Evening lectures are held at Bluecoat C. of  E. Academy, Birmingham Road, Walsall. WS1 2ND, on the second Wednesday of the month from September to April, starting at 7.30pm.

Afternoon lectures are held at The Methodist Church Rooms, Anchor Road, Aldridge. WS9 8PT, on the fourth Wednesday of the month from September to March (not December), at 2.30pm

Evening Lectures for the Season 2019 – 2020

11th September 2019

“A Journey through some of my Great Gardens”

We begin our new programme of talks with a welcome return visit by Alan Power, Garden and Estate Manager at N.T Stourhead. This time Alan’s talk will offer amazing images of some of the great gardens he has worked on over the years.  Hopefully we will also hear about his time with Monty Don and his input into B.B.C’s Gardening World. Last year was a wonderful year for Alan not only because of his love of gardens but also because he now has a new addition to his family.

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9th October 2019

“Nicholas Hilliard and The Art of the Miniature”

We again welcome Dr Gillian White whose talk will focus our attention on how Hilliard captured a glowing, delicate and intimate image of the Elizabethans in his jewel-like portrait miniatures. Hilliard has left us a legacy of colour, pattern, symbolism and likeness, as well as an opinionated insight into the thoughts and practices of a sixteenth – century English artist. This lecture outlines Hilliard’s career and explores the changing styles demanded by his patrons.

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13th November 2019

 “Deep Down Dirty and No Digging”

We next welcome Joe Hawkins, Head of Landscape at Hagley Hall, Worcestershire. We always enjoying listening to the escapades and challenges that have faced Joe in his working life and now that he has moved on to another grand property we look forward to hearing more in his talk.


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11th December 2019

“Richard lll: Hero? Murderer? Loyal Brother?”

We had to cancel our next speaker Max Keen in December 2017, due to heavy falls of snow, do you remember? So we are crossing our fingers for this year when Max will give a dramatic presentation.  This talk all is set against the complexities and horrors of The Wars of the Roses.

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8th January 2020

“Shackleton – through endurance we conquer”

January wouldn’t be January without a return visit from Andrew Lound, with one of his presentations. Sir Ernest Shackleton was the epitome of a polar explorer. His first expedition was with Captain Scott, who in 1905 sent him home, resulting in a rift between the two men. After an unsuccessful attempt to reach the South Pole in 1907, he returned to the Antarctic in 1914 to lead an ambitious expedition to cross the continent. The Endurance became trapped in the ice resulting in the most incredible struggle for survival in history. Shackleton would go on to lead 28 men to safety after an 800-mile voyage in a lifeboat. Andrew tells Shackleton’s story with all the drama of a fight for survival in an uplifting retelling of the famous voyage.

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12th February 2020

“Treasure Islands”

Some of you may recall Roger Butler’s fascinating talk on “The monarch Butterflies” some years ago. This time Roger will take us on a journey through some of the lesser known islands in The Hebrides with landscape, seascapes, history, wildlife and tales of island life.   Islands visited include Colonsay, Eigg, Muck, Canna and Ulva plus two islands owned by The National Trust for Scotland.  These are Iona and the remote archipelago of St Kilda, which lies 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides. It had a remarkable history until its last inhabitants opted to “evacuate” in 1930. It is also home to huge sea bird colonies as well as the tallest sea cliffs in Europe.

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11th March 2020

“William Morris- The Art of Design

Helen Bratt – Wyton, “House and Collections Manager” at one of our favourite properties, Wightwick Manor, will join us. This will be a talk on The life and work of Britain’s most iconic designer but Helen tells us that Morris was much more than a designer and shares the story of the great visionary with us.

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8th April 2020

A.G.M.

followed by

“The Pride of Birmingham and an Ornament in England”

The Annual General Meeting will be followed by Anthony Speers presenting. This talk, very topical at the moment in the light of redevelopment taking place in the city, will relate Birmingham’s history, told through a study of the city’s best loved buildings. Birmingham Town Hall was built in 1832 – 1834 to serve as an emblem for the town and as a venue in which to hold its great public events.  Acknowledged  as Britain’s first truly civic building and in “the city of a thousand trades”, Birmingham Town Hall was also the country’s first purpose built concert hall playing host to many noteworthy events. It was here in 1846 that Mendelssohn conducted the premier performance of “Elijah”.

