Annual General Meeting
1. Opening of Meeting.
Mike Perkins opened the first meeting of 2015, which comprised the AGM, with a welcome to all members and visitors alike, wishing them all a Happy New Year.
The sudden and sad death of Bob Hodgetts early in the New Year was reported and condolences expressed to his family.
The Minutes of the previous meeting were accepted as a true record.
Lance Cartwright had agreed to take the notes of this meeting.
Apologies were tendered on behalf of Pat Martin who is on holiday, Kathleen Grainger due to illness and for Joy Myers and Barbara French who were unable to attend.
3. Report of the Events Secretary.
Meetings in 2014 had strongly focused on World War I.
Indoor meeting attendance statistics for 2013 and 2014 were consistent ranging from 26 to 40 people attending the monthly meetings and an average of 30 being achieved over the years. The Kinver Edge talk and Archive visit had proved very popular and each saw 40 attendees. It is hoped that new members and visitors are attracted in 2015 and a forward schedule of meeting dates and topics had been developed and made available to encourage that.
The visit to St Mary’s in Oldswinford which was attended by 20 people was also reported to have been most enjoyable, enhanced by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the rector.
A coach trip to the Upper Thames is planned for Saturday 13th June and members were urged to mark their diaries and confirm their intention to join the trip. Mike advised that in order to ensure that the 53 seater coach was full he intended to canvass other local history societies in order to bolster numbers.
4. Treasurer’s Report.
It was reported that the Society had returned a small loss of £136 for the year, this contributed to by missing out a raffle at one of the meetings. However, the Society is in a sound financial position overall.
It is hoped that 2015 will see a reverse trend in the balance of accounts for 2014.
The Treasurer’s Report was accepted.
5. Chairman’s Report.
No report had been made available but it was noted that Pat Martin had missed many meetings in 2014 as a consequence of a serious accident to her leg from which thankfully she has now recovered well.
6. Election of Officers.
The following members were duly elected into the various roles necessary to administer the Society:
Chairman - Pat Martin
Vice-Chairman - Mike Perkins
Treasurer - Joyce Robins
Events Secretary - Helen Cook (supported by Mike Perkins)
Secretary (new position) - Kathleen Grainger
7. Closure of AGM.
Mike closed the AGM, expressing thanks to all members for their continued support to the Society.
8. Any Other Business / Discussion.
A proposal of thanks on behalf of the members was expressed to the Chair and the other officers for their hard work and commitment to the Society.
It was suggested by Kathryn Skelson-Reece that in future the Society promotes itself through publication of a small piece in the local press, namely the Stourbridge News. This idea had been explored previously but will be re-visited in 2015 in order to gain more publicity for the activities of the Society.
9. Date of Next Meeting.
The next meeting will take place at The Ruskin Centre on Wednesday 11th February at 7.30pm. The guest speaker will be Lord Cobham, of Hagley Hall.
10. Talk by Brian Draper MBE.
Brian gave an ‘autobiographical’ account through snippets of his working life, starting off with sharing details of his hefty 1958 pay-packet. Brian became a bit of an entrepreneur to bolster his tea-boy wages by selling biscuits, cigarettes (remember Park Drive and Woodbines?!). He could have expanded his tea-boy role at the White City Stadium but fell in love (but can’t remember her name!) before getting a job ‘on the rivers’ driving a Land Rover.
He told stories of ‘General’ George and other characters and practices of that time as well as episodes he encountered during his work on the rivers – don’t wear a pink shirt when up a tree and badger for supper anyone?
Brian was actually sacked (briefly) for running over the gaffer's cherished bucket and almost had to get home on a bus, the bus driver stopping for half a pint at every pub on route! (I lost count of how many!). How times have changed. Fortunately Brian was forgiven as he was the only person who could drive the Land Rover and the rest of the crew home and his career then took off with him ultimately managing a gang of over 40 workers.
Brian related amusing but true tales of some of his staff - Fred couldn’t read or write, it wasn’t that he hadn’t learned, he was just a bit thick! He did however provide a source of amusement and made a tidy profit clearing the pavements of Malvern from snow. He also did a merry dance on a wasps nest in his slightly yellowed long-johns.
Michael also made an explosive start on his first day after being appointed by Brian - he ended up without his beard and with a melted nylon shirt after just 3 hours after trying to impress an old timer with the new way to get a fire going (don’t use 2 stroke petrol at home!).
“Captain” Reg (he was captain of a number of darts teams) was very well trained but couldn’t last the course. He was a liability with dumper trucks and chain saws - so keep clear of him and also make sure you have a good stock of toilet paper if you are walking down the river as his supplies were somewhat ‘dodgy’.
At a personal level Brian fell into the River Stour near the carpet factory in Kidderminster, surfacing in the town centre and ending up being taken to Worcester Hospital who kept him in for a few days due to the high risk of infection, as the river in those days was much more polluted than it is today. Manhole 44 near Mousesweet Brook in Quarry Bank also has memories for Brian as it frequently ‘erupted’ after heavy rain and dumped unpleasant material over the area – nobody wanted to work on the River Stour! The Stour tunnel in Overend was also a daunting place to operate.
Brian and his gang were charged to clean a stretch of the Stour on one occasion in an area known as Saltbrook - tea, cake, eight cats and a miner bird all went towards providing the source of another amusing tale - more tea vicar? No thank you!
As a finale Brian talked with affection about Miss Tibbs who worked in the stores of Severn Trent Water in Malvern. She was well cared for and was fed through the payroll and company ‘medical expenses’ covered her hysterectomy! Amusingly it was very much later in the day that internal Audit found out that Miss Tibbs was in fact a cat bought in to keep the mouse population down!
Brian’s talk was roundly applauded and with much laughter.
Mike presented Brian with a boxed selection of whisky miniatures to add to his extensive collection as a token of thanks from the Society.
11. Meeting Closure.
The raffle was drawn, and the prizes distributed to the lucky winners.
Mike closed the meeting, thanking members for attending on a poor weather night and wished everyone a safe trip home.
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