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Epsom, Ewell and District Centre

 Supporting the National Trust since 1971

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Spring Talks Programme, 2019


The February talk was given by Michael Gilbert, a very popular speaker who has visited Bourne Hall several times over the last few years.  Michael’s talk was entitled “A Tonic to the Nation” and described the Festival of Britain held on the South Bank of the River Thames during 1951 exactly 100 years after the building of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851.  The talk was illustrated by many images including views of the temporary buildings constructed for the Festival such as the Dome of Discovery and the Skyline.  Sadly both were demolished when the Exhibition closed.  The only building planned to be permanent was the Festival Hall and now, much changed but on the same site, it remains an important concert venue to this day.


In March Susan Howe entertained us with some amusing anecdotes from the year she spent as PA to Sir John Betjeman and his celebrated teddy bear Archie.  The toy bear was Sir John’s lifelong companion


having been with him at University and was in his arms when he died in 1984.  Susan worked from John Betjeman’s house in Smithfield Market coping with his eccentricities on a daily basis (he wrote poems on the back of cheque books and then couldn’t find them) and met his disparate group of friends such as Mary Wilson (wife of Harold and a poet) and Barry Humphries (Dame Edna).  When Susan left after a year in his employment Sir John said “Gosh, we had fun.  Just a shame you couldn’t type”!! After the refreshment break Susan talked about her friendship with another British eccentric Donald Sinclair.  The vet on whom Siegfried Farnon the character played by Robert Hardy in the TV series All Creatures Great and Small was based.


I would like to begin by apologising for the change of Talk and Speaker on 17th April. We were expecting Neil Miller to tell us about his role as Head Gardener at Hever Castle but unfortunately pressure of work prevented him from doing so and he reluctantly had to cancel. Thankfully, Michael Gilbert was able to fill the gap at the last minute with an illustrated talk ‘London and the Thames - Teddington Lock to Lambeth’ Michael has a considerable number of talks and even though he visited us only two months before, this Talk was sufficiently different from his earlier presentations about the Crystal Palace and Festival of Britain. I am sure that those members who were disappointed by not hearing about Hever will have enjoyed Michael’s interesting and entertaining Talk about the River Thames.


           Michael Masheder


NOTE : We would mention that there is additional car parking at Bourne Hall should the car park be full on Talk evenings.  Just proceed out of the car park and on the right is additional car parking at the Health Centre.  We would also mention for those attending our Talks who find the staircase a little steep that there is a lift down to the Main Hall


If you have any friends, relatives, neighbours or just visitors who might be interested in any of our Talks please encourage them to come along without any obligation to join our Centre.