Whitwick U3A logo

Whitwick & District U3A

Registered Charity No. 1181238

Monday, 28 September 2020

Monday, 28 Sep 2020

U3A logo

Whitwick & District U3A - History Group


During the winter months the group usually meet in Thringstone Methodist Church Hall for a speaker. The summer programme comprises visits to historical sites and history based walks. During the year there is a combination of local history plus subjects from further afield.

NEW Graveyard Tours

Many thanks to members who have responded re the possibility of resuming physical events. While some members have reservations, others are keen to resume some form of physical (as opposed to digital) event, provided safety guidelines are followed. I sent a risk management outline to the committee and this has been approved (see attached). We will therefore commence with graveyard tours comprising a maximum of six people. It is important that activities are not for the select few, so to accommodate everyone who wishes to take part, there will be multiple sessions. If more than two sessions are needed, they will be run on another day.

I appreciate that some people will feel that they are not ready to resume activities of this nature. That's fine, everyone's circumstances and attitude to managing the virus is different. Graveyard tours have been selected because they are outdoors and do not involve too much walking. As the weather gets colder we will look at short walks that keep us a bit warmer. All plans are subject to change as coronavirus and government advice changes.

Griffydam Graveyard Tour - Monday 28th September

1st tour at 2.10pm, 2nd tour at 3.40pm (timed to avoid end of school day). Meet at The Tentas (off Top Road, virtually opposite the school).
Read the group risk assessment before booking. Participants should also complete a personal risk assessment - this does not need to be shared with the GL.
It is recognised that one of the attractions of U3A activities is meeting friends. Another is the pot luck nature of which members we meet while attending activities. To strike a balance, members may book in groups of 2 or 3. Bookings by email please.

Digital History at 3pm Every Monday

So sit down in front of your laptops, with your glass of blackcurrant and slice of cake at 3 pm on Monday 28th Sept to join me for another digital history session.

This week's films provide an opportunity to brush up on some local history.

William Lilly's Cottage - Diseworth - Leicestershire. A couple of minutes covering the restoration of the thatched cottage

How to get ahead in life when your father is in debtors prison - walk to London, serve your master and marry a rich widow 25 years older than yourself and become a master astrologer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Lilly

The Changing Face of Hathern Village Loughborough. 100 years of village changes.

Hathern Village Scenes c1955. Includes a fascinating interview with one of the oldest residents.

History Group Video Conference - 7pm Tuesday. If any of you fancy a video conference to chat about the films or any other history subjects then join me for a Zoom conference. For details on joining see email or contact Bis.


At 3 pm on Monday 21st Sept

The history of Mwmbwls, Gower is featured this week.

MUMBLES RAILWAY SWANSEA - BBC Wales The world's first passenger railway, nearly two decades before George Stephenson and Stockton Darlington!

Capsized: The tragic story of The Mumbles lifeboat disaster

At 3 pm on Monday 14th Sept

Any Man's Kingdom An attempt to capture the variety of life in Northumberland, and in particular something of the county's heart-warming atmosphere. This charming 1956 British Transport Film features music by Elizabeth Lutyens and the narrator is well known film, stage & TV actor Stephen Murray who is perhaps best remembered as Number 1 in the long running radio comedy series The Navy Lark.

At 3 pm on Monday 7th Sept

Watch Holiday online Last week we journeyed to The Lancashire Coast and we now move on to 1957 for a traditional seaside Holiday in Blackpool itself. This lively British Transport Film is great fun featuring brilliant camera work, a terrific soundtrack by Chris Barber and his Band, and narration by Robert Shaw. The film naturally finishes with a glimpse of the town's famous illuminations.

There are more things to do on holiday than just lie on a beach. Yorkshire's Hidden History provides a few tips on how to recognise church architecture.

A Brief Intro to Historical Churches I: Anglo-Saxon

A Brief Intro to Historical Churches II: Norman

A Brief Intro to Medieval Gothic Churches

At 3 pm on Monday 31st Aug

The Lancashire Coast It is now the August Bank Holiday weekend so this must be the time to take a little holiday. So, let's go back to 1957 with British Transport Films for a tour of The Lancashire Coast. Our narrator is once again the actor/radio broadcaster Hubert Gregg. BTF often produced these wonderful (now nostalgic) travelogues with professional actors actually appearing as, seemingly, 'members of the public'. This bright little documentary concludes with a courting couple set against a backdrop of the Blackpool illuminations, - but a previous reviewer points out the young man is actually actor Bill Treacher, best known for his role as Arthur Fowler in Eastenders.

