2013 Meeting Reviews-ABBPAST



2023 Meetings
February: "A History of the Canals in the South West"
Speaker: Peter Luxton
Subject Summary: The history of the south west's canals that were built and those that were not

AbbPast member treated us to a fasinating talk tell the story of canals big and small as well as those begun and nver finished and those planned and never built. Newton Abbot had two short canals, The Sover Canal and The Hackney Canal, both constructed to move local quarried ball clay to teignmouth for shipment around the cost and on to Stoke-on-Trent.

March: The Work Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Speaker: Mark Bailey
Subject Summary: The creation and ongoing work of the CWGC

Local historian and WW1 expert Mark has become a volunteer for the CWGC and came to desribe the creation of the organisation in 1917 by Sir Fabian Ware to commemorate and remember the deaths of all the service personel from the Empire.The Imperial War Graves Commission as it was until 1960, set to out to find the graves, create war cemeteries and properly label them with headstones anywhere in the world. That job has continued ever since, where ever the graves are.

April: Defence of the Realm
Speaker: John Risdon
Subject Summary: The coastline of South Devon
Local historian John returned once with a brilliant talk that followed the coastline from Dawlish Warren to Plymouth looking at its structure and history. The photographs he had taken, many from the air,  were spectacular and his description of the geology and the place of the coastline in history were most interesting.

2022 Meetings
April: "The Singer Family of Oldway Mansion"
Speaker: John Risdon
Subject Summary: A History of the Oldway Mansion in Paignton

John is a regular visitor to AbbPast and always has a good tale to tell, and this was no exception. The Singer family made their fortune with making the Singer sowing machines and Isaac settled in Torbay, building Oldway Mansion. In the early 20th century his son Paris remodelled the house into the fine mansion it became, being modelled on the Place de la Concorde in Paris. John told the dramatic story of both men and Paris' affair with Isadora Duncan.

May: "An Audience with Lady Katherine, a Tudor Lady, with a Peep Inside her Wardrobe"
Speaker: Rosemary Griggs
Subject Summary: The story of Katherine Champernowne, the mother of Sir Walter Raleigh

Rosemary attracted a full house and told us the story of a Tudor lady, with an insight into her household and wardrobe. She entered dramatically wearing the full dress of a Tudor lady and captivated her audience with a descrption of the Katherine's life and what she was wearing, by slipping in and out of the character of Lady Katherine. Rosemary had made all of the amazing custume that she was wearing and as the evening wore on she revealed more and more layers, down to her garters with stories to match.

June: "An Evening with Thelma"
Speaker: Thelma Porch
Subject Summary: Her life and times in Torquay
For this meeting we were very lucky to have the local author and poet Thelma Porch as our speaker. Thelma is known for her wit and wisdom so expectations were high and it was everything that we had hoped for, and more. Thelma was born in 1924 in St Marychurch Torquay, her father worked in the family business, a removal firm which had already existed for two generations. She remembered them using horses and the eventual change over to pantechnicons. Speaking about her childhood and the social conditions between the wars she gave us an insight into a very different world to the one we share now. At sixteen, with the war in its second year she was recruited into the Post Office Telephone Department where she eventually became a supervisor. What she described was a unautomated time when everything was a lot more labour intensive,
with far more jobs available. Members asked many questions and for some of us it was a pleasant reminder of our own memories. As promised, we finished the meeting with some recitations of her excellent poetry which caused great amusement and requests for an encore. We look forward to a return visit soon and offer our thanks to Thelma for an enjoyable and unique experience. Thanks also to her friend and neighbour, the author Caroline Lodge, who supplied transport and support.

July: "The Garton & King Foundry in Exeter"
Speaker: Richard Holladay
Subject Summary: The story of iron making of this Exeter company
For over 300 years Garton & King (and its predecessors) manufactured iron goods in Exeter, originally at a site in the city centre and in the 20th century at Marsh Barton. Richard's story of his family's involvement in the firm told the fascinating story of industrial development across the centuries culminating with the forging of the things that you see everyday that bears the company name, road grates, drain covers - look out for them, they are all the way up Wilton Way, and you see local history remembered

September "The South Devon Invasion of William, Prince of Orange, in 1688"
Speaker: Phil Badcott
Subject Summary: How the monarch of Great Britain changed to support the Protestant Reformation
On 5th November 1688 South Devon became the focus for a strange period of British History, when William of Orange, which is in the Netherlands, landed at Brixham with an army of 15 000 men, and  was welcomed. After Chares II was restored to the throne following Cromwell's Commonwealth, he was followed by his brother James II, but he was a Catholic and unpopular with the majority of the people who had become Church of England. Fearing a return to religious persecution leading figures in the country invited William and his wife Mary, who was James II's daughter, to take the throne. On 6th November he was proclaimed King, this was announced at St Leonards Church in Newton Abbot. Once nobleman and their armies pledge allegiance to William and Mary James II fled the country.

