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Trinity Men’s Fellowship Eccleshall - Staffordshire

Activities 2019

25th January 2019   AGM and talk.

A good turnout of the members from 7 o’clock in the Parish Room for the Annual General Meeting to be followed by a talk on “Life for a Jewish Family in Nazi Germany”. Unfortunately the speaker, Lester Stuart had, unexpectedly,  to accompany someone to the A&E Dept. So at the last minute our Vice Chairman, Peter C. stepped in, without a projector, and gave us a most interesting talk on the development of penicillin.

Prior to the start of the meeting there was time for a cuppa and a chat.

Some members, anticipating the new level of subscriptions, went to the front to pay the Treasurer for their 2019 membership.

The Officers took their seats at the front and the meeting commenced.

The Committee was elected, click here for details.

There was an excellent turnout of members for this meeting.

Peter gave an excellent talk on penicillin, from it’s discovery by Fleming in 1928, through it’s development by Florey and Chain. Then how progress developed quickly due to WW2 with the help of Mouldy Mary, leading to mass production in the USA. Dorothy Hodgkin worked out the structure of the molecule which in turn led to the production of synthetic penicillin, no longer depending upon the fungus. Well done Peter!

A small group of members gathered, in wonderful sunshine, at Holy Trinity, to clear the churchyard of Christmas and Remembrance Day wreaths. However, this year there were also a large number of broken branches, blown down during the windy winter. After a briefing by Ron we set off on our tasks.

The February talk. This had been put forward by a week as the PCC were updating the loft space and the Plank Room??? during the "normal" meeting week. After some initial business, including an appeal to help out in the library when it becomes a Community run facility, which was well supported by the membership, we had an excellent talk from Shaun Farrelly entitled "The Americans in Stone during WW2".

It was quite fascinating to hear how the Americans were drawn into WW2 after Pearl Harbour (I refuse to spell it the American way!) and then how the local "halls" used by munition workers were taken over by the Americans to house their bomber and fighter crews as they arrived in this country to do their final training. Using some excellently researched photographs and diagrams Sean took us through how the Americans arrived here, using modified liners such as the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary, a couple of bright sparks pointed out that Sean had confused photos the two ships and was corrected on the number of funnels! These ships carried an enormous number of servicemen, 20,000 at a time sleeping in bunks which were stacked four high.

We were then shown photographs and drawings of the planes flown by the Americans and Sean pointed out the dangers and the losses suffered in the daylight raids. Finally, we looked at the memorials to the Airmen but there is not one in this area even though so many came into the country through this route. Superb information and really well presented, well done Sean.

16th February 2019

15th February 2019

29th March 2019

Walk in the Eccleshall Area, including The Dells

The meeting place for this month’s expedition into the wilds of Eccleshall was the Little George where we all met up for coffee prior to the start. As usual we split into two groups, one group opting for the shorter walk and the other group for the longer walk. At 10:30 we set off  over the pedestrian crossing and up Gaol Butts. This hilly road was quite a struggle for some of us for whom this was the first real “walk” of the year. At the top we saw the Junior School and we headed for a narrow lane just to the right of the school playground. This lane provides access to a couple of farms and also has an entrance to the grounds of Johnson Court.


We turned left through a white wrought iron five bar gate into the grounds of Johnson Hall and went along a stark avenue of trees where the branches were bony limbs of wood with scrawny fingers of twigs at their end. Still no sign of their leaves. Over to the right a strange wooden tower came into view. It was constructed using logs and thick branches. Nobody seemed to know why it was built and what was its function?

As we looked backwards we saw the Hall in all its glory. Ray pointed out the Ha-Ha which is a recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier to livestock, while preserving an uninterrupted view, of the landscape beyond, from the Hall.  A little further on we came to a large pond with many wildfowl, mainly Canada Geese and Coots, a high percentage of them were basking in the sunshine on the far bank. We continued onwards on the footpaths over the fields until we came out on the A519 Newport Road. This is quite a busy road and we were thankful that there was a proper footpath along the side.

