BRANCH Newcastle2
Room 3, Brunswick Chapel,
Northumberland Court,

Meetings on 1st Wednesday in the month at 2.00 pm (No meetings in August and December)
All visitors are welcome


Date Subject of Talk Speaker
6th July 2022 Admiral Lord Collingwood, not only fired the first shot but led the fleet to victory at Trafalgar Anthony Atkinson
3rd August 2022 No Meeting

Reports of meetings

June 2022

We had 14 and 1 apology for our June meeting. The talk was by Geoff Hughes his subject was “Strange Takes of Old Newcastle”. He started by describing how for a retirement project he took groups of Norwegian students on guided tours of Newcastle and then became more formally a City Guide. He shared with us a number of interesting stories that he discovered.
The heaviest man in England whose coffin had to be lowered from an inn’s upper window.
Ghosts of executed Friars still seen by some at Black Friars monastery.
The head of Greys monument seen to rotate. The head was replaced after a lightning strike following which pigeons refuse to settle on it.
Dirty deeds down by the riverside especially when the Press Gang was in town
King Charles Imprisonment for a year in what is now the Lloyd’s Building before his move to London for execution.
Bessie Surtees refused to marry a seventy year old. instead she eloped with a coalman who became Lord Eldon. To the delight of members he punctuated several tales with local songs

May 2022

We had 18 plus one apology for our May Branch meeting. Our talk was by John Heckels his topic was DNA in Family History – An Introduction and Personal Experiences.

I think he has given this talk already to several groups so I won’t go into any details. He started by explaining DNA’s double helix with some very impressive colour slides. He went on to describe chromosome pairs and aspects of male and female inheritance and dilution over generations. Ancestry, Find My Past and other research tools use different techniques and can come up with different results so always treat with caution when finding distant cousins. He concluded with ethical considerations such as stealing other people’s DNA, unknown adoptive parents, even an example of sperm donors having multiple offspring.

A very absorbing talk but you had to concentrate to really appreciate.

April 2022

We had 19 present for our April meeting. The talk was St Ann’s Church Life and Labour 1781 -1848 by Mike Greatbatch.

Mike’s talk was not so much about the church building but about the people who lived and worked in the Sandgate and Ouseburn area of Newcastle. He had researched the occupations of the people using Rate Books and parish Birth and Burial registers. He used old city maps to show the growth of local industry with the resulting population increase. This was Mike’s 4th talk to the Branch and was much enjoyed by members

March 2022

We had a respectful 21 present with 2 apologies for our March Branch meeting which is almost back to our pre-pandemic number. The talk was by Prof John Derry, the 7th he has given to the Branch.

He talked about Hitler starting with Hitler’s parents and his difficult childhood (his father was cruel and would beat him: both parents died when he was a teenager). John went on in some detail discussing his WW1 action (he was awarded the Iron Cross twice, one second class the other first). Hitler never accepted that Germany had been defeated and this dramatically affected his future political life and his rise to power and ultimate demise.

This was arguably one of Prof Derry’s best talks and was well received by members. John never uses notes and his talks have numerous detail and dates all from memory. He told me he will be 90 later in the year but nevertheless has agreed to come back next March and talk about The Man on the Monument (Earl Grey).

February 2022

We had an impressive 18 present at our February meeting.

The branch AGM is usually held in February but because we were only expecting 8 or 10 at this meeting we postponed the AGM until June. We did have special meeting last October when we reviewed our future direction and proposed venue change. We will now formalise this at the AGM.

The February speaker was David Butler his talk was Drunken Midwives and Common Strumpets.
He used Parish Records for the Durham area selecting many different examples from the Baptism, Marriage and Burial registers. He concentrated on humorous entries mostly bizarre or strange contradictions and corrections to the registers. (One example was of a nighty year-old marrying a 19-year-old girl, later corrected to a seventy-year-old man). David commented that Newcastle and Northumberland registers would have comparable entries.

The talk was well received by members and recommended to other Branches.

January 2022

Due to the spike in Covid cases the Branch Officers made the decision to cancel the January meeting.

December 2021

For our December Branch Meeting we had 12 present with 1 apology.

Our talk was by Susan Lynn who has given several talks to us and other Branches in the past. She always researches her topics well and delivers them with confidence and humorous asides. This talk was equal to her best.

This talk was “Hunting of the Whale in Arctic Waters”. It was the story of the men and their ships which set out from the Tyne. Susan presented details and pictures of ships used along with maps of the routes taken. She emphasised that in the 18th and 19th century whale oil was essential for many uses before mineral oils were available. Conservation of the species was not even considered. The rewards were good especially in the early days but tailed off in the late 19th century: the whalers had to be tough men who often suffered injury or even fatality.

Last updated 29th June 2022