Talks Available

List of talk subjects (updated December 2018)


This list of talks has been built up from over 40yrs of teaching groups and organizations of all sizes from universities and professional organizations to small church groups. The smallest of these being 3 people and the largest 600, so anywhere in between is fine. All talks are illustrated with pictures and /or video clips.  As I do more research for courses, articles and books, this provides material for various other talks on similar themes. So please ask for an update and the latest details. If you would like a talk on an allied subject I may be able to help or recommend a suitable speaker.

 Talks marked * require a very good blackout 


Odd Laws: old laws that are no longer in fashion which are still on the books and people break every day .


Friendly Societies: The story of how they changed both our social and political life forever. 


Through our ancestor's eyes: a look at historical events through our ancestors understanding and social conditions at the time,. 


Lady horsemen of the road: the story of female highwaymen and footpads 


The Robins: the history of our post office and postal service


It all in the hands: the story of puppets and puppeteers from village entertainment to modern Television and films.


Britain's rock: A visit to Gibraltar in words and pictures.


As steady as the Rock: The story of Gibraltar through the ages


The Victorian Holiday: How our ancestors enjoyed their leisure time.


Billy Merson: the story of Nottingham's own music hall and film star


Arnold underground: the caves and tunnels under Arnold, the second largest outside Nottingham


An English Village to Hollywood : The story of Jack Kitchin silent  film extra, wartime filmmaker editor and director of the George Formby films 


A Road by any Name: The history of British roads and their changes and uses through the ages. 


Our Ancestors toys: 2 different talks (parts 1&2 ) on Children's toys and games from the Victorian era.


Wakey wakeyThe fascinating life story of Billy Cotton, the man and his band 


Invention by mistakewell-known products or devises that were invented due to a mistake or by accident. 


*Perspective tricks: We will look at, and demonstrate, Holograms, Stereoscopes and 3D pictures and images


Christmas Traditions: How our British traditions of the Christmas season came about  


Fascinating FelinesThe sometimes unusual story of our furry pet the cat  


Snippets from History: stories and tales from the villages of north Nottingham


Turn again: Dick Whittington The true story not just the pantomime of  the real Lord Mayor of London


Little miss sure shot: the true story of Annie Oakley "the greatest shot in the world"


The cup that cheers !: The fascinating story of our national drink Tea


Are you sitting comfortablyThe story of the beginnings of children's radio and television.


The Mary Celeste: The fascinating story of the world-famous maritime mystery


The Real BigglesThe life and times of W E Johns First World War Pilot and writer of the Biggles stories


Gone in two and half hours: The loss of the White Star liner Titanic that sank after hitting an iceberg in 1912. 


Women and Children First: the tragic and heroic story of the sinking of the troopship Birkenhead 


*Tricks of Light and Colour:  . The story of Optical illusions that fool the eye and brain You will not believe what you see again.


*More Tricks of Light and Colour. Further optical illusions that fool the eye and brain


Victorian Optical Toys: Demonstrations and film of toys that lead to the development of the movies


Nursery Rhymes: their strange history, stories, sinister meanings and origins


Dick Turpin:  The story of the real man and not just the legend


Houdini Highwayman: Jack Sheppard Highwayman, robber and jailbreaker, an 18th-century peoples  hero


Glen Miller: Bandleader extraordinaire; his music, life and mysterious death


The Dance Band Era on Film: The story of Famous British bands of the 20s and 30s that have been recorded on film for you to still see and hear.


Hearts of Oak : Women, who over the centuries, masqueraded as men so they could join the military


Violet Jessop: Stewardess, World War One Nurse and survivor of the sinking of the SS Titanic  and SS Britannic


Then They were Gone: Mysterious deaths and disappearances of people over the years which are still unexplained.


Beside the seaside beside the sea:  the history of seaside entertainment from Victorian times to the present day


Down to the sea: the story of the British love of the seaside over the centuries.


Skeggy: Nottingham On Sea: A sketch history of the town of Skegness from its earliest beginnings. 


Catchphrase?: the meaning and origin of some well know sayings that we all use every day


John Robinson and Home Brewery: The story of the Nottingham Daybrook brewery firm, Home Ales


Samuel Robinson and Daybrook laundry: The story of the Robinson family and the Daybrook laundry.


Wind, Milling and Bread: a local story of the history of bread and milling


Up the Flue: The sometimes strange history  of Chimneys and Chimney sweeps through time:


Herbert Ponting: The Photographer, Filmmaker, war correspondent and explorer who went with Capt Scott to the Antarctic


Bread or Beer: How man changed forever; the history of the start of farming and its connection with beer.


