Saturday 11th April 2015 Mr Geoff Ellis presents "Egypt, Then and Now"

I am lucky that I have traveled to Egypt, to Nile & Cairo several times and with Geoff Ellis's enthusiasm and descriptive narrative, together with his slide presentation, it made my own memories of this country seem more vivid than ever. It  was a tour that he had done several years ago but as he said not so much has changed of the ancient Egyptian world that is still there in abundance to see but as he explained about the culture and how the egypt that we see today came out of the past that is still very much in evidence today everywhere you look. He explained about the importance of the river Nile, from its source, to Cairo and onto the Mediterranean Sea. He told us about the people and with his dry sense of humour, he told us many anecdotes, which made us laugh. This was a great talk by a lovely man, who has spoken to the Lecture Society before and who would be welcomed back anytime.


Saturday 28th March 2015, Talk by Mr John Cornell, "Leonardo"

We think of Leonardo da Vinci as just a painter, sculpture, inventor but as Mr John Cornell revealed to us with a series of projected illustrations and commentary, "Leonardo" was so much more, architect, scientist, biologist, musician, mathematician, engineer, Doctor, the list is endless: a genius, an "Italian Polymath", an expert in a significant number of different subjects. He achieved so much at such an early age, he was apprenticed at the age of fourteen and was a qualified Guild of Artists and Doctor of Medicine by the age of twenty. Born in Florence in April 1452 and dying in Amboise in France in 1519 we were guided swiftly and easily through a period of history that produced so much in the way of art, architecture, medicine and so much more. Leonardo's notes written in mirror image were themselves an art form. As stated Leonardo's scope and depth of interests were without precedent in recorded history. This was a fascinating talk which I am glad I was able to attend; I came away with a better understanding of who "Leonardo" was, thanks to John.

Saturday 14th March 2015 was "National Service in the Far East" by Mr Don McLay

Don McLay spoke about his experiences of his national service in the Far East, it was very personal. he had gone out there to be a teacher in the Education Corps, and from the talk's title you would have thought that it would be about the Soldiers he taught and maybe the difficulties he encountered: but instead it was about a journey (from boy to man). Going out there by boat took 12 weeks, he gives an evocative description of life on board including the hierarchy and the dances. Once out there he tells of the different places he was posted and the sights he saw, the local People and the families he met. As I said before it was a truly personal account of a young man's adventures far away from home , using his leave time to the fullest and taking advantage of every moment given to him. I think he was remarkable young man. When he spoke to us you could see the memories flooding back, his eyes reliving moments, perhaps forgotten. Don is a softly spoken man, easy to listen to with his Scottish lilt, it was a memorable evening, with lots of laughs and lots of vivid information about a time gone bye.

Saturday 28th February 2015 slide presentation by Gordon G. Bartley ARPS, “The Garden of England, (and Gateway to Europe)”

Following a re-scheduling of talks, the spring season started with an illustrated by Mr Gordon Bartley. His presentation of “wonderful photography” was accompanied with a flowing descriptive commentary with the right balance of facts and personal anecdotes that prevented it from becoming a form of tourist guide. All of his audience appreciated the narrative – most of us may flash through the county on Eurostar or the droning motorway on our way to and from a channel crossing but we miss so much in doing so.
Instead, talking for just over an hour but it didn’t feel that long; Gordon took us on a more leisurely route predominately along the coastline with a brief foray into the quaint Sussex town of Rye.
There was something to interest us all, stunning scenes, green landscapes, old buildings, history, culture and transport.
As Gordon said this was the first time he had given this talk, it didn’t show, and he may add in more on “England’s garden” in future but no one in his audience felt short changed.

Saturday 22nd November 2014 "On Her Majesty's Service" by Canon Alison Woodhouse

It was appropriate that our last talk of the season before Christmas was by Canon Alison Woodhouse, after having been ordained in1954 and serving as a Priest for over 30 years; and even after her Father had said to her very early on when she chose her vocation that she would become a Vicar’s dogsbody, she was appointed a Queen’s Chaplain at the age of sixty two.
In 2005 her name had been put forward and when a vacancy arose she didn’t hesitate to accept the appointment for which she felt “very honoured”. She was at that time only one of six female Chaplains out of a total of thirty six Chaplains based at St James’s Palace.
She showed us her handmade and made to measure scarlet cassock, a much grander change to her usual black one. She has
preached several sermons in the chapel at St James’s Palace, which she described in much detail together with a short history of the palace. She told us about the formalities of the services and although she has not given a sermon to the Queen, she has done to several members of the Royal household.
We were shown the Queen’s Warrant and Badge of Office she has been given; and as a Queen’s Chaplain she has to her delight attended Garden parties at Buckingham Palace.
It was a pleasure to listen to this lovely Lady, she has achieved so much and this honour was well deserved, I am sure her Father and Mother would have been very proud.