In a short while we turned right into the delightful, narrow Wincote Lane. All along the hedgerows there were the gorgeous white flowers of the Blackthorn hedges and in the grassy verges were several large clumps of daffodils in full flower. We walked past the entrance to Wincote Estate Farm and spotted two lovely horses in the adjacent field. To our right we were told that there were to be elephants visible? Much to our disappointment it turned out that it was Elephant Grass! Huge acreage of land around Eccleshall were set aside for this crop to power the Biomass Power Station, but the amount taken in seem to have declined?

Almost at the top of the rise there was a gorgeous cottage on the left and to the right there was the entrance to a drive. This long drive is also a public footpath which leads eventually to The Dells. Much of the work carried out to open this path, and many others, was carried out by John Allen, who unfortunately passed away at the end of February 2019. We owe John so much for his tireless work in Eccleshall with the Parish Council, the Scouts and TMF, where he was our Walks Leader for many years. We walked through yet another kissing gate, they are SO much easier than stiles, and down through The Dells. Many trees and branches had been blown down during the winter and these proved to be quite a hazard as we made our way down the slope. Fortunately, the good weather we have experienced recently had dried the path, so progress was at least non-slippery or wet and muddy!

As we came to the end of the Dells we met up with the group on the shorter walk. This had been planned and as a whole group we paused. Peter, our chairman, said a few words, as did several other members, in remembrance of John.

We were soon going past the school again and then straight through the new Overton Manor Estate. Very few of us knew that there was a route through the estate into St. Chad’s Road and then eventually back to the Royal Oak, where we met up with those members who were not walking today. We had an excellent lunch.

We gathered for the expedition, in the carpark of the Junction Inn at Norbury, where coffee was served from the boot of Ed's car. The weather seemed a little threatening so waterproofs were donned and we set off in good heart along the canal towpath.

There were many more canal boats present than I would have expected from previous visits, but we found out that they were arriving for the Norbury Canal Boat Festival next weekend.

After a walk of about 3/4 mile, we came across the famous bridge which carried the road over the canal. Perched on a lower arch was what was possibly the shortest telegraph pole in the country ....... unless you know better? It is no longer used by the telephone companies but has been left there as a curiosity. We climbed up quite a steep incline at this point to cross over the canal using the road bridge. It came as quite a shock after the leisurely stroll along the level towpath.

We turned to the right just after crossing the bridge. Here there was field after field of newly planted trees and one striking feature which we did not expect to find..... a WW2 Pill Box. One wag suggested that it was to prevent the German U-Boats attacking from the canal system.

As we made our way along the route we were still amazed at the number of young trees. Then we came to more mature woodland. Here the bluebells made a magnificent sight. Vast swathes of light blue covered the ground beneath the subtle greens of the opening tree leaves.

A little distance along this road we came to a most confusing structure. A large rectangular plot surrounded by water. A little way up there was a notice which told us that it was all that was left of Norbury Manor. It was Built early in the 14th century and demolished in 1838. A little way on we saw into the garden of a cute bungalow. The whole area had interesting displays arranged in a delightful manner, including this attractive milk cart. We approached some more woodland and spotted a strange structure in the trees. Apparently, this is designed to change the carbon dioxide concentration round different clumps of trees. The project is being run by Birmingham University. If you wish to find out some more about this project just click here

As we moved through the woodland it became apparent why there were so many young trees earlier. This area was being well managed and we had reached the felling area. The mature trees had been cut down and they were sorting out the land. This digger was creating/restoring a stream. As a result of the logging vast piles of timber lined much of the next part of the track.

We crossed the canal again, this time going under the water. After another steep climb, we were back on the towpath. So peaceful as we made our way along this famous part of the canal, the mile long Shelmore Embankment. While the contractors tried to complete the mighty task, the bank slipped and collapsed many times. By early 1834 this section was the only uncompleted part of the whole canal. It took five and a half years' continuous work and was finally finished in 1835, many months after Telford's death. There are flood gates at each end to close the channel in case of a breach. Throughout its existence there have always been stability problems, which still exist today. The whole length is lined with mature trees now, and their roots do help. This was not the case in the canal's early years.

Soon we arrived back at the Junction and headed for lunch. The food was good if a little slow to be served. I had finished mine before some had even received theirs!

Friday 26th April 2019

Walk in Norbury Junction area. Lunch at the Junction Inn