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 December 8, 2014

Geology of Dartmoor

We often visit the beautiful settings of Dartmoor but how many of us understand the origins of the rock formations which make up the Dartmoor landscape? Dr. Richard Mayhew provided members with an entertaining and educational talk entitled The Geology of Dartmoor.

Richard started his talk with pictures of other well-known beauty spots – Snowdonia, the Lake District and Gordale Scar near Malham with its limestone ravine and surrounding pavings and compared these with the more gentle landscape of Dartmoor.

Members were each handed a sample of Dartmoor granite rock with different faces, being polished, cut or rough. Here one could clearly see the composition of the granite samples – white feldspar, grey quartz and black mica in a tightly packed matrix.

There are two theories on the formation of the Dartmoor tors. Professor David Linton proposed that the tors were formed by a rotting process or deep chemical weathering. Palmer and Neilsen suggested that surface weathering occurred during periglacial periods bringing rise to the clitter (strewn rocks) surrounding the tors. Members were shown example photographs of various tors each with their own unique structure and showing how mining activities account for some of the distinct shapes.

Tony Dunk thanked Richard for his most interesting and informative talk. Members then proceeded to Tavistock Golf Club where an excellent Christmas lunch was served. The subject of the January meeting of the Tavistock Probus Club is “The Defence of Rorke’s Drift”.

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


Posted by TPC-ADMIN on November 8, 2014

RAF Harrowbeer

Which local airfield played a major role in winning World War 2? This month’s Tavistock Probus Club meeting was held on Remembrance Day and Stephen Fryer gave an enthusiastic and most interesting talk on the history of RAF Harrowbeer near Yelverton.

When Plymouth came in range of German bombers, a new airfield became an urgent priority and Harrowbeer was chosen as it afforded a level site. It was officially opened as a fighter base in Autumn 1941. Yelverton itself underwent many changes. The Parade was reduced to a single storey for the safety of aircraft and Udal Torre sanitorium and the Moor House Hotel were demolished. Knightstone, now a tea-room, was converted into a watch office or control tower for the new airfield and new roads were built and old ones diverted.

Stephen recounted tales of daring by the Spitfire and Typhoon pilots including one, complete with photograph, in which the pilot successfully brought his aircraft home with a huge hole in its wing. He also recounted how the pilots of Walrus aircraft, (used in air-sea rescue) were sometimes unable to take off in the rough seas and would be forced to ‘taxi’ their aircraft back across the Channel to safety.

Ray Hurle, on behalf of members, thanked Stephen for bringing history to life and for providing such extraordinary photographs. The subject of the December meeting of the Tavistock Probus Club is “The Geology of Dartmoor” and this will be followed by a Christmas lunch at Tavistock Golf Club 

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

Posted by TPC-ADMIN on September 8, 2014

Colin Street Gives A Talk on Prostate Cancer

Colin Street Gives Talk on Prostate Cancer

The subject of this month’s Tavistock Probus Club talk was one which causes deep concern to men of retirement age namely Cancer of the Prostate Gland. Our speaker, Colin Street is a leading member of Derriford Prostate Steering Group (PSG) which was formed to increase awareness of the symptoms of the disease and of the availability of detection and treatment methods. There are 40,000 new cases of the disease each year in the UK.

What does the PSG do?

PSG works closely with the Chestnut Unit and the Prostate Support Group in Derriford Hospital. Colin was able to reassure members that, with early diagnosis, the disease can be successfully treated. The talk emphasised the importance of an annual Prostate Specific Antigen test (PSA). If cancer is detected then treatment can be by surgical removal of the gland or by forms of radiotherapy to destroy the cancer cells.

Colin was ably assisted by his colleague, John Thorn and was happy to answer the many and varied questions which followed the talk. David Isaac, on behalf of members, thanked Colin for his most informative talk.

The Probus Club celebrates its 25th Anniversary in October of this year with lunch at the Bedford Hotel. The subject of the October meeting is “Some engineering aspects of submarine operation”.

Anyone interested in Tavistock Probus Club may contact the secretary on 01822 615669. We are happy to welcome new members and hear from potential speakers.

Posted by TPC-ADMIN on August 8, 2014

Battle of Isandlwana

A battle which “stunned the world” was the subject of this month’s Tavistock Probus Club talk. Lou Fletcher gave a colourful and graphic account of the defeat of the British by the Zulu Army at Isandlwana in 1879 under the leadership of Lord Chelmsford.

What was to be a straightforward battle turned into a massacre for the British Army. Total official casualties numbered some 1,350 men but the true figure was much greater. They were outmaneuvered by the Zulus who used their traditional “horns and chest of a buffalo” formation and encircled the British position pitting their traditional assegai spears against the formidable firepower of the Martini-Henry rifles. The Zulus were close to defeat until the British, hampered by administrative red tape, ran out of bullets. Having been encircled by the horns, the British made their courageous but unsuccessful last stands. There were few survivors.

Lou provided a variety of photographs showing the picturesque and rocky landscape in which the battle took place, southeast of Johannesburg and midway between Lesotho and Swaziland.  The ground is dotted with mounds of white stones and granite pillars marking the war graves of the British Soldiers.

Geoff Willetts, on behalf of members, thanked Lou for his talk and its most interesting historical and geographic content. The subject of the September meeting of the Tavistock Probus Club is “Prostate Cancer”. Anyone interested in Probus may contact the secretary on 01822 615669.

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

Posted by TPC-ADMIN on June 8, 2014

The Tamar Salmon Fishery

Atlantic Salmon

When we picture salmon swimming upstream in the River Tamar we may not be fully aware of the fascinating life cycle enjoyed by these Atlantic salmon. Dr. Ann Pulsford gave members a remarkable and colourful account of their life’s journey from their breeding grounds, far upstream, to the North Atlantic Ocean and back again, a distance of some 2,000 miles.

The journey of a salmon

It is a perilous journey with the risk of many predators. For their safety, the salmon use camouflage, stripes when in the river to blend with the gravel, and a silvery appearance at sea. For navigation, they use the earth’s magnetic field together with an olfactory memory enabling them to smell their way home to their original breeding grounds. There the eggs are laid and fertilised and the salmon, their long journey ended, die.

Large salmon are a prize catch. Georgina Ballantine landed a 64lb salmon from the River Tay in 1922 and inspired thousands of women to take up salmon fishing. Conservation measures are critically important and have included the building of a fish ladder at Lopwell Dam, a salmon hatchery at Endsleigh and the cleaning of the gravel beds where the eggs are laid.

David Rippon, on behalf of members, thanked Ann for her most interesting talk spanning many scientific fields. The Probus Club hold their annual club lunch in the Bedford Hotel in July and the subject of the August meeting is “The Battle of Isandlwana”.

Anyone interested in joining the Tavistock Probus club may contact the secretary on 01822 615669. We are always happy to welcome new members.