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Afternoon Lectures for the Season 2019 – 2020

25th September 2019

“History with Dividends – The Story of the Co-op”

Our afternoon programme begins with Ned Williams whose talk looks at over 170 years of history of the co-operative movement. Ned focuses on the story of how Co-operative Societies were organised, from the earliest days, to modern convenience stores, then moves on to look at all the other social and cultural activities that Co-operative Societies embraced.  The talk is illustrated with an amazing variety of pictures.

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 23rd October 2019

 Benjamin Disraeli

WNTA “Outings Committee” organised a visit to N.T Hughenden Manor sometime ago and Richard Nokes (N.T volunteer) will talk about this property and the former occupants Mr and Mrs Disraeli. The talk is about Disraeli, the most unlikely British Prime Minister, his wife, Mary Ann, and their home.  We will learn of Disraeli’s writing and political career and his wife’s influence at Hughenden. He provides a pictorial tour of the house, where you can walk in Queen Victoria’s footsteps.

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27th November 2019

“The Back to Back Houses in Birmingham”

Clive Katz, a National Trust volunteer, will give an illustrated talk on.  We will have an insight into the experiences of Birmingham’s working people and their lives.  From the late 18thCentury to 2004, we see how Court 15, Inge Street evolved and escaped the 1960’s redevelopment.  This will be a snapshot of the lives of four families living and working in the court so come along and listen to a fascinating history as it unfolds around this unique place – saved for us all to visit and enjoy under the stewardship of The National Trust.

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Reminder – there is no afternoon meeting at Aldridge in December.

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22nd January 2020

Voices from the Lakes”

Into the New Year and a talk by one of our most popular speakers, Ray Sturdy who will present “Voices from the Lakes” which will be a most interesting and well researched talk.

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26th February 2020

“The Gardens of The Historic Houses Association”

Andy Smyth will take us all on an illustrated tour of “The Gardens of The Historic Houses Association”– specifically “Gardens South of The Thames”. These gardens cover a range of houses which are open to the public. The variety of gardens is vast from Restoration House in Rochester to Beaulieu in Hampshire.

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25th March

“Walsall – Town of a Hundred Trades”

Finally, our 2019-2020 Afternoon Programme ends in what we hope to be a celebration of local history and optimism, with Mike Glasson’s talk.  A celebration of the amazing diversity of trades which have been practised in Walsall, past and present – everything from wheelbarrows to whips and washing machines. Lloyd George thought that Walsall had more trades than any other town of similar size in the country, and he was probably right!  In this talk Mike looks at some of those trades in detail, celebrates the skilled craftsmen and women behind them, and highlights the work of companies such as Old Hall (stainless steel) and Launers (Royal Handbags) which became by-words for quality.

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ADVANCE NOTICE SPEAKER PROGRAMME 2020-2021

9th September 2020 at Blue Coat Academy – a return visit from another popular speaker Derek Clarke – Project Architect for some of the nation’s finest buildings will present two talks: “The Restoration of the Cupola and The Renewing of the Roof coverings at Hanbury Hall”followed by a local talk on“J.W. Evans Ltd Silversmiths in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter”– these premises are now under the guardianship of Historic England.

On 23rd September 2020 at Aldridge Methodist Church we look forward to Sue Satterthwaite presenting “For Honour and Freedom”– an extraordinary story about Aldridge, a once small village in Staffordshire and the courage, bravery, sacrifice and service given – all mirrored in the wonderful “Poppy Road project” featured in our local press and national television coverage during the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War One.

We wish to thank members for recommending speakers. Please continue to do so. Some recommendations are included in this the Autumn 2019-2020 Programme and in our Draft Autumn 2020-2021 Programme. Membership cards also have details of dates, times and venues.

This year we have again endeavoured to produce a varied programme of lectures which we hope will be of interest to all our members. We would again like to acknowledge the support and help of our members – those who deliver an appropriate vote of thanks, those ‘volunteers’ who are on ‘reserve speaker standby’ just in case… and as always to our ‘technical advisors’ who ensure that we are fully prepared and able to support our speakers.

Margaret Wood.

Margaret has planned the above programme before handing over to Louise Platt, our new Speaker Secretary.