-'Enjoyable History' - Talks. Download full size images
I have been actively
researching technology and Bristol's history for more than thirty years and all
of these prepared talks are based upon my own research, books or academic
papers that I've had published. Amongst others topics include are those from
'Bristol Past Revisited', 'Beastly Bristol', 'De Re Metallica', (Medieval
History), The Regional Historian, (University of the West of England) and
'Bristol Curiosities' (published Sept 2007). They are all enlivened with a
combination anecdotes, photos, drawings, maps and plans. Duration by
arrangement can be between 30 minutes to an hour, with a mid time break as
||Pirates, privateers and
dastardly deeds, "They may be Pirates, but they're our Pirates" -
Some lesser known events
from Bristol's history together with a selection of bloodthirsty anecdotes
concerning Bristol more notorious 'entrepreneurs'. Hear about the terrible
deeds that took place on the quay that resulted in a very well deserved hanging
on St Michael's Hill, learn about the shoot out between the press gang and the
sailors on the roof of a pub in Marsh Street. Duration, 1 Hour + further
discussion as requested.
||Bristol Cradle of
America, stories behind more than twenty seven places or people connected
with Bristol that also had special links with the USA. Although some names are
well known, other names will be a surprise.
||Our missing Angel,
the story behind the rise and fall of this
famous city-centre landmark is a good example of how 'moral fervour' and 19c
philanthropy created it and how it was subsequently lost to war-time damage and
post war 'development fever'.
||The Monastic Moles,
tells about the ingenious Monks whose legacy is
Bristol's half a dozen monastic water systems that snake beneath the city in a
series of tunnels. Find out where they run, how they were made and learn about
a local medieval incentive contract that had a punitive penalty clause.
||The Loving Cup, people
partaking of the 'Loving Cup' ceremony may not realise they are participating
in a ritual that goes back to pagan times. Nowadays it refers to a cup of love,
friendship or fraternity, but on at least one notable occasion it had lethal
outcome which reflects on some modern ceremonies.
||Beastly Bristol, this is based upon a search for all the sculptural
depictions of animals - real and mythical - that can be seen in the streets and
public spaces of Bristol - a veritable ark of stone, ceramic and metal
beasties. This is the show of the book, (published by Redcliffe Press in 2006).
For more details and a web photo gallery of
the hundreds of creatures lurking around Bristol streets go to
http://spaces.msn.com/members/beastlybristol This show is also a guide to
summer strolls around the city:
||The Jacob's Well, rediscovered and recorded by members of Temple Local
History Group, (we kept a unique photo diary during the uncovering of this wo
rld famous site). This talk will show the development and systems associated
with this culturally important site, (now given English Heritage protected
Bristol's medieval boundaries,
their importance and how they affected daily life. Learn about the significance
of the hundreds of carved, incised and cast hieroglyphs that dot the streets
and buildings of Bristol, together with stories and some bizarre anecdotes.
||When the Crusaders sailed
from Bristol, learn about the Templars own
port and ships that sailed from Bristol, and how the Temple district got its
name and why it has a church within a church. Historic reports tell of them
being continually at odds with the burgesses of Bristol, this talk tells why.
||Unseen Bristol, all
the sights of Bristol that we can't see for looking. Many surprises. Our
ancient forbears beheaded their vanquished foes - what they did with the heads
is still visible (representatively) on Bristol Streets.
||Conundrums in Stone
- puzzles and the mysterious 'Pavement Runes', Above
ground, below ground, some we may trip over and some even sub aqua but however
bizarre, they all have, (or had) a function. Finding out how to recognize some
of them can be helpful even today. Others demonstrate our ancestors' sense of
decision,learn how a Redcliffe boy, son of a Bristol
Sugar Baker and friend of the Chattertons made good. However the result of one
of his business decisions has tolled down the centuries and even has a modern
link with Dorset swans.
||The curious tale of the
five Thomas', although in recent years much has been
written about local involvement in the African slave trade, this talk concerns
a most surprising discovery - some would even say fateful.
||Bristol underpins New
York, a road in New York built
upon the remains of Bristol houses? Improbable as it may sound this talk tells
a true story of maritime hero ism and civic ingenuity that was the outcome of a
number of initiatives and unusual circumstances, and could probably only happen
in wartime, but still has visible reminders in modern Bristol. Duration, ¾
Hour + further discussion as requested.
||South America and the
marvels of Andean Engineering,
is the outcome of visits to
many of the countries in South America. My first visit was in the 1960s when I
was invited to tour South America to follow in the footsteps of Simon Bolivar
who liberated the continent from the Spanish yoke. These visits resulted in a
number of interesting encounters, not least with Fidel Castro in Uruguay, and a
near miss with Ricardo Klement (real name Adolf Eichmann!). More recent visits,
provided an opportunity to see and experience the wonders of Incan engineering.
|| Ley Lines, Corridors of
curiosity, I first noticed some of these ancient
alignments in the late 70's
when researching Bristol's Temple Church, it soon became evident that Temple
Church seemed to occupy a significant position in relation to other local
historic sites such as churches, crosses, springs, roads, tracks, standing (or
fallen) stones and other topographical features. Discoveries of interesting and
historic features are still being made along these Corridors of curiosity.
|| Tracing adventurous
ancestors - or Skeletons in the sand - a modern adventure, my
ancestors were ship owners, sea-captains, priests, teachers and merchants, with
some Privateering and Gun-running thrown in for good measure! One who was Clerk
in Holy Orders to King James the Sixth of Scotland at Holyrood Palace, became
Chaplain to Bristol's Admiral Martin Pring, (whose memorial is in St Stephen's
Church, off Bristol city centre). He then retired to become a schoolmaster and
preacher in Bermuda, banished to a desert isle for non-conformism, in his
eighties survived a shipwreck and ended his days in a cave. How I made the
discovery and was able to visit to his last resting place in a deserted cave
three and a half thousand miles away as well as being a good story may help
others researching distant and far-flung ancestors.
These last two are fictional stories based upon facts - but are designed to
include helpful research tips
|| "Leave no Stone
un-returned" or "A narrow escape?" a chilling story about an
archaeologist who removed an artefact from a dig, an act that had terrible
||"The Tool" a
story about a nineteenth century loss that because of the craftsman's noble
spirit, had far reaching consequences. This story is used as a light hearted
vehicle to give the audience an idea of some different sources and methods when
carrying out research into family members who emigrated to America
||'Some amazing things no longer Science
If you still haven't seen something within
your interests on this extensive list, remember our Bristol project files (see
www.history4u.info ) have in-depth coverage of more than 110 topics, and it is
more than likely that I can provide your society with an illustrated talk,
exhibition or walk centred on your particular interests.
My 2008 normal rates are £40 plus
transport. I use an LCD projector and laptop or 35mm slide projector. I also
have a projection screen but as they are cumbersome I prefer not to bring it
Please let me know.