January 2016

A Happy New Year to everyone.

Club News

At the December meeting our Chairman reported that Treasurer, Roger Davis, is unwell today, but due to his health he will be stepping down after the AGM. We therefore need a new Treasurer. We need a volunteer please with accounting or bookkeeping experience. This is a Committee position – there is also an additional vacancy on the Committee. Andrew will be on holiday (up the Amazon) in January – Gerry will cover.

37 members present plus our guest, Reverend Malcolm Newman. The Chairman’s Charity collection raised £41.06 and the raffle, which was donated to Malcolm’s charity (London Air Ambulance), raised £49. A 15 year old bottle of single malt whiskey donated by Roger was raffled for £35 to go to the Chairman’s charity.

Dennis reported on the November Quiz – see December’s Newsletter for a full report. The latest Probus Magazine is available for members.

The death of Alfred Levy’s wife Connie in June was belatedly reported.

It is with profound regret we report that Captain Norman Cockcroft passed away on Tuesday 8th December 2015 – see obituary page 3.

We have to report that Betty Aburn has had a stroke, but she’s up on crutches. Ken Bennett is still very ill.

Please advise news of members to almoner, hughroberts67@aol.com, tel:

01737 202243. Attendance: please notify Andrew Kellard, tel: 01737 554055.


Today: John Chisholm: Pub Signs

February 4th: (our own) Gerrard Thompson: Pewter

March 3rd:    

April 7th: Gwyneth Fookes (Bourne Society): Historical Industries

Our Christmas Guest: Reverend Malcolm Newman

Having thanked us for the lovely lunch and warm reception, Malcolm dedicated this year’s talk to the memory of Ian Scales (died January 2015). Malcolm had known Ian since the age of 17. Ian had many roles at the church but particularly remembered was his role as electrician and oiling the curtain.

This Christmas, Malcolm treated us to a variant of The Twelve Days of Christmas or The Everlasting Turkey. We started with fresh turkey etc. then ‘On the fifth day of Christmas, outside the snowflakes scurried, but we were nice warm inside – we had the turkey curried’, until ‘ On the twelfth day of Christmas we had smiles upon our lips. The guests had gone, the turkey too – we dined on fish chips’.

I apologise, but my pen wasn’t fast enough to transcribe all Malcolm’s jokes – so here’s a sample. We had the rude parrot who, after a short spell in the freezer, asked what the turkey had done wrong. Then the atheist who on being confronted with a bear prayed to God to make the bear a Christian – the bear promptly stopped in his tracks and kneeled, saying ‘For what we are about to receive . . .’ Finally an amusing poem. ‘July: Peek Freans Christmas pud – buy one get one free’, then working through the months to ‘December: Cadburys Chocolate Easter egg – buy one get one free’.

On behalf of our Club, Andrew K thanked Malcolm most warmly – “Where would we be without you at Christmas”.


The History of English Pewter ware – Gerrard Thompson

This article from Gerry is a taster for his talk next month.

The History of this metallic alloy is lost in antiquity. The earliest known sample of this metal is the Abydos bottle found in an ancient Egyptian grave and dated c. 1450 BC.

It was the Romans who put English pewter on the map in the1st Century AD when they found Tin in Cornwall and Lead in Wales. When the Romans left in the 4th Century the use of Pewter went into decline until it was revived in the 13th Century by the Cistercian monks who passed their expertise onto the lay people. Most Pewter is essentially an alloy of Tin.

Many items in common use today and made in glass, ceramics or ferrous metals were once produced in pewter. Such items as jugs, plates, coffee pots, tea pots, buttons, tankards, wine cups, inkwells, candle sticks, spoons, flagons, chalices, measures, salt cellars, name plates, musket balls, spirit flasks, ladles, sword hilts, coffin furnishings, knife handles, labels, coasters, coolers and gunpowder flasks were all produced in pewter.

In 1348 the Craft of Pewterers endeavoured to force a high standard of quality and workmanship upon the makers of English pewter ware. They were granted a Royal Privilege in 1363. In 1474, the London pewterers were granted a Royal Charter, giving them the legal right to control the manufacture sale of pewter throughout England.

It was the second half of the 17th Century that the Craft reached its zenith, employing over three thousand people. In London alone, there were over four hundred pewterers’ shops.

By the end of the 18th Century however, pewter was facing severe competition from cheaper mass produced ceramics, glass, ferrous and more durable copper and brass articles. The Pewter Industry responded with the development of ‘Britannia’ metal, which was cheaper and could be more easily fashioned, decorated and even silver plated. As the 18th Century advanced it was evident that pewter ware was in steady decline, mainly because of the growing preference for hot drinks, especially tea and a fall off in beer consumption in favour of hard liquor. This made a tremendous impact on the demand for pewter ware. The metal became increasingly uncompetitive in price and it was not until the timely introduction of Britannia metal that the decline was reversed and the pewter trade was saved from extinction.


Coulsdon Probus Questionnaire

Your Committee distributed a questionnaire last month to gauge Member’s reaction to several ideas for moving our club forward and securing its future in an era of reducing membership. We hope that you’ve brought your completed questionnaire with you today so that the Committee can deliberate and suggest ways forward. Our secretary is contacting other Probus clubs asking a lot of questions about how they are tackling these issues. This includes a club who admits lady members. Members will have the opportunity to debate the ideas after the February Committee meeting.



The Chairman advised in December that the Treasurer and Committee had recommended an increase in the monthly meal cost to £18 from January (today). This is essential because our Club is eating into its reserves. A review of other clubs has revealed charges of £17, £18.50, £17.50 and £18.


Outings and Events

Spring 2016: Jim Mulvey has been working hard and is offering us three outings. Contact Jim on 01737 555974 or email jim@mulvey.uk.net

Mrs Henderson Presents matinée at the Noel Coward Theatre with optional lunch: Wednesday 16th March 2016.

Sussex Coastal Trip with refreshments and lunch: Tuesday 19th April.

Downton Abbey Country Tour including River Cruise: Tuesday 17th May.

Alfred Norman Cockcroft 21 March 1930 – 8 December 2015

Norman was awarded fellowship of the Royal Institute of Navigation in 1976 for his pioneering work and in 2003 he was awarded a Gold Medal by The Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Born in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire he attended the local grammar school and then Nautical College at Hull. In 1946 Norman joined Shell Petroleum and thus sailed the world on various ships in their service. In 1950 he joined the Silver Line as Watch Keeping Officer. During this year he met Janice. The pair corresponded by letter while Norman was Second Mate aboard the ‘Highland’. In 1955 Norman and Janice were married at St. John’s, Old Coulsdon.

After taking the Extra Master Certificate, Norman began teaching seamanship in 1958 at the King Edward VII Nautical College. Norman’s book ‘Guide to the Collision Avoidance Rules’ was published in 1965 and is now in its seventh edition and widely used in the Royal Navy.

Norman loved crossword puzzles and he and Janice often attended concerts at Fairfield Halls especially after retirement. Norman was a sidesman at St. Andrews for 45 years and unfailingly supported Janice in her work for the church. Norman was devoted to the family and they were latterly able to spend more time with their grandchildren.

After Janice’s sudden passing in October, Norman’s Parkinsons progressed rapidly. Norman has been a member of Coulsdon Probus for many years, a very much respected gentleman, he will be greatly missed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *