Seahouses Probus club

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Odd spots: In the absence of chairman Roger Howell, members of Seahouses Probus Club were welcomed by the vice chairman Brian Brand. From the apologies for absence it was obvious that many members were away on holiday.

Bill Godfrey, our social secretary, reported that he had received a letter from Trinity House, Newcastle, inviting any members with free time to become volunteer guides at Trinity House.

Bill announced that menus for the annual lunch on Wednesday, September 19, at Doxford Hall were available and bookings could be made from now. Prices were the same as last year and the menu was just as varied.

The speaker Kevin Dunlop was introduced by Fraser Suffield. Kevin, a former lecturer at Kirkley Hall, gave as the title for his talk Off The Beaten Track. He proceeded to fascinate us with slides of places, buildings and objects which most of us pass by without realising what may be a unique feature.

He started with a house in Front Street, Tynemouth, with seven different styles of windows then moved on to three clocks which had been one pointer clocks with the separation of the numerals divided into four parts rather than the normal five.

There were the remains of small swing bridges where the base for the swinging element was still visible, but nothing else.

He talked of follies such as Davison’s Obelisk at Swarland, erected by Alexander Davison who was Nelson’s prize agent. For churches, he gave examples of features such as Bolam, where a window marks the place where one of three bombs dropped at Bolam in 1942 and bounced through the wall into the church but did not explode. There were iron cages over graves and huts for night watchmen to deter grave robbers.

Kevin showed slides of several unusual features, from the bark pots at Beadnell to the stick sun dials at the side of church doors and amusing signs such as one in rhyme on a field gate to remind people to close it.

He gave brief details of several memorials, such as College Valley, where there is a granite memorial to the airmen who died during training exercises and at Howick Hall where there is a tomb funded by the locals to five French fishermen who perished in 1892.

While reminding us of the memorial to the suffragette Emily Davison, Kevin told the story of how the Bell family introduced a new flour which they called Bells Royal Flour but had to change name after objections from the Palace, so they called it Be-ro!

He finished with an example of rock art, cup and ring marks from long ago which appear in different parts of the world and yet at that time, there were no means of communication.

Gordon Cowan, in his vote of thanks, praised the enlightenment Kevin had brought with his observations of what we usually pass by.

If anyone is interested in coming to our meetings on the first Wednesday of each month, contact our secretary Fraser Suffield on 01665 576236.