The Probus Club Weston-Super-Mare

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Programme Reports

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The Samaritans

Posted on March 5, 2020 at 8:00 AM

Todays talk was given by two members of the Samaritans.

A very interesting insight to this very worthwhile charity was explained.

This prompted a lively Q & A session.

Many thanks to these persons who will remain anonymous as is all the calls and conversations that take place.

Further details can be found on their website:

WSM Sewerage - The Dark Side - Paul Oaten

Posted on February 20, 2020 at 8:00 AM

Our Member, Paul Oaten gave the presentation talk talk today.

With a career of many years with a local regional Sewerage Company, Paul was able to give a first hand account of this 'Dark Side' of the water industry, especially in Weston Super Mare.

Aided with slides Paul delivered the presentation with facts accompanied with humour.

Travelling back in time to the days when all sewerage was literally 'dumped' in the nearest water course, right up to modern day pipelines and pumping stations, Paul explained all.

The members were left with information on what lies beneath our feet and what NOT to put down the toilet!

The Lost Railways of Somerset - John Montacute

Posted on February 6, 2020 at 8:00 AM

Our speaker for the morning was John Montacute who gave a talk on The Lost Railways of Somerset.


John (who is passionate about this subject) then proceeded to give a thoroughly detailed and interesting talk, accompanied by countless slides of the old railways, their engines and stations, going way back to the 1880's.


He thentook us on a fictional day's journey on the railway, covering numerous stations - way out to the extremities of Somerset and ending back at Weston.

All these were accompanied by numerous photos.

It was interesting to hear that of the 72 stations of the time, only 9 were still open.

Three Talks Meeting

Posted on January 23, 2020 at 8:00 AM

Our first meeting of 2020 had the benefit of three short talks.

Talk One

Anne, from AMS Electrical gave an insight into the family business which is part of a North Somerset initiative called, 'Handyperson Services'.

AMS Electrical help anyone over 60 years old or has a disability and needs help with small repairs or odd jobs around the house.

The service costs only £15.60 an hour.

Full details can be found here:

Talk Two

Our member David gave an account of an interesting story about the children who were 'shipped' abroad during  WW2.

Being able to imagine this story such vividly was down to the way of David's presentation.

CORB (Children's Overseas Reception Board)  was the name given given to this British Government sponsored organisation.

There was an unexpected twist at the end of the story.......

Talk Three

Our member Glynn, assisted by his son, Tom, gave an interesting insight into the local Police, then and now.

Glynn, now retired from the Force, gave his recolections of his time of service. This contrasted greatly with the account that Tom gave as a serving Sergeant.

Streamlining and consolidation, along with the reduction of actual Police numbers, has done very little to enhance what was a great institution.

"Keep up the good work Tom, it is appreciated by the public you serve".

Catching Rogues and Dips at Thiefrow - Andy Lucker

Posted on November 21, 2019 at 8:00 AM

The final meeting of the year today, was celebrated for being number 800.

Our speaker was Andy Lucker, who before retiring, headed up an undercover team at Heathrow Airport to police the area for 'bag snatchers', 'pickpockets', etc.

The presentation started with a BBC documentary film about this team and included some real 'live' arrests.

Andy then took questions from the members and also told a few more interesting tales.

A really interesting and enjoyable talk to end the year.

150 Years of History at Clevedon Pier - Abbie Edbrooke (Ladies Invited)

Posted on November 7, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Today we welcomed the ladies to join us for our meeting.

Abbie Edbrooke gave an enthusiastic talk on Clevedon Pier illustrated with slides, video and sound. She covered the history of the pier from how it came to be built to serve the steamer trade, with Brunel’s redundant broad gauge wrought iron rail section, to being described by poet Betjeman as “the most beautiful pier in England”.

There had been many technical and financial challenges involving false starts, bankruptcy, rework of the pier head to make docking less hazardous, storm damage and the collapse of a main span during safety testing.

