The Last Cowkeeper in Garston

U3A Todmorden’s October meeting enjoyed a superlative afternoon of quiet rapture in Dave Joy’s energised, energising and fluent talk about his cowkeeping family from Garston.

And what, we wondered, was a cowkeeper?

A cowkeeper was a Yorkshire or Lancashire farmer of the early nineteenth century who spotted that milk transported in churns by the railway to growing cities was often sour by the time it got there. Wouldn’t it be better for city-dwellers to have access to milk straight from the cow?

Gill Radford, Chair of U3A Todmorden, with Dave Joy. Photo by Gail Allaby

So these enterprising, hard-working dairy families moved with a few cows to Liverpool (in the case of the Joys, to Wavertree and then Garston), where they took, ideally, an end-of-terrace house with a yard, and set up business.

They milked at 5.00 and the milk round started by horse and cart at 7.30. They milked again at 2.00 with a 4.30 round. They delivered straight to the customer’s jug.

So a ‘cowkeeper’ was specifically a keeper of cows who provided superfresh milk rather than corporate railway milk. It was a very precise trade description, holding, perhaps, the same cachet as ‘organic’ today.

And it was a profitable business (Dave’s grandfather, Percy, owned a Bullnose Morris Cowley and 3 properties).  As well as milk, a cowkeeper would have good quality manure to sell – 4 cows equalled 1 ton of manure a week equalled 5/- a week profit – and milk cart horses produced saleable dung too.

Cows had a remarkably varied diet. They were grazed where possible, and always had access to municipal grass-cuttings, bran from millers, spent grain from brewers, molasses from sugar refiners, linseed cake from oil merchants, and a variety of seasonal root crops as well as imported maize and peas.

The favoured cow was the shorthorn as she milked well and could be quickly fattened up to sell as beef. These animals would be brought into the city on Cow Fridays, and be driven to their destination cowkeepers, followed by

Herding cows in Garston in 1950

occasional cries of ‘There’s a bull loose!’

Although businesses were successful and were passed on from father to son, after World War II things changed. Many cowkeepers were bombed out of Liverpool and by 1951 no more than 6% of the city’s milk came from city shippons.  Moreover, cowkeepers sold milk in its raw state to corporate dairies for the now necessary processing and bought it back bottled to sell on their rounds.

David Joy’s father, Eric, the last of the Garston cowkeepers, in his milk cart drawn by Rupert.

Eventually, the Joys had to give up all their cows and become ordinary milkmen selling corporate milk until they called it a day in the late 1960s.

This account covers a fraction of what Dave spoke about and omits most of his family history, an interlinking second strand to his talk. For those keen to know more, please consider buying his books – ‘Liverpool Cowkeepers’ and ‘My Family and Other Scousers’ – real gems of social history. We were really lucky to enjoy an afternoon with Dave and other Joys.

Our next meeting

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, November 21st, 2019 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45. Our guest speaker, Heather Davis, will be delivering her interestingly-titled talk ‘Frogs, Firearms and Flames’ – Tales of a Museum Curator.

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

Let’s Go! Visit to Thirsk

The penultimate trip of 2019 was to Thirsk and the award winning James Herriot museum. This “tardis” like surgery sits in the main street in Thirsk. Furnished appropriately for the period, the house has many rooms, including the parlour, where sit Tricki Woo and Mrs Pumphrey : don’t touch the dog it barks! The surgery area has many of James Herriot’s veterinary instruments on display. There is also a film room showing a short documentary, hosted by Christopher Timothy, describing the vet’s history and the TV and film series.

Known for his “All Creatures Great and Small” TV series, which followed the success of his books, Alf White – Herriot’s real name – did not start to write until his 50th birthday. Encouraged by his wife Joan, who had listened to his tales of daily happenings, Alf eventually bought a portable typewriter and in the evening would tap away. It took a long time before any publisher would take up his stories, and he dreaded the thump on the mat as another document was returned with a rejection letter.

Also in the house is a mock- up of a TV studio, some barns and a top floor devoted to children, who can learn that food does not just come from supermarkets, and can help deliver a calf.

The museum and the town of Thirsk are well worth a visit. The museum has a warm, friendly feel and the staff most helpful and proud of its history.

Tree of Knowledge marks our 10th Anniversary

On 18th April at our Monthly Members’ Meeting, we unveiled the ‘Tree of Knowledge’, a wall hanging made by the Craft Group to celebrate and commemorate U3A Todmorden’s 10th anniversary which took place last year.

The piece is housed permanently in the Central Methodist Church’s upper room in a glazed frame made from reclaimed wood by John Andreae, the son-in-law of our founder, John McNair.

The piece, which also bears witness to hundreds of hours of work by a team of Craft Group members, represents each of our Special Interest Groups extant at the time of our anniversary.

Each group is shown as an apple whose design characterises each group. Thus, Philosophy is represented by Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’; the intricacies of philosophical thought are shown by the convolutions of quilling and its logic by straight lines.

By contrast, Spanish consists of the vivid flag of Spain with the black ‘Osborne’ bull in the centre.

Anglo-Saxon is emblematised by the Alfred Jewel delicately figured in gold thread on a green sheeny background, and Golf, played at Todmorden Golf Club, emphasises something of the rough landscape surrounding the course by using felting in greens, browns and greys.

Numerous techniques have been deployed. In addition to those already mentioned you can find macramé, découpage, collage, beading, patchwork, embroidery, appliqué, knitting, lace-making, weaving and ceramics.

In this respect, the Badminton and Table Tennis Club is exceptional. The apple-artist has used an embroidery background; the foregrounded objects are composed of cocktail sticks, garden and rubberised twine, a prosecco cork, a Wetherspoons stirrer, nail polish, brads and feathers.

Craft Group members designed the apples in consultation with Group convenors, and each apple took an average of 40 hours to complete.

This is truly a labour of love, celebrating what U3A Todmorden has offered the town’s active and enquiring retired community, and furnishing a permanent record of one aspect of community life in the Upper Calder Valley in the 21st century.

It is only fitting public recognition should be given to the Craft Group for the generous way they have dedicated their talents, skills and services to the production of this ‘Tree of Knowledge’, and to the Methodist Church for giving the hanging a home. Long may both ‘Tree’ and Church be a feature of Todmorden.

Ant Peters

Saving Lives – the work of the RNLI

Gill Radford, Chair of U3A Todmorden, with Roy Meakin of the RNLI. Photo by Gail Allaby.

In September, Todmorden U3A members enjoyed an instructive talk, illustrated with film clips, by Roy Meakin, one of the RNLI’s education officers.

Roy took us through the origins and development of the Society, from the very first boat for rescuing the shipwrecked, kept at Formby, in 1777, to the ultra-modern, hi-tech Shannon class lifeboats of today.

Henry Greathead, b. 1757, designed a boat, rowed by 10 short oars, the sides of which were cased with cork secured by copper plates, which could carry 20 people. By 1806 his boats were in use all around the British coasts.

Henry Greathead’s boat in action.

One of his boats, the Zetland, saved over 500 lives. Early rescues were an heroic and dangerous endeavour as exemplified by the story of Grace Darling who became a national heroine after risking her own life to save survivors of the rigged paddle steamer Forfarshire in 1838.

In the early 19th century there was an average of 1,800 shipwrecks a year around our coasts. One man, Sir William Hillary, living on the Isle of Man and witness to many terrible shipwrecks, had a vision for a service dedicated to saving the lives of the shipwrecked, using trained crews.

Sir William Hillary

Having failed to elicit any interest from the Royal Navy, he appealed to wealthy, philanthropic members of London Society. His campaign proved highly successful and on March 4th 1824, a group met in the London Tavern in Bishopsgate – and the fledgling RNLI was born.

King George IV and Prince Albert were early patrons who granted the royal prefix so that the society became known as the Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck, later renamed the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, or RNLI.

Today the RNLI has 238 lifeboat stations and 444 lifeboats. Crews rescued around 22 people a day in 2015. Lifeguards operate on more than 200 beaches, paid by local authorities but trained by the RNLI. They also operate Flood Rescue teams both nationally and internationally. Much effort is put into training and education, particularly for children.

The RNLI is a charity, wholly funded by legacies and donations. The first street collection was in Manchester in 1891.  Most of the lifeboat crews are unpaid volunteers and the service receives no government subsidy and prefers it that way. The RNLI headquarters is in Poole where there is a college for training and an all-weather Lifeboat Centre where the ultra-modern, 25-knot, Shannon-class lifeboats are now built, thus allowing the service complete independence.

Lowestoft Shannon class lifeboat Patsy Knight 13-05 in rough seas during the stom know as the ‘Beast from the East’, March 2018. Dramatic, stormy, huge waves and white spray.

The service has always been well-supported in the Pennine area, perhaps somewhat surprisingly given our distance from the coast. However, should the valley flood again, I suppose we might yet be grateful to see their flood rescue teams on our streets. The talk ended with questions from the floor and a collection.

Our next meeting     U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, October 17th, 2019 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45. Our guest speaker, Dave Joy, will be telling us about the Liverpool Cow Keepers who came from Yorkshire.

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

This month’s reporter was Anne Foster.

Love of Chocolate, Love of Science

Gill Radford, Chair of U3A Todmorden with Dr Diana Leitch MBE. Photo by Roger Howard.

Dr Diana Leitch MBE is a serious scientist, a chemist with not only a love of chocolate, but an appetite for promoting science and its role in society.

Thus, on Thursday, 15th August, Diana told U3A Todmorden all about why chocolate makes us feel good.

But she also told us about its geography, history, cultivation and, unexpectedly, its political role.

First things first. The cacao tree (which fruits all year, but needs shade) produces beans that make cocoa and related products such as chocolate.

Note the spellings!  The OED tries to clarify, suggesting the words cacao and cocoa are essentially synonyms and have been used interchangeably since the 17th century. In modern use, the form cacao is often restricted to senses concerned more with the plant itself than with cocoa as a semi-processed commodity or food item.

Anyway, it originates in the Yucatan peninsula in central America and was used by Mayans as a status beverage with special drinking vessels dedicated to it.

Then the Aztecs got hold of it and cultivated it. Montezuma, Diana said, was reported to drink 60 cups a day of a foamy, reddish bitter drink, spiced with chilli. It is allegedly an aphrodisiac.

And cacao beans were valuable: 100 beans were worth one slave.

