Royton Local History Society

Royton Local History Society

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Previous Talks

14th Jan. 2008 - Ron Needham ‘A Cameraman’s Tales’

Another speaker joining us for the first time is Ron Needham, an ex-professional photographer, now retired and living in Royton.

His talk begins with an interesting and amusing insight into his life as a photographer, followed by a showing of his short film entitled "Lost in the Zoo." This 16mm colour movie film, lasting about 20 minutes, was shot at Belle Vue Zoo during the 1950’s. If you, like me, often visited Belle Vue around this time then this film will surely bring back many poignant memories of those bygone days.

11th Feb.2008 - Doug Ashmore ‘Royton Hall ....... the story so far’

Tonight we are invited to look at the results of the ‘Royton Lives Through the Ages’ community digs, which took place during the summers of 2005/6 on the site of the old Royton Hall. We can admire photographs of the excellent archaeology and the finds which were uncovered........... some of which posed more questions than answers!

This illustrated talk is sure to bring back lots of happy memories for the many volunteers who took part in the project and there is bound to be a laugh or two as well if the right questions are asked of Doug.

10th March 2008 - John Doughty ‘Noted for Fresh Air and Fun’

Hands up those of you who have been to Blackpool for a holiday. Most of you? I thought so.

Tonight we will hear how an 18th century village, named after a peat stained (black) pool, became the most famous seaside resort in Britain. We will be finding out why it was such a favourite holiday destination and what made it so popular.

Please bring your own sticks of rock, candy floss and ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hats along on the night!

14th April 2008 - Norman Bishop ‘History of Cloggs’

Are you old enough to remember people wearing cloggs? Perhaps you even wore them yourself. This evening Norman Bishop will tell us all about the history of cloggs, from Roman times right up to the present day.

12th May 2008 - Margaret Curry ‘Cotton Wool Country’

The ‘Cotton Wool Country’, referred to in the title of this talk, is the traditional wool and cotton manufacturing areas of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Tonight Margaret Curry returns with an illustrated talk about the history, people and landscapes of the gritstone area of the South Pennines.

We look forward to being entertained once again by one of our most popular speakers.

9th June 2008 - Michael Clarke ‘The Toastmaster’

The presence of a Toastmaster at an event brings a certain amount of style and dignity to the proceedings, but what exactly are their roles and origins? ‘Please be upstanding’ for tonights visitor who is the ideal person to tell us. Michael speaks from his personal experience of having been a professional Toastmaster for many years ......................................................"Cheers!"


8th Sept. 2008 M. Lawson & M. Johnson

‘Chadderton’s Claims to Fame’
(and other fascinating facts)

When Chadderton Historical Society first published a leaflet on ‘Chadderton’s Claims to Fame’ it contained only a dozen or so entries. Over the years a great many more interesting facts have been discovered. This evening’s illustrated talk, by Society members Michael Lawson and Mark Johnson, will look at a selection of the more unusual ‘Claims to Fame’ and ‘Fascinating Facts’. Did you know that a Chadderton resident carried out the last official hanging in the UK? What was AL 63, and why was it important during the Second World War?

All will be revealed this evening!

13th October 2008 Morris Garratt

‘Samuel Bamford’

Tonight’s talk is about Samuel Bamford who was born in Middleton in 1788 and is best remembered today for his account of the event known as ‘Peterloo’. He was twice imprisoned by the authorities and became a well-known radical whose Diary contained some caustic comments about some of his contemporaries.

10th November 2008 Margaret Curry

‘Beatrix Potter - Industrial Inheritance’

This illustrated talk looks at Beatrix Potter’s family background, mainly in the Manchester area, and her childhood and life in London until the time she bought ‘Hill Top’ in the Lake District.

Although there are a few references to her children’s books and to her lesser known scientific and archaeological work, this talk is mainly about her life up to the age of 39, rather than about ‘Peter Rabbit and Friends’.

8th December 2008 Peter Watson

‘Green Men and Little People’

These have been seen! Historical facts, anecdotes and artefacts litter this light-hearted talk about folklore given by our old friend Peter Watson. It should make for an entertaining evening which will be rounded off with the usual festive refreshments.

12th January 2009 Raymond Rush

‘Toys and Games’

Back by popular demand is Raymond Rush who tonight will revive your childhood memories. Raymond says that this will be a practical evening when everyone has a chance to play with, and talk about, the hundred or so items that will be passed around for all to enjoy. Most are originals, others modern developments of what you wished you once had!

9th February 2009 Geoff Oliver

‘The Munich Air Disaster 1958’

I'm sure you’ve all heard of this tragic event but do you know the full story? This talk describes the series of events leading up to the disaster, the disaster itself, and the aftermath including investigations which made air travel safer for us all. This is not a talk about Manchester United, although of necessity it does include some football information. It's about an aviation incident which would probably be largely forgotten nowadays had it not involved a high profile football team.

9th March 2009 John Doughty

‘Noted for Fresh Air and Fun’

This talk was scheduled to take place last March but had to be cancelled at the last minute. Tonight we will hear how an 18th century village, named after a peat stained (black) pool, became the most famous seaside resort in Britain. We will be finding out why it was such a favourite holiday destination and what made it so popular.

20th April 2009 Glen Atkinson

‘Building the Big Ditch’

Although this is Glen Atkinson’s first visit to us he comes highly recommended by Newton Heath Historical Society.  Victorian ‘magic lantern’ slides (complete with lantern) illustrate his talk about the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal  from Pomona to Eastham.