This collapse could have been the end of the pier had it not been for the enthusiasm, drive and money raised by volunteers who formed the Preservation Trust.

Money is always needed for the maintenance of this historic structure.

This year is the 150th celebration year with many special events.

Audio Visual Sequences - Brian Fish

Posted on October 17, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Our Speaker today was one of our own members, Brian Fish.

Brian has given presentations to us before, using photographs and images on a range of topics.

Today was no exception, with sets including, East Brent Harvest Home, Weston Sand Sculptures and Flowers.

As always, the quality of the photographs were exceptional and Brian's commentary entertaining.

Thank you Brian.

Charles Dickens - Dr. Keith Hooper

Posted on October 3, 2019 at 8:00 AM

This meeting's speaker was Dr. Keith Hooper who spoke on the life of Charles Dickens.

Commended by his examiners, for his extensive knowledge of Dickens’s work, Keith Hooper was awarded a Doctorate from the University of Exeter in July 2009. Two years later, his first published article appeared in The Dickensian. 

Dr. Keith injected humour & an understanding of the personality of one of our most famous authors.

For most of us, Dickens' novels are somewhat "dry" but Dr John through his insight & understanding of Dickens' underlying personality, was able to offer us an interesting critique of how Charles Dickens created the personalities in his books.

Dr. Keith outlined Dickens' upbringing in Portsmouth & the difficulties that ensured when his father was imprisoned for embezzling the Royal Navy.

Despite no formal education Dickens edited a journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels as well as lecturing & campaigning for many aspects of social reform.

More information about Dr. Keith Hooper can be found:

The History of the Cross Manufacturing Company - Rodney Cross

Posted on September 19, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Rodney Cross was welcomed today who gave a great insight into the 'family' business.

In the Early Days of 1900s, a young Roland Cross, whilst still at school, was appointed Secretary and Treasurer of the Bath Model Aeroplane Club. On leaving school Roland secured an apprenticeship with the Arrol Johnson Motor Works in Dundee.

In the 1910s, Roland joined the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company in Bristol where he designed parts for the Bristol Fighter biplane. After the war he moved to Vickers Aeron to increase his engineering experience.

In the 1920s, the Cross Rotary Valve Engine was invented. Roland designed his innovative rotary valve engine which proved to be superior in power output and torque to the conventional poppet valve equivalent. The first Cross company was set up to develop the concept.

Immensely powerful and widely used Centaurus and Hercules sleeve valve engines suffered from excessive oil consumption. The Cross Sleeve Contracting Ring solved this problem and over 300,000 were eventually manufactured.

In the 1950s, the well-known Cross Wire Thread Insert range was produced in large quantities. Other new products included Spring Washers, Retaining Rings and Circlips.

Eventually, a second factory was opened in Devizes to separate Aerospace and Automotive industry products, as annual turbo ring production climbed to 60 million

Automotive industry activity became more important, beginning with the manufacture of piston rings for Formula One racing cars, followed by high temperature sealing rings for the new breed of turbocharged cars.

In the 1960s, sealing ring manufacturing included four-foot diameter aluminium rings designed for Concorde and seals that were critically important for the performance of the ground-breaking Harrier jump-jet.

Cross is a world leading manufacturer of precision engineered high temperature metallic seals and retaining rings for aircraft engines, gas and steam turbines, vehicle turbochargers, control valves and many other challenging environments.

An extremely interesting insight into this 'local' Company.


Route 66 and All That - David Addis

Posted on September 5, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Today we welcomed David Addis from Long Ashton Probus Club.

David has given a presentation to us before and again didn't disappoint.

The talk was about a trip he and his family made along the famous Route 66 in America.

Although David kept referring to it as an 'educational trip' for his children, it is certain that whole family found it 'educational!'.

The journey took 21 days with many stop off points along the way. These were elaborated on by way of a slide show and included many fascinating and comical stories.

David was thanked in the usual manner by the members.