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 2018 – 2019

Our evening programme begins on 12th September, 2018 with Robert Kendall, Trustee and Chair of the Friends of Derngate. Robert’s talk ‘The Restoration of 78 Derngate’ – by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, for his client model maker, Wenman Bassett-Lowke, will I am sure prompt many to make a visit to Derngate.  This restoration, between 1916-21, is of considerable architectural importance, as it is the only house in England that CRM received a realised commission on.  The house itself (originally built c1815) is almost a record of Mackintosh’s style, and shows the influence of his early organic work and the current Art Deco designs he was working on for both Liberty and Foxton’s Wallpaper – an amazing record of these ideas.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

(Read the report on our Lecture Reports page)


Previously, our members were disappointed when our next speaker had to cancel due to health reasons. However, on 10th October 2018 Michelle Leak, Collections and Visitors Engagement Manager at N.T. Upton House, will present her talk “N.T. Upton House, Saving the Art Collection in a Welsh Slate Mine”. Michelle poses the question, “Just how do you protect your treasures at a time of war, and which do you save first?”. In 1941 the RAF planned to build an airfield near to Upton House, and this place of sanctuary now looked as though it was under threat.  As a trustee of The National Gallery, Lord Bearsted knew all about the plans to ship their works of art to safety underground. This talk will tell us how Lord Bearsted managed to get 40 of his own paintings safely stowed away in a Welsh slate quarry, how they were cared for and later returned to Upton House to become a gift to the nation.

Upton House

(Read the report)


On 14th November we have two talks by David Keith Jones – A Trip to Italy – a fascinating glimpse of the mountains and cities of Umbria and the Marches with insights into the history, architecture and art of this beautiful region. Ascoli Piceno, the Sibillini mountains, Assisi and Urbino are the highlights of this presentation 

followed by A journey down the Rhone – France’s greatest river – A most interesting talk supported by superb images . We start in the glaciers of the Swiss Alps following the Rhones to Lyon, with its splendid art and museums. Then downstream to Vienne with its Roman remains, Avignon with its famous bridge and Aries with its Roman amphitheatre.   

This is a change to the advertised lecture

Members may remember  David Keith Jones and his excellent presentations  with stunning images on Italy and Africa in  last year’s programme of talks both at Blue Coat Academy  and Aldridge Methodist Church  –   members may wish to check his website: http://www.davidkeithjones.co.uk

(Read about David’s talks here)


On 12th December 2018, we again welcome Neil Cook. Neil’s talk, ‘The Re-creation of the Gardens at N.T. Hanbury Hall’ – where he is Garden and Outdoor Manager. He illustrates how he came to be working there, how decisions were made that allowed the re-creation of the George London Gardens. This decision was a catalyst to all future investment in the property as a visitor attraction.  Neil has promised superb illustrations of the hall, the park and the formal gardens plus a quick trip to Holland for more fabulous gardens… if we have time.

Gardens at Hanbury

(Read the report on our Reports page)


Into the New Year, when on 9th January 2019, we will welcome another of our popular speakers, Andrew Lound, in his presentation of ‘Wilful Murder? – The Sinking of the Lusitania’.  Warfare has always produced a number of horrendous incidents, but one remains as controversial today as it did in 1915, the sinking of the Cunard liner, Lusitania.  In a dramatic presentation featuring music and visual effects, Andrew traces the history of the ship, the circumstances of her demise and efforts to salvage the wreck. With the sinking of the Lusitania, the myth of chivalrous warfare was exploded forever.

The Lusitania

(Read the report)


A new speaker on 13th February 2019 –  Peter Fitzpatrick, will deliver his talk ‘The Splendours of the Taj Mahal’.  Peter relates the story of the Taj Mahal, the world’s best known mausoleum. The story runs like a Greek tragedy… it is a tale of overwhelming passion, set during the Mughal Dynasty of 16thand 17thcentury India.  It was a period of military conquests, unsurpassed wealth, court intrigues, harem plotting and scheming, of sons seeking to depose their fathers, and brothers killing brothers.   We will look at the style, architecture and construction of the Taj, which is arguably the most famous building in the world.