11th May 2009 Michael E. Clarke

‘My Experiences since the 1950s’

Michael returns to complete his talk "My Eight Decades Experiences" which he started in May 2007! This is because there was so much interaction between him and the audience last time he only managed to get to the 1950s!

As we enter the 21st century faced with, amongst other things, a barrage of technological miracles to mesmerise many of the "over sixties", we move away from the values of yesteryear ...... those values taught to us in our homes and our schools when we were young.

This talk is a recollection of arguably better times.

8th June 2009 Jack Morris

‘The Other Black Beauty’

I’m leaving you to guess what this talk is about but will give you some clues to ‘whet your appetite’ ...............

By the time he was 21 years old Jack owned his own business and at one time produced two and a half tonnes of this per week. A national competition led him to meet many T.V. stars. He became famous in 1970 when he won a gold medal for Great Britain in a French competition.

Think you know what it’s about? Come along tonight to find out if you are right. P.S. Don’t have a big tea!!

Monday 14th September - Geoff Oliver

100 Years of Byron St. School

Byron Street School was opened in 1907 and tonight's presentation is a DVD, made in it’s centenary year, commemorating 100 years of educating Royton's children. It includes historic photographs and the recollections of former pupils dating back to its earliest days.

Sadly Byron Street School (renamed Royton Hall Primary School) closed it’s doors in July 2009 for the very last time. The pupils have amalgamated with those from the former Highbarn Junior School and now enjoy classes in newly built premises on Highbarn Street.


12th October 2009 - Mike Buckley

Architecture and Heritage in the Borough of Oldham

Councillor Mike Buckley, Oldham Council’s Heritage Champion, takes a look at historic buildings and architecture across the Borough.


9th November 2009 - John Robinson


Once a famous whaling centre and home to Captain James Cook as a young man, now a bustling tourist resort and busy fishing port. Where is it? Whitby, of course, but did you know it is also THE place to find amazing fossils. This talk is about the history of Whitby and the incredible fossils that have been found there.

John will be bringing some samples to illustrate his talk and will also have some fossils for sale if you want to purchase your own little piece of history.


14th December 2009 - Glen Atkinson

“What the papers said.”

Glen made his first visit to us last April when he spoke about the building of ‘The Big Ditch’ (the Manchester Ship Canal). His talk was both informative and humourous and enjoyed by all those who attended so, for this Christmas meeting, we have invited him back again to entertain us.

Tonight he intends to take a light-hearted look at the incredible antics reported in the Victorian local newspapers.

Of course, this fun evening would not be complete without festive refreshments to round off the night.


11th January 2010 - Ken Darwen

Towneley Hall

Towneley Hall is a grade 1 listed building set within the 284 acre Towneley Park in Burnley. For over six centuries it was the residential home of the Towneley family, who lived there from the 13th century to 1902. The present house, which dates from the 14th and 16th centuries, is now owned by Burnley Borough Council and houses a museum, with period rooms containing 16th/17th century oak furnishings, and an art gallery.

There is lots more to learn about the history of this magnificent building and no one better to tell us than tonight’s speaker Ken Darwen, the Museum Manager, who will be revealing the true splendour of the Hall and it’s grounds.


8th February 2010 - Doug Ashmore

Hadrian’s Wall

Doug and his wife Marjorie tried and failed to find Hadrian’s Wall on a visit to Northumberland in 2008. Not to be defeated they set off again in 2009 armed with more information and found exactly what they wanted and much, much more. They found the Military Road and all was revealed - accomodation for 500 - 1500 soldiers with a hospital, baths and latrines for the men, in fact all the mod. cons. a good Roman had come to expect. In tonight’s illustrated talk Doug and Marjorie hope to share their experience of Hadrian’s Wall with you.


8th March 2010 - John Fidler

The Glen Mill

Originally a cotton mill which ceased production in 1938, this Oldham mill was used as a Prisoner of War camp during the Second World War. Tonight’s talk about the Glen Mill includes it’s origins, how it reflected the rhythm of the war and the conditions inside the camp. We will also hear some prisoner’s recollections, before concluding with the final days of the mill.

Although this is John’s first visit to our society, he is much in demand as a speaker and comes highly recommended by a number of other groups.


12th April 2010 - Derek Slater

Victorian Theatre

Another new speaker to our society is Derek Slater who will be taking a light-hearted look at the main characteristics of popular nineteenth-century theatre. He will also be taking a look at some individual plays and the way they reflected the social conditions of the time.


10th May 2010 - Ray Hoerty

Manchester’s Hidden History

An alternative look at Manchester’s history - the stories and personalities connected with the City’s street names. Ray , also making his first visit, is a Registered Tour Guide so hopefully should be able to find us at Downey House!


14th June 2010 - Margaret Curry

Beatrix Potter - Lakeland Legacy

The ever popular Margaret Curry returns again this evening with part 2 of her Beatrix Potter story. Part 1, expertly told to us in November 2008, took a look at Beatrix’s early life.

Tonight we will learn about her marriage and permanent residence in the Lake District, the farms and other properties which she bought, her success as a farmer and sheep breeder, her involvement with the National Trust and finally, her legacy to the Trust - still the largest single bequest from any donor.