In time, the Spanish imported it into Europe through the Spanish Netherlands, and sold it at ridiculous prices. But because it was so bitter, they mixed it with cinnamon from India and sugar from Papua New Guinea.

In time the European powers developed their own colonial slave-dependent plantations in Venezuela, the Caribbean, Sri Lanka and West Africa.

In some countries, cacao was vital to the economy. In Tobago, for example, when the plantations were destroyed by Hurricane Flora in 1963, the country could no longer rely on commodities and became instead a tourist destination.

Our modern chocolate developed perhaps because of Hans Sloane’s tastebuds. This former 18th century Governor of Jamaica, added milk to his chocolate and water to soften the taste. This concoction gained popularity in England.

The next leap forward came when John Cadbury, a Quaker, decided to produce an affordable drinking chocolate to lure drinkers away from alcohol. Initially it tasted buttery, so he added sago flour and potato starch to counterbalance that.

Then in 1847 J.S. Fry’s produced the first chocolate bar, and Cadbury’s followed in 1849.

But in 1875, Swiss confectioner Daniel Peters added Nestlé powdered milk to his chocolate, producing the first milk chocolate bar, not emulated by Cadbury’s till 1905.

However, in the cut-throat modern business world Cadbury’s have been acquired by Mondelez, who have gradually lowered the volume of cocoa solids in their chocolate bars. ‘Cadbury’s’ Bournville now contains 36% cocoa solids, nearer the American standard instead of the 60% required under British law.

But is chocolate good for you?

Oh yes! Especially dark chocolate. The science says so.

The Real Thing

Chocolate is full of magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.

It contains antioxidants; it increases your feel-good levels with its serotonin and phenylethylamines, and it contains theobromine which is a mild stimulant. And it has a good range of vitamins as well.

What’s not to like? Well, theobromine is a mild diuretic and it is poisonous to dogs. And because chocolate manufacturers want to maximise profits, products will often contain more sugar than is good for us.

The Cadbury’s Creme Egg is notorious: the fondant in one egg contains about 10 heaped teaspoons of sugar, which gives a whole new meaning to the notion of ‘Sweet Death’.

Even if Nestlé manage to ‘structure sugar differently’ they are barking up a very dubious scientific tree. And even if you structure your Kit-Kat bar differently by making it smaller, that won’t necessarily reduce the sugar content.

A small chocolate fountain

And look out for Galaxy which contains more salt than salt water, and chocolate fountains which flow beautifully because they are lubricated with oil.

This was a very stimulating talk by an enthusiastic chemist. I think it more than likely U3A Todmorden members will be visiting her home base at the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre and Museum in Widnes in the next few months.

Our next meeting:   U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, September 19th when our speaker will be Roy Meakin, whose subject is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

Hearing Loop at Central Methodist Church – Doug Simpson’s Advice

Information and Advice for Hearing Aid Users

At the U3A General Meeting in July Peter Gibson asked me, as a hearing aid user, to confirm that the loop system worked. At the end of the meeting I was able to confirm that it worked perfectly, as it had at the previous meeting and many others. He explained that some hearing aid users have said that they can’t hear with it.

My response to this is that all modern hearing aids are capable of working with induction loop systems, and that the user should be able to switch the loop detector on and off as necessary. In the case of NHS digital aids, which I use, this is done by pressing the volume button in until two bleeps are heard, but other aids may be different .

However, there is an issue, at least with NHS aids and possibly with others, that the loop detector in the hearing needs to be activated by the provider via their computer when first setting up the new aid for a user. Some time ago I discovered that the Calderdale Audiology Unit do not routinely do this unless the user asks for it, and in some cases they may not even mention it to the user. I complained about this approach, but do not know if anything has changed.

I would recommend that any hearing aid user who cannot hear via the loop system at the meeting goes back to their provider, explains the position, and asks for confirmation that the hearing aid is activated for such use.

Doug Simpson

July Members’ Meeting – Bradford Warriors: Suffragettes at Large

From ‘Punch’ 1910

2019 – the centenary-plus-one of women being given the right to vote in Britain. Or, as Helen Broadhead, in suffragette colours of green, white and violet, reminded U3A Todmorden on 18th July, a right for some women – those who were 30 or older and only if they, or their husbands, were ratepayers.

Helen Broadhead in full suffragette costume with Gill Radford, Chair of U3A Todmorden. Photo by Roger Howard.

All men over 21 had been accorded the vote in the Representation of the People Act in 1918, but women had to wait until 1928 before Parliament saw fit to offer them the same right.

With these anomalies and, to us, now, bizarre injustices in mind, Helen launched into an extensive broadside about the women’s suffrage movement and some local and regional heroines in the suffrage struggle.

She began by drawing a careful distinction between the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), who were law-abiding, and Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), who were prepared to and did break the law to achieve their ends.

However, Helen pointed out that suffragists had been active on a broad front for some time before the surge of activity at the turn of the 19th century.  It not till 1906 that ‘suffragette’ was coined.

The Daily Mail, which supported the peaceful NUWSS, used it to describe the actions of those associated with the WSPU, whose militancy it disapproved of.

The WSPU then adopted the word as a badge of honour.

But as early as 1841, the Female Chartist Association had lent their weight to the campaign for increased male suffrage. This process activated women’s interest in political action. In 1866, for example, Emily Davies was urging John Stuart Mill to change ‘man’ to ‘person’ in Disraeli’s Great Reform Bill of the following year in order to open the vote to women.

By 1869, women ratepayers had been given voting rights in municipal elections, and the same year women packed St George’s Hall in Bradford during a by-election to back the Liberal candidate who promised support for women’s suffrage.

By now, figures with a prominent profile were emerging to promote female suffrage.  Catherine Salt (married to Titus Jnr.) and her Salt’s Ladies supported the Third Reform Bill of 1884.

Annie Kenney
Christabel Pankhurst

Other names memorialised in Helen’s talk included Julia Varley, an early union member in Bradford, Isabella Ford, a Leeds socialist, and Annie

Kenney who was taken under the wing of Christabel Pankhurst herself.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the afternoon was Helen’s mentioning a Hebden woman, Mary Gawthorpe, a WSPU activist who remarked that she was ‘expected to make herself useless by ignoring things that matter.’

Mary Gawthorpe

Thank goodness she, and many other suffragettes and suffragists did not, and thank you to Helen for keeping the history of this movement alive.

Our next meeting

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, August 15th, 2019 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45. Our guest speaker will be Dr Diana Leitch who will be talking about ‘The Science of Chocolate’.

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

U3A Todmorden Let’s Go trip 16 July

For our last outing before the summer break a visit to Erddig Hall, near Wrexham, was chosen. However, for various reasons, there were an unusually low number of members who travelled.

The day was fine and the greeting from the staff, warm.

Erddig, now a National Trust property has benefitted from not having a complete makeover. Most of the property has been refurbished but much of the fixtures and fittings are still as the last owner left them. In fact many of the room Guides knew the Yorkes.

The Yorke family are well known for having portraits, and latterly, photographs of their retainers. The most famous, having been featured on TV, is that of Jane Ebbrell (1793): Housemaid and Spider Brusher (an old term for Domestic Servant); with a face that would frighten.

The gardens themselves are worth a visit and the gardeners showed remarkable patience answering numerous questions.

The Mystery that Was Elmet

On Thursday, 20th June, Dave Weldrake, self-describing as an ‘enthusiastic archaeologist’ and formerly of the West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service, gave U3A Todmorden a masterclass in making detective-like deductions about the possibly probable from the minimum of evidence.

Elmet: that lost kingdom of the ‘Dark Ages’, that strange period between the years the Romans left their province of Britannia and the invasion of the Angles and the Saxons from across the North Sea – where was it?

But first, how did it come about? Dave began by observing that when the Romans began to leave Britain, their administrative systems would have started to break down.

Eventually, Britons filled the power vacuum, and would have established their own administration centres, probably in old Roman towns or forts. One of these would have been the capital, as it were, of Elmet.

But what were Elmet’s boundaries? Place names such as Barwick-in-Elmet and Sherburn-in-Elmet testify to the kingdom’s reality, but not to its borders.

Dave posited that he was moderately certain that they would have been roughly between the Wharfe and the Don in the north and south, and between the Great North Road and the Pennine watershed in the east and west.  

But his main interest was answering the question as to where Elmet’s administrative heartland might have been. Candidates for this honour include Castleford, Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Ilkley, and Quarry Hill in Leeds.

However, Dave clearly favoured Adel north of Leeds.

Near Adel, there is a Roman fort whose importance is given weight by its being a staging post with the Roman name Camboduno on the Antonine Itinerary, Iter (Route) II, a kind of Google Maps of its day.

But here’s the rub. In this world of uncertain factual evidence, the name on Iter II could have been Camuloduno, which would identify as Slack near Huddersfield, also on the way from Adel to Manchester.

These uncertainties and obscurities indicate how difficult the history of the Dark Ages is to construct. Dave was, however, able to offer some relative certainties about Elmet itself.

Bede, for example, in ‘The Ecclesiastical History of the English People’, records that King Edwin of Northumbria expelled Certic from his kingdom of Elmet. And this Certic is referred to in Welsh sources as Ceredig ap Gwallog.

Indeed, the people now known as the Welsh were the original inhabitants of Roman Britannia, and pan-British links with Elmet are not therefore surprising. Thus the inscription in Gwynedd, ‘Aliotus Elmetiacos Hic Jacet’ (Aliotus the Elmetian lies here).

And even as late as 1315, a Florentine bill of sale records ‘d’Elmetta 11 marks per sack’ for wool. Elmet International plc!

Peter Carrigan, our Vice-Chair, with Dave Weldrake. Photo by Roger Howard.

This was a talk in the best traditions of U3A. As Jean Pearson would say, ‘Did learning take place?’ I think we can safely answer that, thanks to Dave, it did.

Our next meeting

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, July 18th, 2019 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45. Our guest speaker will be Helen Broadhead whose talk is titled ‘The Bradford Warriors’ about the Bradford suffragettes.

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

A Cat among the Literary Pigeons

U3A Todmorden’s recent speakers have been like high pressure weather systems: we have enjoyed the vivid freshness and sunshine of Maria Glot on Titus Salt, Tony Waltham on volcanoes and, on 16th May, Patrick Wildgust on Shandy Hall and Laurence Sterne – and, of course, Sterne’s phenomenal novel, ‘Tristram Shandy’.

