Ramsey and District U3A Newsletter

News for all members

The Vice-chairman welcomed the members to the meeting, as the Chairman was unable to attend, as he was not well, and read out notices, starting with the location of emergency exits, the location of the defibrillator and asking members to make sure that their mobile phones were switched off.

Nina then spoke of new groups that were forming in the near future, the first will be  ”Writing for Pleasure,” a sign-up sheet was available. “The Brain Games,” were on hold at the moment, as it is proving difficult to find a date when all can meet. “Bird watching,” a volunteer has been persuaded to take on the mantle of leader, and there will be a sign-up sheet in February. Last but not least, for anyone who would like to learn the game of Bridge, there will be a sign-up sheet for “Bridge for Beginners,” at our next meeting

The vice-chairman then introduced the speaker, Debbie Land.

The Shuttleworth Trust

Debbie Land, gave us an entertaining afternoon among the vehicles and aircraft of the Shuttleworth Collection which was started in 1928 by Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth. After a troublesome time at Eton where he did not want to study but simply devote his time to engines. This was followed by ten years in the Royal Air Force where he honed his skills on aero engines before going to Sandhurst to train as an officer continuing to spend his time with cars. In 1932 he learned to fly and a plane soon joined the growing vehicle collection. He continued to add to it until his death in a flying accident at RAF Benson in 1940.

The Shuttleworth family can be traced back to 14th century wool millers in Lancashire. The Old Warden Mansion standing today reflects Gawthorpe Hall the family home near Burnley. Built in Victorian times in the Jacobean style it was passed down to Frank Shuttleworth. When he died his wealth was inherited by his only child, four-year-old, Richard. After Richard’s death his mother Dorothy arranged for the Collection to be preserved for educational purposes and saw the mansion open as an agricultural college in 1946.

Keeping the collection airborne

The Collection is run by a charitable trust with school visits high on the agenda. The emphasis is on working planes, vehicles and motorcycles. It employs eight full time engineers and trains apprentices in the skills needed to maintain the old engines and airframes. Numerous volunteers assist with cleaning, painting and generally helping out at events and by recycling equipment including some stairs from the liner Mauritania. Debbie showed pictures of aircraft undergoing maintenance in the workshop including a Sopwith Pup stripped down to the airframe. Then she went on to demonstrate how to cover an airframe describing the various woods and fabrics used.

In the vehicle workshop at the farm on the other side of the grass runway pride of place goes to the traction engine called Dorothy after Richard’s mother. The oldest car is a 1898 Panhard Levassor which once belonged to C.S.Rolls, complemented by a 1900 Singer motorcycle with the engine in the wheel. Richard Shuttleworth was chairman of the Railton Company whose 1937 Blue Railton sports car is Debbie’s favourite.

Back in the hangars is the oldest plane a 1909 Bleriot X1. It’s the only original one flying in the world and similar to the one in which Bleriot made his epic flight across the English Channel in 1909. It had been stored in a barn by owner Albert Grimmer, a farmer of Ampthill. Shuttleworth was obliged to buy the barn plus contents to get it in 1935. A video of it in action shows the pilot was sitting in front of the engine and with no brakes and lateral control by wing warping it looked very precarious only reaching a height of about fifty feet. Next we saw a wooden framed Bristol Boxkite from 1910. It‘s a replica built for the film Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. It carries an elevator on two booms in front of the engine making it look very clumsy.

Then came the Deperdussin, a small monoplane with a covered fuselage and the pilot seated behind the engine in a vulnerable position. It contrasted strongly for size with the 1910 Avro Triplane replica with its three layers of wings which was also built for the film.

The oldest British plane in the collection is a 1912 Blackburn with a 50hp engine and a short fabric covered fuselage. A great advance was the 1916 Sopwith Pup which saw 1770 built. It took part in the First World War ostensibly for observation but rockets could be fitted under the wings to fire at balloons. The war saw 3500 two seater Bristol Fighter’s go into service.

The last plane we saw was the twin engined De Havilland 88 Comet which was designed for, and won, the Mildenhall to Melbourne air race in 1934.

All the planes in the Shuttleworth Collection are airworthy. When the wind has dropped in the early evening the oldest ones are flown by volunteer pilots who have usually spent years in the Royal Air Force or with a civilian airline. Crowds flock to the evening events complete with picnics in Glyndebourne style. And as dusk falls many can be seen raising a glass to the very old fragile craft flying in the still air.


The next letter for the competition is “F.”

