Derby

Posted on May 5, 2016            

Author Steve Derby did not disappoint with his recollections of people and events between 1943, when he was born, and 1959.

Steve spent the first forty years of his life in the East End, before relocating his family to Somerset in the early 1980’s. During the last twenty years, he has written articles for business management publications, music, railway, and football magazines.

He was brought up in Walpole Road, in Upton Park, London, between those 16 years and although he has returned to the area, he now lives in Somerset.

In “All Change for Upton Park” Steve Derby invited us to join him in an affectionate and reflective rummage through memories of a childhood spent in Upton Park, East London.

An enjoyable and professionally presented presentation.


Weston Hospice - Lynette Preston

Posted on April 21, 2016       

Ladies were invited to todays meeting which bore the title of ‘Weston Hospice’.

This topic was presented by Lynette Preston, supported by one of  her co-workers.

 Founded by the community in 1989, Weston Hospicecare provides palliative care for people living with a life-limiting illnesses in Weston-super-Mare and the surrounding areas as far afield as Highbridge, Burnham, Cheddar, Draycott, Yatton, Congresbury and Clevedon.

 The primary aim is to provide a quality of life that is pain free where patients can be treated and cared for by loved ones in a place of their choice be that at the Hospice, their own home or a care home.

 All of the services provided are totally free of charge with only 19% of the £3million a year running cost funded by the NHS. The rest is raised through the volunteers, shops and the fundraising team working tirelessly throughout the year to support patients and families.

A question and answer session followed this very informative presentation and an impromptu collection raised over £100.

Our President offered the vote of thanks.


Legal Concerns for More Mature Individuals - Dr. John Kirkhope

Posted on April 7, 2016         

Our guest speaker today, Dr. John Kirkhope, accompanied by his wife, gave a talk which was quite a diversion from the usual talks.

Dr Kirkhope, prior to qualifying as a lawyer, worked for many years in the financial services industry, during which time he qualified as a Chartered Insurer and a registered Trust and Estate Practitioner.

He qualified as a solicitor in 2000, and then qualified as a Notary Public in 2004.

A local man, his firm specialises in the following areas of law:

Notarial Services

Wills and Probate

Care Home Fees Planning

Lasting Powers of Attorney

International Estates

Trusts and Trust Disputes

The Laws of Cornwall, Duchy of Cornwall and Cornish Stannary Law

Dr Kirkhope discussed each of the above subjects, with some humorous interjections based on ‘real life’ events.

A thoroughly interesting talk which gave the members plenty to digest.


Deep Sea Pilotage (25 Year Apprenticeship) - Roger Francis

Posted on March 17, 2016  

Roger Francis has spent his working life at sea.

He gave an enthralling talk on the many differing types of ships he had ‘piloted’.

From deep sea vessels to hovercrafts, there couldn’t have been many ships that he hadn’t navigated.

His ‘job’ took him all over the world and was even able to include family members on the more exotic trips!

Roger spoke without the aid of any notes, however, his talk was punctuated with slides, many taken by himself.

The members thanked Roger for an enjoyable insight into his career.

An Interesting Night Out - Arthur Spencer

Posted on March 3, 2016       

We were privileged to welcome Arthur Spencer, who served with RAF Bomber Command during the last war, to give todays talk.

Arthur, from Weston-Super-Mare, was part of the Lancaster 97 Squadron and he was based at Woodhall Spa. He joined after he left sixth form and was a navigator.

He gave a vivid first-hand account of the operation to destroy the location of the German development of the deadly ‘V’ rockets. His plane was part of the Pathfinders which illuminated the bombing site for the rest of the Squadron.

“Looking back I think about how frightened I was but I was very lucky to have a good pilot,” he said.

Arthur’s eye-witness account gave a real sense of what it was like to be part of Bomber Command.

Our Secretary, a keen Lancaster researcher, offered the vote of thanks.

Ration Books to Rock & Roll - Terry Merrett-Smith

Posted on February 18, 2016 

Terry Merrett-Smith was born in Weston Super Mare and at the age of seven went to vist his Grandmother who had a wind-up gramaphone and a collection of old records. When she updated her machine she gave her old one to Terry and from then he was hooked. He now has a vast collection of records, thousands, in fact. He played the famous recording of Neville Chamberlain’s famous speech. Chamberlain arrived back from Berlin and landed at Heston airport (now a motorway service station) where he announced that he had met Herr Hitler and he had a paper signed by Hitler which read ‘Peace in our time’. How wrong was that!

When war was declared, the first item to be rationed was petrol quickly followed by food. This rationing went on till after the war and the last item to be de-rationalised were sweets.

We then heard about the Queen’s Coronation, held on a wet day and that in the Royal procession, the only carriage with the hood down was the Queen of Tonga’s carriage. When asked who was the other person in the Queen of Tonga’s carriage?, Noel Coward replied “That’s her lunch”.

We then moved on to the Big Band era and we heard recordings from Victor Silvester and his orchestra.

Also recordings from Alma Cogan who died at an early age. Finally, we got to Rock and Roll and where it all started with the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’ and the theme music from the film ‘Rock Around the Clock’ by Bill Haley and the Comets. The rest is history.

Everyone enjoyed the nostalgia, but after seeing Terry’s slides and listening to his recordings, we felt really old because we could remember them all!

The Rias of Galicia - Peter Griffiths

Posted on February 4, 2016   

Our Speaker today told the ‘story’ of the sailing adventures of himself and his wife when they undertook what was the second leg of a sailing journey, which took them around the Rias of Galacia.

The North West corner of Spain (between Ribadeo and Bayona), is Galicia, comprising about 180nm of granite coastline deeply indented with steep sided ‘Rias’, each just a day sail from the next. There is lots of sheltered sailing with good beaches and many anchorages. Yacht support is good, with enough marinas some very new and at reasonable mooring costs.

The story was punctuated with slides of interesting landmarks and scenic landscapes.

Where possible, a shot of their sailing boat was always incorporated in the view!

When Pirates Ruled The Waves - Geoff Ward

Posted on January 21, 2016  

2016 kicked off with our first presentation of the year being given by one of our members, Geoff Ward.

The presentation began with a slide showing a pirate flag of ‘skull and crossbones’. However, anyone expecting a talk on swashbuckling pirates of yesteryear were not disappointed, only not the kind that they imagined.

The ‘pirates’ were from the era of Offshore Pirate Radio that occupied the UK coastline operating from ships and wartime forts in the 1960s and 1970s.

The presentation included slides and video clips of the era, with memories of listening to all day pop music on transistor radios.

Weather conditions, shootings, bomb attacks, ship sinking’s and Government legislation all contributed eventually to their demise.

Geoff was thanked by the members for an interesting topic.