To go with the film, take a gander at:

Hidden Lancaster, England and Madness, Migration and the Irish in Lancashire, 1850-1921

At 3 pm on Monday 24th Aug

Miss Grant goes to the door (1940) - Miss Grant Goes to the Door features the highly respected actresses of stage and screen Mary Clare & Martita Hunt, and was produced to help keep the British public on their guard at a time when there was a real fear of invasion after the Dunkirk evacuation. In this dramatic short, two elderly spinsters deal with German paratroopers dropped into their garden!

Went the Day Well? (1942) - trailer. Went the Day Well? will soon be getting a couple of showings on Talking Pictures TV (Freeview 81, Sky 328,Virgin 445), - on Saturday 5th September @ 6pm & on Wednesday 9th September @ 2.30pm.

You might be interested in my new 'favourite historian', a young lady with a quirky sense of humour, who is passionate about Yorkshire history.

Yorkshire's Hidden History, A Brief History of Saltaire, Flora Sandes - The Yorkshire Woman Who Fought For Serbia in WWI, The 1820 Yorkshire Rebellion, The Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536, Witches in Yorkshire, Catherine Warr - Yorkshire's Hidden History

At 3 pm on Monday 17th Aug

Look at Life Vol 01 Transport Vintage Models 1963 This week, the Rank Organisation short Vintage Models (1963) takes a look at the restoration of vintage cars and includes a visit to Montagu Motor Museum in the New Forest. Hope you will agree, it's wonderful to hear Raymond Baxter again!

Genevieve And now a little tie-in...why not take a look at this clip from the much loved, classic comedy film Genevieve (1953) starring John Gregson, Kenneth More, Kay Kendall and Dinah Sheridan (with Larry Adler playing the harmonica!). The TV channel, Talking Pictures TV (Channel 81 on Freeview) frequently shows this delightful colour film.

This week I have added several short clips featuring transport during the last couple of centuries:

Stage Coaches (1961)

Oldest Footage of London Ever A time when horse and motor powered transport coexisted side by side

York Museums Trust - Hansom Cab Although born in York, Hansom moved to Leicestershire where he invented the Hansom cab. He was an architect and amongst his buildings are Birmingham Town Hall and Leicester Museum and Art Gallery in the New Walk.

A change from the above is pedal power. These clips brought back memories for me as in the 1970's the Scout Group I was in took part in the local races at Barry Island, regional events in Kidderminster and Weston-super-Mare and the nationals at Scarborough and Brighton.

Soapbox Derby (1961) Held in Scarborough

SCOUT CAR RACES More than a hundred peddle-powered monsters in the annual scout-car races at Brighton in 1971.

At 3 pm on Monday 10th Aug

'Staycations' are very much in the news this year as many of us are opting for holidays in the UK and it seems caravan & campervan holidays are proving particularly popular.

Caravan Concourse - In 1966, an entry in the Pathé Pictorial series offered an insight into caravan holidays...

Home On Wheels - In 1957, Pathé also produced this little look at Dora Bryan's campervan, - which was apparently something of a surprise item at the time. You will note, campervans (in contrast to the more upmarket motorhomes) have not changed a great deal over the years.

From these films looking at the history of British holidays seemed a natural extension, so the following is 10 minutes on how Blackpool developed into a holiday destination.

History of The British Holiday | How The Victorians Built Britain | Channel 5

A name such as Eugenius Birch is always worth investigating so here is a little more.

IAAPA Hall of Fame: Eugenius Birch and the Seaside Amusement Pier

At 3 pm on Monday 3rd Aug

Ideal Home Exhibition . In 1963, Pathé News produced this attractive short support film in Technicolor for their ABC cinema circuit, showing highlights of that year's Exhibition.

Westinghouse All Electric House

What Past Predictions of the Future Got Right

Man Predicting The Future in 1945

At 3 pm on Monday 27th July

Vive Torbay: Travelling to the British Seaside (1968). It's still holiday time, - and what could be nicer than a week in the borough of Torbay (Torquay, Brixham & Paignton), - the English Riviera. This week's featured film is a nostalgic Pathé Pictorial short produced in 1968 as a supporting film for the ABC cinema circuit.

Britain's Real Monarch (British History Documentary). This film is based on the premise that Edward IV was illegitimate and that the Hastings family of Ashby castle are the true heirs to the throne. For those who enjoy the what ifs of history, family trees and local interest this is a must.