September 13th 2010
Geoff Oliver

Have you ever had an X-ray image taken of any part of your body? If the answer is "No" then you are very lucky, If the answer is "Yes" have you ever wondered how these machines work? This illustrated talk explains the events leading up to the discovery of X-Rays in the late 1800's, who the major players were in the discovery and the development of the first X-Ray machines. It goes on to describe how X-Rays are produced with a basic outline of how the machines work, their development from the early days to the present digital era and how they are used. Our speaker is a retired X-Ray engineer who spent 40 years roaming around the country installing, repairing and servicing medical and industrial X-Ray machines.'

 Wednesday 29th September 2010
Annual General Meeting

The A.G.M. will take place at Downey House. It will follow a short E.G.M. which will start at 8.00pm. All members welcome.

October 11th 2010
Ken Darwin

This talk was due to take place last January, unfortunately the terrible weather forced us to cancel the meeting. Let us hope we have better luck tonight! Towneley Hall is a grade 1 listed building set within the 284 acre Towneley Park in Burnley. For over six centuries it was the residential home of the Towneley family, who lived there from the 13th century to 1902. The present house, which dates from the 14th and 16th centuries, is now owned by Burnley Borough Council and houses a museum, with period rooms containing 16th/17th century oak furnishings, and an art gallery. Just recently the hall was host to the TV programme Antiques Master. There is lots more to learn about the history of this magnificent building and no one better to tell us than tonight’s speaker Ken Darwen, the Museum Manager, who will be revealing the true splendour of the Hall and it’s grounds.

November 8th 2010
John Cleary

Born in Royton in the 1930’s John Cleary, author of the book ‘A Class Innings’ and President of the Central Lancashire Cricket League for the past five years, recalls his early life in the town. The days of the ‘knocker-upper’ and rag puddings, ration books and liquorice sticks, Royton ‘Wakes’ and the ‘Bug Hut’ (Pavilion cinema).

November 19th 2010

On Friday November 19th 2010 celebrate Lancashire Day at Downey House with traditional Lancashire entertainment and a potato pie supper.

December 13th 2010
Joan Friend

We’ve been promised that this will be a talk with a difference! The subject is ‘Tudor Times’ -but not as we know them. Forget the splendour of Hampton Court and St. James’s Palace, Henry the VIII and all his wives. Tonight, Joan will be giving us an insight into the underworld and low-life abounding in Tudor times.

January 10th 2011
Patricia Abram

Tonight Pat Abrams will tell us about her life as an E.W.O. for over 30 years, recalling both the serious and the funny side of the job. Obviously the work evolved quite a lot during that time but it was always interesting and extremely varied. If, like me, you are not sure what an E.W.O. is, then I’ll tell you - it’s an Education Welfare Officer and if you are still not clear does ‘the old school board’ ring any bells?

February 14th 2011
Glen Atkinson

You will probably remember Glen’s remarkable illustrated talk about the building of the Manchester Ship Canal “Building the Big Ditch”. Tonight he returns to tell the saga of how each of the seven bridges built at Barton between 1670 and 1960 fell down during construction.

March 14th 2011
John Fidler

John’s first visit to us was last March when he spoke so interestingly about the ‘Glen mill prisoner of war camp’. This time his talk is about the murder, in Hollinwood, of an elderly lady at Christmas 1830 and, more importantly, how it was dealt with at the time.

April 11th 2011
A. D. George

This illustrated talk follows the history of popular motoring and includes, amongst others, ‘3 wheelers’, the Model T, motorcycles and sidecars and the Morris 8. Were you the proud owner of any of these? If so, this will be a trip down memory lane. If not, then the ever popular charabancs and coaches are also included.

May 9th 2011
Ian Etchells

The story of a local barber who turned his hand to execution and the tales of the local people he hanged.

June 13th 2011
John Doughty

30,000 years ago Stone Age hunters carved figures in mammoth ivory. From these beginnings, cave art developed to reach its zenith about 15,000 BC. This talk traces the development of cave art and attempts to explain the mystic background to the creative activity of the Stone Age hunter.

September 12th 2011   John Morrison


Tonight John Morrison will be describing how early sources and then more contempory sources influenced the evolution of folk music through the ages.

The A.G.M. will take place on Wednesday 28th September 2010 at Downey House at 8.00pm. All members welcome.

October 10th 2011   Freda Millett

Local historian Freda Millett is visiting us tonight to talk about her latest book ‘Scattered Homes’ which tells the story of these homes which existed in Oldham and other towns before the Children’s Act of 1947. This Act changed, for the better, the welfare of children, especially those without parents.

November 14th 2011   Ray Hoerty

Royalty is very much in the news nowadays and Ray will provide an entertaining look at Royalty throughout the ages. Be prepared for many fascinating, but also some very shocking, stories about past Royals.

December 12th 2011   Anne Ashton

What did we do before modern medicines were invented? How were illnesses treated and wounds healed? Anne will take us back to those dark days when herbs, potions and even witches spells were used to try and cure our ancestor’s ills. She may even have an old cure for indigestion, which may be needed as the evening will be rounded off with our usual festive refreshments!

January 9th 2012   Michael Higgins

It is August 1819, four years after the Battle of Waterloo and the Napoleonic Wars, and unemployed soldiers, weavers and artisans are planning a protest meeting in Manchester. The burning issues are rising food prices, depression in the cottage handloom weaving trade and voting reform. But why are they undergoing secret military drilling on Tandle Hill and using the language of the French Revolution? How will the Manchester authorities, without a police force and only a handful of local yeomanry cavalry and volunteer constables to call on, keep order if thirty to sixty thousand protesters march into town? The only recourse is to call in the army, many of whom are also Waterloo veterans. Will they be able to prevent the looting, rioting and injury that such a large meeting on St Peter's Field promises? The answer is 'the Peterloo Massacre' - an iconic event in local and national history.

