The Sinking of the Lancastria. Friday 27th November 2015 a talk by Major David Glossop BEM

The sinking of the Lancastra off St Nazaire in June 1940Certainly most of us had not heard of the Lancastria before, but the story David Glossop had to tell was a sad and shocking tragedy, a catastrophe which has been largely forgotten. It involved the greatest ever loss of life in the sinking of a single British ship, claiming more lives than the combined losses of the RMS Titanic (1,517 passengers and crew) and RMS Lusitania (1,198 passengers). It had also the highest death toll for UK forces in a single engagement in the whole of World War II. Continue reading

The Story of Wincanton Parish Church

Friday 29th November in the Balsam Centre.  Colin Watkins gave us his talk on Wincanton Parish Church on which he has written a very useful and interesting guide. It may be the oldest public building in the town for parts of the church tower go back a very long way perhaps to Saxon times, and it has undergone a series of rebuildings reflecting the changes which have taken place over the centuries right up to the present day.

His lecture was a fully illustrated Power Point presentation and sits very well with the Power Point presentation on the Parish Church, the Bell Ringers and the View from the Top of the Tower which we now have on our Museum computer for people to view when we open in the Spring.

From Cardiff to Cherbourg

This was the title of our latest illustrated talk given by member of our Society Peter Lewis on Friday 30th November in the Balsam Centre.

His subject was the dramatic story of the setting up and sad demise in the 60s of the Somerset and Dorset Railway, well illustrated by an interesting collection of photographs.

Held on the evening of the day when a packed memorial service took place in the parish church for Jeff Kingaby, the fact that this talk attracted the biggest audiance we can remember, was a fitting memorial to Jeff whose tireless efforts have kept us all going.

Peter gave us a really interesting talk which attracted a good number of non-members whose great interest was railways in general and the Somerset and Dorset Railway in particular and his talk attracted several interesting questions and the revelation that there are gruops keeping sections of the track alive and there are even plans afoot to construct a new railway to cover much of the old route.  We shall have to wait and see about that.

John Baxter

Lytes Cary talk by Judith Teasdale

Judith Teasdale’s beautifully illustrated and meticulously presented talk on Lytes Cary Manor on Friday 14th September was a fitting and extremely interesting start to our Autumn programme.  She attracted a very good turnout which filled the Balsam Centre Shed and gave everyone much to talk about over our glasses of wine afterwards.

Drawing on her experience of developing a Conservation Management Plan for the property on behalf of the National Trust, Judith showed us pictures not only of the nooks and crannies of this ancient property with its roots going back to manor house and village in Medieval times, but also a series of fascinating photos and stories of the Jenner family who were responsible early in the 20th century for purchasing and restoring the property after it had been reduced from grand house to dilapidated farm buildings.  There were calves being kept in the chapel.

Of particular interest in bringing Lytes Cary alive for us were her stories of how Sir Walter Jenner had set off to serve in the Army during the First World War complete with his horse and a batman to look after him and how his wife had worked tirelessly to support the troops with extra supplies and comforts and how their daughter had set off to Wincanton to nurse the war wounded in the hospital set up here in the Carmelite monastery.  Noblesse oblige!

Her talk not only attracted good turn-out but encouraged several new members to join the Society.  This is great news as the time approaches when we will be able to set up the new Museum in Wincanton Library and there will be plenty for volunteers to do in many ways from following up a pet theme to taking a turn stewarding.

John Baxter