At 3 pm on Monday 20th July

NORTH TO WALES - A nostalgic holiday excursion, - as we leave Euston Station in 1956 bound for North Wales. Another delightful British Transport Film short, this time narrated by popular Welsh character actor Meredith Edwards as he fondly remembers his homeland.

1947 family outing to Roath Park Cardiff. A few years before my time but very recognisable - boating lake, swimming huts, the big slide.

Barry Island prepares for Easter 1962 The nearest sandy beach was Barry Island - we spent many summer days there with sandcastles, fish and chips, ice cream and a few rides in the funfair before the train home.

Old Abandoned Rusty Trains In UK. Abandoned Train. Cars On The Barry Scrapyard. Ghost Train. The train to Barry Island passed the train scrapyard - it's a good job that they started work on breaking up the thousands of coaches, as before they got to the locomotives many heritage railways were established and headed to Barry. Virtually every heritage railway in the country now has a train or coach that has been recovered from Barry. If you are a steam train enthusiast you will recognise many different types of locomotive.

1968ish Porthcawl My grandparents lived in Porthcawl so trips to Coney Beach funfair were a regular feature, if you stayed on the waterchute for a second ride it was cheaper. Paddling in the sea and digging sandcastles.

Tenby to Manorbier on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in West Wales - July 2016. This clip reminds me of holidays in a caravan at Tenby and Saundersfoot, with train trips to Lydstep Haven and Manobier. Also of my later wild camping walks along the Pembrokeshire coast path. Exploring Manobier castle is a vivid memory. In 1146 Gerald of Wales, the great 12th-century scholar known as Geraldus Cambrensis was born at the castle. He was the fourth and youngest son of William de Barri, who was related on his mother's side, to the legendary Welsh princess Nest ferch Rhys.

At 3 pm on Tuesday 14th July

Smokeless Coalville - BBC news report from 1963. At the time, former athlete Chris Brasher was a reporter for the BBC's Tonight programme and our film this week features Coalville UDC's resolve to become smokeless. Various local people are interviewed and the footage includes some interesting location shooting.

Charles and Mary - a film about social reformers Charles and Mary Booth. It's a shame that this is the last film involving children from Grace Dieu Manor School as it is closing.

At 3 pm on Monday 6th July

Look at Life Vol 01 Transport All through the Night. In 1959-60, the Rank Organisation produced a series of short documentary films under the title Look at Life for their Odeon and Gaumont cinema chains to replace the circuit's newsreels. The film this week is a particularly good example of these 'slice of life' supporting films, a very colourful, interesting and entertaining insight into life on the road for the night drivers of British Road Services.

Continuing the 60's theme

Review Of The Sixties (1970)

Swinging Britain in the 60s: A Psychedelic Dream (1967)


At 3 pm on Monday 29th June

Down To Sussex Thanks to this wonderful British Transport Film, we can be transported back to 1964 to take a very rich and varied tour of Sussex. So, let's take the train to a county rich in scenic beauty and history and enjoy the delights of the seaside, peaceful downland villages and fertile weald.

To go with the film, some short clips about Sussex.

Screen decades of West Sussex history

Brighton in the 70's | East Sussex | 1979

Abandoned Village - Exploration & History of Tide Mill

Weald & Downland Living Museum, West Sussex

At 3 pm on Monday 22nd June

Highland Journey (1957) Another delightful film from British Transport Films and another little time capsule of seemingly tranquil days and lifestyles in the Highlands of Scotland.

Keeping on a Scottish theme are a couple of films about Glasgow.

Billy Connolly's History & Culture Of Glasgow | Made In Glasgow Billy does not tell us a lot in this short film, but it is interesting to see what elements of the city's history and culture he has selected in his personal viewpoint.

Glasgow 1980 (made in 1971) This film shows us how much Glasgow was changing in the 1960s and 1970s. However, for me the most fascinating part is how our attitudes have changed. Some people feel that the exciting new buildings of that period are actually soulless concrete monstrosities, some of which have already been demolished.

At 3 pm on Monday 15th June

The Travel Game (1958) "All aboard The Hook Continental!" at Liverpool Street Station in 1958, bound for the ferry at Harwich, and then on to the Hook of Holland. Our host traveller/narrator is actually well known actor Hubert Gregg who surmises where his fellow passengers may be bound for.

The Netherlands

As the film concerned a journey to the Hook of Holland a few snippets of Dutch history seem appropriate.