February 13th 2012   John Cleary

Following on from his highly entertaining talk about his ‘Boyhood Memories’, local author John Cleary returns this evening with more stories about his experiences working in Royton and beyond.

March 12th 2012   Roger Ivens

Did you know that Royton Park, opened on 22nd June 1911, was built on the site of the former Royton Colliery which closed in 1901? Roger Ivens, the archivist at Oldham Local Studies Centre, takes a look at the history of coal mining in Royton with reference to the surrounding districts, in order to provide a picture of an industry that on the surface has almost completely disappeared.

April 16th 2012   Michael Clarke

Michael is finding that 72 years of learning and accepting the British way of life are being buried under the ‘Jobs Worth’ politically correct brigade. Should he be offended if someone asks for a ‘gingerbread man’ in a confectioner’s shop, just because he once had red hair?
Michael’s talk will take us through the hazards of natural thought in the interests of freedom of speech, and aims a salvo at those who are surreptitiously bent on destroying the British way of life.

May 14th 2012   Margaret Curry

One of our favourite speakers, Margaret Curry, makes a welcome return to us this evening with her talk ‘Tales of Two Cities’. This talk covers two thousand years of history in central Salford and Salford Quays, Roman and early medieval Manchester.
A lot to cover in an hour but I’m sure it will be both interesting and informative as Margaret’s talks always are.

June 11th 2012   Robert Bishop

Being a local history society we tend to concentrate on the man-made structures in our town but unfortunately many of the old buildings no longer exist and we now have to rely on photographs and people’s memories.
However, one aspect of Royton that has remained constant over the years is it’s flora and fauna, in so much as the plants alive in our fields and hedgerows today are pretty much the same as those plants of 2, 3 or 500 years ago.
Tonight Robert’s presentation will identify these plants and flowers - talking about their structure and their uses both today and in the past.

September 10th 2012                                                                             Geoff Oliver

History of Royton

Over a number of years the RLHS Chairman, Geoff Oliver, has been making a film about the history of our town looking at the everyday lives of Roytonians in farming, industry, transport, religion and education. Helped by Frances Stott, who did the initial research and scripts, Michael Higgins and Pat Abram, the film has now grown to be over 3 hours long! Tonight we can enjoy a sample of this production as we are taken back to the ‘good old days’ in Royton.


September 24th 2012                                                                                                  

Annual General Meeting

Commencing at 8:pm

Members Only


October 8th 2012                                                                                      John Fidler

A Failsworth Pole or Two

Failworth’s most notable landmark is its ‘pole’ but have you ever wondered why it has one? Or when it was erected? Or who put it there and for what reason? Tonight John Fidler pays his third visit to our society and will answer all these questions, and many more, about the origins of this local landmark.


November 12th 2012                                                                         John Morrison

 History of the Police Force

This evening’s talk covers the period from the early 1800's, when there were no police forces, to the present day and describes the social and economic conditions and their influences on policing down the years. To give the subject a local context we shall see a snapshot of the history of Oldham Borough Police Force from its inception in 1849 to its amalgamtion, 120 years later, with the surrounding Lancashire Force.


December 10th 2012                                                                           Doug Ashmore

 Lanky Laffs

Our Vice chairman, Doug Ashmore, is going to entertain us this evening with a selection of humorous, and the odd poignant, Lanky poems by Lancashire writers plus a few monologues as well - so come prepared for a laugh! Of course, this funevening would not be complete without our usual festive refreshments to round off the night.


January 14th 2013                                                                                     Ian Etchells

 Sir Thomas Tyldesley 1612-1651

A tale of one of the finest knights in all England and his involvement in the English Civil Wars. He was born in Woodplumpton, near Preston, and became a true supporter of the monarchy only to be killed in action at the Battle of Wigan Lane on 25th August 1651.


February 11th 2013                                            Michael Lawson & Mark Johnson

Versatile Valley

One of the best known valleys in Chadderton is Slacks Valley in the Whitegate area. Today it is very difficult to identify the actual valley for over the years it has altered beyond all recognition from its original rural appearance. It has been home to the Rochdale Canal, the Manchester to Leeds railway, a ‘secret’ airfield, Chadderton Power Station and the Broadway Business Park to name but a few. Find out more about this truly ‘versatile’ valley from our friends at Chadderton Historical Society.


March 11th 2013                                                                                Glen Atkinson

“Well, I Never Knew That!”

Glen Atkinson returns once again to entertain us with some amazing facts. This illustrated talk is about world firsts in inventions and achievements from the City of Salford! I can’t reveal any more but at the end of the evening I guarantee we’ll all be going home saying “Well, I never knew that!”


April 8th 2013                                                                                         Peter Braun

Dunham Massey Hall and its Families

Set in a magnificent deer park, Dunham Massey Hall in Cheshire is a Georgian mansion which was used as a military hospital during the First World War. Formerly the home of the last Earl of Stamford, it has been owned by the National Trust since 1976.

Tonight’s illustrated talk is full of stories and anecdotes covering the history of the Hall, including the family's royal connection (and disconnection!!) and a Victorian romance and scandal.


May 13th 2013                                                                                       Jan Dawson

Food our Ancestors Ate

This evening Jan will take us on an exploration of three centuries of British food ................... including a look at what a ploughman really had for his lunch, what there was to eat in the workhouse and why did a lot of sailors get head injuries – were they caused by something they had consumed?

