Talks Available

List of talk subjects (updated Feb 2021)

 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.

They are all now available over the internet as Zoom or prerecorded talks, as well as live presentations 

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.

General and recent additions

Remember! Remember! the 5th November: the story of Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot.

What is History: a look at what we mean and understand by history and why understanding our past is important today.

Death in a Barrel: The story of the life and mysterious death of William Smith Tanner

The real Biggles: The fascinating story of the Biggles creator W E Johns

The end of the war!: the story of the dropping of the atomic bombs and the end of the war with Japan 1945.

Lightoller: The story of Charles Herbert Lightoller, DSC & Bar, RD, RNR  the second officer onboard the RMS Titanic 

Singing in the Rain: The story of Gene Kelly dancer, actor, singer, director, producer, and choreographer in pictures and film.

Bugle Call: the story of British bandleader Harry Roy and his band from the 1930-60s in story and video.

Swashbuckling sirens: the story of female pirates through the ages

What time is it? the story of the nonexistent thing we call time!! and how our concept of it has changed society.

Trick or Treat: Halloween: The story of our winter tradition its origin and meanings..

Easter Traditions: the story of our spring holiday an its traditions and origins

The Charter and the Battle: The chartists in Nottingham and the battle of Mapperley Hills

Odd Laws: The strange laws that are still in force that we, unknowingly break all the time.

What time is it ? the story of the non-existent thing we call time!! and how it has changed society.

Nottinghams Lost Theatres: Theatres from the local Nottingham area that entertained 1000s but are no longer with us.

Trick or Treat: Halloween: The story of our winter tradition its origin and meanings..

Easter Traditions: the story of our spring holiday and its traditions and origins

Victory in Europe: Nazi Germany's last week: the story of World War Twos events leading up to and celebrations of VE Day.

The Charter and the Battle: The chartists in Nottingham and the battle of Mapperley Hills

Odd Laws: The strange laws that are still in force that we break all the time.

Friendly Societies: The story ofhow they changed both our social and political life for ever.

Through our ancestors 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 end of the Pier show: The history of the shows, and the theatres, on the British seaside piers 

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

Per Ardua ad Astra: "Through Adversity to the Stars" the story of the formation of the RAF

Britain's rock: A tour of Gibraltars history in words , pictures and movie clips.

Invention by mistake: well known products or devices that were invented by accident or  mistake.

Fascinating Felines: The sometime unusual and fascinating story of the furry pet who shares our homes, the cat

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

Are you sitting comfortably: The story of the beginnings of children's radio and television programmes.

Nursery Rhymes: parts 1 and 2 : their strange stories, meanings and origins

Catchphrase?: parts 1 and 2 : the meaning and origin of some well know sayings that we all use every day

*Perspective tricks: the story ofHolograms, Stereoscopes , 3D pictures and images. Including demonstrations.

Tricks of Light and Colour:  4 different talks (parts 1-4 ) on optical illusions that fool the eye and brain

Then They were Gone: Unexplained Mysterious deaths and disappearances of people over the years.

Let there be light: The Illuminating history of lights and lighting throughout the ages. 

History General

Down to the sea: the story of why the British fell in love with the seaside.

Gone in two and half hours: The loss of "the largest ship afloat" the White Star liner Titanic, that hit an iceberg

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

Our ancestors toys: 2 different talks (parts 1&2 ) onChildren's toys and games from the Victorian era, with examples.

The Victorian Holiday: How our ancestors enjoyed their first, new found, leisure time

A Road by any Name: How the development of British roads, through the ages changed society

Skeggy: Nottingham On Sea: A sketch of the long history of the seaside town of Skegness

Turn again: The real story of Dick Whittington, Lord Mayor of London

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

The Mary Celeste: The real story of the ship and the famous maritime mystery

Up the Flue : The strange sooty history of Chimneys and Chimney sweeps through out the ages:

Herbert Ponting: Pioneer Photographer, Film maker, war correspondent and explorer with Capt Scott in the Antarctic

Bread or Beer: How man changed for ever; the history of the start of farming and its connection to beer.

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

Houdini Highwayman: The story of Jack Sheppard Highwayman, robber and jail breaker, an 18th century peoples  hero.

Snippets from History: stories and tales, accidents, murder and strange events from the history of north  Nottingham

Home Brewery: The story of the  Robinsons and the Nottingham Daybrook brewery firm

The biggest Worsted mill: The story of Hawksley and Davisons huge mill built at the start of the industrial revolution

Gone but not forgotten: a look at some Lost buildings Parts 1  Nottingham.: Part 2 Arnold

Goose Fair on Film: part 1 in the square; or part 2 on the forest The story, Historic film and pictures of  Nottingham's own

Muriel and Bert: the story ofJessie Chambers, D H Lawrence’s first girlfriend and their relationship.

Pints and Pubs: The long history of beer and beer houses. How our present pubs came about.

W H Higginbottom  Architect: The unknown designer of  many churches, schools, cinemas and other  public buildings

Getting about: moving from place to place; History of transport of people and goods through out the years.

Smashing the frames: the story of the times and trials of the  Luddites frame breaking protests in Nottinghamshire

Horsemen and Footpads : the story of Highwaymen and robbers on our roads through out the centuries

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


From Abacus to PCs; the history of how machines developed into our modern computers

Why should I use a computer!!: an introduction to what computers can do for you and why you will soon need one.

Wars and the military

Dieppe: D Day rehearsal ? : the story of the raid on the French coast in August 1942 and the "greatest air battle".

Hearts of Oak : The stories of Women, who over the centuries, masqueraded as men to join the military

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

Battledress and Greasepaint : the story ofentertainment and the armed forces during World War Two.