 

Patrick Wildgust with Gill Radford, Chair of U3A Todmorden (and Dave Sutcliffe coiling cable)

To reflect the substance and nature of Patrick’s talk, this report should be (apparently) randomly organised, full of digression and only fleetingly touching on the advertised subject matter.

 

For why?

 

Well, ‘Tristram Shandy’, a novel – or perhaps anti-novel – written and published variously between 1759 and 1767, was the brainchild of Laurence Sterne, a clergyman educated in Yorkshire and at Cambridge whose first living was in Sutton-on-the-Forest, later supplemented by those of Stillington and then Coxwold.

 

It was in Coxwold that he established his writer’s retreat at Shandy Hall, now a memorial museum to its erstwhile genius occupant which is managed by Patrick.

 

And what does ‘Shandy’ mean? It’s a Yorkshire word for wild, crack-brained, half-crazy, which explains and justifies Sterne’s decision to ignore the conventions of storytelling that were current and to adopt a style that was that of everyday digressive speech and not structurally literarified.

 

Moreover, the novel, published in 9 volumes, terminates at the end of Volume 4 where the word ‘FINIS’ is used. Volume 9 concludes ‘End of Volume 9’.

 

And why not introduce a randomly included marbled page on page 169 of Volume 3 to represent ‘the motley of my work’? Or ‘black pages’? Or blank pages? Or asterisks, dashes, and wiggly lines?

 

And why should every copy be identical? Sterne personally supervised editions of his work to ensure that each copy was unique. 

 

Patrick highlighted Sterne’s brilliant marketing. For example, Sir Joshua Reynolds painted Sterne’s portrait.  But who posed it – Reynolds or Sterne? A parson (a pillar of the establishment) with an ill-set wig, a challengingly mischievous smile, a finger pointing to his forehead indicating wit and intelligence, and – shock horror – a manuscript of ‘Tristram Shandy’.

 

Sterne even published his sermons under the name of one of his characters – Parson Yorick (named after the dead jester in ‘Hamlet’). These were unconventional in that they were non-didactic, though commonly promoting the notion of the goodness of human beings, in keeping with Sterne’s persona of a jester subverting expectations.

 

We also learned about hourglasses, myrioramas, moths and Sterne’s 3-decker pulpit.

 

We should thank our speaker whose talk was anything but wild – though possibly like chaos, well-ridden – and a gust of fresh air. This reporter is certainly up for a trip to Coxwold and a third attempt to read ‘Tristram Shandy’, if only because, as Patrick said, ‘All the people who’ve read it are nice’.

 

Our next meeting

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, June 20th, 2019 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45. Our guest speaker will be Dave Weldrake talking about ‘The Lost Kingdom of Elmet’.

 

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

But What if We Tried – Art Appreciation Group

But what if we tried.
That is the title of the current exhibition at the Touchstones Gallery in Rochdale and is the gallery’s response to the challenge posed by artist Harry Meadley as to why so much of publicly owned art is stuffed away in stacks out of sight.
The U3A Art Appreciation group normally meets monthly at the Fielden Centre but every three months we venture afield to a gallery or an artist’s studio and in May we luckily decided to visit this exhibition. We were fortunate enough to have an introductory talk by a member of the curatorial team at Touchstones who explained how the collection came about and how it developed over 150 years. All local authorities are under financial pressure and some have controversially sold off publicly owned works of art to raise funds.

Rochdale however has not only held onto their collection but with the assistance of bodies such as the Art Fund has continued to make acquisitions, including of contemporary Northern art.
Rochdale now has a very substantial collection and has displayed in the largest gallery many wonderful examples from an early self-portrait by Tim Bobbin to recently created paintings and prints selected and hung in order of acquisition. It leads to a display full of surprises and delights. In one of the smaller galleries is a display recreating the stacks showing how work is stored, conserved and restored and how vitals funds are raised by loaning out work to other galleries and museums.
Fascinating to think that all of this wonderful art displayed still only represents 13% of the art owned by the people of Rochdale.

The exhibition continues to the 1st June and is strongly recommended.

Text: Campbell Malone Pictures: Ann Foster, Campbell Malone and Doug Simpson

Volcanoes of Italy Are a Blast and Anniversary Wall Hangings Are, Too

In March U3A Todmorden reported on Maria Glot, Titus Salt’s modern publicity tornado, and April saw Tony Waltham strut his pyroclastic stuff on

April Speaker
Tony Waltham with Gill Radford, our Chair.

behalf of the Italian Tourist Board.

Altham’s, look out: you may have a sudden flow of spur-of-the-moment holidaymakers through your doors.

Tony is an engineer and geologist by training who has an eye for a good photograph and a yen for a good ‘fire fountain’.

His travels clearly require occasional commitment from his family, to the extent of camping overnight at the summit of Stromboli. How else can you witness the lava fountains that erupt every 20 minutes, and which smoke and ash obscure by day?

But not all volcanoes in Italy are so restrained. Vesuvius is a case in point. Tony carefully explained the famous explosion of 79 AD: Pompeii, which everyone knows well, was clearly not blasted as badly as Herculaneum. Vesuvius’ first pyroclastic surge (of the six that took place during the night) wiped it out, covering it under 20 metres of ash and volcanic debris.

Pompeii, by contrast, was done for by surge number four, but was buried only to a depth of 7 metres.

Pyroclastic surges? Fast-moving (up to 400 mph) flows of volcanic debris and ash and superheated gases, from which there is no escape. Tony was a speaker who could make technical terms easily understood.

Thus we all now know the difference between a crater and a caldera and how plate tectonics work.

We also know about super volcanoes like Campi Flegri, now grumblingly dormant, but once the site of a huge explosion when a magma chamber collapsed.

Nevertheless, owing to local bradyseism – the slow rising and falling of the land owing to seismic activity – a harbour boat ramp no longer reaches down to the sea.

A less inconvenient phenomenon is the volcanic mud of Vulcano. Here

Mud pools on Vulcano.

Italians disport themselves in the health-giving mud, caking themselves in the sun and washing themselves off in the Mediterranean. Tony’s English outsider vision found them good photographic material.

But what about Etna? Unlike Vesuvius, it does not kill people, but it does emit plenty of ash and lava and occasionally, as in 2000, a spectacular 1000

Etna lets rip with a spectacular fire fountain

ft fire fountain of lava that lasted 10 minutes.

Usually, it just oozes quickly-cooling lava that if necessary can be redirected. In 1669, the citizens of Catania who were in the path of the flow redirected it. The citizens of Paterno took exception: it was now heading for them. They redirected it again. Lava wars ensued, but the lava got both communities anyway.

Our thanks are very much due to Tony and his 9-on-the-Richter-Scale presentation.

U3A Todmorden 10th Anniversary Tree of Knowledge

The final textile

A second highlight of the afternoon was the unveiling of the ‘Tree of Knowledge’, a wall hanging made by the Craft Group to celebrate and commemorate U3A Todmorden’s 10th anniversary which took place last year.

The piece is housed permanently in the Central Methodist Church’s upper room in a glazed frame made from reclaimed wood by John Andreae, the son-in-law of our founder, John McNair.

Some members of The Craft Group in front of the finished commemorative textile in its permanent home.

The piece, which also bears witness to hundreds of hours of work by a team of Craft Group members, represents each of our Special Interest Groups extant at the time of our anniversary.

Each group is shown as an apple whose design characterises each group. Thus, Philosophy is represented by Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’; the intricacies of philosophical thought are shown by the convolutions of quilling and its logic by straight lines.

By contrast, Spanish consists of the vivid flag of Spain with the black ‘Osborne’ bull in the centre.

Anglo-Saxon is emblematised by the Alfred Jewel delicately figured in gold thread on a green sheeny background, and Golf, played at Todmorden Golf Club, emphasises something of the rough landscape surrounding the course by using felting in greens, browns and greys.

Numerous techniques have been deployed. In addition to those already mentioned you can find macramé, découpage, collage, beading, patchwork, embroidery, appliqué, knitting, lace-making, weaving, and ceramics.

In this respect, the Badminton and Table Tennis Club is exceptional. The apple-artist has used an embroidery background; the foregrounded objects are composed of cocktail sticks, garden and rubberised twine, a prosecco cork, a Wetherspoons stirrer, nail polish, brads and feathers.

Craft Group members designed the apples in consultation with Group convenors, and each apple took an average of 40 hours to complete.

This is truly a labour of love, celebrating what U3A Todmorden has offered the town’s active and enquiring retired community, and furnishing a permanent record of one aspect of community life in the Upper Calder Valley in the 21st century.

It is only fitting public recognition should be given to the Craft Group for the generous way they have dedicated their talents, skills and services to the production of this ‘Tree of Knowledge’, and to the Methodist Church for giving the hanging a home. Long may both ‘Tree’ and Church be a feature of Todmorden.

Our next meeting

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, May 16th, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45. Our guest speaker will be Patrick Wildgust whose subject will be ‘Shandy Hall and Laurence Sterne’.

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

 

April Members’ Meeting

Gill welcomed special guests Reverend Kathy and Deacon Bob from Central Methodist’s Church to the April Meeting. U3A Todmorden is always pleased to have an opportunity to thank Central for letting us use their meeting rooms for U3A events and this afternoon we had special reason to thank them.

Gill thanked Treasurer Emily and Membership Secretary Brenda and their team of helpers who had worked hard to make it crystal clear what exactly needed to be done to renew membership this year; namely not only paying subs but also giving us your permission to hold safely and securely your details in accordance with recent legal changes. So, thank you to members for your understanding.

 Gail gave her Groups Report and was delighted that there is the possibility of a new group starting. Those interested in forming a Dance group – not ball room dancing, but other than that the dances themselves would be decided by the evolving group. Let Gail know if you are interested. Also, please would Convenors contact John Boutell to let him know any News for including in the Websites News Desk.

Last year we celebrated our 10th Anniversary from 2008 to 2018 and Keith Coates and team presented us with the very impressive history of U3A Tod. Thursday was also part of the anniversary celebrations because it was agreed last year that during the 10th year that the Craft group would create a wall hanging, a tapestry to commemorate this milestone.

There wasn’t enough time to make something that could be presented at last year’s celebrations especially as discussions within the group made sure that maintaining the normal Craft group format in their Friday morning sessions was paramount. Gill had had no idea the lengths these wonderful people would go to, to make sure what they created would be of the highest possible standard. They knew, but she didn’t!

