The 2018-19 programme 

Monday 17 September Park Campus, Cheltenham

Branch AGM - followed at 8.15 pm by

Christian O'Connell, University of Gloucestershire

1968, the “Summer of Love”

Friday 19 October Oxstalls Campus,Gloucester

Dr Charles Gore, SOAS, University of London

The Benin Empire: art and history Black History Month event

The Kingdom of Benin was a pre-colonial state in what is now southern Nigeria. Its capital was Edo. It has been described as 'one of the oldest and most highly developed states in the coastal hinterland of West Africa, dating perhaps to the eleventh century CE'. By the 15th century, it had expanded into a thriving city-state. The kingdom's power eventually extended over much of what is now mid-western Nigeria, and a rural network of earthen walls at least 4,000 miles long was developed; it has been estimated that it would have taken 150 million man-hours to build, over hundreds of years. The kingdom has become internationally known for the quality of its art, notably sculptures - most famously in bronze and brass, but also in other materials including wood, ceramic and ivory. Dr Gore has carried out extensive research in southern Nigeria for 20 years at Benin City in Edo state, working with practitioners of the local indigenous religion and with brasscasters; and also carried out research in Anambra and Ondo states; and in the Niger delta.

Tuesday 20 November  Park Campus, Cheltenham

Paula Kitching, Historical Association

The RAF and the Berlin Airlift 1948-49

Specially produced video and speaker from the Historical Association’s project marking the RAF’s centenary nationally.

Monday 3 December Park Campus, Cheltenham

Tony Comer, GCHQ historian

The History of GCHQ and How It Came to Cheltenham

Tony Comer has worked at GCHQ for thirty-four years. He worked in a variety of operational posts, most of which involved support to UK and allied military forces. He became GCHQ’s Departmental Historian in 2009. As GCHQ prepares to recognise a hundred years since its creation, a number of activities are taking place including the publication of a book to mark the anniversary next year. On the announcement of the publishing contract Tony said: 'GCHQ has kept Britain safe for 100 years, and will keep doing so into the future. Our centenary is a unique moment to commemorate our past, explain more about what we do, and inspire a new generation by celebrating the people who have made GCHQ such a ground-breaking organisation for the last century and continue to do so into the next.' The talk was of personal relevance to many people in the branch's area, and provide an exciting opportunity to learn about this important organisation.

Monday 14 January Oxstalls Campus, Gloucester

Malcolm Mclean, University of Gloucestershire

Apartheid and Sport

The formalisation in 1948 of apartheid as a system of government led to increasing concerns about South Africa’s place on the world stage. Although some international sports organisations broke with apartheid institutions in the mid-1950s, an organised international boycott campaign did not begin until 1959 and it was not until the early 1970s that major international sports organisations began to break with the apartheid regime. Civil society organisations were ahead of sports organisations, resulting in large scale and spirited protests culminating in the anti-apartheid protests that took New Zealand to the brink of martial law in 1981. Yet the unseemly haste with which South Africa was readmitted to international sport in the early 1990s suggests that the will of the international federations was weak. This talk traced the rise and ending of the sports boycott, considered its distinctive features and posed the question of whether the rush to rehabilitation can be seen as a lost opportunity in the democratisation of South African sport.

Wednesday 13 February Francis Close Hall, Cheltenham

Dr Justin Bengry, Goldsmiths, University of London

'Doing It in Public': Queer history beyond the Academy

History surrounds us. Across mass media, digital spaces, and the built environment, public history is a key site for making history accessible to the widest audience. Queer History is no different. Drawing on Dr Bengry's experiences of working on major queer public history projects, including Historic England’s Pride of Place and Channel 4’s Convicted for Love, this talk explored first-hand the challenges and opportunities of doing queer public history. The speaker says, 'Our efforts as public historians are only ever partly about the past. They hold incredible resonance and importance in the present by highlighting long histories of gender and sexual diversity, struggle, and community building. Queer public history is important and it is urgent.'

