Spitfires, sweets and Darwin’s voyage: Phoenix talks for 2020

The Phoenix Retirement Association meets at 2pm for 2.30pm usually on the second Monday of each month at the Phoenix Community Centre (next to Sainsbury’s), 66 Westow Street, Upper Norwood, London, SEI9 3AF, and offers high-quality talks, social meetings, outings, congenial company and tea and biscuits.

New members – aged over 50 or retired are welcome. The subscription is £15 per year and the visitor’s fee for attending a single meeting is £2.

THe PRA has now published its full programme of events for 2020 (note that April’s meeting is one week later than the usual second Monday of the month, due to the Easter Bank Holiday).

Jan 13: Annual General Meeting

Feb 10: The Royal Ritual of Death – an illustrated talk by Robert Stephenson
The funeral of a sovereign is the ultimate embodiment of ritual solemnity and grandeur. Hear the changing story of royal funerary practice through the centuries. Stephenson is an expert in funerary rites and organises cultural events at London cemeteries.

South Norwood High Street in 1910

Mar 9: Old South Norwood: Places – an illustrated talk by John Hickman
John Hickman is the president of the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society, and his expertise in South Norwood history is second to none, as is his skill in preparing an interesting and entertaining talk. This is his latest.

Apr 20: The Matchgirls’ Strike of 1888 – an illustrated talk by Samantha Johnson (note date)
The story of the brave matchgirls who, with radical former Upper Norwood resident Annie Besant, took on the mighty Bryant & May at Bow, has become a milestone in labour history. Johnson is the great-great-granddaughter of leading striker Sarah Chapman and campaigns for a strikers’ memorial and the preservation of Sarah’s grave.

May 11: Social meeting

Jun 8: Spitfire Women of World War II – an illustrated talk by Clare Walker
Walker was a celebrated journalist and editor in London and New York. She qualified as a pilot at the age of 50 and founded and chaired the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Women in Aviation and Aerospace Committee.

She is passionate about keeping alive the story of the 164 women who flew as pilots in the Air Transport Auxiliary during World War II.

Jul 13: Robert Fitzroy – an illustrated talk by Nigel Platts
Fitzroy not only commanded the Beagle upon the voyage around the world in which his friend Charles Darwin gathered the evidence for his theory of evolution, but also became a pioneer in the science of meteorology. Since retirement, Platts has devoted much of his time to history and the life of this man who spent his last years in Upper Norwood.

Aug 10: The Gardens of Versailles – an illustrated talk by John Hughes
This magnificent park, the inspiration for Paxton’s Crystal Palace grounds, was created through a collaboration between Louis XIV and his designer and particular friend Le Notre. Hughes will show how the garden evolved and how much money was lavished on it, particularly in running the myriad fountains of the water features.

Sep 14: Pascall’s Sweets – an illustrated talk by Sarah Gould
In Mitcham, the heady sweet smell emanating from the huge Pascall’s factory is still remembered to this day. Merton borough archivist Gould has access to a great collection of nostalgic images with which she will tell the story of the company.

Oct 12: Social meeting

Nov 9: A Walk on the Wildside – an illustrated talk by Peter Jones
An insight into some of the free to access areas the National Trust administers locally and the wildlife and flora commonly seen on them. Jones supports the Trust through his talks.

Dec 14: Christmas Party with entertainment by Silver Belles.


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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1 Response to Spitfires, sweets and Darwin’s voyage: Phoenix talks for 2020

  1. Vatche Gulbekian says:

    Looks like an interesting series of talks.

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