The biggest Worsted mill: The story of Hawksley and Davison, the mill and the start of the industrial revolution


Let there be light : The Illuminating history of lights and lighting and its effects on our society through the ages.




Local History General


Gone but not forgotten: some of the Lost buildings of Nottinghamshire on film and pictures. 


Goose Fair on Filmpart 1 in the square; The story, Historic film and pictures of  Nottingham's own fair from its origins


Goose Fair on Filmpart 2 on the forest; The story, Historic film and pictures of  Nottingham's own fair after its move to the forest.


Muriel and Bert: Jessie Chambers, her history as D H Lawrence’s first girlfriend, Swinhouse farm and their relationship.  


Pints and Pubs: The history of beer and beer houses throughout the ages


W H Higginbottom  Architect: The unknown designer of  many Nottinghamshire’s  and the countries, public as well as  private buildings  


Getting about: moving from place to place; History of the transport of people and goods throughout time.


Smashing the frames: the story the Luddites from the start to the  finish of frame breaking in Nottinghamshire


Before Waterloo: The effects of the Napoleonic Wars  on the people of a small English town


*Searching Family History: using the internet, libraries and other resources  to uncover history


Horsemen and Footpads : the story of Highwaymen and robbers through the ages, their stories and motives and the law.


Luke Barton:  the troubled times of the unknown Arnold inventor who brought us modern socks and stockings


The 3Rs : the early history of how education for everyone started.


 Richard Parkes Bonington: the story and the history of the Artist, founder of the English school of painting who was born in Arnold Nottingham




Local History Nottingham area


The Rubeam Rodam: the history of 4 and a half miles of one of the oldest roads in the country


Murder, Mystery and Mayhem: stories of dark deeds and strange events  in the Nottingham Villages


More Murder, Mystery and Mayhem: Further stories of dark deeds and strange events


Law and order: the history of keeping order and policing in Nottinghamshire over the centuries.  


People and Places:  how some, mainly unknown, people from  Nottinghamshire shaped the areas and also national history


The Forest; its Highway Robbery!: The story of the Robbers and Robbery on the lonely stretch of the road north through Sherwood Forest Nottingham


Hows That!!!?: the stories of Arnolds international cricketing elite in the 19th century




World War One &Two


The VADS : The Voluntary Aid Detachments and Auxiliary Hospitals in World War One


Arnot Hill Auxiliary Hospital: the story of Arnot Hill House, Arnolds Auxiliary Hospital of World War One


Up and At Em: The beginnings of the Royal Flying Corp from its formation into the world war in 1914


Wings over the Somme: The story of the Royal Flying Corp and the Royal Naval Air Service and the battles in the air over the Somme


 Per Ardua ad Astra: The story of the formation of the RAF in 1918.


Grandfathers war: The Royal Medical Corp and World War One.


Dads Dunkirk: The story of the BEF in France 1940 as seen from the diary of a squady during operation Dynamo the evacuation of Dunkirk.


 That's an odd one: The story of the tried and untried unusual aircraft designed by the allied and axis forces in world war two


Variety at War:  on Film: Film and stories of Acts from the Second World War who kept up our moral 


Battledress and Greasepaint: Variety entertainment  in pictures and on film of the stars who performed for the armed forces during World War Two in  ENSA and Stars in Battledress 






Silent laughter on the silver screen.: the stories and film of Early comedy stars of the silent cinema.


The Tudor and the Moths: The story of the Tudor  West Bridgford Nottingham's, only cinema.


Selling on film: Clips of the earliest adverts to use the new media of film from the beginning of the cinema in 1895


Victorian Optical Toys:  Demonstration, pictures and film of the Toys that lead to the development of the movies


Living pictures: The story of the earliest films and the start of the Cinema in  1895 up to the first world war.


Earliest 20th-century British filmmakers:  Haggar, Hepworth, Paul and others who developed the early cinema to the best in the world before the first world war.


The Music Hall on film:  clips and stories of some of our earliest music Hall acts recorded on film.


More  Music Hall on film:  Further film clips and stories of some earliest of our music Hall acts


Variety at War:  on Film: Film and stories of Acts from the Second World War who kept up our moral 


Fred and Ginger: the life, times and films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers 






 Exit stage left: Stories from my life in the theatre, designing and working on stages and entertainment venues and projects over 60yrs. 


"Can you hear me mother:" life and times of comedian Sandy Powell


‘If it Wasn’t for the Houses in Between’: the story of Gus Elen music hall entertainer, singer and 'coster' comedian 


*Theatre tricks and Illusions: Some of the stage lighting tricks and theatre effects used in shows and how they are used to fool the audience.


