u3a Photograph Album 2018

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This Page contains Photographs taken during Group activities in 2018


Out and About

Middleton Hall

On Thursday 14th June 2018 25 members of Balsall Common U3A visited Middleton Hall and Gardens near Tamworth.  In the morning they had a guided tour of the restored buildings.  In the afternoon they enjoyed a visit to the Walled Garden and were guided round by the Head Gardner who explained the restoration done so far and what they intend to do in future years.

There has been a residence on this site for almost 1,000 years. Over the years the Hall has changed, buildings have been added and demolished, the Estate which was once many thousands of acres has shrunk and it has had a wide variety of owners and tenants, and a few famous names have visited too.

  • Although mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, the oldest building on site is the Stone Building, built for Philip de Marmion of Tamworth Castle, in 1285.

  • Elizabeth I visited the Hall in 1575, when she stayed for a week and knighted the Hall’s owner Sir Francis Willoughby in the Great Hall

  • The Hall was home to the noted naturalists Francis Willoughby FRS and John Ray who wrote and published, among others, the first book on ornithology








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Visit to Guys Cliffe House

On Thursday 12th July 2018 21 U3A members visited Guys Cliffe House near Warwick.  The group enjoyed an extremely informative tour of the grounds, house and chapel by the resident Curator Mr Adrian King

Guy’s Cliffe has been occupied since Saxon times and derives its name from the legendary Guy of Warwick. Guy is supposed to have retired to a hermitage on this site, this legend led to the founding of a chantry. The chantry was established in 1423 as the Chapel of St Mary Magdelene and the rock-carved stables and storehouses still remain. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII the site passed into private hands. The current, ruined house dates from 1751 and was started by Samuel Greatheed, a West India merchant and Member of Parliament for Coventry 1747-1761. The estate also comprised a mill, stables, kitchen garden and land as far as Blacklow Hill. The house was used as a hospital during World War I and in the World War II became a school for evacuated children.

Guy’s Cliffe estate was broken up and sold in 1947. In 1952 the mill became a pub and restaurant and was named The Saxon Mill, the stables became a riding school, the kitchen garden became a nursery, all of which still exist today. A toll house also stood by the road to the north of the Saxon Mill, but this was demolished in the mid 20th century. The new owner of the house intended to convert it into a hotel, but these plans came to nothing and the house fell into disrepair. In 1955 the house was purchased by Aldwyn Porter and the chapel leased to the Freemasons, establishing a connection with the Masons that remains today. The roof had fallen in by 1966. In 1992 during the filming of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes a fire scene got out of control and seriously damaged the building, leading to an insurance claim. English Heritage has given the building grade II listed status.

At the front of the ruined House

The Chapel and old Kitchen still intact.  The Chapel is now used by the Freemason as a Lodge

In the upper floor of the Chapel

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Visit to the BBC Studios Birmingham

On Wednesday 31st December 20 U3A members visited the BBC Studios in the Mailbox, Birmingham.  They were given a guided tour by two very knowledgeable BBC guides Emma and John.

Waiting for the Tour to start

The 5 previous images were taken with group being shown the workings of one of the Sound Studios


The members inside the Archers Studio

Some of the sound effects

The indoor scenes of the Archers are recorded in this room

Any Outdoor scenes are recorded in this anechoic chamber.  All the walls are clad in sound absorbing foam panels.

The BBC Midlands Today studio

Alan Cross preparing to read the Weather Forecast

The TV Studio's Directors Gallery

At the end of the Tour some members of the Group acted out a radio drama "The Dinner Party"
From left to right Graham Eden, Liz Cowley, Lin White, Renu Morris and Susan Heard

Frances Critoph provided the sound effects and the sound engineer was John Peat.

Once this recording has been edited we will receive a copy and hopefully added to this site

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Visit to Coventry and Solihull Waste Disposal Company

On Thursday 8th November 14 member of the U3A visited the CSWDC unit in Coventry to find out what happens to non recyclable rubbish collected by Solihull MB.  The group were given a presentation by Mr Karl Starkey Managing Director of the company and then a tour of the plant by two of his very knowledgeable colleagues.

Every year the plant deals with 125,000 tonnes of rubbish collected from Coventry homes every year, 60,000 from Solihull as well as 21,000 from Warwickshire. The rubbish arrives at the plant, via the dustcart and is tipped in large bunker from here the rubbish is grabbed by a giant claw machine and is lifted and dropped into one of three chutes which lead to the incinerators.  When the rubbish is burnt it releases fumes that at 850 deg C heat water and the steam produced is used drive turbines to generate 85,000 mwh of electricity.  This is used to power the plant and surplus sold to the National Grid.  That is enough electricity to power 21,000 homes.

The group also learnt how metals are recovered and the ash used to cover land fill sites.  As well as how the flue gases are cleaned and harmful elements removed.

