The Probus Club Weston-Super-Mare

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Programme Reports

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What's Happening at Worlebury Hillfort - William Fraher

Posted on March 21, 2019 at 1:00 PM

William Fraher, Chairman of  The Worlebury Hill Fort Group, said the monument is of international importance and must be preserved for future generations

Worlebury Hill fort, which is thought to have been created as a form of defence 700 years before the Romans arrived on British shores, is described as an ‘outstanding’ example of its type.

However, vandals moved parts of the structure, which is in Weston Woods, and Historic English re-registered it from being in a ‘vulnerable’ condition to ‘at risk’.

The Worlebury Hill Fort Group stepped in to save it and criticised North Somerset Council for not doing enough to remove the trees which are destroying the fort.

The council needed to install clearer signs to deter people from moving anything of archeological importance.

With the support of the Hill Fort Group, the council is planning to apply for funding to secure the fort’s future. If successful, the first grant for around £10,000 will pay for surveys to be carried out to assess what needs to be done.

It is expected the council may then bid for £200,000 to carry out works around the site.

Historic England says it is an ‘outstanding example’ of its type as so few of these forts were created along the coast.

Since the change in status, Historic England and the volunteer Worlebury Hill Fort Group have been trying to raise the profile of the site in the hope it will protect if from further vandalism in the future.

Scheduled monuments such as the hill fort are protected by law which make it an offence to damage, remove, or alter any part of it without consent.

North Somerset Council, which owns the structure, is working with Historic England to protect it and has cleared away some of the trees which were damaging the stones.

A very interesting talk today about a topic that is right on our doorstep!


https://www.westoncivicsociety.org.uk/the-hillfort


The Bloodhound Project - Martin Evans

Posted on March 8, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Our Members were delighted to be able to welcome Bloodhound SSC Ambassador – Martin Evans

Martin covered the whole range of topics that make up the exciting history of the World Land Speed Record. We learnt that the land speed record (LSR) is the speed over a course of a measured mile, averaged over two runs. Two runs are required in opposite directions within one hour, and a new record must exceed the previous one by at least one percent to be validated

Martin explained that the journey began December 18th 1898, when Frenchman Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat reached an astonishing 39.24 mph driving a Jeantaud Duc electric powered car.

Martin took us through many of the interesting record attempts, including the controversy that arose in 1963, when the ‘Spirit of America’ was not recognised due to it being a three-wheeler!

The main thrust of Martin’s presentation was of course the current attempt to reach 1000 mph in Bloodhound. We enjoyed learning about the engineering challenges that face the team, the interaction with Schools and Universities which clearly enthuses and encourages our next generation of Engineers.

Martin referred to the tremendous commitment and hard work of Richard Nobel OBE. Richard was himself the driver and holder of the land speed record (633 mph) between 1983 and 1997 in Thrust 2 (a rocket propelled car).

Richard Noble was also the Project Director for Thrust SSC the vehicle that holds the current record of 763mph. He is now the ‘driving’ force behind the Bloodhound SSC project.

We had a cockpit view of practice runs in Bloodhound’s predecessor – Thrust SSC, driven by Wing Commander Andy Green in 1997 at Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Andy Green will also be the driver for the attempt on the record in the Bloodhound SSC at 1000 mph

However, Bloodhound Project Ltd went into administration in October 2018 due to lack of funds to maintain the project's monthly overheads. By early December, it was announced that the project was facing immediate closure and plans were put in place by the Administrators to sell off the remaining assets including the car for scrap value.

Following this announcement, a series of very fortunate circumstances led to the purchase of the assets and intellectual property by an Engineering enthusiast. A new company was formed called Grafton LSR Ltd which is the new legal owner of Bloodhound.

Since this date, the new owner has been busy working behind the scenes with a core team to work out if its possible to save the land speed record project with new sponsors and partners.


http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/

Scam Workshop - Mike Keig

Posted on February 21, 2019 at 1:00 PM

A slightly different presentation today regarding subject matter, but nontheless very appropriate in this day and age of the 'internet'.