*(Requires full Blackout and extra set up time) 


Beside the seaside beside the sea:  the history of seaside and growth of entertainment throughout the ages from Victoria to the present.


The Sun, Naked Flames and the Theatre:: A look at the equipment and ways of lighting the stage from earliest times to the present day.


Entertaining Arnold: The history of live entertainment in Arnold


Painting with light: The art of stage lighting, the basic principles of how its done


W J Furse Theatre Division: the history of the uks oldest theatre equipment supplier 


Thorn Lighting Theatre Division: the story of the inventors of modern electronic stage and television lighting


When we meet again: the story of Vera Lynn singer, film star and forces sweetheart.


 The end of the Pier show: The history of the shows and theatres on the British seaside piers 






The Dragon has Wings: The Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corp Air Unit: the history of this short-lived and unique airforce.


British Aircraft in the Spanish Civil War:  the story of the British Aircraft that took part in the rehearsal for World War Two


Small Airforces of the British Empire: The unsung and greatly unknown hero's and how they played their vital part in World War Two


Aerial defenders of Burma and Malaya:  The Burma and Malayan Volunteer Airforces and World War Two


Up and At Em: The story of the beginnings of the Royal Flying Corp from its formation into war 1914


Per Ardua ad Astra: The story of the formation of the RAF in 1918.


AA Mechanics in the Air: The unknown story of the Air Arm of the British Automobile Association (AA)


Wings over the Somme: The story of the Royal Flying Corp and the Royal Naval Air Service and the air battles of the Somme


That's an odd one: The story of the tried and untried unusual aircraft designed by the allied and axis forces in world war two






From Abacus to PCs; the history of computers from simple beginnings to the present day.


Why should I use a computer I don't need one: an introduction to what computers do for you and why you need one.  


^The next two talks require an internet connection if possible 


^Searching History: using computers, the internet and libraries to uncover local and family history


^The internet: A source of entertainment, information and wonder! 




Talks on Local History of the Arnold area


The caves of Arnold: the caves and tunnels cut into the rock below Arnold Nottingham


 Arnold in the 15th century: the development of the middle ages agricultural  town


Arnold in the 17th Century: The era of the Town of home industries and the English civil war


Arnold in the 19th Century: The town during the industry and  revolution


The Cinemas of Arnold: The history of the cinemas and film shows over the years  in the small town


More Cinemas of Arnold: The further history of the cinema in a small town 


The Cinemas of Mapperley: The cinema in a Nottingham suburb 


The Cinemas of Carlton: The cinema comes to the Urban District


More  Cinemas of Carlton : The cinema comes to the Urban District


Cinemas of Netherfield: The cinema comes to the Urban District 


Ernhale to Arnold: The General History of the town and village of Arnold part 1:


Ernhale to Arnold: The General History of the town and village of Arnold part 2: 


From Iron age to Iron horse; Arnolds history from earliest times to the industrial revolution 


From fee to Free , Education in a small town: the history of the towns early education and schools 


The old Bonington : The history of Arnold largest 1000 seater cinema and theatre 


Estate to Public Park: The history of troubled times of Arnot Hill Park Arnold from open fields to the present park. 


The Wakes of Arnold: history, film and photos of the annual parades and celebrations in Arnold over the centuries. 


*Arnold on film: historic film of Arnold through past times and events . 


Grinding the Grain: History of Arnolds many windmills 


Inns, Taverns and Pubs of  Arnold;. The history of the pubs of Arnold


More Inns, Taverns and Pubs of  Arnold;. The further history of the pubs of Arnold


Even More Inns, Taverns and Pubs of  Arnold. The further history of the pubs of Arnold 


Arnolds painters: The lives of 4 different artists with a local Arnold connection 


Country Retreat: the houses of the great and good of Arnold during the 17th to 20th century 


Water water everywhere : the story of the move from wells to piped water in Arnold 


Making Arnold work, the development of a town: The history of changing town and the types of work in Arnold Nottingham 


Entertaining Arnold: The history of live entertainment in a small town 


 Mapperley as it was: Mapperley Nottingham Its past in pictures


 Forgotten schools of Arnold: the history of earliest boarding schools opened for the great and good  in Arnold 


Royalty in Arnold: a look at some of the Royal visits to Arnold over the years 


Moria House: The history of this house and the people who lived there.


Arnold in the Middle Ages: the town as it changes during the 12th, to 15th centuries


Civil war and Industry: Arnold ,the town and the changes during the 17th century