Lectures for the season 2021 – 2022

Afternoon meetings will take place on the fourth Thursday of the month, starting at 2.15pm in the Aldridge Community Centre, WS9 8AN.  The meeting should end about 3.15pm and tea/coffee will be available after the meeting.

Evening meetings will take place on the second Wednesday of the month, starting at 7pm in the Aldridge Parish Church Rooms, The Green, Aldridge, WS9 8NH. They will include a refreshment break and raffle.  The meeting should end by 9pm.  

Thursday 23rd September 2021:
Afternoon Lecture 

Stories of the English Coinage

Many thanks to Phil Griffiths, a long-standing member of WNTA , who took us through the history of our coins, starting from early origins in ancient Greece, through to decimal currency. He informed us of how coins were minted and how the silver content varied according to the financial state of the monarch at the time. He also explained the latin inscriptions on the coins. This was a very good start to the season in our new light and airy venue and was well supported by members.

Wednesday 13th October 2021
AGM and Evening Lecture

The most dissolute man in London

Our first evening lecture in the new venue was well supported and we were rewarded by an excellent lecture by Dr Gillian White whose subject was William Cavendish, 4th Earl and 1st Duke of Devonshire, described as ’the most dissolute man in London’.  He had an eventful life during the reigns of Charles II, James II and William and Mary but was also part of a small group of aristocrats who brought constitutional monarchy to the throne.

The second part of Gillian’s talk dealt with the remodelling of Chatsworth over many years into one of our greatest country houses.  Dr White’s talk was clear, humorous and supported by excellent slides.

Thursday 28th October 2021:
Afternoon Lecture 

“The History of Benthall Hall

Our guest speaker this afternoon was Alan Burrage, Property Operations Manager at Benthall Hall which is a 16th-century English country house near Broseley, Shropshire, a few miles from Ironbridge Gorge. The house was built in 1535 but there have been Benthalls living on this site since the medieval period.  Allan described many of the interesting events involving the house, from the Civil War to the Industrial Revolution.

Benthall Hall has been owned by the National Trust since 1958.  The house is open to the public and worth a visit. Follow this link for opening times and directions. At the moment it is closed for the winter.

Wednesday 10th November 2021
Evening Lecture

Vulcan’s Temple

Andrew Lound’s presentations are always outstanding and this one was made even better because the venue’s sound system was used for the first time. (Thank you to Josh, their young technician).  Andrew took us through the history of the Soho foundry from the partnership of James Watt and Matthew Boulton to the development and manufacture of weighing machines by the Avery company, stressing its importance during wartime.  The site was so important to the war effort that it was a prime target and was in fact bombed and put out of action for three months.  This was a very personal talk by Andrew as he was curator of the Avery Museum until it closed.

Thursday 25th November 2021:
Afternoon Lecture 

“History of the Birmingham Gun Trade

Steve Green, who looks after the museum at the Proof House, gave us a fascinating account of an industry of which few people are aware. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, Birmingham’s gun manufacturing community grew around St Mary’s Church.  The number of workshops, which began in back gardens, grew until it became known as the ‘Gun Quarter’ – an area where skilled craftsmen made guns by hand.

The Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House is a weapons proofing establishment in Banbury Street.  The Proof House was established in 1813 by an act of Parliament at the request of the then prosperous Birmingham Gun Trade. Its purpose was to test and provide certificates for firearms in order to prove their quality of construction.  In 1868, it became an offence to sell an unproofed firearm.

The Proof House still exists today, largely unchanged, although it offers a wider range of services including ammunition testing and firearm accident investigation. The building contains a museum of arms and ammunition, and can be visited by prior arrangement.

Wednesday 8th December 2021
Evening Lecture

A Black Country Winter

Local historian Ian Bott has been a welcome visitor in the past, regaling us with tales of hauntings and murder in the Black Country.  Today he will give a seasonal talk about the Black Country in winter. He replaces Joe Hawkins, head of landscape at Hagley Park, who has health problems. We wish Joe well.

No Afternoon Lecture 

in December

Wednesday 12th January 2022
Evening Lecture

 History of the Gardens of Calke Abbey

Clive Katz talks to us about the creation, decline and restoration of the extensive gardens at Calke Abbey.

Thursday 27th January 2022
Afternoon Lecture

From Russia with Luck

Sue Clegg will tell us about the Duke of Edinburgh Award Expedition in the Soviet Union before the iron curtain fell

Wednesday 9th February
Evening Lecture

To be Announced

Thursday 24th February 2022
Afternoon Lecture 

Walsall: Town of 100 trades

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.

Wednesday 9th March
Evening Lecture

Charles Darwin in Shrewsbury
A Talk by Maggie Love

Charles Darwin was born at the family home, Mount House, Shrewsbury on February 12th1809. He was a naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. Voted as one of the most important people in our history.

In this talk I’ll look at his childhood growing up in my hometown of Shrewsbury and his young adult life. We will discover how his early interest in nature led him to ask questions about our origins.  He went to university, medical school and all the around the world, but he always came home to Shrewsbury. He left the Town at age 30 with his future wife, his cousin, Emma Wedgwood. Maggie Love

Thursday 24th March 2022
Afternoon Lecture 

17th Century Life at Moseley Old Hall

What would you do with a dobnet or a tumbrill? Would you climb a cheese ladder or sleep in a dowle bed? The answers are all to be found in this talk about 17th Century living at Moseley Old Hall by Fran Davis.