October "The Silver Pit; the Story of the Salvaging of a Cunard Liner"
Speaker: Ron Howell
Subject Summary: How a group of Northamptonshire divers uncovered a haul of Cunard silver
In the 1980s a group of amateur divers decided to explore the wreck of a WW1 troop ship that had been the Cunard liner the SS Aurania. Over a number of summer explorations they uncovered a huge haul of what had been the liner's dinner silver. Using some unusual methods, including explosives, they found the strong room and brought to the surface an impressive haul. Ron tells a great tale and also had some of the immaculately restored pieces on show.

November "How Newton Abbot & District Raised the Funds in 1940 to Buy a Spitfire"
Speaker: Pete Wade
Subject Summary: The purchase of Spitfire MkIIb 'Newtonia'
Having been alerted to a story by an enquiry from a person who saw an ME109 fighter in Newton Abbot Market in 1940 a mystery unfolded telling the story of raising the funds to buy 'Newtonia'. The story of its life time in active service desribed its contribution to the war effort.

December "A Tudor Christmas with Lady Katherine"
Speaker: Rosemary Griggs
Subject Summary: Christmas in Tudor times
Lady Catherine Champernowne, the mother of Sir Walter Raleigh, returned to tell us all about Christmas in the Tudor period, along with her trusty manservant. The becostumed Rosemary Griggs and her husband took on their historical characters to give us an entertaining and informative evening, which was followed by sweetmeats and mulled wine.

2022 Meetings
February: "The Italianate Garden at Great Ambrook" - Angela Dodd-Crompton
March: "A Train Journey in Minature" - Earl Connolly

2021 Meetings

All meetings were cancelled owing to Covid-19

2020 Meetings
February: "Childhood on the Other Side" - Uta Brice

March: "How 'lectric Came to Newton Abbot" - Peter Luxton
NB. Rest of the year's meetings were cancelled owing to Covid-19

2019 Meetings
January: "The Real Cosa Nostra" - Brian Haigh 
February: "The Clifford Family & Ugbrooke House" - Helen Turnbull
March: "Abbotsleigh Priory 1861-2018" - Peter Wade
April: “Devonshire Festivals, Customs and Traditions" - Angie Whitehead
May: "Hairy Hands, Devils and Black Dogs" - Paul Rendle
June: "Recent Discoveries in Roman Exeter" - Derek Gore
July: "John Smeaton, Civil Engineer" - Felicity House
September: "Torre Abbey - Noble House of Status & Heritage" - John Risdon
October: "The Haldon Belvedere" - Sue Knox

November: "An Exeter Man in Algiers and Mecca: Joseph Pitts 1662-1739 - 
Paul Auchterlonie

December: "17th Century Witchcraft and Witchfinding" - Swords & Spindles

2018 Meetings
January: "Un-earthing a Dartmoor Copper Mine" - Ian Howes
February: "The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight" - Rich Gibby
March: "The Birth of the Tank" - Sir Andrew Ridgeway

April: "The Admirals of Bishopsteignton" - Jenny Ridd
May: "I K Brunel and Paddington Station" - Steven Brindle
June: "The Amazing Delights of Peru" - Colin Vosper
July: "To Sail No More: a Story of a West Country Ketch" - Ron Howell
September: Campaigns You've Never Heard of" - Nick Nicholson
October: "The Bovey Tracey Heritage Centre" - Viv Styles
November: “Remembering World War 1 Through its War Memorials” - Peter Wade
December: "Elizabethan Name Calling" - Todd Gray

2017 Meetings
January: "AGM & The New Newton Abbot Museum" - Kate Green
February: "The Great Blizzard of 1891" - Peter Wade
March: "Here's a Howdy Do- Coleton Fishacres & the D'Oyly Carte" - Jeremy Pearson
April: "Raleigh and the Gilberts of Compton and Greenaway" - John Risdon
May: "Kents Cavern & the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark" - Nick Powe
June: "A Famous Farsley Family" - Felicity House
July: "3000 years of History from the Sea - The Salcombe Wrecks" - Ron Howell
September: "Sabine Baring-Gould" - Bob Mann
October: "Newton Abbot's Railway History, 1846 to the Present Day" - Alan Reddish
November: "Fieldwork and Excavations at Ipplepen 2007-2017" - Derek Gore
December: "Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey & Coifs: the lives of our 17th Century Ancestors" - Swords & Spindles