Taj Mahal

(Click to see the report)


For many years Walsall N.T.A has made successful visits to Tutbury Castle and with this in mind we have a link to our next talk.  On 13th March, 2019 we welcome a new speaker, David Templeman – Historian and Author, with his talk ‘Mary, Queen of Scots – The Captive Queen in England 1568-87’.  David will relate the fascinating story of Mary’s years in captivity which culminated in the tragedy of Fotheringhay.  His talk conveys the intrigue, passion, plots and escape attempts.


Our Annual General Meeting on 10th April, 2019 will be followed by a talk from Sarah Hardy, a representative from the William de Morgan Foundation.  Sarah will present an illustrated talk ‘A Better, More Beautiful World – William and Evelyn de Morgan’.  William was the foremost ceramic designer of the late Victorian period.  In 1887 he married Evelyn Pickering, one of the first women to attend the Slade School of Art, and a brilliant painter in the Pre-Raphaelite and Symbolist style.  This talk explores what motivated them as artists, looks at their creative process, and showcases how they reacted to the social and political changes of their era as they strived for a better more beautiful world.


Click on this link to read our article on the de Morgans and the opening of the Wightwick gallery, made possible by a donation as part of Margaret Stanley’s bequest



Afternoon Lectures for the Season 2018 – 2019

Our afternoon programme begins with a return visit from Graham Sutherland who on 26th September, 2018 will present his talk ‘Fakes, Forgers and Frauds’.  In his talk Graham looks at some of the more famous / infamous and perhaps not so well known frauds and fraudsters over the years.  Examples include P.T. Barnum, Horatio William Bottomley, The Golden Boy Princess Caraboo and Henry Fauntleroy.

P. T. Barnum

(Read the report on our Lecture Reports page)


We next welcome on 24th October 2018 Jackie Cocken and Jo Lester from Walsall Arboretum User group.  Jackie and Jo are passionate about our local park, Walsall Arboretum, and this time they will tell us about their ever developing volunteering roles as ‘Tree Wardens – championing Tree Planting in the Arboretum’.  This talk, they hope, will encourage more of us to visit independently or join one of the many walking groups within our local park.

Walsall Arboretum

(Read report)


On 28th November, 2018 in a change to our advertised programme, we have a talk on “Portugal – Lisbon to Porto” – an interesting travelogue focusing on  stunning scenery  with special interest on The Pousadas of Portugal – a wide range of architectural  and historical buildings  that are visited by travellers today.  This will be presented by John Llewellyn – a member of Walsall National Trust Association.

(Read the Report)


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

Into the New Year and a talk prompted by a visit by one of our members. On 23rd January, 2019 we welcome Kate Murphy, owner and trustee of ‘Sinai Park House’ which is the oldest building in Burton on Trent. It has an interesting social and architectural history.  Over recent years one third of it has been restored and two thirds still remain derelict. We will hear of the future plans to rescue the House and turn it into a boutique bed and breakfast.

Sinai Park House


On 27th February, 2019 we again welcome another talk from Mary Bodfish whose special title ‘You Can’t Abdicate and Eat It” is said to be the comment made by Wallis Simpson to the ‘King in Waiting’ – Edward VIII – who gave up his throne to marry her.  This talk explores the background to this middle aged couple, how their love affair caused a unique constitutional crisis in our history and what resulted from it.

Edward and Wallis


Our 2018-2019 afternoon programme ends with another talk from Ray Sturdy, when on 27th March, 2019 he will present ‘The Extraordinary Vesta Tilley’.  She was born in Worcester in 1864 and first appeared on the stage aged three and a half with obvious talent.  She went on to develop as a female artiste and male impersonator.  Vesta became the highest paid musical and theatre performer of her age.  She travelled extensively and became very popular with all audiences especially during the First World War.  She went on to entertain the troops with patriotic songs – many of which were recorded on the early 78rpm records.


Advance notice for next season

11th September 7.30 – A Journey through some of my great gardens by Alan Power

25th September 2.30 – History with Dividends – the story of the Co-op with Ned Williams


Margaret Wood, our speakers’ secretary, will step down from this post in September 2019. Her successor will have a working year from now to shadow the position and “learn the ropes”.
Whoever takes on the role will need one or two people to support them. If you are interested please speak to Vivian Fairbank or Malcolm Taylor or use the contact page on our website.

Other posts becoming vacant at the same time are those of Chairman and President. Again, those new to the positions have a year to shadow their predecessors.