Monday 18 March Park Campus, Cheltenham

Dr Sarah Evans, Royal Geographical Society

Hidden Histories of Women and Exploration Women's History Month event

The talk drew upon the speaker's research on the Collections of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), which mapped out women’s participation in RGS-supported expeditions between 1913 and 1970. As well as charting the history of that participation, and drawing on the examples of a number of intrepid women from across the period, the talk also focussed on how to piece together archival traces to reconstruct the forgotten histories of women’s expeditionary work.

Monday 15 April Park Campus, Cheltenham

Dr Iain Robertson, University of the Highlands and Islands.

Culloden, Clearances and Crofting: Highland history across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

There is no doubt that the impact and legacy of World War One in the Scottish Highlands was profound. But not every consequence was negative. 2019 marks the centenary of the passing of the Land Settlement (Scotland) Act. This was one of the most important pieces of Highland legislation, having a hugely positive impact on lives and landscape. It would not have come into being if it were not for the war. This talk will tell the otherwise less than positive story behind the legislation. Beginning with the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden in 1746, this is a story of total and catastrophic change to the Gaelic way of life. It is a story of forced emigration and relocation. Of the creation of new agricultural practices, and of the imposition of a part-agricultural and part-industrial way of life in which people lived on the land but not wholly from it. But it is also a story of resistance, and of attempts to reassert an older culture. Ultimately, it was suggested, the 1919 Act was a result of that struggle, and with the 2003 and 2016 Land Reform Acts the story has come full circle.

Monday 13 May Oxstalls Campus, Gloucester

Dr Neil Wynn

Britain's Forgotten Black Divas: African American Female Performers in Britain from Jazz Age to Post-war

This talk looked at the careers of three African American women entertainers who had considerable success in Britain in the period from the 1920s, the Jazz Age, through to the war and postwar years, but who largely 'disappeared' from popular memory and from most histories of jazz. Their stories of incorporation and inclusion not only tell us  a great deal about British cultural and racial attitudes, but also point to the growth of a transatlantic culture that pre-date the 1950s and 1960s boom in popular music.

The 2017-18 programme

All meetings on Monday evenings at 7.30, except where otherwise stated.

18 September 2017 (Cheltenham) 8.15
Maskelyne and Cooke: Cheltenham's men of mystery
Sue Rowbotham, author and lecturer
- preceded by the branch AGM at 7.30, for members only

2 October 2017 (Cheltenham)
19th century race and racism in the American South
(Black History Month talk)
Dr Lydia Plath
Warwick University

26 October 2017* THURSDAY (Gloucester)
Shirley Chisholm
(Black History Month talk)
Peaches Golding, Lord Lieutenant of Bristol

13 November 2017 (Cheltenham)
Guernica 80 years on: civil war, image, and Public history
Dr Michael Richards
University of the West of England

11 December 2017 (Cheltenham)
The history of the Christmas card
Dr Steph Mastoris
National Museum of Wales

15 January 2018 (Gloucester)
Aethelflead, Queen of Mercia
Professor Charles Insley
University of Manchester

12 February 2018 (Gloucester)
Parliament and the suffragettes
Dr Mari Takayanagi
Senior Archivist, Parliamentary Archives

19 March 2018 7.00 PM (Cheltenham)
Writing the history of our own times
Peter Hennessy (Lord Hennessey of Nympsfield)
Queen Mary University of London

16 April 2018 (Cheltenham)
Royalist print culture and Civil War
memories after the Restoration
Dr Erin Peters
University of Gloucestershire


The 2015-16 programme

All meetings were at the Teaching Block, University of Gloucestershire, unless otherwise stated.