2016 Meetings
January: "Lido Days are Limited" - Earl Connolly

February: "Heroes and Villains" - Nick Nicholson
March: "Victorian Crime" - Jill Drysdale
April: "Lost Devon" - Felicity Goodall
May: "The Romanian Royal Family" - Steve Brookes
June: "Dealings with the Dead" - Stephanie Leach
July: "Britain and Europe" - Brian Mackness
September: "Abbotskerswell Bells" - John Thurman
November: "The Battle of Verdun - a Personal Journey" - Max Neu
December: "Not the Antiques Roadshow Quiz" - David Wheeleker

2015 Meetings
January: "Surnames"
February: "Plague & Pestilence" - Jill Drysdale
March: "
Just Going Fishing Across the Atlantic - 1600" - Jenny Moon
April: "Devon and its Ancient Carved Bench Ends" - Todd Gray
May: "The Real Downton Abbey: Clothing the Classes 1900 - 1930" - Kate Strasdin
June: "The City of London and its Manmade Disasters"
 - Nick Nicholson
July: "Berlin 1985: The Frontline of the Cold War" - Terry Jackson
September: "The Stover Canal Archaeological Digs of 2014/15" - Phil Newman
October: "The Roman Conquest of the South west" - Derek Gore
November: "The Ivory Bangle Lady" Stephanie Leach

December: "Members Quiz Night"
2014 Meetings
January: "The Creeds of Abbotskerswell" - Peter Wade
February: "Murder Most Foul"
March: "Playing For The Other Side: The British Traitors of WW2" - Nick Nicholson
April: "Mining on Exmoor"
May: "Textile Conservation"
June: "The Vikings in Devon" - Derek Gore
July: "The Middle East: how we got into this mess and how do we get out of it" - Brian Mackness
August: "The Roll of Honour Final Exhibition" - AbbPast
September: "Church Houses" - Susan Andrew
October: "Policing the Miner's Strike of 1984" - David Stone
November: "The Kingsbridge Branch Line" - Kelvin Ellis

December: "Christmas in Victorian Torquay" - John Risdon

 2013 Meetings 

January: "Mutiny, Mobs and Mayhem 1793-1867: was Devon on the brink of revolution ?" - Helen Turnbull
February: "The Lost Mine of Landscove and the Lost Canal at Littlehempston" - Nicholas Pearkes

March: "Devon Place Names" - Robert Hesketh
April: "The Aller Vale Pottery" - Alan Perryman
May: "Roman Devon" - Derek Gore
June: "The Code Breakers of Bletchley Park" - Tony Smale
July: "The German Refugees who Fought for Britain in WW2" - Nick Nicholson
August: "The Coming of the Railways" - Brian Mackness
September: "All the way from France" - John Risdon
October: "Slavery in Devon" - Todd Gray
November: "Photographing Torquay in 1850 - 1870" - Tom Greeves

December: "Members Quiz Night" 


2012 Meetings

February: "Folklore and Legends of Dartmoor"
March: "Devon’s 50 Best Churches" - Todd Gray
April: "Secrets of a Victorian Toilette"
May: "Researching Family History"
June: "A Pub Crawl Through History"
July: "Poltimore Community and Landscape Project"
August: "Visit to Shilstone House”
September: "Health and Social Care: Past, Present and Future" - Brain Mackness
October: "The Abbotskerswell Roll of Honour 1914-1918” - Peter Wade
November: "Little Poland"
December: "Members Meeting"
2011 Meetings 
January: "Abbotskerswell: Tony's Reminiscences" - Tony Bowhay
February: "Stover Canal" - Roger Harding
March: "Sources - Who NeedsThem?" Peter Wade
April: "Dartmoors History through Postcards"
May: "Abbotskerswell Church - Tombstones and Marble" - Peter Wade
June: "Kelly Mine" - Colin Vosper
July: "Oyez! Oyez! The Manor Court in the 21st Century"

August: "The Battle of Bois de Buttes May 1918: The Last Stand of the 2nd Devons” - Nick Nicholson
August: Visit to Forde House
September: Visit to Kelly Mine
October: "Sights and Sounds of Newton Abbot”
November: "The Old Saltway from Coombe Cellars to Totnes" - Colin Vosper
December: "Members Meeting"