23 members of the Craft group have contributed and spent hundreds of Craft grouphours creating this commemorative masterpiece, including the core of 8 people who have overseen the project and made sure the textile would be ready on time. 12 members of the Craft group came to the presentation. Gill thanked Mary and the Craft group for the love and absolute dedication that had gone into their work. The Craft group have ticked as many boxes as possible to make sure this Tree of Knowledge is an absolute testament to U3A Todmorden’s work in Todmorden and The Upper Calder Valley.

On a final note the frame has been made from locally sourced recycled timber by the son in law of John McNair the instigator and driving force behind U3A Todmorden back in April 2008.

We were delighted that Rev Kathy and Deacon Bob could share the presentation with us, with Bob assisting Gill in the unveiling. Our special thanks go to them for allowing us to hang a non-religious artefact in their church hall a privilege which U3A Tod does not take lightly.

April SpeakerGill introduced the main speaker of the afternoon Tony Waltham who gave us his slide show and talk of the geological formations of 7 of the volcanoes in Italy. I would defy anyone not to have been bowled over by his magnificent photos, his highly informative and charismatic style of presentation. I feel sure he will be invited back!

Peter Carrigan thanked Tony for his amazing talk which somehow did actually fit into the 60minute window he had requested.

Next month’s Members’ Meeting will take place on Thursday 16th May and the talk will be by Patrick Wildgust, entitled ‘ Shandy Hall and Laurence Sterne’. Members may like to read the following link in preparation for his talk. https://www.laurencesternetrust.org.uk/shandy-hall.php.

With Best wishes for a Happy Easter

Gill Radford,  Chair U3A Todmorden 2019.

 

 

 

THIRD CONVENORS’ LUNCH

Central Methodists Todmorden was the venue for the third Tod U3A Convenors’ Lunch. The purpose of these is two fold: as an expression of thanks from the Committee for all the hard work the convenors do to keep Tod U3A going. Secondly, it is an opportunity to keep convenors up-to-date with anything they need to know.

So before the convenors helped themselves to the buffet lunch provided by Catrina and Andrew at Drop Farm, Oxenhope, Gill Radford welcomed everybody and thanked them for all they are doing. She then recited three questions we would be asked to answer in small groups. More of which later.

Nigel Plant kicked off business matters with a few details regarding Beacon, the new IT system designed to make internet use simpler when using for anything to do with Tod U3A. Convenors had had training from Nigel but little bits and bobs came up as the training went on and he wanted to ensure that those in the earlier sessions had the opportunity to be apprised of anything they may have missed.

Membership Secretary Brenda Botten then introduced herself and asked convenors to remind their group members that membership renewal time is approaching, She then introduced yours truly so that I might explain my role and the existence of this page. I invited them to send me any news item they may wish to have posted here. It need only be bullet points – I will be happy to expand. Send to news@u3atod.org.uk

Our treasurer, Emily Watnik was next up, now able to keep track of our finances in a more sophisticated way using Beacon, and asked convenors to get an invoice when paying venues directly.

Fiona Ryland broached the subject of accessibility to our classes and invited convenors to contact her if they had any queries or problems. I’m assuming her email address is accessibility@u3atod.org.uk I will update if necessary.

Ernie Rogan advised that he has reorganised the rota for refreshments served at general meetings. Each group will take it in turns, starting alphabetically, to have two of its members staff the refreshment point. As there are so many groups, Ernie said, each with a number of members, it would mean that each individual member is likely to do it only once in ten years. That’ll be a lifetime for most of us, so grab your chance when it comes.

After everyone had eaten the lovely buffet lunch and had filled their doggy bags – Catrina and Andrew give good value – those of us remaining set about answering the following:

What in your experience makes a group successful?

What niggles do you have about convening a group?

What help would you appreciate, if anything?

Which ideas will you try to put into practise with your group?

Our table had an interesting discussion and each table fed back at the end leaving the committee with some useful points to mull over.

PHOTOGRAPHY GROUP EXHIBITION

The photography group have some of their work displayed at Tod Information Centre throughout April. You will enjoy a variety of subjects: the expected, but not to say ordinary. Landscapes, wildlife – the birds and the bees, well, wasps actually, as well as the unexpected, unusual and imaginative. Do go along. Your correspondent has and gives his recommendation.

Maria Glot, Saltaire’s Industrial-Historical Storyteller

21st March, 2019 will be remembered as the time Todmorden U3A was hit once again by the benign storytelling tornado that is Maria Glot, historical raconteur extraordinaire.

Her primary subject was what happened to Saltaire and Salt’s Mill after the death of Titus Snr; her secondary subject – or parallel plotline – was the ‘The Curse of Milner Field’, a story intricately linked with the fates of several owners and managers of Salt’s Mill.

Titus Salt Jnr built himself a magnificent Xanadu of a mansion in Shipley Glen in 1869 which he called Milner Field after the manor house he had demolished. But he died young of a heart attack in 1887.

Shortly after, a downturn in the wool trade resulted in a near collapse of the business which passed eventually into the ownership of James Roberts who made a killing on uniforms for the army in the Boer War and again in 1917 when he sold redundant blue-grey serge to the newly-formed Royal Flying Corps.

But moving into Milner Field did Roberts no good: three sons all died young, the remaining one was badly injured during World War One, and his daughter’s lover was shot by her jealous husband.

Roberts sold the mill to Edward Gates whose wife died a few weeks after they moved into Milner Field. Gates himself died from blood poisoning following an injury to a big toe.

Gates’ successor, Arthur Hollins, apparently hiccoughed to death and his wife predeceased him, dying of blood poisoning. (Or was it a gall bladder infection and pneumonia respectively!)

At this point, the house became unsellable, and Salt’s Mill’s next owner, Sir Henry Whitehead, chose to live in Harrogate. The house fell into disrepair, survived dynamiting and was finally demolished. Today it lies in ruins. And is haunted – Maria told us with great authority! – by a thwarted 18th century lover, who cursed the house and then hanged herself.

Salt’s Mill itself survived until 1986 when it closed because large lorries could not access it. It was bought by Jonathan Silver in 1987 and redeveloped into a technology, business and retail hub, the David Hockney 1853 gallery, a museum, and dining venue.

Peter Carrigan, Vice Chair of U3A Todmorden and Speaker Finder, with Maria Glot. Photo by Roger Howard.

Maria has been involved with Salt’s Mill and Saltaire for many years and is proud to have been part of the team that achieved World Heritage Status for Saltaire in 2001. Her deep love for the place and its people is evident in her talks, and we have been privileged to listen to her twice.

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, April 18th, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45. Our guest speaker will be Tony Waltham, and his topic ‘Volcanoes of Italy’.

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

 

March Members’ meeting

Vice Chairman’s report of the Members meeting Thursday 21 March 2019.

We had an excellent turn out, rough count 140 including 4 guests.

In the 5 minute showcase Sarah Penney gave a short, succinct and thought-provoking account of the work  of Age Concern Todmorden

Gail’s Groups Report March 2019 has already been sent to all members by email.

Our main speaker, Maria Glot, talked about Saltaire after Titus from 1840 to the present day. As before, she gave a full-on amusing story-telling experience of the characters who drove the Mill through its various phases of boom and bust. The canvas proved broad enough to include many personalities through their loves, desires and all to frequent early or sudden death, curses of Milner’s Field included. 1983 saw the nadir of the mill, with only 123 workers. Some visionary ownership and management then led to its listed building status and the ultimate reward of world heritage site status. A complete account will appear in the local press and on our website next month.  For more about her talks, look at the Saltaire experience.

Our next meeting will be Thursday 18 April 2019 and our speaker will be by professional photographer, Dr Tony Waltham. He will take us on a photographic tour of the Volcanoes of Italy. His website has recently been hacked, so a link to his work is here.

Your committee look forward to perhaps seeing you next month.

Peter Carrigan,

Vice Chairman.

February Members’ Meeting – Barrow Lad Goes Bargaining in Middle East

U3A Todmorden had clearly bargained for 45 minutes from Philip Caine on 21st February, but it got a lifetime’s worth of fluent storytelling (and a chance to buy a book at the end of it).

 

Philip Caine with Gill Radford, Chair of U3A Todmorden

Leaving school at 15 in Barrow usually meant a trip to Vickers-Armstrong and signing up for an apprenticeship. But Philip bucked that for the excitement he’d been having behind his dad’s back – cheffing at a local hotel.

 

After a two-year apprenticeship in the kitchen, a series of jobs in Bowness, Harrogate, London and Paris and some hotel management led to Philip’s indomitable wife, Sandra, suggesting oil rigs. Two weeks on, two weeks off – what wasn’t to like? For both of them!

 

And that led to ten years on rigs in a variety of roles, followed by seven working in logistics for BP in the North Sea.

 

But boredom was setting in. ‘So, Sandra, how about my going to Algeria to build an accommodation block in the desert for 500 people?’ ‘No way, I can’t be sure what you’ll be up to.’ ‘Tax-free salary, though.’ ‘Off you go, Big Boy.’

 

And the same again in Nigeria.

 

Philip’s next big challenge came as the Soviet Union began to disintegrate, and he took a job with Chevron building accommodation for 2000 in a new gasfield in Kazakhstan. Six weeks on, three weeks off and Sandra was still happy.

 

Supply lines were a challenge – 6000 meals a day require a lot of meat. The route from Russia was through bandit territory. If you keep losing $20,000’s worth of meat, you need a new supply route.

 

A certain Russian Colonel Alexei offered his help. He had two business associates in Moscow. They could charter planes. The meat was flown in.

 

And when Alexei wanted his nightclub running, Philip was his man, assisted by bouncers from the local judo club. A nice little earner for the lonely evenings.

 

Then the big gamble. Resign, start a company, borrow money and build two hotels in Astana. A pity it coincided with the crash and Philip was left with $250,000 of debt.

 

But Sandra believed in him. After 2 years working and managing to service his debt, he snapped up a job in Baghdad – building accommodation for 30,000 troops in three months.

 

Complicated security and travel logistics meant the camp was often short of 400 migrant workers for up to eight days.

 

Alexei’s business associates obliged by operating charter flights between Dubai and Baghdad. Changeover gap reduced to 36 hours. Brilliant.

