Blackwell House (Let’s Go)

43 members of U3A Todmorden Let’s Go group recently travelled to the Lake District to visit one of Britain’s finest Arts & Crafts houses, Blackwell House. The house was designed and built by the architect M H Baillie Scott as a holiday home for the Manchester brewery owner, Sir Edward Holt and his family. With cosy inglenook fireplaces and inviting window seats offering stunning views over Lake Windermere, the rooms contain furniture and objects by many of the leading Arts & Crafts designers and studios. When we visited they were displaying an exhibition of Moorcroft pottery.


The group then travelled to nearby Bowness where some members took advantage of a boat trip on the lake while others meandered around the cafes and shops.


Report by Linda Cook

Wedgewood Pottery visit

P1020994At their March meeting u3a Todmorden members heard a fascinating presentation about the life and work of Charles Darwin, who married his cousin Emma Wedgewood, so it was coincidental that 51 members of the “let’s go” group visited the Wedgewood pottery factory and museum recently.




Greeted by yet another sunny day, members enjoyed tea in the excellent restaurant before exploring the large museum and learning of the history of the company. Examples of the fine craftmanship were on display.




There followed a guided tour of part of the factory where members watched as experts made and hand finished the famous products. Watching gold paint applied, by very steady hands, to finest porcelain was fascinating. No imperfect products are allowed to leave the factory so, at final inspection, items can be rejected and destroyed;some to the value of several thousand pounds. There was an opportunity to purchase china and pottery from the Wedgewood outlet.


 Report by Ernie Rogan







Report by Ernie Rogan

Sanctuary from the trenches

dunham massey 015bDunham Massey, a National Trust property, was converted in 1917 as an auxiliary hospital and over 280 members of the armed forces received treatment there. 50 members of u3a Todmorden’s let’s go group visited the hall recently and were transported back to the days of ww1.


A re-creation of the hospital has been made from the archives. Rooms have been transformed into hospital wards and the stories of real people are revealed. Actors are around to add authenticity; some showing disturbing signs of shell shock , others the effects of amputation. The recorded voice of Lady Jane Grey describes her part in surgery on the brain of a wounded serviceman: she held a torch, while the surgeon worked.


By today’s standards, equipment and treatment was antiquated. However, the care of the nursing staff was apparent ; “eventually when they were clean and in bed, all they wanted was a cup of tea and a cigarette: they come in dead tired, the chief thing they need are bed and food.”


This proved to be an emotional day for all; medical notes and letters home were available to be read.


Report by Ernie Rogan

John Rylands’ eyes

John Rylands Library in Manchester
John Rylands Library in Manchester

Rain and hailstones greeted 43 members of u3a Todmorden’s let’s go group on their walking tour of Manchester recently. Members had an introductory talk in the Old Pump House engine room of the Peoples History Museum, in the Spinningfields district of Central Manchester.

Led by two blue badged guides, the groups then moved on to the John Rylands library and were shown fragments of an early copy of the Bible and the eyes of the John Rylands, a shy cotton millionaire, left for scientific research. One of the guides commented that, in her opinion, everyone should spend a day in this magnificent building, with its thousands of books.

The tour ended at the town hall, where the group were told that Queen Victoria declined to attend the opening of the building. Apparently the then mayor Abel Heywood had too radical a past for her. Still his name lives on: the town hall’s bell, inscribed AH, is the Great Abel!


Lets Go Group at the Midland Hotel, Morecamb
Lets Go Group at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe

U3a Todmorden’s Let’s Go group visited the historic county town of Lancaster last month (November 2013). 52 members wandered the ancient streets, museums and the castle, formerly a prison. The Grade 1 listed building dominates the town and dates back almost a thousand years.


After lunch the group moved on to the restored Midland Hotel in Morecambe. They all enjoyed a comprehensive guided tour of the art deco Grade 2 listed building.

Lets go group in the Foyer at the Midland
Lets go group in the Foyer at the Midland

The present hotel opened in 1933 and Eric Gill was responsible for much of the interior decorations.The hotel was used as a hospital during the second world war. Forced to close in 1998, the hotel reopened, after refurbishment in 2008.


U3a members enjoyed an afternoon cream tea, while overlooking the magnificent Morecambe Bay.


The next U3a let’s go trip will be a guided walking tour of Manchester City Centre in January 2014.



Another day of fine weather greeted 48 u3a Todmorden ‘Let’s Go’ members on their trip to Levens Hall…It’s the finest Elizabethan house in Cumbria

letsgo_levens_hallAnother day of fine weather greeted 48 u3a Todmorden ‘Let’s Go’ members on their trip to Levens Hall in Cumbria. The hall, home of the Bagot family, contains the world famous topiary gardens. Land was given to the original owner, Norman Yeland, for fishing and hunting in 1170. Building started about 1250 and the house was enlarged and improved around 1570 when the wealthy landowning Bellingham family took over.

It’s the finest Elizabethan house in Cumbria, and as well as its oak-panelling, it’s also well-known for the Cordova leather wall coverings and the collection of early furniture and paintings. Sadly, though, none of the u3a members saw any of the three ghosts reputed to haunt the hall.

Members wandered around the fascinating gardens, planted originally in the late 17th century, and were able to watch some of the topiary being carefully trimmed. The group then travelled on to the market town of Kendal.

The next trip will be to Lancaster and the refurbished Midland Hotel in Morecambe, in late November.


report by Ernie Rogan / photo by Philip Willis


In September 2013 the Let’s Go group enjoyed a day with East Lancs Railway. 54 members boarded a steam hauled train from Rawtenstall to Bury.

Let's Go Bury 0913In September 2013 the Let’s Go group enjoyed a day with East Lancs Railway. 54 members boarded a steam hauled train from Rawtenstall to Bury. They were served refreshments by volunteer members of the East Lancs Railway. a guided tour of the Transport Museum followed, with u3a members then dispersing for lunches and a visit to the very busy Bury market, where many kilos of the world famous black puddings were purchased.

On the steam hauled return journey members were treated to an impromptu talk about the running of a volunteer railway and learned about how a steam train produces electricity, the differences between air and vacuum brakes, and how some carriages can only be married up to steam or diesel locomotives.

photograph by philip willis | report by ernie rogan