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 June 8, 2015

Devon Castles

What do we know about the history of nearby Lydford Castle? It certainly gained a grim reputation as a judicial centre and jail for the Forest of Dartmoor and the Stannaries.

Devon offers many interesting attractions, and its castles feature high in that list. Probus members enjoyed a fascinating and wonderfully illustrated talk on the history of these castles by Robert Hesketh, the author of many books on Devon, its countryside, towns and colourful history.

Following their conquests in 1066, the Normans built castles to subdue the turbulent English. Rougemont Castle was built in response to the Exeter rebellion in 1068 and hilltop castles were established in Lydford, Okehampton, Totnes and many other towns and cities. Their most important resource was clean water, without which the garrison’s only option was surrender. Robert used his many photographs to illustrate the ingenious external fortifications and the baronial opulence of the accommodation in later edifices.

Over the centuries, warfare technology developed and this required major changes in castle design. The arrival of explosives and heavy shells was a good example. Castles became a major expense for the country’s rulers.

Robert’s talk ended with views of Castle Drogo which was the last to be built, being completed in 1930. Castle Drogo is the most romantic of all the castles and was designed by Sir Edward Lutyens for the grocery tycoon Julius Drewe. It is currently undergoing a major refit by The National Trust.

Peter Lane thanked Robert for his most interesting presentation saying he was surprised how many castles there are in Devon. Probus holds its Club Lunch in the Bedford Hotel in July.

Anyone interested in the Tavistock Probus Club may contact the secretary on 01822 615669.

Posted by TPC-ADMIN on May 8, 2015

Human Reproduction Technology

The talk this month was on Human Reproduction Technology and was given by Dr. Peter Robert Brinsden MBBSMRCSLRCPFRCOG. Peter was appointed Medical Director at Bourn Hall ClinicCambridge in 1989. Since his retirement in 2006 he has been the Consultant Medical Director at Bourn Hall and, among his many other appointments, he is the President of the British Fertility Society.

In 1978, after 12 years of research, Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards achieved the birth of Louise Brown – the World’s first test tube (IVF) baby. In the thirty-five years since this momentous event, IVF has become a ‘mainstream’ treatment for many forms of infertility. During this time, however, there have been many developments within the specialty of IVF, or assisted reproduction, many of which at the time were – and some still are – considered to be highly controversial. Peter’s talk was indeed to be both controversial and provocative and allowed members the opportunity to express their views and concerns. “It can be done – should it be done?”

Peter’s presentation provided a brief review of the early days of IVF as pioneered by Steptoe and Edwards (both Fellows ad eundem of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)) and then looked at some of the most controversial issues that have arisen since 1978. These included such topics as surrogacy, oocyte and embryo donation, intracytoplasmic injection, mitochondrial DNA transfer, treatment of single women and same-sex couples (male and female), cloning, stem cell technology – including the creation of gametes from somatic cells – and other ‘treatments’ which are presently being developed.

The Chairman of Probus, Ray Hurle, thanked Peter on behalf of members for his presentation of this very thought provoking subject.

The subject of the June meeting of the Tavistock Probus Club is “Devon Castles”. Anyone interested in Probus may contact the secretary on 01822 615669.

Anyone interested in joining the Tavistock Probus Club may contact the secretary on 01822 615669.


Posted by TPC-ADMIN on March 8, 2015

French Inland Waterways

There are many French towns which one would love to visit and enjoy their quaint historic buildings, delightful restaurants, and excellent local wines. Alan Davis gave members a colourful account of the three seasons spent visiting these towns in a talk entitled “ French Inland Waterways ”.

Alan’s first requirement was a boat. Being an experienced sailor and an accomplished engineer, he acquired an old London Port Authority boat and set to work refurbishing it ready for the adventures which lay ahead. The boat was aptly named “Perseverance”.