Monday 21 September, 8.15

The History of Allotments

John Loosley

preceded at 7.30 by our ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (members only)

Monday 5 October
The Indian Ocean Slave Trade
A talk for Black History Month

Professor Gwyn Campbell
McGill University, Montreal

Monday 19 October  
Marcus Garvey: Foolish Fanatic or a Great Leader of the Black Masses?
A talk for Black History Month

Dr Neil Wynn
Emeritus Professor, University of Gloucestershire

* University of Gloucestershire Oxstalls Campus, Lecture Theatre LC003

Monday 2 November
Gallipoli: the Bravest of Follies
Robert Fleming
National Army Museum

Monday 16 November
Agincourt 1415-2015: The Legacy of the Battle
Professor Anne Curry
University of Southampton

Monday 14 December
The History of Pantomime
Professor Jim Davis
University of Warwick


Monday 18 January

100 Years of Denial - the Armenian Genocide
Dr James Derounian
University of Gloucestershire

Monday 15 February
Henry III
Professor David Carpenter
King’s College, University of London

Monday 7 March
Family, Community and Loyalty in Confederate South Carolina

Dr Patrick Doyle
Royal Holloway College, University of London

Monday 25 April
Goths and Romans in Theodoric the Great’s Europe
Professor Edward James
Lately of University College, Dublin

The 2014-15 programme

Except where otherwise stated, all meetings started at 7.30 pm, at the Teaching Block, University of Gloucestershire, Park Campus, Cheltenham.


Monday 22 September 
followed by a talk by our committee member Nicholas Watkis: 
The origins of air photographic intelligence in the First World War 

Monday 13 October GLOUCESTER*  
Africans in Tudor and Stuart Britain 
A talk for Black History Month 

Dr Miranda Kaufman, University of Oxford   

*This meeting was held at the Friends Meeting House, Greyfriars, Gloucester GL1 1TS

Monday 3 November 
Oliver Cromwell and his Family  

John Hunt, Cromwell Association
Monday 17 November  
The pilgrim route to Compostela 
Dr Steven Blake, historian and lecturer

Monday 8 December7.00
Gloucestershire Carols and Christmas Customs
Words and music
Paul Burgess, researcher and folksinger

The meeting was followed by a dinner for members at 8.30.


Monday 19 January 
The Lion of the North 
Marshal Blucher, Napoleon's most determined enemy 
Carole Divall, writer, lecturer and researcher on the French Revolutionary
and Napoleonic eras 

Monday 16 February 
Gloucester, the All Golds and the path not taken 

A new look at the social history of rugby in the South West 
Professor Tony Collins, International Centre for Sports History and Culture,
De Montfort University

Monday 9 March 
Gladstone and the Coming of Democracy

Dr Laurence Goldman, St Peter's College, Oxford  

* Rescheduled from March 2014

Wednesday 15 April  
Magna Carta and English history   
Professor Nigel Saul, Royal Holloway College  

The 2013-14 programme

All meetings were at the Up Hatherley Library in Cheltenham at 7.30, unless otherwise stated.


Monday September 23   
followed by a talk by our committee member David Swinson: 
Lord Carlingford's brush with the White Death 
The tussle with tuberculosis in the 19th century 

Monday October 21*         
Nathaniel Wells: the slave who became High Sheriff
Nicholas Watkis*
*This meeting was held in the Civic Suite, North Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester, by kind invitation of the Mayor. 

Monday November 11    
A Briton’s View of the Battle of Gettysburg
Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Fremantle’s ‘Three Months in the Southern States’
Dr Howard Fuller, University of Wolverhampton 

Monday December 9, 7.00* 

The Campden Wonder of 1660-2          
The murder and miraculous deliverance of William Harrison
Professor Jackie Eales, President of the Historical Association


 *This meeting was held at  Fullwood House on the Park campus of the University of Gloucestershire. It was followed by a dinner for members at 8.30. 


Monday January 13          
They played for Gloucester and fought for their country
What happened to the young men of just one well-known rugby club during the 1914-18 war
Martin Davies 

Monday February 10      
The Tube at 150     

A look back over the history of the London Underground on the occasion of its 150th anniversary 
Christian Wolmar, author of The Subterranean Railway: a history of the London Underground 

Monday March 3 (This meeting had to be postponed to the following season)   
Gladstone and the Coming of Democracy
Dr Laurence Goldman, St Peter's College, Oxford 

Monday March 17  
The British Army's Victory in Afghanistan, 1880
Dr Rodney Atwood, author of The March to Kandahar: Roberts in Afghanistan

Monday April 28
The Act of Union, 1707− and subsequent Anglo-Scottish relations
Dr Clare Jackson, University of Cambridge

The 2012-
13 programme
All meetings were at the Up Hatherley Library in Cheltenham at 7.30.


