This page will have all of the written reports that have been generated on topic discussions and topics of interest.

Posted by TPC-ADMIN on March 8, 2017

Studio Ceramics


Winter Mist bowls Peter Lane Tavistock Probus Club

The fascinating subject of our March talk was “Sources of inspiration in Studio Ceramics” which was given by Peter Lane, Chairman of the Tavistock Probus Club.  With 60 years’ experience in the design and making of exquisitely attractive ceramics, Peter has explored the qualities of light, luminosity, and colour using landscape, nature and sunlight as his predominant themes. For 30 years, Peter played a significant role in art education both in the UK and around the world and was awarded a senior fellowship at the University of East Anglia in 1984.

Peter’s designs emphasised his love of trees and landscapes, particularly in the Lake District and the Derbyshire Downs. This he combined with the carving of pottery and the colouring of the surface using natural elements such as copper, cobalt, and manganese. Techniques of overlaying colours to produce fractured light effects were described using both slides and the many examples of his pottery on display. Some of the techniques were surprisingly simple, using such items as strips of cornflake packets and masking tape. Random repeated shapes represented examples of nature such as fungi and swans.

The vote of thanks was given by David Denton who described Peter’s talk as widely enthusiastic and expertly presented. In April, we hold our AGM preceded by lunch in the Bedford Hotel. Tavistock Probus Club is always pleased to welcome new members. If you would like more information or a complimentary invitation to one of our talks, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

If you would like more information or a complimentary invitation to one of our Tavistock Probus Club talks, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

Here are some more images of Peter Lane’s Studio Ceramics:

Fractured Light bowls Peter Lane Tavistock Probus Club

Wax carving blue bowls Peter Lane Tavistock Probus Club

Round Sky Peter Lane Tavistock Probus Club

Posted by TPC-ADMIN on February 25, 2017

New Zealand, North Island

New Zealand was the subject of February’s Probus Club talk in The Bedford Hotel. Lou Fletcher gave members a colourful description of the North Island from its creation, 85 million years ago. Today, New Zealand is an island full of amazing and sometimes dangerous features with its hot lakes, volcanic disturbances, ancient trees but, above all, wonderful scenery.

The island was first sighted by a Dutch seafarer, Abel Tasman, in 1642 and was named Nieuw Zeeland after the western province of Zeeland in the Netherlands. Tasman met stiff resistance from the Maoris and never went ashore. Captain James Cook sighted the island on 6 October 1769 and landed there two days later.

The island’s Kauri tree

The island’s Kauri tree is one of the world’s oldest species and grows to a height of 160 feet. Early visiting sailors found the trunk of this tree ideal for ships masts and settlers used the wood for building. The trees are now protected by preservation orders. Lou showed members an ornate chopping board made from wood which was 40,000 years old.

Lou’s presentation included photos of the geothermic hot pools which are a favourite tourist attraction. They were originally used by the Maoris, not only for therapeutic benefits but also for washing and dying clothes and cooking meat and fish.

The vote of thanks was ably delivered by John Wall. Our March talk is on pottery design. Tavistock Probus Club is always pleased to welcome new members.

If you would like more information, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

Posted by TPC-ADMIN on January 8, 2017


Smuggling is part of Devon’s romantic and intriguing history. In this month’s talk, Robert Hesketh described the bravery and recklessness of the smugglers – often ordinary people trying to escape a life of poverty.

Britain was at war with France. To pay for that war, excise duty was raised on all manner of goods and none more so than alcohol and tobacco. Avoiding this duty was very profitable indeed. Fishermen risked their lives on the high seas and landlubbers risked capital punishment for dealing in smuggled goods. On a dark night, fishing smacks would become smugglers’ vessels and would easily outrun the naval patrols with their speed and the fishermen’s intimate knowledge of the coast. The Devon beach of Beer Head was a typical good landing place and the Beer Quarry Caves provided adequate storage for smuggled brandy barrels and casks of tobacco. Further inland, the church bell towers offered further safe storage. A man could earn more in one night of smuggling than he would in a month at his normal hard work.