Memory Course Book

A Memory Course book was loaned out but has yet to be returned. Would everyone please have a look for it and if/when found please return it to Nina.

The Little Book of Big Scams

The Metropolitan Police have published “The Little Book of Big Scams”. This provides a general guide to many scams currently operating in the UK with a view to increasing awareness and easy steps to protect oneself. This can be found at http\www.met.police.uk/docs/little_book_scam.pdf or by contacting the Metropolitan Police on 02072301228


 Ramsey U3A Trips Group is compiling a long term programme of outings and holidays which will be published soon.  In the meantime, they are planning a trip to Bletchley Park on Tuesday April 26th. They have provisionally booked a 29- seater coach with Dews, but, at present, they are a long way short of filling it. The cost will be £29 (including £15 entrance fee). The entrance ticket lasts for one year and can be used multiple times.

They have done this trip before and since then they have been asked by a number of members if it can be run again.  This is mainly because there is a terrific amount of interesting things to see – almost too much to see in one visit!

They really need people to sign up for this trip at the February open meeting on Tuesday, so that they can confirm the booking. If they do not get enough people, they are not going to be able to cover the cost of the coach. The sign-up sheet will be out at the meeting so if you would like to book your tickets please bring £5 as deposit.

 Don’t forget that you may invite a friend who is not a U3A member to go with you.

 If you have any questions please contact Pauline Fountain  or John Austin.

National Office Events

Summer Schools 2016

This year, there are two schools, they take place at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, GL7 6JS. School 1 runs from 8-11 August and School 2 from 15-18 August. Courses at School 1 include “1491: The Americas Before Columbus.” and “Architecture Explored.” School 2 “Cryptic Crosswords for Beginners,” and “Garden Design,” There are many other courses available, please contact U3A events on events@u3a.org.uk

The U3A are looking for members to join a shared learning project to unearth stories of Conscientious objectors from WW1. Contact Linda Crook via the National website for more details. Closing date for applications 29th Feb 2016.

Please look at the U3A Website for up to the minute details of courses/events.

Free legal advice from the Third Age Trust and First Assist, more details on U3A website.

VC10 and her Royal connections, various dates.

ATG Theatre Card, reduced price for U3A members.

Future Open Meetings

Our next Open Meeting will take place on Tuesday 9th February at the Community Centre, starting at 2.00pm. The speaker will be Ian Keable and his subject “Charles Dickens Conjuror: The playbills of Victorian Showmen,” The talk will be illustrated with some wonderful slides and Victorian conjuring tricks, that the great man practised himself.

From the next meeting Margaret Thornton will be operating a “Book Swap” box. A box will be available for members to bring books and swap them for others. No payment is involved but we would ask members not to bring lots of books at any one time. If books remain “unswapped” in the box for more than a couple of meetings they will be donated to Charity shops.

Other U3A News

Chatteris U3A have a trip on Monday 22 Feb. The morning is destined for the Cutty Sark and then in the afternoon, the Observatory. At the Observatory, we will have full access and then at 16.00 enter the Planetarium for the light show, which will be a completely new one attempting to explain the origins of the universe, instead of the usual sky at night.

Trip prices are £30.00 which includes the coach and full entrance to the Observatory and Planetarium. For those wishing to visit Cutty Sark, an extra £10.00 is payable. We need to enter the observatory as a group and therefore those doing their own thing, they need to be back on the common by the General Wolfe statue by 13.45. Pick-up time and place to be arranged.

Head Office courses/events include:

The Third Age Trust website for more information on courses etc.


U3A events organised by the National Office can now be boked online, so please keep an eye on the website.

  WEA Upwood Spring Day Schools

 Thursday 3rd March 2016 – ‘POMP & CIRCUMSTANCE’ with Chloe Cockerill – investigating the ceremonies and traditions associated with Great Britain.

The Day School will run 10 am – 4 pm at Upwood Village Hall and the fee will be £18.00.  Please bring your own lunch; tea/coffee & biscuits/cake provided.

If you are interested, please contact Upwood WEA.

And Finally

Car Parking – Please remember to park your car considerately and use the car park adjacent to the Co-op store if you are able.


A pedestrian stepped off the kerb and into the road without looking and promptly gets knocked flat by a passing cyclist. “You were really lucky there,” said the cyclist. “What on earth are you talking about! That really hurt” said the pedestrian, still on the pavement, rubbing his head. “Well, usually I drive a bus!” the cyclist replied.

Mark Twain on a cycling theme “Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.”

 Editor: Mike Lewis