The Netherlands, Holland and The Low Countries - The Difference

Ten Minute History - The Dutch Revolt

Why The Dutch Turned A Sea Into A Lake

How The Dutch Dug Up Their Country From The Sea

At 3 pm on Monday 8th June

Watch Train Time (28 minutes) Examining a day in the life of what was then the busiest railway system in the world - British Railways.

The Open Road Startling colour photography of 1920s Britain imbues Claude Friese-Greene's 1920s road trip around Britain. A silent film, 65 minutes, with captions. For those unable to go on holiday this year, how about a 1920s motor tour from Lands End to John O' Groats.

At 3 pm on Monday 1st June

Watch The Daily Round: The Story of Milk Production and Distribution Indulge your nostalgia for the old-fashioned milk bottle with this promotional film made for Express Dairy Company (later known as Express Dairies), described in the film as "the most modern dairy in the world". This 22 minutes short takes us back to the time of our own childhood when our milk was delivered daily - in one pint glass bottles.

Three Unusual Historic Places

Grand, Historic, and Never Used: The Forgotten Tunnel of Park Estate - 5 minutes. A piece of Nottingham history you have never heard of and can explore for yourself.

The Vasari Corridor: The World's Least Secret Secret Passageway - 5 minutes The ultimate extravagance of the super rich - a 1km passageway between two Florence palaces.

La Petite Ceinture: What Happened to Paris's Lost Railway? - 8 minutes

At 3 pm on Monday 25th May

This is York (1953; 20 minutes) Historical York, industrial York and the surrounding countryside are the backdrop, but the main setting is York Station on an autumn day from dawn to dusk. All railway life is shown here. The film precedes the Beeching cuts by 10 years .

Von Trapp Family

It is fascinating to see what parts of the story the film makers kept and which bits they changed. Watch the short or long versions (or both)

Documentary on the Von Trapps - 10 minutes

A Familia Von Trapp - Harmonia e Discordia - 46 minutes

And a bit about the cast, as their reminiscences are living history: The Sound of Music 50th anniversary cast interviews and gala

At 3 pm on Monday 18th May

British Transport Films, Our Canteens - Its 12 minutes cover the complexity of the canteen service, conditions of work and the aims of training. It features advice on how the employees should cope with difficulties which arise on the job and emphasises the importance of efficient, friendly canteens to the transport staff. This may all seem rather quaint now but overall we see a charming, lively and entertaining little film which provides a delightful slice of 1950's social history.

Beyond a general awareness of the Picts I know very little, so these short films peaked my interest:

Largest Ever Pictish Hillfort Discovered in Scotland

Picts: History and Heritage

If VE day has sparked your interest in the WW2 period and you have plenty of time, you might wish checkout some of the films on BBC's iPlayer

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The King's Speech

While some liberties are taken with the history they all capture the mood and spirit of the times.

At 3 pm on Monday 11th May

The Coal Industry Two very contrasting films .

Miners Strike in South Derbyshire With flying pickets at the colliery entrance the moderate miners of South Derbyshire face the painful decision of whether to cross the picket line.

Mining Review 2nd Year No. 11 American actor and singer Paul Robeson visits an Edinburgh colliery, where he regales miners with a rendition of 'I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night'.

More info can be found with Working Lives In The Mining Industry from Future Learn, which is a group of universities and other organisations running a range of short online courses.

At 3 pm on Monday 4th May

Charge of the Light Brigade - Trailer for the classic Warner Brothers film The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)

Crimean War. The Battle of Sinop, after which Sinope mine was named and the collection of cottages surrounding the mine assumed the same name.

The Crimean War - Episode 1 The Reason Why

Florence Nightingale Biography

Swannington Coal Mines Swannington's Califat and Sinope coal mines were both named after events leading to the start of the Crimean War.

At 3 pm on Monday 27th April

They Take the High Road (1960; 25 mins). Set in Scotland, this film tells the story of four British Road Services drivers who lived and worked together for two years, loading and transporting 20,000 tons of cement in seven-and-a half-ton loads up craggy mountain roads from the little railway station at Killin to the new Giorra Dam.

History of the Vatican

Vatican City explained and Little Europe: The Vatican City

Charnwood Forest Railway

Charnwood forest Railway Shepshed to Whitwick Monday 27th was meant to be a visit to Whitwick Historical Group at The Station. So it seems appropriate to include this film about a walk along the railway track bed - by an intrepid walker with a keen interest in railway bridges.

