We have tried to maintain and stimulate the enthusiasm of both recent and longstanding members and guests by the presentation of talks covering a range of local and topical subjects of historical interest. These have included archaeology; geology; industrial heritage; vernacular architecture; agriculture; local crafts, skills, lifestyles and interests; personalities, entrepreneurs, artists, writers, poets, philosophers, historians and ‘thinkers’; transport and infrastructure, and oral history.
A number of talks have been given by our own members – they have included topics as varied as Broughton Tower history; Swinside stone circle; ‘Cumbria Wool’ (of local source, design, processing and manufacture); Wonderful Walker; Stephenson Ground history and ‘dig’; and Seathwaite school and poetry.
During this time the Group has been fortunate and privileged to have presented speakers of national and international standing, many of whom have written publications of real significance in their own fields; it would be perhaps inappropriate to list all those here, but it is certainly worthy of note that we were honoured many times by the late Mike Davies-Shiel, who as one of our regular speakers, was considered to be a friend by many – the Group will, amongst many, sorely miss him.
The Group and some of its individual members have also been associated with, written or been responsible for, the publication of books of local and general historical interest, most of which have formed the basis of talks, eg: Wonderful Walker; Field Names of the Duddon Valley; Swinside Stone Circle and the Archaeological Survey of the Duddon Valley.
Many speakers generously distributed ‘handouts’ relevant to their talk (and MD-S was particularly prolific in this respect!), and examples of these are attached. In many cases they are not only a dissemination of knowledge but also of hitherto unacknowledged artistic talent!
Group members have also been given the opportunities to develop their own skills by demonstrations of, amongst other things, swill making, drystone walling, hedging and archaeological recognition and surveying.