The main activity of the Exeter Forum is its weekly programme of talks. These take place at the Mint on Fore Street, Exeter every Wednesday. As can be seen from the forthcoming programme set out below, the subjects covered are wide ranging. Speakers are invariably stimulating and entertaining. Non-members are welcome to attend these talks subject to a modest charge of £3.
Current Programme of talks
SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2018
September 5th Rodney Battey Asian Journeys
Rodney trained as a scientist, especially metallurgy, in the early sixties. He taught mechanical engineering students both in the RN and LEA colleges. Through Garnett College he became interested in 'lecturer improvement' and went to Bhopal, Middle India on a British Council/ Government of India consultancy to improve the skills of polytechnic lecturers in the Western Region of India. In the early eighties, he left Middlesex Polytechnic to join the Local Authority inspection and advisory service in Harrow and then with Surrey CC. After retirement he has travelled widely in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Canada, and has visited Uzbekistan, Egypt, Jordan, parts of Russia, China, Southern Africa, North and South America. In this talk he will be recounting some of his experiences in Asia.
September 12th George Ayres Gertrude Bell in Iraq
In a previous talk to the Forum, George described the remarkable life Gertrude Bell led as a writer, traveller, archaeologist, mountaineer and diplomat while travelling extensively in Syria, Mesopotamia and Arabia. In this talk he will describe in more detail how she returned to her normal social life in Britain in May 1914, but with one difference - the search for personal fulfilment. Her life was dominated by the search for a meaningful way of assisting Britain's war effort. Fortunately British Intelligence sought help, to her great relief. She was posted to the centre of British Intelligence in Cairo, one of the most important in the British Empire. Later she was transferred to Baghdad to help set up an efficient British administration in Iraq, a task for which she was well suited. Following the establishment of Iraq she worked for King Faisal.
September 19th Robert Hesketh Smuggling in Devon
Between 1700 and 1850 smuggling became a huge industry in Devon, with the majority of Devonians active in it, profiting from it, or at least colluding in it. All social classes were involved. Clergymen and aristocrats were among the backers. None thought cheating the government of exorbitant taxes was wrong and smugglers brought to trial were usually acquitted by sympathetic Devon juries and magistrates. Smugglers were particularly active in Devon because there were so many sailors and fishermen who could assist. There was also easy access to France and the Channel Islands. In reality, “Free Trade” was far from romantic. Smugglers could be violent and ruthless. This talk attempts a balanced view of an illegal trade which long flourished in Devon despite the government’s best efforts to stamp it out – and was eventually defeated by the simple expedient of cutting duties on imported goods.
Robert is a freelance writer and photographer with a strong interest in local history (his first degree subject). To date, he has published 48 Devon, Dorset and Somerset titles (see www.roberthesketh.co.uk ) andwritten numerous illustrated articles for The Countryman, Dartmoor Magazine, Country Walking, Cornwall Life and other publications. He also
contributes West Country landscape and people photographs to photographic libraries.
Robert will have copies of some of his books on display and available for purchase.
September 26th Paul Auchterlonie An Exeter Man in Algiers and Mecca : The Amazing
Adventures and Achievements of Joseph Pitts, (1662-1739)
Long before European empires dominated the Middle East, Britain was brought face to face with Islam through the activities of the Barbary Corsairs. From the sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries, Muslim ships based in North African ports terrorised European shipping, capturing thousands of ships and enslaving tens of thousands of Christians. Joseph Pitts' book A Faithful Account of the Religion and Manners of the Mahometans, first published in 1704, is the intriguing and unique story of one Englishman's experience of life within an Islamic society, both as a Christian slave and as a Muslim soldier.
Paul read Arabic at Oxford University in the 1960s and for forty years worked as a librarian specialising in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, University of Lancaster and the University of Exeter. Paul is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, conducting research on historical and cultural relations between Britain and the Middle East.
October 3rd Prof Peter Edwards Death of Venice
Professor Edwards has degrees in Mathematics, Aeronautics and Industrial Robotics. He is a Fellow of the UK's Higher Education Academy and was Professor of Engineering Mathematics Education at Bournemouth University. He retired in 2007'
The presentation "Death of Venice?" looks at Venice's history and geography set against its prospective demise as it sinks into the rising waters of the Adriatic. Causes and cures will be discussed.
October 10th Martin Horrell The Reredos at St Davids Church, Exeter
Martin has a particular interest in wood and stone carvings in churches, in this country and elsewhere in Europe, their testament to the skills of the carvers, their beauty, their symbolism and religious significance. A reredos is a decoration placed behind the altar in a church and the reredos in St. David's Church provides a fine example. It was carved by Nathaniel Hitch, considered to be the finest Gothic carver during the Victorian period and early 20th Century and Martin will be giving his history and showing some of his other works.
October 17th Jason Harvey South West Water Company
Jason has worked for South West Water since 1991 and moved to Water Networks as Area Manager, Strategic Networks Manager and his current role of Operations Manager. He has an MSc level in Civil Engineering, Water Operations.
