Due to Covid 19, our physical meetings have been cancelled but Billericay Lions continue to meet online using Zoom.
Our annual Darts Tournament is a chance for Lion members to get together over a pint or two and compete for a prestigious trophy.
For many of us, we struggle to hit the board and finishing on a double is next to impossible.
So the darts takes second place to the chat, beer and sandwiches.
The Rev’d Dr. Nicholas Henderson, our speaker in January, is a graduate of Selwyn College, Cambridge, and he trained for the Anglican ministry at Ripon Hall, Oxford. He is also Vice President of ‘Modern Church’ (founded 1898) the oldest theological society in the Anglican Communion.
Rev Nicholas opened with a slide of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, and a reference to the grave of William Shakespeare.
He explained how Christianity had arrived with the Romans in the 4th Century AD. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire. Britannia, as our islands were known, was gradually infiltrated in the 5th century by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, all pagans, and Christianity was pushed to the West and North of the country. St Martins church in Canterbury saw the return of Christianity in the south and now claims to be the longest continuous place of christian worship in the country.
He explained that the Saxons were poor builders constructing mainly in wood. The art of brick-making had died and any masonry buildings, usually tall and thin with pointed window arches, contained bricks plundered from Roman buildings and set in a distinctive herringbone pattern. Remnants of these buildings remain. He even played a recording of Saxon speech to demonstrate the origins of ‘English’.
The Viking invasions 865 to 896 brought Danelaw to Britannia and the reign of King Cnut (Canute) is deemed to be the beginning of England as a country.
King Edward the Confessor (1042 – 1065) founded Westminster Abbey.
The Norman invasion in 1066 saw the end of Saxon rule. The Normans were technically well ahead of the Saxons with sophisticated armour and the use of cavalry in battle. Norman Barons ruled the country building castles and taking control demoting all Saxons to serfdom. The Tower of London was an early Norman castle.
The Doomsday Book completed in 1086 established the control of all land by Norman Noblemen. Norman architecture, featuring gothic arches, allowed greater roof spans and larger and more impressive buildings.
By the reign of Henry II the old Britannia was the smaller part of an empire comprising most of France and all of England with French as the official language.
Rev Nichola demonstrated differences in language with reference to surviving terms where the ruling French referenced the name of a meat and the old English refers to the animal. Serfs rarely tasted the meat but looked after the animals. (e.g. mutton/lamb). He demonstrated that current English is a hybrid language with the first records dating back to 14th century.
Mayflower Morris Men joined us tonight at our monthly fellowship meeting. Firstly demonstrating regional dances followed by a valiant attempting to teach Lions and guests.
Matt Everard a local Billericay businessman gave a detailed and well illustrated talk on how and why he came to acquire and completely rebuild an old Tuk Tuk.
In 2017 Matt bought the three-wheeled 1971 Bangkok taxi on eBay from a seller in Bolton as a fun ride around town. Having spent £20,000 making improvements during the five month rebuild he then went on to explain that he then wanted to set a new Guinness World land speed record for a Tuk Tuk.
He teamed up with his cousin Russell Shearman for the record attempt which took place at Elvington Airfield near York on Monday, 13th May 2019. Having successfully increased the record to 74.306 mph, he then went on to use his pride and joy to raise money for charities.
Brian Carline, our speaker in October, is a former Head Teacher with forty years experience in the profession.
In his early days of teaching it turns out he was originally half of a double act called Mr Carline and Mr Walling in the world of stand-up comedy, and was good enough to go onto to win the TV talent show “New Faces” in the mid-1970s!
He told us that one of the essential qualities of being a good teacher is a sense of humour, and this was well illustrated in his very amusing talk.
He has worked in a number of secondary schools in quite difficult areas of the country, from Toxteth and Salford to parts of Essex and the East End of London, and he recounted many amusing anecdotes about the staff, pupils and families which he has come across over the years.
He had us all laughing from the word go – and yet throughout his talk of the tough characters and difficult families his devotion to the job and his compassion for the pupils in his care was clear for us all to see.
A very entertaining evening which culminated in many of us remembering our own school experiences!
David Williams who is a Blue Badge Guide came and spoke to us about the subject of ‘Crime & Punishment, Story of Smithfield’.