June 10th 2013                                                                                     John Doughty

The Lancashire Witches - A not guilty verdict

In the year 1612, nineteen ‘witches’ were tried for their lives at the Midsummer Assizes in Lancaster. Thomas Potts, the Clerk of the Court, wrote a detailed account of this notorious trial. Tonight John’s illustrated talk will question whether or not these unfortunate people were just innocent victims caught up in a pattern of persecution and intrigue.

R.L.H.S. Speakers for 2013 / 2014

September 9th 2013 Flodden Field to Royton Field Michael Higgins
To commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden Field, Michael will recall the story of this famous battle fought against the Scottish invaders on 9th September 1513, the county muster and the Lancashire men who fought in it. Included in his talk will be a look at the village of Royton as it was at the time, 500 years ago.

23rd September 2013 Annual General Meeting Members only

14th October 2013 The Oldham Coliseum David Rustidge
Tonight we will hear all about the history of the Oldham Coliseum. David's talk, illustrated with slides and a nmber of costumes and props made by the wardrobe department, includes where it was originally located, the changing pattern of programmingover the years and the famous actors who have played at the theatre at different points in time.

11th November 2013 The Staff of Life David Tomlinson
This evenings talk is about bread - the staff of life! It includes the history of Warburton's Bakery, which David knows all about as he is a retired technical director of the business and worked with them for over 25 years. He has also promised to bring along some samples which will be raffled off at the end of the evening.

9th December 2013 "I Never Left School" Geoff Scargill
Geoff Scargill's whole professional life has been in education: as a teacher, a headmaster of a comprehensive school, a part time German teacher at the Chetham's School of Music, then as a case worker for one of the teacher unions. Since he is now back at Chet's as a volunteer heritage guide he can safely say "I never left school"!
Geoff's light hearted talk tonight is about the various 'characters', children and adults, he has met over the years. Of course this fun evening would not be complete without our usual festive refreshments to round off the night.

13th January 2014 The Story of Jodrel Bank Prof. Ian Morison
Hear the story of this world famous observatory from its beginnings to the present day. How Bernard Lovell was able to build the largest radio telescope in the world - which now bears his name. How it played a major role in the space race and has, since then, made several exciting discoveries. Now following two extensive upgrades, it is better than at any time in its history and plays an important role within both Jodrell Bank's e-MERLIN array and that extending across Europe.

10th February 2014 Royton's Trio of Train Tragedies Doug Ashmore
Tonight Doug will recount three train accidents, all of which had devastating effects on Royton. The first, in 1897, involved people on a Sunday School day trip to Barmouth which ended in disaster. This was followed in 1908 by a very late night train crash in Royton which resulted in death and injury, and the final event in 1961, gave some Roytonian cobblers a very nasty surprise!

10th March 2014 Down Forget-me-not-Lane
Part one 1938-1945
Brian Hallworth
Brian Hallworth takes us on a trip down memory lane with a look at WW2 from the perspective of the families 'making do' on the home front. He will be recalling the entertainers, music & humour of the period as well as the every day essentials such as air raid shelters, gas masks, carbolic soap and not forgetting good old Izal toilet paper!

14th April 2014 King Canute, Cranford & Cousin Jean Margaret Curry
What on earth connects King Canute, Cranford and Margarte's cousin Jean? Find out when 1000 years of the history of the Knutsford area are disclosed in tonight's intriguing talk.

12th May 2014 Men, Women and Machines Ray Ashton
Ray Ashto is a very popular speaker but, surprisingly, this will be his first visit to our society. I'm sure we will be thoroughly entertained this evening but unfortunately, at the time of going to print, there are no further details about this talk. Please see this page, the press and other notices nearer the time.

9th June 2014 Dimensions of Time Peter Watson
For our final talk of this season Peter Watson, who has visited us on a number of occasions, will be discussing the nature of time, especially the past and the future. Is it possible that 'the past' still exists or 'the future' can be seen? This talk will certainly make you think - probably all through the summer until we meet again in September!

R.L.H.S. Speakers for 2014 / 2015

8th September 2013 Royton Cricket Club 1914 David Cooper
Tonight’s talk by David Cooper is about the year that Royton Cricket Club first won the Central Lancashire League title. It will include clips from the newspapers and extracts from the score book of that year all set against the background of impending war with Germany. This talk marks the 100th anniversary, to the month, of them winning the CLL for the first time. Royton Cricket Club have only once won the league since, in 1980, and with a touch of coincidence, tonight’s speaker was the opening batsman in that team.

 13th October 2014 St. Paul’s Church Organ Fr. Peter McEvitt
Father Peter McEvitt, vicar of St.Paul’s Church in Royton, will tonight present an illustrated talk about the celebrated Harrison & Harrison organ of 1956 situated in the Church with details of its forthcoming restoration. The talk will include demonstrations of the various stops and also the playing of some complete pieces. As this talk is to take place within St. Paul's Church please meet there, NOT in Downey House, at 7.30 pm prompt. Afterwards refreshments will be served in Downey House.

10th November 2014 History and Memories of the Whit Walks Canon Jim Burns
Most of us will have taken part in, or watched, the walks at Whitsuntide. This evening Canon Jim Burns will entertain us with his memories and the history of the Whit Walks in and around Manchester. He has also published a book about this very subject which tracks the walks way back to their origin in Manchester in 1801 and their expansion to towns and villages in the Greater Manchester area. His book will be on sale tonight and sounds like an ideal Christmas present, or perhaps just a treat for yourself.

