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18th September 2019 - Colin Divall

Canford Manor’s “splendid archway
      under the South-Western Railway”, ca 1844-55

Bridge 77 is a remarkable structure, a survivor of mid-19th century railway building in southern England. Popularly known as ‘Lady Wimborne’s Bridge’ after an occupant of the surrounding Canford Manor estate, near Wimborne, Dorset, the structure’s highly ornamented surfaces are commonly said to represent the aristocracy’s power over insurgent industrial capital – the railway. In line with the histories of similar structures elsewhere in the UK, the manorial arms and other embellishments are taken to be the price paid by the railway company for driving its line through the estate and over the access road to the manor.

A nice story – for which there is no evidence! Instead this talk draws upon a wide range of sources, including site visits, to argue that far from being a symbol of aristocratic power, the bridge resulted from a compromise between landed and industrial capital in which the latter did rather better than the former.

Easy access to Wimborne railway station is the key to understanding not only the bridge’s construction but also that of the carriage drive passing through it. The ostentatious embellishment represented not the confidence of an ancient, long-settled family but the need felt by recently arrived, upwardly mobile industrialists to make their mark. Contemporary commentators duly lauded the estate’s ‘splendid archway under the South-Western Railway’ but ignored the fact that the London & South Western Railway paid little, if anything, towards the bridge’s construction.

As the Manor’s now-ennobled capitalists started motoring before the First World War, the carriage drive began to fall out of use. By the 1970s Bridge 77 was virtually forgotten: but now it is publicly accessible as part of a recreational trail, the Stour Valley Way (part of the Castleman Trailway). All that is needed is some imaginative interpretation to tell the ripping yarn of its genesis…

18th December 2019 - Richard Edmonds

The Great Bindon Landslide of 1839

The Great Bindon Landslide in the Undercliffs between Lyme Regis and Axmouth occurred during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 1839, creating Goat Island and the Chasm.

It is one of the most famous and celebrated landslides in the world, yet, to date there is no model or broad agreement on how it happened.

Now, new, free data from the Plymouth Coastal Observatory has allowed a new and highly detailed map to be made and, from that, model sections to be developed that might offer an explanation of how the landslide developed.

Despite the leaps in technology, accounts of the event, the earliest attempt to explain the slip and old images from the dawn of photography, have all played a part in creating the model which is still very much work in progress.

Richard Edmonds is a freelance geologist. Prior to that he worked with the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site Team and ran the Heritage Centre at Charmouth. A keen fossil collector; his work on the landslide sort of happened by accident.

16th October 2019 - Presenter: TBA

Topic: TBA

[Details to Follow]

20th November 2019 - Richard Cottrell

John Snow - Pioneer in three fields of Medicine

John Snow (1813-1858) made significant contributions to physiology while still a medical student, and went on to become the founder of modern medical anaesthesia.

Perhaps his greatest achievement was to overthrow two millennia of medical orthodoxy and prove that water, not bad smells ('Miasma'), were the route of mass transmission of Cholera. Needless to say, he was vilified by the establishment until his death, when leading figures started to try to steal the credit for this discovery.