David started by giving a brief synopsis of his career so far, he currently speaks but also gives guided walks through the cities of London and Westminster. He then went on to give a very entertaining and informative history of the Smithfield Market and immediate surrounding areas. The original market started 800 years ago, and the surrounding area was used to provide the entertainment of the day, which included public executions. The current site has the last remaining Victorian Market building, others include Billingsgate fish market and the Spitalfields Market, both of which have move markets to east London, with the old buildings redeveloped.
The same fate is to fall on the Smithfield with the Museum of London moving to the current site and will be known as the culture mile. Developers will need to be sympathetic to the style of the current building as it is now a listed building, development is expected to last approximately 5-10 years. David also talked about some of the notable executions that took place at the Smithfield area including the names such as, Watt Tyler the leader of the Peasants Revolt in 1381 and “Braveheart” William Wallace in 1305. Surprisingly the old Smithfield included Bartholomew Fields now the site of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, and Newgate Prison now the site of the Old Bailey.
On Monday 22nd July 2019, Roger Smith came and gave an interesting talk about The Air War over Essex 1915-1918. He explained that Air War associated with the 1914-18 conflict was essentially the first Battle of Britain with very basic flying machines developed only 10 years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight. Essex was the site of early bombing raids by the Germans due to its East London location and the Kaiser’s initial reluctance to upset his cousin by bombing central London. Bombs were first dropped by the FF29 aeroplane in December 1914, first in the channel missing land, then in Kent with the first bombing casualty being a lady who died of shock rather than injury.
An airship bombed Maldon in April 1915 with 20 incendiary bombs from 5,000ft as a hit or miss affair with no devices for bomb aiming accuracy. Other airships bombed Southend twice in May resulting in 3 deaths and 4 injured. In August Southend was hit again by an airship turning back from anti aircraft fire at Chatham Docks its initial target. Other raids in Essex mentioned were on Harwich, 1915, Ongar and Harwich, 1916 and Harwich, 1917.
Zeppelins were used by the German Air Corp and Navy. They were from 500ft to 700ft long, filled with up to 2 million cubic ft of Hydrogen, flying at up to 60mph at 13,000ft to 20,000ft with crew of 20 and carrying up to 6,000 lb of bombs. The Gotha G.V. bomber took over from airships and flew at 80mph with crew of 3 followed by the Zeppelin-Staaken Giant bomber with 4 push and pull engines flying at 84mph, crew of 7, wingspan 138ft, range 500miles and eventual altitude of 14,000ft, after a few hours of slow climbing in circles before entering British air space.
Air raid detection was primitive and at first by observation from either Royal Flying Corps or Army in France, ships in the channel or civilians seeing or hearing bombers on their way to Britain and relaying a message by radio or telephone. Position, height and direction could not be tracked and interception was rare. Without radios British pilots’ last briefing was before take off. Eventually parabola dishes on the south coast could hear aircraft up to 26 miles away. Local air raid warnings were a Policeman on a bike blowing a whistle or Boy Scouts on bikes with a bugle. There were no air raid shelters but houses with basements were offered as a safe place to gather during a raid.
British Aerodromes in Essex comprised of 3 Royal Navy Air Service bases located in the main river estuaries, 6 Royal Flying Corps fighter bases and a number of emergency landing grounds thinly staffed. Stow Maries is the only WW1 base still in existence and not developed for use in WW11. There were 5 British aeroplanes developed or designed for warfare. The BE2 designed in 1912 was originally used for reconnaissance only and not armed. The BE12 flew at 82mph up to 9,000ft with one fairly useless Lewis gun that could only fire at set angles without damaging the plane. The Sopwith Pup with a gun that could fire through the propeller flew at 105mph, altitude 17,00ft. The Sopwith Camel designed in March 1917 flew at 120mph, altitude 21,000ft, with 2 Vickers machine guns. The SE5a flew at 120mph, altitude 1,950ft, with 2 guns.
Zeppelins were eventually successfully brought down using incendiary bullets developed by ‘Brock’ of Fireworks fame. Rockets were also used, fired from the top wing of a Camel. Five Zeppelins were brought down in Essex the SL11, L32,L33,L31 and L48. Three Gotha bombers were also brought down in Rochford, Wickford and East Ham.