Alan and his wife set out from Salcombe in June 2006 heading for Cherbourg and on to Honfleur where they joined the inland waterways starting with La Seine. Alan’s talk was generously illustrated with photographs of the many places they visited including Rouen, Caen and the Bayeux Tapestry, Chateau de Fontainebleau, Monet’s lily pond in Giverny and many others. The photographs gave the feeling of the tranquility to be found in these places.

There were numerous anecdotes included in the talk describing their experiences of French canal locks; trying to wake up the lock keeper or climbing up one of the huge lock gates which had jammed. French lock keepers compete to see who can create the most attractive setting using imaginative floral displays, adding to the pleasure of the visit.

David Wixon thanked Alan for his brilliant photography and talk saying “It was great to sail with you”. Probus holds its Annual General Meeting in April following lunch in the Bedford Hotel. Anyone interested in Probus may contact the secretary on 01822 615669.

Anyone interested in joining the Tavistock Probus Club may contact the secretary on 01822 615669.

Posted by TPC-ADMIN on February 8, 2015

Tavistock Area Support Services

Since 1985, people in Tavistock have benefited from a unique and dedicated service for everyone over the age of 55. Tavistock Area Support Services is a very local charity. Andy Lyle, who is the General Manager, was invited to our February meeting to give a talk on the many services offered including Transport, Outreach, Contact and Volunteer Services.

Andy gave an entertaining and informative account of the activities within TASS. The Anchorage Centre in Chapel Street offers a film club, table tennis, whist, scrabble and coffee mornings. Transport is on wheelchair friendly buses and includes minibus trips, shop mobility, transport to health appointments and a country bus. Their buses are on the road 365 days a year and any Tavistock community organisation can apply to use them. The Memory Café is dedicated to helping those with dementia in its many forms and performs a vital service within the Tavistock community. Andy told members that the future for TASS and Tavistock is exciting – TASS will continue to look after older people with the constant hope for a brighter tomorrow. Ray Meneer thanked Andy on behalf of members for coming and explaining the many and varied aspects of TASS.

Also this month, Probus members were invited to a tour of the nuclear submarine “Courageous” in Devonport Dockyard. During the Cold War, patrols would last 2 or 3 months and most of that time would be spent submerged. Our tour lasted an hour and a half and gave a fascinating insight into the life, companionship, and skills of the crew onboard the submarine.

The subject of the March meeting of the Tavistock Probus Club is “French Inland Waterways”.

Anyone interested in the Tavistock Probus Club may contact the secretary on 01822 615669.


Posted by TPC-ADMIN on January 8, 2015

The Defence of Rorke’s Drift

Which single battle saw the most Victoria Crosses awarded? The subject of our talk this month was ‘The Defence of Rorke’s Drift’ , a mission station on the banks of the Buffalo River on the border between Natal and Zulu Land. Originally established as a trading post by James Rorke it was known locally as “Jim’s Land”. The Battle of Rorke’s Drift between the British Army and the Zulu warriors was depicted in the film Zulu starring Michael Caine and took place on 22nd and 23rd of January 1879 immediately following the British Army’s defeat by the Zulus at the Battle of Isandlhwana,

Lou Fletcher, who is a member of the Anglo-Zulu War Historical Research Society, gave members a fascinating account of the tragic and heroic events which took place on those two days when 150 British redcoats, some already wounded, faced 4,000 Zulu warriors. Under the command of Lieutenant John Chard, the British soldiers built a defensive perimeter of mealie bags alongside the mission station around an area the size of two tennis courts and within this, they built a small redoubt, a fortification some eight feet high.  Throughout the night, and in the glow of their burning hospital, the brave men repelled wave after wave of attacking Zulus and, at first light,  when ammunition for their Martini-Henry rifles was running low they saw that the Zulus were gone. Seventeen of the defenders died and eleven of the survivors received The Victoria Cross.

Michael Edmonds, on behalf of members, thanked Lou for his stunning talk which was thoroughly enjoyed by all present. The subject of the February meeting of the Tavistock Probus Club is “Tavistock Area Support Services”.

Anyone interested in the Tavistock Probus Club may contact the secretary on 01822 615669.