Air Traffic Controller, Mrs Carol Cairns navigated us through her talk on Saturday 8th November 2014

This talk was quite different in that we were all invited to look at a chart of the North of England, find points of interest, looks for lines of latitude & longitude, and see corridors were planes can go, all this in just 1 hour ! Carol’s enthusiasm for her job as Air Traffic Controller at Woodvale Aerodrome certainly shone through, giving us a quick lesson in navigation, and a few helpful hints and tips about the world using her unusual upside down globe, we soon began to understand a little of what she does on a day to day basis. Giving it a more personal feel with regards to Southport by telling us about the history of Woodvale, how it is becoming once again an important aerodrome for the RAF because of the reservist unit based there, and telling us some great anecdotes of behind the scenes at the base including how to use a Police helicopter (sadly no longer based there) to clear the cut grass off the runway. It was another interesting and fun evening, with quite a few of us leaving with chart in hand !

Saturday 25th October 2014 talk by Mr Keith Hick “The Bluebird K7 Story

Mr Keith Hick has spoken several times to the Southport Lecture Society and once again he did not disappoint, he imparted his knowledge of this subject on technical, historical and personal levels. He began with the history of land and water speed records starting back in the 1920s & 1930s, how these records were broken time and time again. 
Giving us some technical data as he went along, with great images and clear information (his use of a good projector was very professional but as he explained he had used projectors to good effect during his own working career), he explained how some of these record breakers switched from land to water in their endeavours to become the fastest. They used the latest technology available in each decade and pushed the limits of this technology and physics even when others thought it wasn’t possible. It did as someone stated awaken long forgotten memories of what had been achieved.
Donald Campbell was a boyhood hero, and the moment of his untimely death was to have quite a lifelong effect on Keith. He has followed the K7 project very closely and become personally involved, from the raising of the Bluebird from the bed of Lake Coniston, the endeavours to recover Donald Campbell’s body so he could be laid to rest properly and the restoration project (see further information about the restoration at ).
Keith has produced some incredible art work which he brought in for us to see, the originals are on display at the moment at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston until Spring 2015 ( From these original paintings, prints are available and all proceeds from their sales go towards the restoration project.
Another great evening with Mr Keith Hick with everyone thoroughly enjoying this informative and very personal talk – it is highly recommended.

Review of Mrs Jean Taylor’s talk on 11th October 2014, “London Ambassador”

On Saturday 11th October 2014 Mrs Jean Taylor talked to the Southport Lecture Society about how she started the long journey and had finally become a London Ambassador. Considering she spoke to us when still recovering from a foot operation and was on crutches, I think this gave you an insight into her character, of someone who keeps going no matter what and who has a great sense of humour!
It was an awe inspiring talk, I don't think there was any one of us who quite realised what she had gone through to get a voluntary position! From being in Trafalgar Square on the day it was announced that London had won the Olympic bid and being approached by a stranger with an application form that she hurriedly stuffed in her bag, she became part of a group of people 32,000 strong to be whittled down to just 8,000 over a 4 year period. Every Friday she would have to log on to her computer and answer a series of questions; to be able to give that amount of effort and commitment on a weekly basis for so long would (as it did), become too much for most of us.
Even this was not the end of the application process, there were interviews, training sessions, and more interviews with the likes of Arsene Wenger, Boris Johnson, Lord Coe; quite an amazing process to have to go through and she did it !
She became a London Ambassador and evocatively described her experience of a lifetime at the London 2012 Olympics.
She delivered the talk in a quiet and calm manner and this has obviously stood her in good stead in this role, she deserves all the accolades she has received and more.
Mrs Taylor has continued to be a London Ambassador to this day, but even that task has not been easy, with more interviews and tests of knowledge and having to be on your best behaviour at all times !