Monday 10 September
followed by an illustrated talk by our committee member Michael Greet:
Poetry and history: The work of Isaac Bell
An early 19th century Charlton Kings resident who spent ‘the days in gard’ning and the nights in rhyme’

Monday 15 October
Migration to Britain from the Indian Subcontinent

An overview of, and reflections on, the different migration phases and the nature of
the migrants

Dr. Shinder S. Thandi, Coventry University

Monday 12 November
Napoleon and the invasion of Russia

A talk to mark the bicentenary of the invasion
Dr Frank Tallett, University of Reading

Monday 10 December
Anglo-Saxon landscapes – evidence from the charters and placenames
These sources help us to reconstruct the Anglo-Saxon landscape and how resources
were used - even to know what plants and animals could be found there

Dr Della Hooke, University of Birmingham


Monday 14 January Postponed to April 29 - see below
Mediaeval Arab Scholarship 
- and the important contribution to it made by British scholars, especially in the Western Marches (including Gloucester and Worcester), in the 12th and early 13th century.
Professor Charles Burnett, Professor of the History of Islamic Influences in Europe, University of London

Monday 11 February
The end of Roman Cirencester
A review of the latest evidence for the end of Roman influence in the second city of
Roman Britain

Neil Holbrook, Chief Executive, Cotswold Archaeology

Monday 4 March
Nineteenth century labour unrest

A debate between Dr Carl Griffin, Queen’s University, Belfast and Dr Iain
Robertson, University of Gloucestershire

Monday 18 March
Victorian theories of race
Dr Vicky Morrisroe, University of Gloucestershire

Monday 8 April
Secret science and Cold War intelligence
Dr Richard Aldrich, University of Warwick

Monday 29 April
Mediaeval Arab Scholarship

Meeting postponed from 14 January - see details under that date

The 2011-12 programme 

Cheltenham meetings were at the Up Hatherley Library, Gloucester meetings at the Friends Meeting House. All meetings began at 7.30 unless otherwise stated.

5 September 2011, Cheltenham
Cheltenham & Gloucester Branch AGM, 
followed by 
Mughal Echoes: Great Buildings of Northern India (illustrated)
Richard Slessor, Cheltenham & Gloucester Branch Chairman
10 October 2011, Gloucester
Mary Seacole 

The life and achievements of this Jamaican/Scottish Crimean War nursing heroine.
Professor Elizabeth Anionwu, Emeritus Professor, Thames Valley University 

14 November 2011, Cheltenham
1453: The Fall of Constantinople 
The death of Byzantium and the rise of the Ottoman Empire.
Roger Crowley, lecturer and author of ‘Constantinople: The Last Great Siege'. 

12 December 2011 (7 p.m.), Gloucester
A History of the Cotswold Olimpicks 
Robert Dover's original Olympic revival, celebrating four hundred years of existence in 2012.
(Cheltenham & Gloucester Branch Christmas Meeting, preceded by seasonal refreshments.)
Graham Greenall, Chairman, Robert Dover's Games Society.            

16 January 2012, Cheltenham
Dr Edward Adrian Wilson: a Centenary Celebration. 

A discussion of the life and work of the famous Polar explorer.
David Elder, author of ‘Cheltenham in Antarctica: The Life of Edward Wilson' 

13 February 2012, Gloucester
Render Unto Caesar 
The impact of the Established Church on ordinary people, c.1500-1857.
David Smith, archivist. 

6 March 2012 (note: Tuesday, not Monday), Cheltenham
The Jewish Communities in Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud 
Their development and impact in the three main centres where they settled, from the 18th century to the present day.
Rev. Brian Torode, author of ‘The Hebrew Community of Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud'.
26 March 2012, Gloucester
The Berlin Olympics of 1936 

Dress rehearsal for the coming conflict between fascism and democracy.
Guy Walters, author of ‘Berlin Games: How Hitler Stole the Olympic Dream'.