At 3 pm on Monday 20th April

Water Marks . A geographical journey around the town, harbour and coastline of Wells-Next-the-Sea.

AWAY FOR THE DAY is a film produced by British Transport Films about days out by coach in the early 1950s.

Leicester & Swannington Railway A walk up the line from West Bridge, Leicester covering what was left of the L&SR up to Desford Junction in 1964 just before the track was lifted.

Leicester & Swannington Railway 150 years celebration A film of the only steam locomotive to run on the Coleorton Railway.

At 3 pm on Monday 13th April

Cyclists Special (1955) is a delightful record of the first train excursion organised for the CTC on Sunday 8 May 1955.
When the United States invaded England, The Whitehaven Raid
French Invasion of Fishguard - I grew up on the tale of the French surrendering to a group of Welsh women,.
Henry Tudor's guide to Pembrokeshire

At 3 pm on Monday 6th April

Starter 1932 Film of Coalville 10 minutes (Silent film so don't adjust the volume!)
Main Event - Royal Family
Buckingham Palace 9 minutes
Balmoral Castle 12 minutes and 6 minutes

At 3pm Monday 30/3/20, please join me from the luxurious comfort of your homes to watch three short Coalville related videos on YouTube:

An important part of the monthly meeting is having a chat with fellow members at both the start and end. This can also be replicated - who do you usually sit next to (husband or wife excluded)? After watching the videos and consuming your cake get in touch with one or more of your fellow members to discuss it or catch up generally. There are so many options these days - house phone, mobile phone, email, text, etc.


Please spend a little time recording your memories of this unusual time. There is lots of material about the issue as a whole but future generations will want to understand how it impacted each person in different ways. Three impacts on me: The shock at seeing the supermarket didn't have a single bottle of blackcurrant, lemon, lime or apple squash (far more important than tea, coffee or alcohol). Seeing the queue of shoppers outside Morrisons and driving straight out of the car park and going to Lidl where there was not a queue Finding the Shows Must Go On channel on Youtube. On behalf of Swannington Heritage Trust I am compiling an archive of memories from the whole area, so please send me some memories and photos to include as it would be a huge shame if this pandemic is not recorded.


Generally the last Monday of the month but may be changed to accommodate opening times of the places we visit.



Mon Jan 27th - Food of my youth
Our annual bring and share lunch - Members are invited to share their food memories of their youth, from school dinners and weekly family fare to special events. Speaking is optional, just come for the friendship if you prefer. Members are asked to bring something for the bring and share lunch. 11.45am for 12 noon, Thringstone Methodist Hall.

Mon Feb 24th - Thringstone Names
- Nita Pearson from Friends of Thringstone will be talking to us about the origin of Thringstone road and place names. Thringstone Methodist Church Hall, 1.45 for 2pm. £3

Mon Mar 30th - Heritage Films
Keith Pare will be showing some of his heritage films. As visitors to the Century Theatre's film nights know, Keith has access to a fabulous range of heritage films. Thringstone Methodist Church Hall, 1.45 for 2pm. £3

Mon Apr 27th - Charnwood Forest Railway
We will visit Whitwick Historical Group for a talk about the former Charnwood Forest Railway which linked Coalville and Loughborough and was used for 80 years. Meet at Whitwick Station, North Street (LE67 5HA), the only remaining building on the line, 1.45 for 2pm. £3


Roger (Bis) Bisgrove at history at whitwicku3a dot org dot uk

Please note that as an anti-spam measure e-mail addresses on this page are NOT links, but should be manually copied


More pictures are available in the Gallery

October 2019 - Gas in Leicestershire.

Some slides from the talk

Composite view with end of terrece house, young boy in yard, and two young boys being flowerpot men in the ends of large pipes
Title slide, showing the house where Paul first lived with his family

Gas showroom on Belvoir Road
Coalville Gas office

Retort house with tall chimney, a few houses and open fields
View from the Whitwick gas holder to Green Lane


Page content updated 26-9-20
September 2019 - Breedon Hill Fort.

Information board showing  location  and view of site realted to quarry
Breedon Iron Age Hill Fort information board

Peter Liddle explaining the site to members
Breedon Iron Age Hill Fort

Panoramic view of surrounding countryside
Panoramic view from the Hill Fort

Field with sheep grazing and Breedon church behind
Field of sheep with archaeological discoveries

Composite picture of stained glass window and various carvings
Breedon church with Saxon wall carvings

Interior of church with views of a memorial, the organ and members
Interior of Breedon Church