8th December 2014 Living with Grandma Freda Millett
Local historian Freda Millett is visiting our society this evening with a very personal story. As the title suggests she will be talking about her childhood and the big part her Grandma played in her upbringing. I’m sure her story will bring back many memories of your own grandmothers and the influence they had on your lives.
Of course, this evening would not be complete without our usual festive refreshments to round off the night.

9th March 2015 River Mersey - Source to the Sea Gordon Speakman
The story of the River Mersey is the subject of tonight’s talk tracing it’s progress through the ages. Beginning with it being a clean waterway until the industrial period transformed it into a stinking sewer and then it finally returning back again to a pleasant river. Gordon will also look at how the Mersey affected trade over the years.

13th April 2015 A Search for a Victorian Fidler across the Seas! John Fidler
Well, if the title of this talk has got you intrigued then come along tonight to listen to a true story of hardship, slavery and even the odd pirate or two! It begins in Australia, takes in England and the West Indies before finishing back in Sydney! John has been to our society on a number of occasions and is an excellent speaker so we look forward to a very entertaining evening.

11th May 2015 The Underground Canals of Worsley Glen Atkinson
The popular speaker Glen Atkinson returns to our society once again this evening, this time to reveal and explain about a mysterious underworld .............................. 52 miles of ingenuity and achievement which make up the underground canals of Worsley.

8th June 2015 John Hogan V.C. Glynn Hogan
The surname of tonight’s speaker will be familar to us all, and rightly so. Glynn’s father’s cousin was Sgt. John Hogan, a Roytonian, who was awarded the military’s highest honour, the Victoria Cross, in 1915. In his illustrated talk Glynn will be looking at John’s family history in Heyside and his early army career before describing how his V.C. was won and how it was reported at the time. He will also be describing the different ways the achievement has been celebrated and commemorated from 1914 to the present day.

14th September 2015 The Great War & Chadderton's Involvement Michael Lawson
Mark Johnson
Out of a population of around 29,000, Chadderton was to send over five and a half thousand men to the services, many never to return. This illustrated talk looks at how the council and citizens were involved, the part played by various local soldiers, the major battles in which they fought and local casualties. Chadderton also had its own Army Camp, with a ‘secret’ airfield also being developed during the conflict, and details of both projects add to the poignancy of this period. Finally we will see how Chadderton celebrated the return of peace in 1918, and the memorials erected to honour the fallen of the town.

28th September 2015 Annual General Meeting    Members Only

 12th October 2015 Fire in the Summit Tunnel Donald Reid
In tonight’s illustrated talk Donald will tell us about one of the biggest underground fires in transport history. The dreadful fire, in December 1984, was caused when a freight train carrying petrol in thirteen x 100 tonne tankers became derailed and caught fire in the Summit Tunnel between Littleborough and Todmorden on the Manchester & Leeds Railway. Firemen fought the blaze for four days before it was finally put out.

9th November 2015 Olympics - Then and Now Dorothy Shirley-Emerson
Dorothy is the local girl who shot to international fame by winning a silver medal in the high jump at the 1960 Rome Olympics following her bronze medal at the European championships in 1958. Tonight she will talk about her experiences competing around the world then, when everybody was an amateur, and comparing them with what the Olympics are really like today.

14th December 2015 Banking ina Gentler Age Alan Hayhurst
Alan is a new speaker to our society and comes highly recommended. Tonight he will be giving us a nostalgic and humorous look at his early days in banking in the 50's and 60's, when things were not as they are now!
Of course, this evening would not be complete without our usual festive refreshments to round off the night.

14th March 2016 James Butterworth of Oldham
Postmaster, Historian and Reformer
Dr. Robert Poole
James Butterworth was Oldham's first historian and lived for some time in Royton. He sought to make a living from writing history as early as the 1820s, and passed his talents on to his son Edwin. But James Butterworth also had a varied life locally as a weaver, freemason, loyalist, journalist, poet and postmaster, being sacked from the last after turning radical reformer. His manuscripts and books in the Oldham Local Studies Centre and newly discovered material in the National Archives provide an all-round illustrated view of one of Oldham's most notable figures.
Our speaker tonight, Robert Poole, is Guild Research Fellow at Uclan, Preston. At the present time he is working on a book, with Dr Michael Winstanley of Lancaster University, entitled 'The Butterworths of Oldham’. He is hoping that this will be published by the time he gives this talk so that he can bring some with him to our meeting.

11th April 2016 The Last Laugh of the Railway King Geoff Scargill
Geoff’s last visit was in December 2013 when he told us about his life as a teacher in his talk entitled ‘I never left school”.
Tonight he will reveal all about a Lancashire man - Sir Edward Watkin M.P., who was one of the most amazing characters of 19thcentury Britain, but who is now almost completely forgotten. Who was he? What did he do? We will find out tonight!

9th May 2016 Looking for Clara Doug Ashmore
When Doug was 17 years old he was told by one of his mates that he was adopted. This evening he will recall his moving journey to discover who he really is. His story has connotations of the TV programme ‘Long Lost Family’.

13th June 2016 Down Forget-Me-Not Lane
Part 2 1946-1960
Brian Hallworth
This is Brian’s second visit to our society and he is returning by popular demand. His first talk was called ‘Down Forget-Me-Not Lane’ (Part one 1938 - 1945) and was greatly enjoyed by all those present, so we should be in for another treat tonight. This evening’s talk shows how 1946 - 1960 was a time of great change for post war Britain. Television was the new thing and rock & roll was on the horizon.