 

In spite of the dangers inherent in this workplace, Philip had paid his debt off in 2 years and finally quit in 2010. After which Sandra got a bite of the cherry and they lived in Dubai while Philip set up companies in Kurdistan.

 

When that got tricky, he closed his company and went home to Barrow.

 

Where he was bored. ‘Write a book about what you’ve done,’ said Sandra. And thus the Jack Castle series was born, all based on a lifetime of experience.

 

Philip Caine makes a sale.

And if publishers turn you down? Become your own publisher and enjoy rejecting those same people who gave you the thumbs down. And tell them you’ve a screenplay in development.

 

What a whirlwind of a life! A terrific talk from a most engaging speaker. U3A Todmorden salutes you, Philip Caine!

 

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, March 21st, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45.

 

We will be welcoming back Maria Glot. Last time we heard her lively, detailed and entertaining take on Titus Salt and Saltaire; this time she will be talking about ‘After Titus’.

                           

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk

(email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

 

February Meeting: from Barrow to Baghdad

The Chair welcomed everyone to the February meeting. We are delighted to announce that the membership of U3A Todmorden has now reached 519 and we hope the recent recruits enjoy their involvement finding many opportunities to make friends and contribute to stimulating discussions in their new learning ventures.

The May 2018 survey results are now on line for members to have a look and are encouraged to click on the link to make comments (by the end of February please.)

Gill asked the members to join her in thanking and congratulating the Publicity team on the huge amount of work and effort this has taken but it does indeed paint a positive picture of U3A Tod with many good suggestions for the committee to consider. A new webmaster to take the place of Alan McDonald has been appointed. Gill welcomed Teresa Paskiewicz as the newest recruit to the Publicity team and thanked Teresa for stepping forward.

A very general over view of the Survey results shows that many members enjoy the monthly meetings and our speakers but then again the bulk of the replies did come from the audience at the May, 10 year celebrations so that isn’t too surprising. Next time we must definitely make sure to encourage those who didn’t attend the meeting to reply too.

In the Special Interest Groups section, Gill is taking on board requests referring to Languages by attending the first Language Conference at Aston University next month and in particular is hoping to find out how these groups can function long term without a leader who has specialist knowledge. It is of course part of our ethos that we share the learning task between us but she particularly wants to know useful tips on how you can actually make progress without an expert to guide and correct you, especially in pronunciation!

It was also amusing to find out how warmly members regard our association by the fruits, furniture and animals chosen to represent us. Gill tempted members to look more closely at the results but gave as examples the following; an animal? A cheetah because it has lots of interesting spots! A piece of furniture? a 3 legged stool because it is stable and a great support and finally a fruit? A pomegranate because there are lots of things inside one skin / lots of seeds with the potential to grow into something fantastic.

The coffee morning for new comers is going to be on Tuesday 9th April, down stairs at Central Methodist from 10.30am to 12 midday. Gill will be in touch with all those who replied showing an interest.

Members were encouraged to consider attending the U3A Summer Schools by The Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Association at Easingwold near York, from 5th-8th August and The North West Region of U3As in Keswick from 28th-31st August. There are lots of interesting courses and friendly people to meet, not to mention one of the perks of living so close to the Yorkshire Lancashire boundary is that we are entitled to attend both!

There were several notices of events with which our members have connections: Alan Fowler, our Social History Convenor and member of Hebden Bridge Local History Society is giving a talk on 13th March at The Methodist Church, Hebden Bridge entitled, ’Remembering Peterloo’. Non members are most welcome, £3 on the door.

Jill Dobson is reminding us of the 4th Hebden Bridge Lecture by the Hebden Bridge Literary & Scientific Society on Saturday 2nd March, 7.30pm at The Town Hall. Richard Morris looks at Yorkshire through the eyes of artists and writers like JMW Turner, Thomas Girtin, Winifred Holtby and JB Priestly, tickets cost £10.

Angela Greenwood is involved with the first Hebden Bridge Annual Film Festival and is inviting members to the launch at Hebden Bridge Town Hall on Friday 8 March at 6.30pm. Printed programmes will be available and passes & tickets will be on sale for the Festival which takes place 22nd to 24th March They can also be bought at both Todmorden & HB Tourist Information Offices & Hebden Bridge Town Hall.

Melvin Coleman told us about The Calder Valley Community Land Trust which is a community benefit society and a charity so certainly not “political”. Their remit is to hold land & buildings for the benefit of the community (eg they own the Fielden Centre) and to provide sustainable and environmentally sound housing which is more affordable for the ordinary folk of the upper valley. The Trust is developing 6 bungalows at Walsden suitable for older folk. They have been working to provide 20 apartments in Hebden, particularly aimed at the 20-34 year age group, many of whom leave the area because of the lack of affordable homes. Sadly the application was very recently rejected so their important work is definitely on going.

The main speaker of the afternoon was Philip Crane who took us on a whirl wind tour of his life from leaving school in Barrow, Cumbria with ‘no formal qualifications’ to Baghdad and back again. Although he started as a chef this developed into Hotel Management in the Uk and Europe, to the management of residential complexes for thousands, to catering for military staff in Iraq, via Moscow the KGB and the Mafia. He reached amazing heights and shattering lows but with the encouragement and support of his wife he not only lived to tell the tale but has written 6 novels about it too with ideas and plans for at least 4 more.

A thorough and entertaining account will be available in the local press, courtesy of Ant Peters and the Chair assures the members who were unable to attend to make sure they look out for it. It will be a riveting read!

ART CLUB

The Art Club have been busy, as Jean Pearson explains below.

We have been inspired by poetry for our current project and some beautiful artwork has been produced.   We have been inspired by poems such as ‘Daffodils’, ‘Matchstick Men’, ‘Wild Geese’, ‘Ode to Autumn’, ‘Ducks’,  ‘Robins Round’, ‘The Curious Hare’, ‘The Birch Tree’, ‘The Scarecrow’, ‘The Englishwoman’, ‘On a fly drinking out of his cup’, ‘9 Circles of Hell’, ‘Billy Goat Gruff’, ‘Anne Hathaway’ and ‘A Shropshire Lad’.

At our next meeting at the Fielden Centre, Todmorden from 11 am -1 pm on Tuesday, 26th February, 2019, we will be discussing our individual choices and sharing our techniques and ideas.

There are just a few places available if you would like to have a taste of what we do – every fortnight.

Every session at Art Club is very special to all of us!!!   I haven’t taken any photographs of our work but I have scanned my painting – watercolours – entitled ‘The Englishwoman’ by Stevie Smith.   ‘This Englishwoman is very refined; She has a flat chest and a flat behind.’   I’ve written a second verse!   ‘These Englishwomen are not refined;   Each has a buxom bosom and a big behind!’.   So I’ve drawn a matchstick woman and some Beryl Cook women.   Hope it gives you a chuckle.

Members’ survey 2018

At the May monthly meeting last year, as part of the 10 year anniversary celebrations of Todmorden U3A, members  were invited to complete a survey/questionnaire about their thoughts on U3A Todmorden. Many questions were straightforward requiring direct answers which would provide useful feedback; other questions were of a more whimsical and humorous nature but again would provide some indication of the current membership mindset. Finally – after much burning of midnight oil, overheating of grey matter, and attention to overworked keyboards, the results of this U3A Todmorden Questionnaire are published as a pdf on the website. Download it here.

We hope you will peruse, and be informed and entertained by its findings. We’d be interested in hearing your comments: please email surveyfeedback@u3atod.org.uk.

Pathways Films – The Stuff of Legend

January 17th, 2019 –a sad day for Calderdale for our speakers, Peter Thornton and Ray Riches, the Powell and Pressburger of the Calder Valley, announced their retirement from film-making.

But not before they had given themselves a very fine send-off and U3A Todmorden a double act worth a guinea a minute.

Peter remarked that they usually got decent audiences because people had heard how many cock-ups they made. By the end of the afternoon, it was clear what they really meant was they were masters of badinage, anecdote and bonhomie.

What more would you expect from men whose walks through, round and over the valleys, hills and moors of  Calderdale, be they rural-urban or urban-rural, habitually begin with a toasted tea-cake and end with a pint?

Since 2000 when they produced their seminal ‘A Walk on t’Cut’ followed the next year by the equally aptly named ‘A Walk on t’Long Cut’, they have made a range of local films.

These have included, randomly, the Brontes, the Mary Towneley Loop, Halifax, the Luddenden Valley, Shibden, and Hebden Bridge.  And, of course, Hardcastle Crags (home of the tongue-twistingly difficult ‘Great Northern Hairy’ – and aggressive – ‘Wood Ant’).

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Their last outing with the camera encompassed Ray’s beloved Heptonstall and Colden in which they highlight empty farmsteads, Barbara Miskin’s pottery, Colden village, Lumb Bank, Dawson City, bellringing and the famous Pace Egg Play – cue Ray’s revival of his role as St George.

Memorable Thornton and Riches lines might include Ray’s remark about taking direction from the camera man on an obscure track on the way to Rishworth: ‘Go through them brambles, he said’. And May’s Aladdin’s Cave in Colden was ‘the smallest supermarket in the world’.

They tried to elicit the secret of black pudding making from a master pudding maker. The reply was a cracker of Lancashire humour: ‘I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.’ (And doubtless that would have resulted in a vintage pud.)

Explaining to a gentleman in Luddenden that they were making a film about the valley, their interlocutor was dumbfounded. ‘Why?’ he said.

All the same, a good question.

Simple answer. If you are making films about then and now, your own films become the then of the future and contribute to the richness of Calderdale’s local history, identity and self-belief. Not much could be more important.

Ray and Peter are two men who have richly filled their days in a land they love. The Valley will, surely, want to congratulate them on and thank them for their valuable, life-enhancing work, and wish them a happy ‘retirement’ from the camera.

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, February 21st, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45.

Our speaker will be Philip Caine whose topic will be ‘From Barrow to Baghdad and Back’.                       

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk(email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

Christmas Music and a Cracking Quiz

U3A Todmorden’s Christmas meeting was well served by local talent.

Dee Ashworth conducted the Todmorden Community Adult Learners Brass Band in a fine medley of tunes.

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This was TCALBB’s first outing. They more than rose to the occasion, belting out ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and rolling through ‘Out and About’, before unleashing the B flat bass on the bass line of ‘Dr Who’.