Robert told many amusing smugglers’ tales. In one, the preventive men visited a certain Bob Elliot of Brixham only to be told that he had died that evening. The coastguards met the funeral procession, noting not only an exceptionally large and heavy coffin but also the “ghost” of Bob walking behind it. They fled in terror. Other stories told of housewives using their washing lines as signals and of revenue officers profiting from aiding the smugglers.

David Wixon proposed the vote of thanks congratulating Robert on his fantastic presentation. The subject of our next talk in February is “New Zealand North Island”. Tavistock Probus Club is always pleased to welcome new members. 

If you would like to join the Tavistock Probus Club, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

Posted by TPC-ADMIN on November 8, 2016



Blue police boxes, the sound of police whistles shrieking in the night, Dixon of Dock Green – memories of long gone policing practices were brought to life again in our November talk by Tony and Gillian Parker, both retired senior police officers. These were the days before mobile phones and brightly painted police cars; when the policeman* walked his beat and was part of the community. (*Gillian reminded everyone that recruitment of women to the police was a rare event and until 1973 women were not allowed to work after 10pm!)

Blue Police Boxes or the ‘tardis’

Further reminders of days of yore were that Bobbies on their beat used police boxes to check in every hour to let the sergeant know they were safe and that they not having a quiet drink in the local pub.

Short of running to the nearest “tardis” the only way of calling for backup in an emergency was to blow your police whistle and hope. Personal protection took the form of a helmet (for male officers) and a wooden truncheon now replaced by taser guns, bullet proof vests, and smartphones.

A career that began at the age of 16

Tony joined the police service as a police cadet at the young age of 16 during which he worked at a monastery and attended a post-mortem! With a varied career, in training, press and public relations, pharmacy inspections and narcotics investigation – including working in Chicago, Tony was seconded to and ended his career as Head of Performance Management for National Police Training.

Gillian and Tony Parker in their former policing careers.
Gillian and Tony Parker in their former policing careers.

Gillian joined Leicestershire Constabulary in 1980 and specialised in child protection, domestic violence, and youth offending. In 1991 she helped review police arrangements in Jamaica before moving to Suffolk and subsequently to Bedfordshire on promotion to Chief Constable. Gillian was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2003.

Demonstrations of policing methodology

Members were shown how policing methodology has changed dramatically over the years with developments in forensic and behavioural science, DNA testing and offender profiling. Police communications have also benefited from advances in technology providing instant access to a variety of databases.

Lou Fletcher thanked Tony and Gillian for their most interesting and informative talk. In December, the Tavistock Probus Club members will enjoy an excellent Christmas lunch at Tavistock Golf Club.

Tavistock Probus Club is always pleased to welcome new members. If you would like to join us, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

Posted by TPC-ADMIN on September 8, 2016

The Falkland Islands and Antartica

Life in the Royal Navy is often very challenging, even in peacetime. Our talk this month was given by Rodney Browne who, after two tours to Antarctic waters in HMS Endurance, commanded his own survey ship, HMS Herald, for two winter tours to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica shortly after the Falklands war.

The Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands are mountainous, extremely cold and windy and yet teaming with wildlife. Rodney’s photographs showed just how dramatic the landscape is, with pictures of icebergs, rugged cliffs, and snow-covered hills together with close-up photos of sea lions, penguins, hawks and, of course, sheep.

The Antarctic is 95% ice covered and temperatures as low as -88°C have been recorded. When surveying in winter, safety is paramount. The weather can change dramatically in a very short space of time and the environment is harsh and unpredictable. The wildlife, if a little unsociable, is perfectly adapted to this environment. Seals, however, have foul smelling breath and the pungent odour of a penguin rookery can be smelt 3 miles away.

Mountains, Ice, and perilous conditions

Our talk included stories of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s attempted expedition to the South Pole, sledding 1740 miles in perilous conditions, before years later being trapped in ice on board the Endurance and sailing to South Georgia before climbing a 9,000ft mountain ridge to seek the help of a whaling station.

Ray Hurle thanked Rodney for giving members a fascinating insight into the life of a naval officer and demonstrating how flexible and innovative one must be when commanding a vessel. The subject for our October meeting is “Help for Heroes”.

Tavistock Probus Club is pleased to welcome new members. If you would like to join us, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.