The VADS : The invaluable service of the Voluntary Aid Detachments and Auxiliary Hospitals in World War One

Arnot Hill Auxiliary Hospital: the story of Arnolds own Auxiliary Hospital during World War One

Up and At Em: The story of the Royal Flying Corp from its formation into war (1911-1914)

Wings over the Somme: The Royal Flying Corp and the airwar during the battles of the Somme 

Dads Dunkirk: the story of an ordinary squady and operation Dynamo, one man and the retreat from Dunkirk in 1940.


An English village to Hollywood : The story of Jack Kitchin film editor and producer and the George Formby films

*The Magic Lantern: the story of the earliest form of slide show and entertainment (using a magic lantern.)

Silent laughter on the silver screen.: 2 set of stories ( Parts 1&2 ) the first superstars, early comedy actors of the silent cinema.

The Tudor and the Moths: The story of the Tudor Cinema West Bridgford Nottingham.

Selling on film: A look at the beginning of the cinema and the earliest adverts on film

Victorian Optical Toys:  our ancestors toys that lead to the development of the movies and Television.

Living pictures: It Moves!! The earliest films and the start of the Cinema, Part 1 from 1888 -1899 and Part 2 1900-1913

Earliest 20th century British film makers:  The story of those British Pioneers  who lead the world in early cinema.

Music Hall on film : 2 talks ( part1&2) with original film clips and stories, of showing early Music Hall acts

Variety at War; on Film: (2 parts ) Film and stories of the Acts from the Second World War who kept up the moral

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


Our Gracie: The story of Gracie Fields in film and pictures.

Billy Merson: the story of Nottinghams own music hall and film star

Beside the seaside beside the sea:  the history of the start of todays seaside entertainment

Glenn Miller: Bandleader extraordinaire; his life and mysterious death

The Dance Band Era on Film: The story of some Famous British bands of the 20s and 30s, recorded performing on film

Wakey Wakey: The story of Billy Cotton, the man, and his band

Lightwork : Exit stage left: stories of60yrs in the theatre, designing and working in entertainment venues.

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

If it Wasn’t for the Houses in Between’ : the career of Gus Elen Music Hall entertainer and 'Coster' comedian

*Theatre tricks and Illusions: some Stage lighting tricks and theatre effects. ( requires a good Blackout and extra set up time )

The Sun, Naked Flames and the Theatre:: The history of stage lighting from earliest times to the present day.

Painting with light: The art of stage lighting, how its done and how it works

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

Local History Nottingham area ( see also separate list for Arnold area )

Murder, Mystery and Mayhem: (parts 1&2 ) 2 different sets of stories of dark events  in the Nottingham Villages

Law and order: the history of police and policing in Nottinghamshire through out the ages

People and Places:  (part 1&2) on lesser known people from Nottinghamshire who however have shaped our history

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


The Dragon has Wings: The Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corp Air Unit: the history of a unique airforce

Airwar in Spain:  British Aircraft and the Spanish Civil War the  rehearsal for World War Two

Small Airforces of the British Empire: How small empire airforces played their vital part in World War Two

Mechanics in the Air: The unknown story of the Air Arm of the British breakdown rescue service, the Automobile Association

That's an odd one: unusual and weird aircraft designed by the Allied and Axis forces in World War Two.

Mongrels of the air war: The story of aircraft, other than the Spitfire and Hurricane, that fought the Battle of Britain.

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


Old Man’s/ Woodhouse Society

04.10.2022 10:17

Sorry Bob you have been given the wrong email address in our previous request- please use my email address

Old Man’s/Woodhouse Society

04.10.2022 09:43

We are looking for speakers for our 2023 calendar. Each meeting is the last Monday of the month - omitting May, August,September and December. We look forward to hearing from you.
Carol & Pat


09.07.2022 11:00

Hi Bob
Just wondered if you could do a talk on mainly Colwick Woods and possibly its interactions of the Woods with Bakersfield and Sneinton. Thanks

bob massey

09.07.2022 12:21

Colwick and bakersfield are out side my area of local knowledge


06.04.2022 09:01

I attended your recent talk and walk around Daybrook. Please could you inform me when you have this kind of local walk and talk again.

bob massey

06.04.2022 10:01

thanks for the message if you drop me an email to i will put you on the mailing list for these events.

Sharon Bravo

17.01.2022 14:37

Hi Bob you came to speak to our older peoples group back in September on the subject of children's radio and tv. it was enjoyed by everyone. We look forward to welcoming you back in the future.

Jo Soper

04.10.2021 18:54

Susie Johns, my daughter, recommended you as a possible speaker for our tractor club. We enjoy a range of talks, very few about tractors, and I need a speaker for Friday Nov 5th. Any chance?

Alison Palmer

03.05.2021 14:04

Hello Mr Massey, could you tell if you have ever come across a local Arnold artist named AJ Marshall please. Painted in the 1930s. Thankyou

Latest comments

24.11 | 10:51

Hi Bob,

Could you give a talk to Edwalton Probus Club on the 28th March , We meet at Welbeck Hall, West Bridgeford and have lunch at about 12 noon

04.10 | 10:17

Sorry Bob you have been given the wrong email address in our previous request- please use my email address

04.10 | 09:43

We are looking for speakers for our 2023 calendar. Each meeting is the last Monday of the month - omitting May, August,September and December. We look forward to hearing from you.
Carol & Pat

10.08 | 10:43

Hi Bob I am looking for speakers for speakers for Darley Abbey Historical Group in 2023. We have available dates April 21st, June 16th, July 21st, October 20th and. November 17th.

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