We were welcomed back after the summer break by Sylvia Morlidge, our president. She recalled how lucky we had been to have a fine evening for the barbecue in August and that over £200 had been raised for the new head injuries unit in Leamington Spa. Siat Vincent, a returning member, introduced us to some Chinese moon cakes, which are eaten at Chinese New Year. Made from rice flour and other ingredients, they were very delicious.

The speaker for the evening was Ray Shepherd and his talk was “ Birmingham the City of a Thousand Trades”. Birmingham now rivals Manchester for the title of second city after London. Manchester`s claim to fame was it`s cotton industry, whereas Birmingham has manufactured iron and steel for the past 280 years. Up until 1740, it`s trade was in wool, but, then, from a market town of a couple of thousand people, it grew to 73 000 in the early 18C. During this time, metal work of all kinds was developed, including buckles for shoes, blades, pins, nails, screws, bolts and buttons. All these were produced from individual manufactories.

During the 18C and 19C many inventions, forerunners of todays world, came from Birmingham. Most well known amongst them are, perhaps, Mathew Boulton and James Watt, who invented the steam engine and William Murdock, who worked for Boulton and Watt at Soho, and who invented gas lighting. These three formed the Lunar Society, so called because the group of business men met for their meetings at the full moon. They are remembered today by their beautiful golden statue in Broad Street. Also remembered are Joseph Chamberlain recognised as the father of municipal government. Richard and George Cadbury, successful chocolate manufacturers, who built houses for their workers in Bourneville in 1879.

The next meeting is Wednesday, October 8th, when the speaker will be Chris Rigby, an ex airline pilot, who will talk about his work with simulators. This meeting will be open to non members for a small charge of £3 to include coffee and cake.