Mike Keig gave an enlightening talk and although many members were aware of scams, it was great to have the consequencies reinforced.

The talk included slides and video clips and with the ability to ask questions along the way, this provided a very much 'workshop' feel.

Some members offered first hand experiences as well.

Being reminded to be aware and cautious was the name of the game.

The members showed their appreciation in the usual manner.


https://www.homeinstead.co.uk/weston-super-mare



Aviation Comes to Bristol - Arthur Spencer

Posted on February 7, 2019 at 1:00 PM

We welcomed back yet again, Arthur, who has given such enthraling talks to us in the past.

Today, Arthur told the story, as per the title, of how the aviation industry developed in the Bristol region.

A lot of research had gone into this talk and we were thankful on being enlightened on the subject.

Thank you Arthur, no doubt we will see you again........................ 

Three Short Talks - Members

Posted on January 24, 2019 at 8:35 AM

Our first meeting of 2019 kicked off with, as the title suggests, 'Three Short Talks'.

The idea for such a meeting was hatched by one of our long serving members , initially as an insurance topic in case the weather was so bad, that the arranged speaker could not make the venue.

As it turned out, it was quite a glorious morning today although a bit on the 'chilly' side. 

Now that our insurance has been used, we hope that the weather does not turn for the worst for future meetings!

The three talks were: Life as a wife of an army recruit, A whistle stop tour of Bristol museums and a short demonstration on First Aid resucitation.

Thanks to the participants including Ruth and Resusci Annie!

The Day the Guns Stopped - Garry Gowans

Posted on November 15, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Our last meeting of 2018 was fittingly, a talk revolving around Armistice Day.

However, a different slant on this historic day was presented by Garry who illustrated the topic with a slide show.

Garry explained that the mortal statistics around this historic day were indeed higher than the average day throught the war.

Men were needlessly lost due to the arrogance of their Command, just to make the Generals 'look good' in gaining an extra piece of land.

He also explained that the date on which many had died was recorded as a day earlier on the 10th November.

A very interesting talk and thank you Garry.

Maybe the title of the talk should have been, 'The Day the Guns Should Have Stopped'.

The Day the Guns Stopped - Garry Gowans

Posted on November 15, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Our last meeting of 2018 was fittingly, a talk revolving around Armistice Day.

However, a different slant on this historic day was presented by Garry who illustrated the topic with a slide show.

Garry explained that the mortal statistics around this historic day were indeed higher than the average day throught the war.

Men were needlessly lost due to the arrogance of their Command, just to make the Generals 'look good' in gaining an extra piece of land.

He also explained that the date on which many had died was recorded as a day earlier on the 10th November.

A very interesting talk and thank you Garry.

Maybe the title of the talk should have been, 'The Day the Guns Should Have Stopped'.

Birnbeck Pier, History & Future - Peter Lander

Posted on November 1, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Today, we welcomed 'the ladies' to join us.

Peter Lander, gave a talk about “The History of Birnbeck Pier and work of the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust”

A former welder, Peter moved from his home in Derbyshire to Weston-super Mare after taking early retirement, and is now the Trust’s archivist. As well as looking at the recorded history Peter will be talking about his work recording people’s memories of the Pier, researching their stories and gathering memorabilia. They now have a collection of personal photographs, which are used in the presentation.

Taken from the Birnbeck Pier Regeneration Trust’s website: www.birnbeckregenerationtrust.org.uk

“Birnbeck Pier, known locally as the Old Pier, stands on the North Somerset coastline at Weston-super-Mare. Built between 1864 and 1867, it is a unique structure, being the only British seaside pier that links the mainland to an island. Over its lifetime it has enjoyed mixed fortunes. In its heyday, it was the Victorian and then Edwardian equivalent of a modern theme-park, with tourist attractions such as a water slide and fairground rides. It was a major transportation link, with scheduled steam ship services arriving from and departing to destinations including Cardiff, Minehead, Ilfracombe and Lundy Island. The last of these sailings, by the MV Balmoral, took place in 1979. Since then, the pier has suffered a slow and steady decline in both popular attraction as well as in its general condition.