Review of Mr John E Cotterall’s talk on 25th September 2014, “Liverpool, the River City”

Mr John E Cotterall again opened the new season for the Society, a good number of members and visitors were in attendance, and once again they were not let down.
We were provided with a lively, very entertaining and informative talk about the history of Liverpool from its beginnings to how it became one of the world’s biggest ports, its importance in world history and of its people and their unique accent; all illustrated by music, some of which you know, some that you have forgotten and some that you’ve never heard before! And when part of the audience was singing along audibly, you knew that their imagination had been captured by this gentleman who has his own style of presentation and a unique voice so easy to listen to.
He also talked about the number of new residential areas of Liverpool which had to be created after the 2nd World War and  built during the late 50’s, 60s and 70s, Kirkby, Skelmersdale, Cantril Farm (now rebranded as Stockbridge Village) and Formby, and the problems that these people have had to go through in starting their lives in new areas without some of the amenities that they had been used to, even though they now might have an inside toilet.
It did give you lots to think about and as ever though another very enjoyable evening for everyone.
PS: It was lovely to hear that Mr Cotterall, as a Lay Preacher, had been asked to do a reading at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral that afternoon, you could tell from his enthusiasm that it was something very special for him.

"How Art Deco helped shape the 20th Century", Saturday 12th April 2014

In his second presentation in this season’s programme, Keith Hick opened with an explanation of what shaped the arts decoratif period, as we learnt the abbreviation to “art deco” came into being retrospectively in the 1950’s.
Comprehensive but never heavy or too detailed, Keith covered the many areas where its movement influenced design, fashion, transport, arts, architecture and more, there was something to captivate everyone in the audience.
Keith gives illustrated talks with succinct explanation of slides that themselves support and depict what he is saying, delivered in an easy, seemingly effortless style. With his subject matter knowledge he can break off at any point, and was unfazed when we lost electricity for a few minutes, keeping his audience engaged.
And as with his previous talk which was local in its nature, Keith used his own photographs of Southport scenes to illustrate the relevance, impact and traces in our town from the nowadays overlooked magnificence of the Garrick Theatre, to the landmark properties of Hillside and Waterloo Road.
Alan Fantom  21/04/2014

"See the World for a Shilling", Saturday29th March 2014

Once again John and Helen Cornell with their easy manner, knowledge and humour made for a great talk on a subject that I didn't think could raise so many issues and interesting facts, from the sheer numbers that attended the Exhibition, and the people from all walks of life who went to it and the number of schemes towns and villages ran to get people there, our Victorian ancestors were quiet amazing


“Iceland – Land of Ice & Fire”, Saturday 15th March 2014 

It was an excellent presentation with stunning photographs given by Mr Gordon G. Bartley ARPS on Saturday 15th March 2014.
Everybody found it easy to follow in his footsteps to a country that many people will never visit but with his knowledge, fluent description, and the materials used it gave us a real insight into the country of Iceland.
Mr Bartley certainly seemed to inspire everyone, and created a great atmosphere with many people asking if he would be returning to give us another talk.


Review of “Railway Recollections of Southport” Saturday 1st March 2014

It was my first visit to the society yesterday and I was most interested in hearing what Keith Hick had to say.  His encyclopedic knowledge of local railway history, coupled with a good-humoured and very well organised presentation made for a very enjoyable evening.
I found the evening quite upbeat and well worth supporting.  The mix of warm welcome, local relevance and fond nostalgia was reassuringly far from the severe scolding I might have expected from the 'Southport Lecture Society'!

By Mr Peter Dearden  02/03/2014

Saturday 23rd November 2013 was the last talk for the Society’s autumn programme2013.

An unusual and expansive subject to cover in just over an hour but Mr Don McLay managed to give us an insight into what comprises of the many “Aspects of the Paranormal”, from exorcism to poltergeists, retrocognition to dousing, to spiritualism, and even aspects which many of us had never heard of.
The speaker gave examples of events that had taken place, and made reference to experiments and research from times past until the present day. He quoted from various publications, including ones from ‘The Society for Psychical Research’ which was formed in 1882.
Mr Don McLay has a quiet manner but when speaking he is clear and seeks to involve his audience, he asked us have an open mind and to consider the evidence he would point us to, with his sense of humour it made for an interesting but light hearted evening .


