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31st October – Walk – Bollington

A short stop with Autumn in all its glory.
On Thursday, 31st October the Walking Group set off to Bollington. Starting at the Church House Inn the walk of about 4½ miles long meandered around the village. The walkers finished back at the Church House for lunch.

24th October 2019 – Club Meeting – Speaker, Mr David Hill, ‘The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan’.

David started his talk with a summary of an amazing partnership, which lasted 25 years, during which time neither William Gilbert or Arthur Sullivan were ever on first name terms.
William Gilbert was born in London near the Strand, and at school was seen as bright but lazy. He started his working life as a barrister, but this was not successful. He then started writing poems and short stories for magazines, often setting comic verses to illustrations. He wrote plays and pantomimes and by 1857, was seen as a rising dramatist. He met Arthur Sullivan in 1869.

Arthur Sullivan was also born in London, was very musically talented, and won a Mendelssohn Scholarship before continuing his musical education in Leipzig. He wrote many serious pieces of classical music and hymns. In 1862, music which he wrote as background music for ‘The Tempest’, was performed at Crystal Palace, with great success. His music made him very popular with the Royal Family, and in 1867, he went to Vienna with George Grove and found Schubert’s lost symphony. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1883 for his contribution to music.
Gilbert and Sullivan’s first work was an opera called ‘Thespis’. David played a short excerpt from the only remaining piece of music. The chorus was recycled in ‘The Pirates of Penzance’, but the rest has been lost. Gilbert and Sullivan concluded that this work was ill prepared, rushed and sloppy, and decided that this description would never ever be attached to their work again.
Richard D’Oyly Carte joined the duo in 1890, when he needed a short filler piece to go at the end of another opera. They wrote ‘Trial by the Jury’, which was such a great success, that it lead to Richard organising an opera company. ‘HMS Pinafore’ was launched during the start of a very hot summer, when heat from the gas lit theatres led to small audiences, and the opera was almost abandoned. A concert performance by Sullivan saved the day, and ‘HMS Pinafore’ became ‘the hottest show in town’. However, the copyright laws in the UK did not cover the USA, so Gilbert and Sullivan wrote ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ in the USA to get copyright on both sides of the Atlantic. It premiered in Broadway, before being performed in the UK.

Richard D’Oyly Carte decided to build the Savoy theatre, the first London theatre with all electric lighting. The first opera to be performed at the Savoy was ‘Iolanthe’, where the performers who were dressed as fairies, had small electric light bulbs in their wigs. This is believed to be the origin of the term ‘fairy lights’. There were many more comic operas to follow. The problem was that whilst Sullivan wanted to focus on serious music, the comic operas paid well, and the money from classical music could not support either Gilbert or Sullivan’s extravagant lifestyles.

Their partnership ended in 1900, when Sir Arthur Sullivan died at the age of 58. He had serious health problems throughout much of his working life, and his final work was a classical anthem to celebrate the end of the Boer War. Richard D’Oyly Carte died the following year. William Gilbert was knighted in 1907, and died in 1911.

David concluded his talk with a recording of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s voice, which was originally made by Edison in 1888, as a demonstration piece on the wax cylinder of an early phonograph.

17th October – Walk – Bickerton Hills

Six members took part in the walk, which started at the Copper Mine pub on the Old Salt Road. They climbed the hills to the south up to the Sandstone trail, then on to Gallantry Bank for a coffee break, before climbing the hills on the north side of the road and finishing the walk back at the Copper Mine pub car park. The walkers then drove to the Bickerton Poacher pub for lunch.

10th October 2019 – Golf – Knutsford Rex v Tatton Probus v Plumley Probus

The Knutsford Rex Team
Knutsford Golf Club hosted the annual three cornered match between Tatton Probus, Plumley Probus and Knutsford Rex Probus.
Neil Stott brought sporting glory onto himself and the Knutsford Rex Club by sweeping all before him and becoming the ‘Champion Golfer of the Year-2019’ with a majestic score of 19 points. Regrettably the rest of the Knutsford Rex team could not quite match Neil’s splendid effort by only coming second to Tatton Probus for the team prize.

Champion Golfer of the Year 2019 – Neil Stott.

10th October 2019 – Club Meeting – Speaker, Club Member Jerry Bentley, The Colourful Life of Lord Cochrane

Jerry started his talk with a list of famous maritime authors, including C S Forrester, and stated that many of the fictional adventures described in their books, actually had factual origins, based upon the real life exploits of Thomas Cochrane.