This was followed  by the lively ‘Hoe-Down’ and the rhythmically mellow ‘Calypso Crazy’ before winding up with ‘Bass Runner’ and ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’.

The concert was fine example of what U3A is all about: ‘inclusion, enjoyment and pursuing interests together’.  Congratulations to all participants, and to the patience and encouragement of their conductor!

 

Those who were inspired can seize the hour and contact Todmorden Community Brass Band to get themselves going. The Five Note Band extends a warm welcome to trainee musicians of all ages.

 

The synergy of the musicians was then translated to impromptu quiz groups who were set fiendish seasonal questions by Myrna Beet of the Quiz Group.

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If you knew who set up the first nativity scene in 1223 and where, or what Kenyans prefer to have for dinner on Christmas day, or what the last line of ‘Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is, then this was the moment for you to shine.

 

Confusion was genially aroused by the question ‘In which Eastern European country do Killantzaroi (goblins) visit homes between Christmas and Epiphany?’

 

The answer is ‘Greece’. But many of us were stuck in the political past, thinking Greece was a ‘Western’ country, when in fact we were being asked about a geographical constant.

 

The final section was based on one of the rounds in ‘Only Connect’ – completing a sequence. Try these!

 

Stop sign, 50p coin, honeycomb and …..?

 

Drummers, Lords, Maids and …..?

 

Thorn, shout, seat and …..?

 

The winners of the quiz were Marion Kershaw, Brenda and Jim Botten, Christine Morton and Emily Watnick, a veteran of the ‘Only Connect’ competitors, The Cosmopolitans.  Fine play from all the team.

 

Gill Radford, Chair of U3A Todmorden, made several announcements, including the pleasing news that four members had volunteered themselves for committee work.

 

Gill also hoped that Todmorden might produce its own Bake Off contestant. Any takers?

 

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, January 17th, 2019  in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45.

 

We will be welcoming the return of Ray Riches and Peter Thornton who will be talking about ‘Pathways and Film Production’.

           

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk

(email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

Teazles and Teazlemen – Robert McMillan in Todmorden

Before November 15th, few members of U3A Tod would have known that a teazle features in crests on the Clothworkers’ Building at Leeds University and in the decorations of Rochdale Town Hall’s council chamber.

And not many of us would have known what a teazle is.

By the end of Robert McMillan’s knowledgeable, detailed and entertaining talk we certainly did.

So, what’s a teazle? First, you must distinguish between the common teazle and the Fuller’s teazle. It’s the latter you need for raising the nap in clothmaking – it’s spikier and hardier.

The next thing is what is a fuller? He was the bloke who trampled newly woven cloth in stale urine to help clean, degrease and thicken the cloth.

After this trampling, the fuller raised the nap on the cloth by hand using teazles mounted on a handle. Then one or more shearmen trimmed the nap for a fine finish.

Later this ‘teasing’ process was mechanized. Specialist workers – ‘setters’ – mounted the teazles onto ‘rods’ that they inserted into a ‘gig’, a spinning drum across which the unteased cloth was passed.

Setters wore leather gloves to stop their hands being ripped to shreds. And indeed, spent teazles were used for the first passing of the cloth: fresh teazles are so sharp they rip new cloth.

By this time, the significance of the teazle to our local history was plain.  But it was also significant to Somerset’s history too. In Somerset, teazles were an 18th and 19th century commercial crop.

Planted by broadcasting, the teazles were harvested in the plant’s second year.

A maker-up then bunched the teazle stems in tens. The bunches were tied onto a stock to produce a ‘stave’. These staves were then transported to Yorkshire where sales were made, for example, in pub yards in Leeds.

Huddersfield Cloth Hall was also a teazle trading centre. John Briggs advertised himself as selling ‘Foreign and English Teazles’ in Huddersfield, Milnes Bridge and Linthwaite.

Nowadays, teazles are still used in woollen cloth manufacture and are imported mostly from Navarre in Spain. They are available from Border Technologies in Cleckheaton.

Robert’s talk goes to show that even the most unexpected subject is interesting when presented with well-organised, knowledgeable enthusiasm. Local museums can expect a flurry of interest from U3A Tod members!

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, December 20th, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45.

This is our Christmas meeting when we will enjoy Myrna Beet’s annual quiz and listen to Brass Band music provided by the Todmorden Community Brass Adult Learners’ Band.

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk(email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

Philosophy Walks

Some say they do their best thinking when walking. Philosophy Group members and friends are putting this notion to the test for the third time on Friday 21 December when they walk from Hebden Bridge along the canal to Tod to finish in The Pub. (Your reporter can feel a Monty Python song coming on.)

These walks are the brainchild of group member Alan McDonald, who is studying for an MA in Philosophy at the University of Manchester and is also a member of Tod Walkers, who don’t usually lead or organise walks directly, but made an exception for philosophical walks as part of the Festival of Ideas.

For each of the first two, Alan successfully inveigled a proper philosopher from the Uni to join us and put us through our paces with a set topic to discuss on the way.

The first took place on the 21 June, the evening of the solstice, a deliberate choice on the part of Alan. The conversations centred on the philosophy of walking and what it means to do things together. We started at the Unitarian Church, went uphill to Longfield Equestrian Centre and Long Hey Lane, then left along the Calderdale Way, returning down through the woods and on to Oldroyd Road to the canal towpath, finishing in The Pub in Brook Street in Tod town centre to continue discussions there.

For our second one, which took place on Saturday 22 September, to coincide with the equinox, the subject was: ‘Nature and the Good Life’.We were joined by practising philosopher Dr Paul Knights, who lives in the Upper Calder Valley, and does postdoctoral research as a British Academy Fellow at the University of Manchester.  Here’s his outline of some things we talked about as we walked, reflected and drank:
What is the good life for a human? What role does nature have in our well-being? How can natural landscapes best be managed to contribute to us living good lives?
During this walk we were invited to reflect on the good life and the role of nature in our well-being. Our walk through the landscape prompted reflection; landscapes such as the South Pennines are increasingly the focus of policy demands to deliver public goods – contributions to societal well-being – in return for the public subsidies received by land managers. In addition to food from livestock farming, natural landscapes will be expected to deliver improved flood mitigation, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and opportunities for recreation. Underpinning this policy shift is the assumption that changes to the way natural landscapes are managed can benefit people – improve their lives – in a range of ways. This will change both the way the landscape looks, and how we relate to it. As we walked through the landscape, we were invited to think about the variety of ways our environment contributes to our well-being, and in doing so engage with that most ancient of philosophical questions: what is it to live a good life?

The linear walk began at the entrance to the Top Brink car park on Lumbutts Road at 10:30 a.m.  We strolled along the ridge and descended eventually to the canal towpath and ended with more philosophical chat in the pub called The Pub (3 Brook St, Tod, OL14 5AJ).

The next walk will be on the equinox, Friday 21 December, this time a walk along the canal from Hebden Bridge, again finishing in The Pub.

November 2018: Chairman’s Report

Chairman Gill Radford and speaker Robert McMillan
Chairman Gill Radford and speaker Robert McMillan

We started our meeting with a very short EGM to confirm Peter Carrigan as Vice Chair of U3A Todmorden.   Peter will continue to be our Speaker Finder so the need for someone to join his team & share the load is more pertinent. On behalf of U3A Todmorden, Committee and members, thank you very much Peter for volunteering to take on this highly significant role, it means our future is safe for a few more years at least.

 More and more of you are hearing about Beacon. It is the name of a new, central computer system and we have successfully completed or almost completed the migration of our administration records to this national system. We have also created some U3A Todmorden e-mail addresses so that Committee members don’t have to use their personal addresses.  We just need you to make sure you continue to receive U3A emails, by adding the new contact information to your address book or safe senders list. Those with email should already have received a message giving you the addresses.

Whilst there are bound to be some teething problems with any new system I am pleased the Committee is managing to adopt and adapt with a general feeling of optimism. When we are confident in our use of it there will be meetings, initially for Convenors of our Special Interest Groups, to instruct how to use the system.

As a consequence, this does mean that Peter Gibson, who not only set up the original administration system but who has been responsible for maintaining and responding to problems as they arose now considers himself redundant. Whilst Peter has made it clear that he does not want thanking, I feel it would be most remiss of us if we didn’t acknowledge all the time, work & effort that Peter has tirelessly committed to this on our behalf.

I would also like to thank the publicity team whose efforts have been recognised by another U3A in Yorkshire due to their leaflet promoting U3a Todmorden being very much admired at an Art Appreciation Meeting recently. Thank you Nick, Ant, John, Alan & Gail for your work in encouraging retired and semi retired people to join us.

I have another thank you this time to one of our newest members. Janet Rawlinson who only joined us in July not only impressed the North West Region Trustee, Gill Russell, with her enthusiasm for U3A but she has volunteered to take on the role of Almoner for us. This means that should members be ill or in need of sympathy, please contact Janet janetkoe@yahoo.com  with the details and we can make sure to send an appropriate card from the membership.

Thank you everyone for pulling together. It means a lot.

Robert McMillan was our speaker this month and gave a most detailed and fascinating talk about Teasels used in the Woollen Industry and The Teaselmen who grew and supplied them. Millions of teasels per year were used in the process of finishing woollen cloth and the proceeds from this business were used to finance the building of many magnificent local buildings such as Todmorden and Rochdale Town Halls. For those who doubt the importance of the (no longer humble) teasel, do look out for the Cloth workers Coat of Arms and emblems carved into University of Leeds Textile Department where the teasel can be seen. Next month’s meeting will take place on 20th December when we will be entertained by  Brass Band music and our traditional Christmas Quiz, courtesy of Myrna and the Quiz Group.

I know not whether Ernie has pinched Alison’s mulled wine recipe for us to taste but no doubt we will have some festive delights to remind us that Christmas by then is almost upon us.

Gill Radford

Rhetoric – Convenient Claptrap for the Conman?

Robert and Susan Cockroft and Gill Radford

Thursday, October 18th saw U3A Todmorden enjoying a talk about rhetoric from Robert Cockcroft, a speaker not unlearned in this dark art.

Robert started by eliciting the audience’s response to rhetoric. We were not positive – groans, and a strong sense that it is used by politicians to pontificate and deceive.

There was no attempt to deny this opinion which Robert illustrated with a Trumpian tweet. On 10th October, the POTUS declared it was FAKE NEWS that 92% of news stories about him on two television channels were negative.