R.L.H.S. Speakers for 2016 / 2017

12th September 2016 The Battle of Towton 29th March 1461
Britain's Bloodiest Day
Chris Murphy
The story of Britain's bloodiest Battle when 28,000 were slaughtered near the village of Towton.
Soldiers from across the country congregated at these medieval killing fields and their ensuing conflict changed the course of history. This battle brutally closed the opening phase of the 30 year conflict now known as the "Wars of the Roses".

26th September 2016 Annual General Meeting    Members Only

 10th October 2016 Where is Okeden? Michael Higgins
When Michael found an early 17th Century farm map among the papers of the Radcliffes of Royton, it led him to uncover the causes of a 400 year old land dispute in ou neighbouring township of Chadderton. First he had to locate the farm and what what followed was a fascinating trwal through maps and documnets to discover what life was like during and after early enclosure of the commons, when farming was slowly giving way to textile weaving. And what had Okeden to do with Royton.

14th November 2016 Three Ships on the Mersey Gordon Speakman
This talk is about 3 ships that Gordon believes should go down in history as some of the greatest ships ever to sail on the River Mersey. They are the 'Iris' and the 'Daffodil', 2 Mersey ferry boats whose exploits in WWI we will hear about. Also the 'Tayleur', the largest iron hulled clipper ship built in England in 1853 which was wrecked on her maiden voyage.

12th December 2016 A Lancashire Garland Sid Calderbank
A Christmas treat awaits us tonight with the history of Lancashire and it's dialect told in songs, stories and poems. Sid, 'The Lancashire Mon', is a well known writer and speaker of the traditional Lancashire dialect and has recorded a number of CD albums. Some of you may have seen him on TV in Michael Portillo's 'Great British Railway Journeys' programme. He met Michael on Kersal Moor and sang him a song accompanied by the Red Rose String Quartet, with Mr Portillo attempting to join in on the chorus!
Our usual festive fare will again be served up tonight, so perhaps this might encourage you all to join in with the singing as well.

13th March 2017 George Caley
Naturalist & Explorer
Rob Trueblood
George Caley grew up in Middleton and was a leading member of the first Botanical Society there in the 1790's. Initially self taught as a naturalist his ambition led, with the support of Joseph Banks, to a posting in New South wales. Caley remained in Australia for some 10 years from 1800 recording flora and fauna and undertaking inland expeditions. On his return he lived at Chadderton Fold, curating his large collection and attending meetings of Royton Botanical Society. In 1816 he took another overseas position as superintendant of the Botanical Gardens on St. Vincent in the West Indies, until he finally retired to live in London.

10th April 2017 The Artefacts of Folk Magic Peter Watson
Once again we welcome Peter to our Society with what will be an interesting talk given in Peter's own inimitable style. Tonight he is going to introduce us to some folk -lore and 'natural' magic through the use of various artefacts.

8th May 2017 Three Oldham Bombs John Fidler
Tonight we will hear the incredible story of three bombs which exploded in Oldham in Victorian times. John will enlighten us all by attempting to answer the following questions:- Where were they? Who planted them/ Why were they planted?

12th June 2017 John Dalton
The Man and his Manchester
John Doughty
John Dalton, the father of modern chemistry, lived and worked in Manchester from 1792 until his death in 1844. In this talk John describes Dalton's life and work in 19th century Manchester.

R.L.H.S. Speakers for 2017 / 2018

 September 11th 2017 Adverts, Posters and Postcards of the Great War M. Lawson & M. Johnson
A fascinating look at some of the printed items produced during the Great War. These were years when there was no radio or TV, and cinema was in it’s infancy. Newspapers were popular and featured adverts covering almost every aspect of war, while a wide variety of posters urged men to join the colours and women to help the war effort. Finally, the postcards sent between loved ones bring home the poignancy of the times as the tragic events unfolded.

September 25th 2017 Annual General Meeting    Members Only

 October 9th 2017 Three Ships on the Mersey Gordon Speakman
Unfortunately this talk had to be cancelled last year so hopefully tonight we will hear about three ships that Gordon believes should go down in history as some of the greatest ships ever to sail on the River Mersey. They are the ‘Iris’ and the ‘Daffodil’, two Mersey ferry boats, and their exploits during the First World War and the ‘Tayleur’, the largest iron hulled clipper ship built in England in 1853, which was wrecked on her maiden voyage.

November 13th 2017Archeology and Warfare
The British Army in Mesopotamia 1914 - 1918
Major Paul Knight
Tonight's speaker is the army's First World War project officer for the North West. He holds a PhD in history and spent three years in Iraq and studying Arabic with the army.
Mesopotamia had 440,000 men serving there at it's height but the campaign is overshadowed by the disastrous Siege of Kut. However, before and after this siege the campaign was incredibly successful.
Prior to 1914 only a handful of Europeans had detailed knowledge of Arabia, and these were brought into the wartime intelligence community. This talk will look at the roles of Gertrude Bell, T.E. Lawrence (before he came 'of Arabia') and Agatha Christie.