Thomas Cochrane was born in 1775 in Scotland, and spent much of his early life on the family estate in Culross in Fife before joining the Army, which he hated. He joined the Navy as a mid-shipman when he was 17 on a ship captained by his uncle. A year later he became a Lieutenant. After an incident for which he was court martialled, he successfully brought a captured French ship to port through a storm, and was promoted to Commander. He was involved in many exploits, including the capture of a Spanish frigate. The court martial incident had set him at odds with the Admiral of the Fleet, but a political change led to a new Admiral, who gave Thomas Cochrane command of a 32 gun frigate, and later a 38 gun frigate. He successfully organised many commando style raids and became well known for his exploits.

He then turned his attention to politics, and became an MP, who vociferously challenged corruption in the establishment. He was ordered back to sea, and managed to corner the French fleet by causing chaos and sending many ships aground. Unfortunately, the follow up operation failed, and the French fleet sailed to safety on the rising tide. He was then implicated in a famous fraud case, and sent to prison. He lost his Knighthood and was pilloried.

Having lost everything, he looked for employment, shunned an offer by the Spanish Navy, and joined the Chilean rebels who were fighting the Spanish for independence. His successes made him a local national hero, and he became Admiral of the Chilean Navy. Spurred on by this success, and a similar venture against Portugal in Brazil, it was not long before he left Chile and became Admiral of the Brazilian Navy.

Back in the UK, his help in liberating the South American Countries made him very popular and he returned to Britain. He helped the Greek Navy in their fight for independence against the Ottoman Empire, where his reputation helped to scare off the Turkish Navy! His exploits led to a joint intervention by the British, French and Russian forces which ended the war.
Queen Victoria reinstated him as a Knight, and he became Commander in Chief of Nova Scotia before returning to Britain in 1851 as Rear Admiral. He died in 1860 after an unsuccessful kidney stone operation. There was no state funeral, but his remains were buried in Westminster Abbey.

Each year, on Chilean Navy day, the 21st May, a Chilean Attaché lays a wreath on his grave inside the Abbey. There are monuments to Lord Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, in the UK, but the biggest one by far is in Valparaiso in Chile.

8th October 2019 – Trip to St Peter’s Church Heysham and Heysham Nuclear Power Station

After leaving Knutsford by coach the party arrived at St Peter’s Church Heysham, which was consecrated in 967 AD, but the oldest parts of the church date from the mid-8th century or before. The church contains a splendid example of a hogback stone, which was found c.1812-1817 but was taken inside the church in the 1960s to prevent further erosion.

St Peter’s Church and the Hogback Stone.

The day was brilliantly organised by Jim Flett seen outside the Royal Hotel with a smile after a well earned pint.
After a light lunch at the nearby Royal Hotel a short drive took the party to the Visitor Centre at Heysham Power Station, a nuclear power station operated by EDF Energy. The site is divided into two separately-managed stations, Heysham 1 and Heysham 2. Construction of Heysham 1 began in 1970. It reached full commercial operation in 1989 and is likely to remain in operation until 2024. Construction of Heysham 2 began in 1979 and the station opened in 1988. It is estimated to keep running until at least 2030.

The Visitor Centre opened in 2013. The guides, which has to be said were first class in their knowledge and manner, gave an introductory talk after which there was a conducted tour of Heysham 2, which lasted just over 2 hours.

Well kitted out for the tour.

3rd October – Walkers v Bowlers Day

On a pleasant Autumnal day the walkers and bowlers of Knutsford Rex got together for the annual social which involved a walk around the Marbury area of Northwich followed by lunch and a competitive game of bowls at the Spinner & Bergamot pub in Comberbach.
Fifteen walkers started at the Spinner and Bergamot and were ferried to the Anderton Boat Lift car park for the start of the walk. The walk included the Trent and Mersey Canal towpath, the Ashton Flashes and the river Weaver.
All stayed for lunch at which some of the bowlers who had missed the morning joined the walkers.

David Howard shows a classic action.

The bowling match Walkers v Bowlers was contested by 12 members split in to teams consisting of a bowler and a walker. The winners would be the team which aggregated most points.
The totals showed Roger Collins and David Howard tied with Ken Ackroyd and Jerry Bentley. A one end decider was played with Ken and Jerry coming out victorious.

Ken Ackroyd and Jerry Bentley receive their winner prizes from organiser Jim Flett

A special trophy is awarded each year to the member who is judged to have contributed most to the success of the day. This year the honour went to David Howard. Well done David.

David Howard receives the Trophy for “Man of the Day.”