Coventry and Solihull Waste Disposal Centre deals with 240,000 tonnes of rubbish every year. It reclaims 6,000 tonne of recyclable metal and creates 46,000 tonnes of bottom ash, which is currently used as landfill cover. The plant runs 24 hours a day 365 days a year and employs 70 staff working a 5 shift rota.

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Despite the inclement weather on Tuesday 2nd January 22 intrepid U3A Ramblers met at Ye Old Saracens Head and enjoyed, despite the rain, a walk to Fen End and return.  The walk was led by Martin Richards.

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January 17th, 28 members met at Newbold Comyn in Leamington for a ramble.  Because of the likelihood of muddy footpaths today's leaders Barbara and Phil Hammonds chose a walk that was 90% on tarmac paths around the parks of Leamington Spa.  One novelty was walking through Foundry Woods and finding a "Singing for Joy" workshop in action.  The group stopped and after doing some exercise joined in with the leaders singing some songs.

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With temperature not expected to rise above O deg C, and the possibility of snow 34 hardy walkers met at the Queens Head Meriden on Tuesday 6th February for a 4.5 mile ramble led for the first time by Jim Henry

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On Wednesday 21st February 22 walkers met at the George and Dragon — Coleshill and enjoyed a walk around the North Warwickshire countryside led by Martin Richards.  The walk included the old Coleshill Railway Station, weather station and three crossings of the River Blythe.

Ramblers waiting for the 11:02 from Coleshill to Hampton

Looking down the River Blythe at Maxstoke Lane

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On Wednesday 18th February 20 walkers met at Draycote Reservoir.  Following months of rain and muddy footpaths it was decided to do a 5 mile walk on the tarmac footpaths around the water.  This day was the first day than the sun had been seen almost since the start of the winter and the temperature had risen significantly since the past days.  The walk was lead by Fran and Ian Lester.

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Tuesday 1st May saw 28 ramblers meet at Ye Old Saracens Head and under the leadership of Madeline and John Peat enjoyed a 4 mile walk to Oakley and return.  Unlike the previous days dismal cold weather the 1st was a warm sunny day with no rain in sight.

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On Tuesday 5th June Alan Buckland led 23 ramblers on a 5 mile walk from the Bear at Berkswell to Meriden Church and return.

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On Thursday 3rd July with wall to wall sunshine and the temperature around 25°C, 23 Ramblers led by Fran and Ian Lester walked from the Navigation Inn in Wootton Wawen on a circular 5 mile walk

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Wednesday 18th July was a pleasant dry day with temperatures during the walk around 23°C.  This was amarked difference to the heat wave we have been experiencing. About 25 members met at the Anchor Inn, Leek Wootton and enjoyed a pleasant 4.5 mile circular walk.  The walk was led by Lynda and Paul Moore.

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Tuesday 7th August the Ramblers met at the Tipperary Inn and enjoyed a circular walk led by Lin White, Lorraine Horlor and James Trotter.

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Wednesday 15th August 21 Ramblers met at the Navigation Inn, Wooton Wawen and took a 5 mile walk led by Sue and Geoff Kennedy.



5th September a good number of walkers met at the Hickory Post in Burton Green and followed Richard Drake around a 5 mile circular walk.  Unfortunately the walk started in poring rain, that had not been forecast.  But this did not dishearten the intrepid ramblers.

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2nd October on a mild Autumn day 25 members met at the Kings Arms, Warwick road, Knowle and led by Merryl Muat and Christine Harris enjoyed a circular walk which included a visit to Knowle Church true the U3A ethos Christine told the group some of the history of the building.

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Wednesday 17th October on a pleasant Autumnal day Geoff Kennedy led 20 members of the Rambling group on a 5.5 mile walk from the Kings Head at Aston Cantlow.


Wednesday 21st November on a cold dismal day 25 walkers met to the Fleur-de-Lys pub, Lowsonford and under the leadership of Alan Buckland took a 5 file ramble over to Preston Bagot.



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On Tuesday 4th December Ramblers met at the Crown Inn, Claverdon and on a cold, but dry winters day enjoyed a walk across fields and through woods to the hamlet of Langley under the leadership of Richard Drake.


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Thursday 20th December 48 members of the group met at the Lakes at Barston to enjoy a Christmas Lunch.

Photographs by Lin White

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U3A Swing Division

On Thursday 1st March the U3A Swing Division entertained Balsall Common u3a members at the monthly Core Meeting to concert showcasing their repertoire.

Nick Carter founder of the band

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Table Tennis

A new group was started in January 2018 under the leadership of Len Tomnie.  For details of this group click here

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Walking Football

Walking Football group meet twice a month 2nd and 4th Friday Morning 10:30 to 12:00 they play 25 minutes each way. Photographs taken on Friday 26th January 2-18 by the Groups Co-ordinator Peter Vine


The following photographs were taken by John Hayes on November 9th 2018

The Following Photographs were take on11th January 2019 by Peter Calver


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