Previous Meetings

Some topics in our previous meetings have included:

Is sport more valuable than music in today's society.....? Nick Cox

Charlotte Bronte explained how the eye both sought the truth in mundane experiences and the visionary experience of dreams..... Professor Dinah Birch

Technology has revolutionised our access to news, knowledge and opinions, yet quality political journalism is in the doldrums..... Jim Hancock



Mythology and music

Meera is a flautist, originally from Warrington, she trained at the RNCM and the Royal College. She, and a harpist (name TBC), will perform a number of works which link to myths. She will explain the relationship between music and mythology and her interest in the pieces chosen

 Meera Maharaj
 06/12/2021, 7:30PM


Stories of the morality of mass migration to Australia

Gill is a Warrington author “The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the ‘Victorian Titanic’” The morality behind mass immigration to Australia, as the mid-Victorians saw it, and how it contributed to the deaths of so many. She has also written: ”The Lost Story of the William & Mary: The Cowardice of Captain Stinson', and 'The Lost Story of the Ocean Monarch: Fire, Family, and Fidelity”.

 Gill Hoffs
 01/03/2021, 7:30PM


Approaches to ageing, vitality and beauty

He has done research on the Christian body-building movement in 19thC also current research which focuses on the history of rejuvenation and anti-ageing in the twentieth century, exploring in particular the links between biomedical and socio-cultural approaches to ageing, vitality and beauty. This has culminated in “The Cult of Youth” due for publication early 2021.

 Dr James Stark, Leeds University
 01/02/2021, 7:30PM


The Wordsworths at Dove Cottage

Melissa will introduce William Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy, and their life at Dove Cottage in Grasmere, where they lived from 1799-1808. It was here that Wordsworth wrote a great deal of his best-loved poetry, and where Dorothy kept her famous Grasmere journal. Through studying their own manuscripts, we’ll explore the lives of this remarkable family, and how some of the UKs greatest literature came to be, in the year of Wordsworth’s 250th birthday.

 Melissa Mitchell Assistant Curator, The Wordsworth Trust
 02/03/2020, 7:30PM


Design: Then, Now and the Future. Reflections on design, as a process, from the 14th century onwards'

David has worked as a theatre designer and artist since 1964 when he started at art school. He was lucky to benefit from a course that focused on both design for the theatre and fine art. This was an especially useful combination for the following 47 years work as a theatre designer, artist and educationist - and then the following five years as an artist. What is design? When did it start? How does it work, or not? What do designers do all day? How has it changed and what may happen in the future, which we are designing now? What did Karl Marx, Edward de Bono, Anton Chekhov, Samuel Johnson, James Thurber and Jean Cocteau write that relate to design? - even if they didn't realise it at the time.

 David Cockayne
 03/02/2020, 7:30PM


The Black Prince and the Capture of a King: Poitiers, 1356

Less well-known than Agincourt or Crecy, the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 was one of the most hard-fought and dramatic battles of the Hundred Years War. This talk will tell the story of that remarkable day of battle and the events leading up to it, beginning with the Battle of Crecy ten years earlier.

 AJ MacKenzie Anglo-Canadian Authors
 02/12/2019, 7:30PM


Are We (Just) Beasts?

It is often assumed by humanist thinkers that, if we are not supernatural beings, we must be parts of nature. Raymond will argue, against popular misreading of the significance of brain science and evolutionary theory, that persons are not merely organisms to be understood in biological terms, and that there is a huge gap between humans and our nearest primate kin.

 Raymond Tallis Philosopher Poet Author
 04/11/2019, 7:30PM


Warrington and the Slave Trade

Warrington and the Slave Trade Warrington’s role in the slave trade is the elephant in the room which has been avoided by most historians. The talk will explore the nature and range of the trade in slaves by citizens of Warrington. The level of involvement of the main players will be discussed, as will the role played by the Warrington Academy. Some thoughts as to an appropriate response will be offered.

