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Midlands branch

The Midlands Branch roughly covers the counties of Warwickshire, West Midlands, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire. The exact area covered is determined by postcode regions and be seen on our Post Code Map.

Chairman - Richard Whitwell

Upcoming Events

Meeting in Worcester Saturday 25th April 2020

I suggested to Rich Whitwell that the 2020 meeting of the St Catharine's Midlands Branch take place in Worcester where, as far as I am aware, it has not met before, or not in long memory. The following arrangements have therefore been made.

We meet at the Museum of Royal Worcester at 10 a.m. for coffee. The museum, previously known as the Dyson Perrins Museum, has just been fully refurbished and houses a huge collection of Worcester Porcelain. At 10.30 Jane Tudge will talk to us about the history and development of Worcester Porcelain with audio history recordings by past workers describing their jobs on the factory floor and working conditions. She will pass round for examination items from the china and archive store - though not the most valuable ones! We can then take the free audio tour of the museum at our own individual pace which they suggest can take up to an hour. The museum is on the site of the porcelain works and you can also walk around the mostly Victorian buildings now extensively redeveloped for city living. It is also very close to the cathedral in the city centre but there are public car parks quite close by. We should aim to complete this part of the day by 12.30 p.m.

The afternoon session will take place at the University of Worcester on the other side of the River Severn on the St John's Campus. We will need to drive there and they will provide parking and lunch. More details of routes, access to the campus and lunch arrangements will be circulated later. The intention of the afternoon visit is to see and discuss the development of a new university and, perhaps, compare its circumstances with that of our own. Professor David Green CBE, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Worcester has it in his diary to join us for lunch, provide a short talk on the University and discuss questions of interest. David is a Cambridge economist and has been VC for about 15 years so has abundant experience of the sector. We hope he will still be available by 25/4 but if not, the University will provide a substitute.

It's obviously not possible to do everything in Worcester in one day but if you have a little time, by arriving early or returning to the city, the cathedral is only yards away from The Worcester Porcelain museum and admission is still free. Only a short distance up the High Street is the Guildhall, a lovely building constructed in 1721 in Queen Anne style and still the heart of Worcester's civic activity. You can usually go in depending on what events are being held there. Go upstairs if you can. The Civil War Centre, The Commandery, is also very close alongside the canal. There is an admission charge there and it's a lot bigger than you think!

If you would like to receive the brochures about the Museum of Royal Worcester, The Cathedral and the Worcester City Centre map which identifies all the car parks please email your address to and we will post out the brochures that are available.

I hope you will join us in Worcester for what should be an interesting day. I look forward to seeing you here.

John Tredwell

Branch Annual Report 2019

About 40 members from across the Midlands met for our annual reunion at the University of Birmingham on Saturday 13th April. We spent the morning at Winterbourne House and Botanical Garden. Winterbourne is an historic Edwardian house in the university grounds. It is one of the best surviving Arts and Crafts suburban houses in the country. It was built in 1903 for the prestigious Nettlefold family. We were given an introductory talk about John Nettlefold who was one of Birmingham's leading manufacturers and social reformers. His name lives on in the well known engineering firm GKN - Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds. The weather was good so we were able to admire the beautiful Spring flowers in the garden and greenhouses.

We then made our way across the university campus to Staff House where we were served an excellent three course lunch. Our guest speaker afterwards was our very own Catz member Lilian Greenwood. Lilian is the first female Catz Member of Parliament. She was elected in May 2010 as Labour MP for Nottingham South. Lilian gave us a fascinating talk about life at Westminster and we all felt more enlightened about how our country is governed from the role of Whips to that of Select Committees. Questions ranged over many topics that inevitably included Brexit and HS2. Our Society is in good hands as Lilian will be President for the coming year.

I have decided to step down as Chairman of the Midlands Branch. I am glad to say that Richard Whitwell, who was at Catz during the early 1990's, has agreed to take over. We will be hearing from Rich in the autumn.

Michael Hawkes

Branch Annual Report 2018

About 30 members of the Society from the Midlands gathered in Stratford-upon Avon on Saturday 24th March for our annual reunion. We were fortunate to have Roger Pringle (Catz 1962) as our Guest Speaker as Roger had spent many years as Director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. We met for morning coffee at the historic Shakespeare Hotel before moving to nearby New Place. Roger explained that this is the site of Shakespeare's former home but has been restored as a splendid garden that includes many sculptures depicting the Bard's greatest works. After lunch at the hotel, Roger gave us a fascinating talk about some of Shakespeare's greatest plays which showed his varied feelings about various European countries. Would he have been a 'remainer' or a 'leaver' had he lived in the 21st C? He lived in turbulent times in Elizabethan England - perhaps as we do today! Roger showed us something of Shakespeare's enduring relevance and popularity. Thank you, Roger. We plan our 2019 Reunion to be in Birmingham - watch this space!

Michael Hawkes, Chair, Midlands Branch

Last modified 9th February 2020