‘Fake news’ is, of course, the phrase that provokes, rhetorically, the response the tweeter wants among his supporters. And that, Robert said, is the purpose of rhetoric: to win people’s support.

Rather than explore all the tropes of rhetoric, Robert concentrated on the style and structure of successful persuasive speaking.

Demosthenes, for example, said that what mattered most for an orator was ‘Delivery, delivery, delivery’ (thus demonstrating his mastery of epizeuxis). ‘Delivery’ involved not only verbal eloquence, but gesture and ‘toga management’.

Aristotle also had a check list for a good speaker: will the audience perceive you as a morally good person, is your speech full of practical wisdom and goodwill, and have you worked out how to raise your audience’s emotions by deploying gesture and sensory imagery?

And make sure you have constructed your argument well so that it will be accepted as reasonable.

Introduce yourself; engage the audience’s goodwill; explain why you feel moved to speak; make it clear what the issue to be considered is, and your position on it; and indicate how your argument will be organised.

Then it is a simple matter of making your case with proofs and taking time to undermine what you anticipate will be the arguments of other speakers. Then conclude.

Robert took pleasure in presenting some local instances of everyday rhetoric. Susan Cockcroft read from a letter Robert’s grandmother, Sarah Gaukroger, had written to his grandfather, firmly putting him in his place.

She assured him that if he thought he could ‘have any woman for the asking [she] would have him remember they don’t all want you that looks at you.’ A cracking put-down.

And John Fielden during the Factory Act debates, was a dab hand at the put-down, too. He concluded one speech with a swipe at the ‘political economists’ who, while happy to see England ‘ “the workshop of the world,” …would not scruple to make her also the slaughter-house of Mammon’.

Robert mentioned that the rhetorician should cultivate the ‘pleasurable attention’ of the audience. Congratulations and thanks to him for living up to his own tenets!

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, November 15th, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45.

Our guest speaker will be Robert McMillan whose subject is ‘Teazels and Teazelmen’.

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), enquiries@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

Written by Anthony Peter.  Photo by Roger Howard

October 2018 meeting: report from the Chair

Robert and Susan Cockroft and Gill Radford

On such a lovely day I’m delighted to announce I have some good news. Last month I encouraged you to consider volunteering to help U3A Todmorden in one way or another, play to your strengths, think about what you enjoy or at the very least, be prepared to admit that there might be a role you could take on to help make sure U3A Tod can continue functioning hopefully towards our 20th anniversary.

I can tell you now that our current Speaker Finder Peter Carrigan has volunteered to take on the role of Vice Chair. I believe the correct terminology is that I give notice to our members that Peter Carrigan will become Vice Chairman of U3A Todmorden and the process states that at the beginning of the November’s Monthly Meeting we will hold a short EGM to confirm his appointment.

Thank you so much Peter this hopefully means, that I am no longer at risk of becoming the last ever Chair of U3A Tod! I do say hopefully because generally speaking the Vice Chair does metamorphose into the Chair…. But not always. My fingers are most definitely crossed that Peter enjoys the experience and will be standing here, in my shoes in 2 years time.

This would mean of course that we need a new Speaker finder to replace Peter, and consequently there is a need to quickly appoint a shadow Speaker Finder to learn the ropes. Indeed we are looking for a few people to shadow the committee and learn how we operate.

We will need a potential Treasurer to shadow and replace Emily Watnick, an Assistant Membership Secretary to support Brenda Botten. I’m toying with the idea of setting up a Special Events group – certainly we need a sub- committee to spend time organising 2019 Christmas’ meeting, maybe a Christmas lunch at a venue large enough to invite more members than the Lunch Club does at the moment, a Convenors lunch, maybe a coffee morning for new members too at some point.

I’d also like to encourage a small team of people to help welcome new members and introduce them to those with similar interests. Certainly we can be a daunting lot when you’re the new face looking for some friendly ones and the membership secretary, with the best will in the world has to busy herself explaining the documents to be filled in to another potential new member.

You will have noticed that Ernie has taken on the job of Refreshments co-ordinator and would like members to indicate which month they are available to set up serve and clear away the tea and coffees. Please do not leave this afternoon without having a word with him.

Certainly we need to tap into our membership to find the next generation of committee members and group leaders. So please, come on down!

Groups Co-ordinator Gail Allaby reports that both the proposed Shakespeare Group and Creative Writing Group 2 will hopefully start in the New Year, when she has managed to secure replacement convenors. In addition members need to know that The Old English Group is now full.

The last task before welcoming Robert Cockcroft was to announce the winner of the Anniversary Survey.  Susan Cockcroft drew John White’s name from the hat and he was presented with a box of Heroes. In John’s words, he can no longer say he never wins anything!

Robert Cockcroft , the speaker this afternoon, gave  his talk, ’What’s wrong with rhetoric’. This proved to be a most enlightening discussion about the persuasive art of discourse with examples from politicians and philanthropists both historical and modern. It was especially interesting to see the presentation and defence of argument in the letters between Robert’s grandparents during their courtship when it was certainly not apparent that their forthcoming marriage would actually take place! I quickly discovered that my own understanding of rhetoric was pretty much limited to the concept of a rhetorical question and will be making time to have a look at Robert and Susan’s book,’ Persuading people, an introduction to rhetoric’.

Please look out for the U3A report written by Ant Peter in the local press and on this website.

Gill Radford

Have Guitar, Will Travel – to the USSR

We were delighted to welcome back Neil Smith to U3A Todmorden on Thursday, September 20th to talk about his adventures with his guitar ‘Beyond the Iron Curtain’ in the 1980s and early 1990s.

These were the days before perestroika and the fall of the Berlin Wall, when Article 58 was still in force.

For an innocent guitar-player abroad, getting along could be difficult, especially for one whose past included working as a rocket scientist in the UK.

He was reminded of this by a very angry – and startlingly well informed – immigration official on entering Russia for the first time.

But Neil began by telling us about the vastness of Russia. It embraces 11 time zones, where temperatures can plummet to -60 in the north, and there are camels and deserts in the south.

Forests are huge, and on one occasion a coach trip Neil had taken got lost in one. The party found themselves seeking directions from an unfriendly rifle-wielding, sword-carrying non-Russian–speaking Inuit reindeer hunter.

An 11,000 km highway stretches across the country from St Petersburg to Vladivostok. And you don’t stay out at night in Siberia, where if you hear gunshots it’s probably just people shooting bears.

In fact everything about Russia struck Neil as extraordinary and vast, including the fact that the country lost 35,000,000 men and women in WW2.

Neil had a few brushes with authority. One involved finding that his visa had expired. His papers were confiscated and then returned. But by then, he was officially a criminal.

And the simple tourist act of taking a photo could easily be met by a ‘Niet photo’, and a demand for the film. The solution to this was to have a stock of cheap Russian film in your pocket, and to offer one pretending it was from the camera.

But not all was bewilderingly unexpected. Neil’s guides were good company and Neil enjoyed the Russian sense of humour.

For example, a man queuing for vodka is so frustrated by the wait, he sets off to kill Gorbachev.

A few hours later he returns to his friend in the vodka queue.

‘Did you kill him?’ asks his friend. ‘No,’ he replies. ‘That queue was even longer.’

And we were entertained also by Neil’s nifty guitar playing which included ‘Dark Eyes’ (a Russian standard), and tunes which we recognised as ‘The Carnival Is Over’ and ‘Those were the Days’ which started life in Russia.

Our thanks to Neil for another amusing and eye-opening afternoon.

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, October 18th, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden.

Our guest speaker will be Robert Cockcroft. On a former visit, Robert talked to us about and read from his poetry collection, ‘Lament for the Mills’. This time he will be considering ‘What’s Wrong with Rhetoric?’

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), enquiries@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).

Report by Anthony Peter

August monthly meeting

Members at the meeting this afternoon enjoyed an informative and amusing talk by David Bell on some aspects of medical treatment in the seventeenth century. David, with a wide variety of visual aids including a blow-up doll dressed as Samuel Pepys, described the diagnostic methods of doctors at this time, and their treatments based on the “doctrine of signatures”, pointing out that in some cases later scientific knowledge had proved these treatments to be helpful. He went on to describe in gruesome detail the operation Pepys underwent for the removal of a bladder stone, an operation which Pepys survived.

David Bell and Samuel Pepys

On a more sombre note, David closed his talk with an account of the heroism of the villagers of Eyam in the Peak District who by putting themselves into quarantine prevented plague spreading. The description of the sufferings of the Mortons, a family who had lived in his own house in Eyam during this period, was particularly poignant.

Gail’s Groups Report was brief, as August was a quiet month with so many members on holiday or grandparenting. There would be an attempt to restart the Shakespeare Studies Group and second Creative Writing Group in the autumn. The Three Valleys Reading Group, convened by Caroline Pindar, was up and running.

Members who wish to receive the monthly mailshots for 2018-19 were asked to pay their £8 to cover the postage.

The Committee asked for ideas for festive items for the December 20th meeting.This has already resulted in three suggestions. If anyone else can recommend a performer/group who would be free to perform on that Thursday afternoon, please send it in to the Secretary.

The U3A national body, the Third Age Trust, is holding its AGM on August 30th, and this event will be live-streamed from 9.30 to 12.30. Should anyone wish to watch the proceedings, they can do so via the U3A YouTube channel, or at https://conference.u3a.org.uk/agm

Finally, apologies for the lack of an email reminder about this month’s meeting. The team are working under strength at the moment and this was one thing which simply slipped my mind.

The meeting on September 20th will feature Neil Smith, guitarist and raconteur, who members may remember from a previous visit. This time he will be telling us about his experiences “Beyond the Iron Curtain.”

Best Wishes,
Marion Kershaw, Secretary (standing in for our Chair Gill Radford, who is on holiday)

Chairman’s report to 2018 AGM (Ernie Rogan’s farewell)

(Chairman’s Annual Report 2017/2018. For the AGM 19 July 2018)

The financial year started with just 500 members and we now stand at 533, with about 100 still to pay their subscriptions. This is a slightly better percentage than last year. We have 41 special interest groups alive and kicking.

The Treasurer Emily Watnick has continued to encourage members to sign up for Gift Aid, which allows us to claim money from HMRC. I would ask all members, who pay tax, to sign this simple form. It will help in the running of U3A Todmorden and also help to retain our subscriptions at the present unchanged level. To date, this financial year, we have reclaimed £424.