December 11th 2017 Christmas Words and Music Geoffrey Scargill
This will be Geoffrey’s third visit to our society so, going off his previous talks, we are in for a real treat tonight with a look at thenmeaning of Christmas and what it has meant to everyone over the years. His talk includes music (after all Geoffrey did oncenteach at Chetham’s School of Music and is now one of their volunteer Heritage Guides), some of which we can sing along to andnget us all in the mood for the weeks ahead!
Our usual festive refreshments will again be served up tonight, so hopefully this will encourage everyone to join in with thensinging as well!

March 12th 2018 When the Queen Came Judith Atkinson
Tonight’s speaker is from Worsley and is making a return visit to us to relate the story of Queen Victoria’s visit to Lancashire, and particularly Worsley, in 1851. We will hear about her exhausting schedule, but with lots of comedy along the way, and get a glimpse of the high society as well as the local people involved in her visit.

April 9th 2018 Excavations at Mellor Donald Reid
Tonight’s talk is about a community led archaeological excavation on a hilltop in north Cheshire which has been occupied from the Mesolithic period (c. 8,000 BC) up to the present day.

May 14th 2018 The Mossley Military Hospital Rita Vaughan
The Mossley Military Hospital was set up in 1914 and this illustrated talk gives us an insight into some of the people who worked at the hospital, the convalescing soldiers they cared for and the life and career of the sister in charge - Miss Clarinda Rowbotham.

June 11th 2018 Down Forget-me-not Lane
(Part Three 1960 - 1965)
Brian Hallworth
This is Brian’s third visit to our society and is returning by popular demand. His first two ‘Down Forget-Me-Not Lane’ talks covered the years 1938 - 1945 then 1946 - 1960 and were greatly enjoyed by all those present. We should be in for another treat tonight with the final one in the series which covers the years 1960 - 1965. Brian will take us on a light hearted journey through historical moments in the news, innovations in medicine and science, the fashions of the period and last but not least music and popular culture.
 September 10th 2018 The Great Flood of 1927 M. Lawson & M. Johnson

Our friends from Chadderton Michael Lawson & Mark Johnson are regaling the facts about the flood of 1927 and its effects on the Chadderton landscape and the community.

September 24th 2018 Annual General Meeting           Members Only

 October 8th 2018 A Variety of Times           Winnie Milne

Winnie is again entertaining us with her usual humour, looking at various and different points in time and noting the changing patterns along the way.

November 12th 2018 Funny You Should Say That               Peter Watson

Peter will have explanations and suggestions about the origins of the many phrases and sayings we use in our everyday lives today. Our language can prove very difficult for our overseas visitors

December 10th 2018 The Secret Heart of Manchester          Geoff Scargill

We think we know all about Manchester, but Geoff will enlighten and surprise us on what we do not know when looking around the area near the Cathedral and hanging bridge.

March 11th 2019 The History of Manchester Theatres Ray Hoerty

Manchester has always supported Arts and Music and Theatre. Ray will no doubt be showing us how innovative it is and has always been. We are very lucky to have such a variety of entertainment at our disposal.

April 8th 2019 Down Forget-Me-Not Lane 1965 -1970 Brian Hallworth

Brian will again remind us. and amuse us. on the way we lived or lives in that hectic era. For most of us it was full of great changes with teenagers and young people living completely different lives from their parents.

May 13th 2019 A Local Doctor, Mills and Mentality John Fidler

This is about an Oldham doctor who worked about the time of the Battle of Waterloo. There will be insight into how far medical knowledge has come and how we have viewed certain illness.

June 10th 2019 Folklore and Traditions in the North West John Doughty

Some of these you will already know about but we will be finding out much more to add to our knowledge of why they were and some still are followed.

 September 9th 2019 Life & Times of Oldham Mountain Rescue Team Peter Hyde

We are all aware of this valuable rescue service run by volunteers that helps peopl and saves lives. Peter will tell us all about the ups and downs that the team experiences.

September 23rd 2019 Annual General Meeting           Members Only

 October 14th 2019 The Construction of Mancheser Town Hall Joanna Williams

Manchester Town Hall was built as a statement of the wealth of the City. Joanna will enlighten us on its construction and no doubt some of the problems of doing so. Today the building is undergoing an expensive renovation.

November 11th 2019 Old Persons Guide to Nostalgia              Peter Watson

Peter has delighted us with many intereesting and entertaining talks in the past. This talk will be illustrated with the sounds, smells and sights that will have us remeniscing about our own past.

December 9th 2019 The History of Manchester Theatres Ray Hoerty

Manchester has always supported Arts and Music and Theatre. Ray will no doubt be showing us how innovative it is and has always been. We are very lucky to have such a variety of entertainment at our disposal.

March 9th 2020 Down Forget-Me-Not Lane 1970 to 75 Brian Hallworth

Brian has entertained us several times in the past and brought us all together in sharing our memories of past decades. Times have changed a lot since the 60s

April 6th 2020 Unusual Roads of Britain Dr Paul Hindle

How much thought do you give to he roads you travel on? They could be a Turnpike Road or a Toll Road or a Roman Road. Paul will discuss some of these with us.

May 11th 2020                                                      On the Right Lines              Michael Lawson and Mark Johnson

Our friends from Chadderton Historical Society are with us once again. Although Chadderton covers a large area it has never had a railway station bearing it's name. We'll be told about what kind of lines were used for transport in the town.

June 8th 2020 Oldhamers in World War One Roger Ivens

This talk describes the unknown stories of Oldhamers uncovered during research as part of the Centenary of thei war. Stoies of Nurses, Soldiers, Munitions Workers, conscientiuos Objectors and ordinary Oldhamers long since forgotten but now brought back to mind.