Jason will be describing where the company is based, the Business Plan, price promise, water management successes so far and looking ahead, service progress so far and looking ahead, ways the company can help, waste water, the environment and working with nature/farmers, key challenges, and the UK, South West and Exeter water supply system.
October 24th Stewart Raine The Development of the British Seaside Resort
Stewart was brought up in the Kentish suburbs of London, went to Durham University and then taught History for almost 40 years at a comprehensive school in Essex, living in Southend-on-Sea until his retirement and move to Devon in 2011. He is an active member of Honiton U3A, running two History groups, and gives talks to groups like W.I., Probus and other U3As.
October 31st Pip Barker The Human Face of Dartmoor Prison
Pip worked as a Maths and P.E. teacher and in later years trained as a Social Worker and worked for the Quality Care Commission.
Pip has been retired for 12 years and when tracing his ancestry he discovered that several members of his family had worked as Warders at Dartmoor Prison, and since this discovery he has built up one of the most comprehensive collections of postcards, books, paintings and ephemera relating to Dartmoor prison.
Since moving to Princetown 5 years ago, Pip has been a volunteer and a paid member of staff at the Prison Museum. He has worked with prisoners on updating the Prison displays and has set up a Family History Enquiries link. He is also the Archivist for the Museum which he does on a voluntary basis, with access to books that have not seen the light of day for many years. He regularly gives talks about the history of Dartmoor Prison, Princetown and its church, and as a volunteer helping to promote the Museum he also arranges tours for groups who wish to visit the Memorial Grounds to the French and American Prisoners of War of the 1809/1816 period.
November 7th John Keohane 21 Years Incarceration in The Tower
John became a Yeoman Warder in 1991, joining the Yeoman Body shortly after leaving the Royal Corps of Signals as a Warrant Officer Class II, on completion of 27 years service throughout the world. He was promoted to the position of Chief Yeoman Warder in 2004. The Chief Yeoman Warder is the most senior member of the Sovereign's Bodyguard based at the Tower of London known as the Body of Yeoman Warders and often referred to by the visitors as "Beefeaters".
The Chief Yeoman Warder's daily role within the Tower is to manage the Body of Yeoman Warders, ensuring they are trained and equipped to the highest standards required by Historic Royal Palaces; to oversee the duties and responsibilities of the Yeoman Gaoler and the five Yeoman Serjeants; and to liaise directly with the Resident Governor on all matters affecting the traditions and heritage of the Body of Yeoman Warders.
The ceremonial role of the Chief Yeoman Warder, known up until Victorian Times as the Gentleman Porter, involves the nightly closing down ceremony of the Tower known as the Ceremony of the Keys. On each night, with an escort of four soldiers, the outer gates of the Tower are locked and secured for the night, witnessed by up to 80 members of the public who can apply for tickets to watch. The ceremony takes place at 10pm on each and every night of the year and has been taking place with the walls of this great fortress for over 700 years.
Just before retirement from the Tower in 2012 John was awarded the MVO by Her Majesty the Queen for his twenty one years of service to the royal family while serving as a Yeoman Warder.
November 14th General Assembly Members Only
November 21st John Walters Wildlife of Devon
The talk will explore some of the amazing wildlife to be found within Dartmoor National Park including cuckoos and their meadow pipit foster parents, dancing adders and the worlds largest slug.
John is a wildlife artist and photographer and has written and illustrated several publications; he is an ecologist, having recently undertaken an invertebrate survey of road verges for the Highways Agency; he has worked with the BBC Natural History Unit on many television programmes including the award winning Smalltalk Diaries, the Natural World and the David Attenborough series – Life in the Undergrowth; as a speaker he has been giving talks on natural history subjects for over ten years.
If you would like to know more about John's work he has an informative web site at http://johnwalters.co.uk/ which includes links to examples of his work.
November 28th Mandy Seiffert Fasten Your Seat Belts
December 5th Hamish Marshall Making the News
Hamish is Spotlight's East Devon reporter. He was born in Ayrshire but - despite still having a Scottish accent - has lived in England since 1988.
Hamish has worked in the South West for more than decade, after taking his post-graduate journalist training in Falmouth. He presented the lunchtime show before taking over the flagship breakfast programme, Good Morning Devon, in 1994.
After 15 months of getting up at 4 am, Hamish joined Spotlight as a sports reporter. He covered all of the big events in the region and also went to the Sydney and Athens Olympics, the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and the 2004 Paralympics where he worked for Spotlight, its sister programmes around the UK and Grandstand. Hamish also covers football matches for Final Score.
For the last few years, Hamish has mixed his love of sport with working on news for Spotlight. He is based in Exeter and his regular patch stretches from Ashburton to Tiverton and across to Axminster, but he can be deployed anywhere in the region to file recorded reports or live interviews.
Hamish will be talking about how a daily news programme is put together. He will be bringing his camera along to show how items are filmed and will pass on some secrets of life at Spotlight and how they manage to get on air every night. BBC SouthWest Spotlight
December 12th Members A Seasonal Anthology of Words and Music
December 19th No Meeting
December 26th No Meeting