As Emily has commented, we are in a very healthy position financially, and hopefully will continue in this manner. I would ask that members, who have not yet done so, pay their now very overdue subscriptions, before the final reminder letters are emailed and posted in the next couple of weeks.

Over the year there have been 3 main projects. Our Accessibility Project was led by Doug Simpson and adopted by the committee. Doug and his team made several proposals, and we accepted the majority. We purchased a connection between our sound system and the loop system in the room to provide better facilities for members. Doug carried out a short survey and of the 20 odd members who wore aids, very few actually used or knew how to use their aids correctly with a loop system.

Keith Coates and his team published the 10 year History of U3A Todmorden. It was a 17 month effort, mainly on Keith’s part, and the committee thank him for his endeavours. Many, many people were involved in this, what turned out to be, mammoth work. Todmorden Town Council, kindly offered a grant towards publication. I was pleased to receive favourable comments from Stephen McNair, son of our founder John.. If you have not read the report, I would encourage you so to do. Copies are available at the back of the room

Preparations for the 3rd project have been ongoing for almost 12 months, and we will start utilising the Beacon System in the autumn. This is a Third Age Trust recommended and backed computer system, which combines financial and membership details. This will, when fully implemented, save time, effort, and lower the blood pressure of the committee members who input such details.

Like an old fashioned compendium of games GDPR, the updated Data Protection, gave the committee hours of endless fun. We discussed, commented, argued about the best form of words, before settling and adopting the paragraphs now on our website.

Our appeals for members to become involved in committee matters have resulted in one member, Brenda, being voted on to the committee. It’s a start. Many committee members have served for 8, 9 even the full 10 years. Eventually, they, like me, will call time and there will have to be replacements. Better to start now, that leave the hand over at an AGM. We don’t have a Vice Chair. The plain fact is that this is an Office of U3A Todmorden. If it is not filled in the next 2 years, then U3A Tod may close. We cannot, in accordance with our Constitution operate without this office.

In the past year we have welcomed the Mayor of Todmorden twice, and the Mayor of Hebden Royd, to our meetings. Also visiting were the Chairs of U3A’s of Clitheroe, Burnley and Longridge. We agreed a reciprocal agreement with U3A in Littleborough and gave advice to U3A Wadsworth as they started up. I have continued to attend cluster meetings with local U3A’s and training sessions with our Regional groups.

A notable afternoon was a training session given by a member of Yorkshire Ambulance, who instructed 20 members in basic First Aid.

As I complete my tenure as Chairman, just like an Oscar ceremony, I must thank many, many people.

Nigel Plant, who has been co opted for his computer skills to carry us through the fog of the aforementioned Beacon System.

Linda Cook, Irene Wilkinson, Anne Lee and John Townend, with whom I have shared many hours planning Let’s Go trips, sunk gallons of coffee and travelled many many miles.

Keith Coates and Jean Pearson for the help and advice they have given to me, as well as the huge amount of hours and effort they contributed to the History booklet.

Nick Littlewood, who produces our posters and heads up the Publicity Group. Nick’s posters receive many compliments from our speakers. Antony Peter, who writes our articles published in Todmorden News. How he turns an hours presentation into an enjoyable few paragraphs is a talent I wish I had.

Marion Kershaw and Anne Foster, our 2 stalwart Secretaries, who have served for the full 10 years, and whose help and guidance has been invaluable.

Dinah Kenworthy, who took on the post of Membership Secretary and beavers away assiduously.

Peter Carrigan, who has introduced a more balanced group of varied speakers. He is probably one of, if not the best Speaker Finder we have had. And I say that through gritted teeth – I did that job for 2 years !

Emily Watncik, who took over from Bill Griffiths, as Treasurer and has brought in her expertise as a previous financial expertise, working for a Charity.

Gail Allaby, who has held down the job of Groups Coordinator, helping new groups set up and liaising with them constantly.

Peter Gibson, with whom I have had many lively discussions-not quite equal to Mrs Merton’s “heated debates”. Peter has held down various posts and been Chairman, Data Controller, Speaker Finder, leader of Walks, Sound expert. Peter, in my mind, embodies all the right attributes: dedication, persistence, enthusiasm; that are required in a Committee member.

Before I hand over to Gill, I want to thank her for her patience in the last 2 years as we have worked together. I hope you enjoy your tenure as much as I have.

Finally, there is one person to whom I am totally indebted. The other member of OUR team. Without her help, support, nudging, confidence in my limited ability, calming influence, reminders and smiling face, I would not have had so much satisfaction; especially during the last 3 months of last year; my beloved Arline.

So members I have great pleasure in introducing your new Chair ; Gill Radford.

Ernie Rogan

Chairman U3A Todmorden 2016/2018.

“I’ll Put My Mind to Anything”

U3A Todmorden heard a cracking talk from Allan Shalks on Thursday, June 21st. Enigmatically titled ‘My Interesting Life’, that’s just what it turned out to be.

Inspired by his grandchildren urging him to write an autobiography, Allan has started his public talks both as a vindication of a life well led and to encourage listeners to believe that one career is simply not enough!

At 10, Allan’s parents were hospitalised for 9 months following a car crash. He was looked after by an aunt in Birmingham before returning to his recovered parents in Leeds. At 14, pretending to be 17, he got a sports paper round with the Yorkshire Post, and sold the Empire News in pubs on Saturday nights.

He moonlighted from school to be in the Harry ‘Sooty’ Corbett show. The truant officer hauled him before his headteacher who set him lines and taught him a valuable lesson: “There is a way to do things in life. You ask first.”

His fulltime working life began when he was apprenticed to a ladies’ hairdresser. Here he learned another valuable lesson. If your boss says clean the basin after using it, and you forget, then you get suspended for a week without pay.

Engaged at 18 and on the verge of marriage, he was left in the lurch after his fiancée’s father told him he wouldn’t be able to keep his daughter in the manner to which she was accustomed.

As things turned out, his reception venue was taken over by his aunt for her daughter’s wedding and there he met the young woman who would become, and still is, his wife.

By 21, Allan had opened his own hairdressing salon and his wife sold perm lotions. On his off days he ran and then bought his uncle’s market pitch in Darlington.

But this was not enough, so in 1970 he went to run Purcell’s Stores in Glossop. In 1983 he moved to Manchester, commuted to Glossop, and sold up in 2001.

Then he got bored and started work again as a deliverer of new cars. He developed the business for his boss raising the delivery rate to 200 in 18 months.

When that went sour, he thought he’d try his luck as an actor, and has appeared as an extra in ‘Cold Feet’, ‘Emmerdale’, Coronation Street’, ‘Doctors’ and many other TV shows.

He has also been a body double for Tom Conti and has enjoyed the company of a make-up girl in bed which led to an explanation of the way sheets are arranged to separate bodies in such scenes.

Allan has recently expanded into deejaying for Salford Radio, teaching at the Jewish Museum in Manchester and until 2014 was a Jewish function co-ordinator at The Pines Hotel in Clayton-le-Woods.

“At different stages of your life you can do different things,” he said – an inspiring witness to the fact that life can begin and begin over and over if you just take your opportunities.

U3A Todmorden’s next meeting will be on Thursday, July 19th, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden. This will be our AGM, and our speaker will be Professor June Andrews of Stirling University, an acknowledged expert on dementia. Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), enquiries@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01706 812015 (phone).

Happy 10th Anniversary, U3A Todmorden!

On Thursday, May 17th, U3A Todmorden met to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its first members’ monthly meeting.

We were honoured by the attendance of Cllr Christine Potter, Mayor of Todmorden, and her consort, and representatives from our U3A cluster groups of Burnley, Clitheroe and Longridge.

Many original members were there, including member 001, Geoff Boswell, erstwhile convenor of the Science and Photography groups, and former Science Advisor for U3A itself.

Our afternoon was a varied one. We enjoyed an excellent quiz organised by Myrna Beet and Denise Wilson, based on our recollections of the last ten years.

Our ‘Senior Moments’ Concert Party (oldest member over 90) gave us a taste of the performances they give in care homes. Their repertoire is heavy on nostalgia, as this goes down well with dementia sufferers.

A survey was handed out to gather data on what U3A means to its Todmorden members, and the Creative Writing group read some of their work inspired by the idea of our 10th anniversary.

Their stories and poems showed how getting older is much more bearable when you laugh, when U3A is easily confused with urethra, and when a family member’s ashes can end up as accidental rose fertiliser.

But the focal point of the afternoon was Keith Coates’ presentation of the publication ‘U3A Todmorden – the First Ten Years – 2008-2018’, compiled by himself with a resilient team.

This glossy publication is packed with our history, embracing our demography, ethnicity, socio-economics, education, membership, organisation, monthly talks, interest groups and the composition of the committee over the years.

Keith’s talk was delivered with his characteristic mixture of seriousness and genial humour.

Respects were paid to John McNair, our first chairman and moving spirit behind the founding of this educational organisation. Keith observed how John had raised an eyebrow at the idea of a lunch club.

John would be pleased to know, therefore, that though we have retained a social element to our activities, he would find it hard to quibble with an organisation that promotes the learning of Anglo-Saxon and Greek, studies the novel, Shakespeare, opera and poetry, embraces science and computing, and stretches the brain with philosophy and world affairs.

Keith observed that it was a curious fact that only 32% of our membership is male. It is of interest too that our membership is increasingly widely spread, embracing folk from Burnley, Rossendale, Littleborough and, remarkably, one person from Wigan.

Equally peculiar is the fact that there are 54 members who pay but are involved in no group activities at all!

Keith highlighted some of our work: the art exhibitions, the annual photography display in the Information Centre and the publication of ‘On the Write Lines’ by the Creative Writing group.

He also remembered fondly a Christmas talk given by Gail Allaby, ‘Queen of the Undersea World’, dressed in full diving gear.

Finally, Cllr Potter was presented with a copy of the booklet, and Ernie Rogan, our Chairman, drew this very happy afternoon to an end by announcing that copies were available free to members on leaving, courtesy of a generous grant from Todmorden town council.

U3A Todmorden’s next meeting will be on Thursday, June 21st, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden. The speaker will be Allan Shalks who will be talking about his interesting life in TV, theatre, radio and films. Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), enquiries@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01706 812015 (phone).