Chairman’s Report, given at the AGM on March 26th 2008
Dr Joanne Norris, Section C Chairman 2007-8
As I come to the end of my first year in the Chair, I can reflect on another busy but successful year, and I believe that we have continued to maintain the high standard that my predecessors Mark Evans and Andrew Swift set.
The year started off with a well organised field programme for which our thanks go to Helen Jones. In the main we were well treated by the weather despite the generally wet summer. The first field excursion, expertly led by Albert Horton, was to examine the building stones of the churches in the wolds of south Nottinghamshire. Numbers for this trip may have been affected by the poor forecast for the afternoon but an excellent trip was enjoyed, one of the highlights being the splendid tombs of St Mary and All Saints at Willoughby on the Wolds. The building stones theme continued for our next trip as we visited various localities in and around Northampton, skilfully led by Diana Sutherland. The weekend field excursion to Norfolk followed at the end of June. From our base in Cromer, our leader Martin Warren led us on a traverse of the cliff sections at Trimingham, Overstrand and West Runton. The highlight for most was the visit to Happisburgh, where the recent discovery of a hand axe indicates that this is the site of the earliest known human occupation in northern Europe, and the lowlight was the dreadful downpour that preceded it. Andrew Swift ably organised the weekend excursion, and probably deserves a medal for calmly negotiating with the somewhat highly strung hotel landlady who had taken ownership of the hotel only the day before our party arrived.
On July 12th, Keith Ambrose led us around Cloud Hill Quarry at Breedon. With all the wet weather, we were extremely lucky that this evening visit was warm and dry. 17 members turned out which proved quite tricky for Keith, as he struggled to move the party around the large quarry in his loaned (and ailing) BGS vehicle. The geology in the quarry was superb with the mineralisation being a prominent feature. In August, Andrew Swift took us to Cauldon Low Quarry and railway cutting on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border, where we saw Carboniferous Limestone heavily distorted by the earth movements of the Hercynian Orogeny in the main quarry, and later Namurian shales in the cutting. After a quick bite to eat in one of the most unusual pub in the whole country the ‘Yew Tree Inn’ – well worth a visit if you have never been – we drove the short distance to Dovedale where we were met by Mike Allen from the National Trust. Mike took us on a geowalk around the area where the pyramid-shaped Thorpe Cloud hill, a Carboniferous mud mound, made for an interesting talking point. In September, we had our annual joint meeting with the Warwickshire Geological Conservation Group to Mancetter Quarry and the Nuneaton Ridge. This was an extremely popular trip with over 50 people from both groups attending. The final visit of the summer in mid October was to the BGS at Keyworth where Mike Howe and his colleagues demonstrated their new 3D holographic technology and allowed us a privileged view of the palaeontological collections.
The winter programme was equally successful with probably our highest attendances recorded for some years (average attendance was 48). There was one enforced last minute change in proceedings and we are extremely grateful to Frank Ince who stepped in at short notice to talk on the mineralogy of Newhurst Quarry at Shepshed on January 31st. The Parent Body talk, given by Professor Cynthia Burek on January 7th on the role of women in geology, was particularly apt especially with the change in demographics of the Section’s committee. The Member’s Evening in February was well supported with four eloquently presented talks by Trevor Ford (Golconda mine), Andrew Swift (Section C in 2007), Mark Evans (on the new geology galleries at the museum) and Bruce Smith (Peruvian adventure). On February 27th we hosted the Baldwin Lecture sponsored by the Palaeontological Association when Professor Nigel Trewin enlightened us about the ecosystem preserved in the Rhynie Chert. The Saturday Seminar on 15th March demonstrated our knack of identifying the cutting edge of science when an impressive team of experts, using the latest computer technology, showed just how dynamic dinosaurs were. It was an excellent day of talks followed by a convivial reception, although attendance was slightly down on previous years, for unknown reasons. A big thank you goes to the sub-committee and other helpers for all their hard work in organising this years event.
The Section’s website www.charnia.org.uk continues to be a great source of information and is diligently maintained by our webmaster Dennis McVey. Andrew Swift has more than met the challenge of producing and editing our newsletter Charnia, with improved quality, numerous illustrations and new features such as meet the membership - we are eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
Other Section activities this year included selling the Building Stones of Leicester book published in March 2007, these have sold steadily throughout the year. Trevor Ford also donated his reprints of a guide to the Geology of Bradgate Park, which the Section has sold at £1 each to boost funds.
On a rather sad note, the Section lost one its longest serving members this year, Pauline Dawn. Pauline was a friend to many of us and a familiar face at Section meetings. She, along with other Section members who have recently passed away, will be sadly missed.
This year saw quite a big change in the make-up of the committee, with Kay Hawkins in the role of Publicity Officer, Andrew Swift as Charnia Editor and Mark Evans as Vice-Chairman. Fiona Barnaby has enjoyed a successful first year as our new Secretary, and I have to thank her and all the other committee members for doing a marvellous job in administering the Section. Thanks go too to retiring Student Representative Iain Graham, who is going to search for gold.
Dr Joanne Norris
Chairman LLPS Geology Section
26 March 2008