The Trust has long campaigned for a revival of the entire Birnbeck area. Since 2004, it has actively worked towards achieving its stated aim of reserving for the benefit of the people of Weston-super-Mare, and the Nation, the natural, historical, architectural and constructional heritage of Birnbeck Pier and Island, together with associated buildings and structures, and the land and buildings adjacent and above the shoreline.”

A well received talk from Peter, which updated everyone on not only the past but the future of Birnbeck Pier.

Life & Times in a Polaris Submarine - Mike Bravery

Posted on October 18, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Todays talk centred around a tour of duty in the 1980's for a WEO (Weapons Engineering Officer), aboard a Polaris Submarine.

With the aid of a projector and sound system, Mike was able to 'transport' us back in time to relive what life aboard would have been like.

Political references omitted, Mike not only explained the workings 'on board' of the submarine but also the living arrangements.

Life on board could be dull at times, but there was plenty of provided entertainment also, in the shape of films, books, games etc.

This particular Tour stretched over the Christmas period, with believe it or not, a Pantomine performance by some of the crew!

Training exercises included 'mock' missile launches, which was demonstrated on film. Emphasis was around the security and proceedure of these launches.

At all times during a Tour, the missile capabilities were always on alert within a fifteen minute window of receiving the 'Fire' command from the Prime Minister.

Thank you Mike for this personal insight.


 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polaris_(UK_nuclear_programme)

From Gutenberg to Gates - Roy Ackrill

Posted on October 4, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Our talk today, given by Roy Ackrill, chartered the history of printing.

The key figure in the history of printing was Johann Gutenberg (1400? - 1468) of Mainz, Germany. Around 1430 he invented movable, interchangeable, re-usable type, for printing on a wooden press using a printing ink of a composition invented by him. It was an oily, varnish-like ink made of soot, turpentine, and walnut oil.

The print shop probably had around 25 staff and aimed to print around six pages of a book per day. His masterpiece is the Bible printed in 1453, of which180 copies were made, each of 1282 pages with 42 lines in two columns. They were designed to be completed by colouring the main capitals etc by hand. 48 copies are known to exist today.

A few years after his death the process used involved the production of a metal punch, the end of which would have been cut to produce a reverse impression of the type.

During the seventeenth century The Netherlands became the centre of book printing for most of Europe.

William Caxton was born in Kent (1415/1424). In 1446, he went to live in Bruges where, where during a visit to Cologne he saw the emerging German printing industry. He wasted no time in setting up a printing press in Bruges on which the first book to be printed in English was produced in 1473. Bringing his knowledge of printing back to his native land, he set up a press at Westminster in 1476. He died in 1492.

Caxton is credited with standardising the English language (by homogenising regional dialects) through printing. This was said to have led to the expansion of English vocabulary.

The Victorian period was a time of enormous change in the world of printing, especially with the development of the steam presses for printing large numbers of pages. Lithography was also subject to great improvements.

Digital printing, thanks to Mr Bill 'Gates' and the computer, is now gaining acceptance as a viable alternative to litho printing, which itself came to prominence only 50 years ago, at the expense of letterpress, which had a dominance for 500 years.

The toner method also prints across the width of the paper, with either laser or LED method of charging the paper for the transfer of toner. Again speed is the main concern. The latest machines have reached 6000 A4 sheets per hour, on a variety of surfaces. The toner particles are becoming smaller and some are even grown, so they can be very small indeed. This gives the ability to produce very fine detail. The paper also needs to be able to withstand the fusing temperature.

During the last few years, many books have been published as a computer file - these are known as ebooks. Amazon and other companies have produced portable readers for ebooks and it was wildly thought that in the future ebooks would gradually replace printed books as the preferred publishing route.

However, the recent trend shows this not to be the case with printed books taking the lead again.

During the presentation, Roy handed out items to illustrate the talk.

A very informative and interesting topic.


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