Lifetime Membership for David Carwardine

At the lunch on Tuesday 12 November David Carwardine was presented with a framed certificate to mark his appointment as a Life Member of the club. After hearing of his business career from graduate trainee at Vauxhall Motors to main board director at Lansing Bagnell and then as Director of Regional Operations for BIM (British Institute of Management), David then spoke of his 22 years as a member of the Probus Club of Basingstoke. He served as President in 1996/97 introducing several changes to the way the committee was organised and brought in the summer ladies’ pub lunch which continues today.

David and his wife Betty will be leaving Basingstoke early in 2014 to be closer to their family in Wiltshire and Bristol and we offer them our good wishes.

Report on Probus Club of Basingstoke visit to Royal Hospital Chelsea

A party of retired professional and business managers and their wives from the Probus Club of Basingstoke supported by members and wives from Deane Probus had a day’s outing to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the famous Chelsea Pensioners.

The visit was organised by Tony Atchison of St Gabriel’s Lea, Chineham who has been a member of Basingstoke Probus for nine years who commented “we were split into two groups each with a guide for a tour lasting over two hours. We were impressed with the size and grandeur of the hospital. The wonderful dining hall which has featured in Harry Potter films was complemented by the chapel which the architect Sir Christopher Wren insisted had clear glass windows. The statue of the founder, Charles 11, was glorious in gold leaf and the two guides were resplendent in their scarlet great coats”

“We also saw In Pensioners, as they are called, going off to the Albert Hall to rehearse their part in the televised Festival of Remembrance.”

There is an extensive refurbishment programme underway to provide enlarged berths, as each In Pensioner’s room is called, that will include a study area and an en suite wet room. There are 300 In Pensioners but only six are women. The majority are army veterans, with a few from the Marines, Royal Navy and Air Force.

Probus hears town planning didn’t start with the Romans

This is one of the discoveries made at what is commonly called the Silchester dig, at the important Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, the field research project undertaken by the Archaeology department of Reading University. The director of this annual summer activity since 1997, Amanda Clarke, was the guest speaker at the latest evening meeting of the Probus Club of Basingstoke where she had an attentive audience of retired business managers.

Nearly 1100 first year archaeology students have worked more than 102 weeks on one third of one Roman “insula” or block, an area only 55 x 55 metres, on this site which most people think of as a Roman town. Excavations have shown that the Romans took over an existing large Iron Age town established around 40BC, which had clearly defined buildings in a distinct layout set on the axis of the winter and summer solstices. The Roman grid street pattern was not firmly established until the second half of the first century and the surrounding defensive stone wall, which can be seen today, built in the third century.

Because there was no running water on site both the Iron Age and Roman populations sank wells which the Romans lined with wooden wine barrels. The Iron Age town had trade links with European countries that brought in pottery, olive fruits and exotic seasonings from the Mediterranean area.

The population varied over the centuries and has been calculated that it was at least 3000 and up to several times that figure at its peak. For example the Roman amphitheatre, built outside the wall, could seat 10,000 people.

Apart from the usual physical work with a hand trowel, modern technology is used on the excavation with computer records and hand held tablets that can be read in full sunlight while a drone is used to take aerial photographs of the site. The logistics of housing, feeding and providing for the personal needs of up to two hundred people on site were graphically illustrated especially with the solar showers and fifty seven portaloos.

More information about the activities of the Probus Club of Basingstoke can be seen on their web site or potential members can phone their secretary Gerry Anslow on 01256 325253.