Exploration of Material Science was our talk on Saturday 9th November 2013

The speaker, Don Carran set an ambitious objective to give his audience an appreciation of the chemistry and science behind the development of the products and materials that our lives very much rely on today from bottles to self-cleaning windows.
His personable style quickly belied his introduction as a boffin and engaged those present, with questions starting from his second slide. Whether he regretted his invitation to question ‘as we go’ was not apparent as he answered in as simple and descriptive manner as he could, while trying not ‘to be too technical’. As an aside he even gave an amusing argument against the received wisdom that plastic bags are environmentally unfriendly. 
He acquitted himself well and all, including the least scientifically-minded enjoyed and got something from the talk. Like me, many will not remember the chemistry but now appreciate just how much goes into the development of synthetic materials and their useful applications; plastic is not just plastic, there are up to 8 layers of different materials in a crisp packet and there is so much to look forward to such as washing machines using plastic balls in place of water and detergent.
As a footnote, it was good to see a number of non-members who attended on this occasion because this was a subject that interested them, which to use a science term, is very much the ‘first principles’ of Southport Lecture Society

By Alan Fantom

'Theatre Tours and Landladies'
Southport Lecture Society held their third meeting of the season at the Friends Meeting House, Court Road Southport on Saturday 26th October.
The talk given by Marianne Welsh former West End Theatre Performer was both humorous and informative, we heard her recall some of her many fascinating encounters with Landladies, touring around the country from Aberdeen to Brighton and all points in between, and the house of dolls tale had us all on the edge of our seats.
 We were all enthralled by her talk.  One of her most famous roles was playing Sandy in the original London production of the musical Grease opposite Richard Gere who played Danny. We were also regaled with tales from the shows, Hair, Elvis & Buddy.
Considering it was such a cold wet evening we had a full house of both members and visitors who were all wowed by Marianne’s talk.
By Mary & Haydn Roberts

Review on the talk given by Mr Robin Williams on 12th October 2013 entitled “The Sack & Bag Trade of Liverpool”,
This review was written by a longstanding member of Southport Lecture Society.

“Mr Robin Williams gave an eye-opening presentation about the sack and bag trade of Liverpool.
It was surprising to hear that there were several factories which not only made new hessian sacks, but also cleaned and repaired old ones, using special sewing machines fitted with enormous needles. If the sacks were too badly damaged, they were cut up for patches to be sewn on to others, truly, “make do and mend”!
Just like a magician, the Speaker produced from a large bag, sack after sack, all different sizes and made for different purposes. We were reminded of the old grocery shops where sugar was stored in sacks and dispensed to the public in strong blue paper bags.
Later sacks were made from cotton, paper and plastic including huge ones to hang in the shipping containers. These bags cut out much waste.
Today, when jute shopping bags are all the fashion, it’s good to remember their very interesting history.”

Commentary on ‘Victoriana’, a talk given by Mr John Cotterall

The 2013/14 season of the Southport Lecture Society kicked off on 28th September with a talk entitled ‘Victoriana’, presented by Mr John Cotterall.  ‘Victoriana’ is defined in the Penguin English dictionary as ‘articles, especially ornaments, from the Victorian period’ so those who attended the lecture hoping to hear about 1800’s knick-knacks, furniture and coal scuttles were bound to be disappointed, although at the beginning of his talk Mr Cotterall did make reference to the overstuffed and cluttered parlours which typified Victorian houses.
The substance of Mr Cotterall’s talk was the Victorian period in general and the manner in which he set about such a wide ranging subject more than compensated for the lack of any detailed reference to the physical items the Victorians had in their homes. Early on he made the remark that people often consider the Victorian period as dull and stuffy but the truth was far from that, as he then sought to explain.  Some of the topics he covered included Queen Victoria and the Royal Family, politicians of the day, engineers and inventors and writers and poets (from whom he quoted from time to time) and living conditions. It was interesting to note, for example, that initially in the shops goods were not priced as they are today but rather the shopkeeper asked the price which he judged his customer could afford based upon their clothing and demeanour etc. To whet our local appetite Mr Cotterall also made reference to Southport burgeoning as a seaside resort, the opening of the Liverpool to Southport railway and to Preston being the birthplace of teetotalism.
After about half an hour there was a break of about fifteen minutes so that people could have tea or coffee and a biscuit, after which the speaker continued for another half hour.  On past occasions tea and biscuits have been served at the end of the lecture so this was a change in tradition but one which worked and which hopefully will be continued in future lectures.
Mr Cotterall’s talk was interspersed with snatches of Gilbert and Sullivan and some humorous asides which highlighted particular points he was referring to. His talk was a good example of the talks which are given at SLS. They are presented by people who have a passionate interest in the subject matter and enjoy passing on their knowledge to other people in an informative and entertaining manner. It made for an interesting evening.

By John Saville

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