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Chairman's Event - September 2014

Birmingham is not the most obvious venue for a Chairman's event but Barry Norris was determined to show us the city where he spent so much of his working life.  As a civil engineer Barry was responsible for the city's sewers but I'm delighted to say there wasn't even a whiff of them on the agenda. Instead we were treated to and interesting mix of buildings, museums and canals along with a walking tour of the area where the battle of Bosworth occurred on 22 August 1485.

It It was the last great battle of the roses and we were fortunate enough to have a brilliant guide who brought it all alive. There were actually three belligerents involved. The third, namely the Stanley family, did not declare allegiance to either of the others but hung back to see how the battle developed.

Even though King Richard III had much the larger army, he became separated from a good part of it and put all his hopes on a charge across the battlefield to kill Henry Tudor. Seeing the king's knights separated from his army, the Stanleys intervened to aid Henry and kill Richard. Needless to say they were handsomely rewarded by the new King Henry. Nothing much changes in politics...

flag helmet museum
Pete with the flag for King Richard Helmet vulnerabilities explained Barry leads the flock

Our base for the event was The Camping and Caravanning Club's excellent site at Kingsbury Water Park. A big thank you goes to the Club for sponsoring our pitches and to the HSM's for looking after us. From there a minibus took us to the centre of Coventry where we strolled though the ruins of the old cathedral. It's a powerful memorial to those who lost their lives in the devastating bombing raids of 1940.

Next we went to Coventry's superb transport museum for a guided tour. The best bit for many was the Thrust SSC simulator which took us on the record breaking run of the world's fastest car when it clocked an average of 763mph, breaking the sound barrier.

Afterwards the minibus took us to BPW's UK HQ at Leicester for a presentation and chance to learn more about their chassis products. Following an excellent lunch courtesy of BPW we set of for the aforementioned walking tour of the battle of Bosworth.

caravan BPW glass
1938 Eccles at the museum BPW Leicester Glass blowing at Shenton

The afternoon ended with a glass blowing demonstration at the old railway station at Shenton. It was truly fascinating and several of us bought pieces. After all that walking we were ready for some food so Barry had lined up a nice meal at the excellent Dog and Hedgehog pub in Dadlington.

The next morning, after walk through Birmingham, we took refreshments at the newly refurbished Edwardian Tearooms inside Birmingham's Museum and Art Gallery before setting off to explore the new £189m library. It was named the public’s favourite new building but subsequently just failed to win the RIBA Stirling Prize, which went to the new Everyman theatre in Liverpool. We never did find the library's caravan section but there must be one somewhere.

From there we set off for the canal boat that was to take us on a round trip of central Birmingham. It proved an interesting insight into the area's industrial history as well as being a different way of seeing the city.

Later we saw the last remaining back to back houses, now in the care of the National Trust. They share a back wall to save space and have been decked out to suit different times in their history.

Last but not least we visited the jewellery museum. Instead of cases full of old jewellery we were treated to a tour of a jewellery factory that had closed in 1981. It seemed little had changed since Smith and Pepper's factory had opened in 1899. The place was full of old machinery, typewriters and telephones. Indeed the factory is exactly as it was when it closed. Nothing has been added and nothing taken away. It just seemed as though the workforce could return at any time and simply carry on - a veritable time capsule of jewellery production in Birmingham.

canals jewellery boules
Birmingham by boat Jewellery making demonstration Boules by torchlight

The day ended with a game of boules followed by a communal barbeque in the mild evening air back at Kingsbury Water Park. A great way to end a great event.


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