 Bill Cooke President’s Address
 07/10/2019, 7:30PM


The Hubble Space Telescope

Along with our own Joddrel Bank Radio Telescope, The Hubble Space Telescope has been one of the most successful and informative developments in the exploration of Space. John will look at its concept and design, early problems and how these were overcome, along with remarkable images obtained over more than 25 years of operation.

 John Anderson, High Legh Community Observatory
 01/04/2019, 7:30PM


A Brief History of Penguin Books

Arguably the most influential and well-known publisher of the 20th Century, Penguin Books have made an impact on all our lives. Mike takes a look at Allen Lane’s ‘Damascus Moment’, the invention of paperback books, and the opening of London Zoo, through mergers and take-overs, and from Lady Chatterley to Lady Luck. The surprising life of Penguin Books, and its emerging nemesis!

 Mike Bryan, Retired head Sales Manager, Penguin Books
 04/03/2019, 7:30PM


A Romp Through 40,000 Years of Sculpture

Dr Helen Pheby will take us on an illustrated journey through the history of sculpture since prehistoric times, to Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and on to the present day. There will be a focus on the radical changes in sculpture since Auguste Rodin, and looking at the growth and impact of the more abstract sculpture that we see today.

 Dr Helen Pheby,Senior Curator,Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 04/02/2019, 7:30PM


Traditional and contemporary songs 'They don't write them like that any more'

Performers of traditional and contemporary songs 'They don't write them like that any more' Based on being born and bred in the North West, Garry and Vera will sing and talk us through a number of their songs, looking at life in the raw throughout the region in their own well-researched, incisive, poignant way, laced with a delightful sprinkling of pragmatism and of course , humour.

 Gary and Vera Aspey
 03/12/2018, 7:30PM


A Millennium Of Monasticism

The rise in the number and power of the monasteries during the early part of the 2nd millennium was remarkable, and threatening. Father Michael looks at their influence and in particular at the Premonstratensians, and Mother Kate of Warburton (and Chester) against the wider background of monastic life and development.

 Fr Michael Burgess, St Peter’s Church Oughtrington
 05/11/2018, 7:30PM


Technological dead ends: ideas that have gone nowhere

So many mind-blowing ideas and inventions have never been widely embraced by Society! Perhaps we might have enjoyed more of the magic of Man’s inventive prowess had at least some of these logic-defying ideas been more fervently pursued. Dr Southall takes a sideways look at the wonders of the improbable.

 Dr Dave Southall, Retired lecturer in Electronic Engineering MMU
 01/10/2018, 7:30PM


Industrialisation, Population Change and Public Health in Lancashire

The fact that Great Britain was the world's pioneering industrial nation from around 1750 to 1850 is firmly established, but historians continue to dispute the pace, the extent and the impact of the Revolution. So, what can research tell us about the ways in which population growth, urbanisation and the public health consequences affected our local forebears?

 Dr David Crompton
 09/04/2018, 7:30PM


Slow Boat Cargo

Liz McIvor, the well-known historian of Britain's canal development, will examine the ways cargoes were moved by land and water before the canal boom and the 18th Century 'Amazon effect.' She will explain the large-scale engineering projects in the industrial period for long distance haulage by waterways, and comment on the post-industrial use of this heritage..

 Liz McIvor
 05/03/2018, 7:30PM


The Golden Age of Murder

The speaker is a locally-based lawyer who has earned distinction in every field of crime fiction. He is currently Chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association and President of the Detection Club. He will discuss the crime fiction of the golden age between the wars, not cosy escapist cliché as some claim, but a substantial body of literature, a transmutation of real criminal cases, of the stresses in the authors’ lives and an urge to come to terms with the senseless carnage of the trenches.

 Martin Edwards
 05/02/2018, 7:30PM


Excavating Engels

The speaker will use recently uncovered archaeological evidence about Manchester’s historical slums to see if it can throw useful light on what Victorian social commentators said about problems of over-crowding, immigration, poor construction, poor ventilation, disease and sanitation.

 Dr Mike Nevell, Salford University
 04/12/2017, 7:30PM