Sat Oct 7th: Autumn Event
The Society's Autumn Event will be held at the Blencathra Centre near Keswick, CA12 4SG. Full details about the event will be posted here in due course.
Sat Dec 2nd: Christmas Lunch
'There's no poetry in railways'
Millom Discovery Centre
Sat July 8th 2017
Talk, walk and discussion
Members of the Norman Nicholson Society gathered at Millom Discovery Centre for the Society's annual Summer Event, which this year took as its title 'No Poetry in Railways'. This was also the title of a talk delivered by Norman Nicholson on BBC radio, when his theme was to query the way poets of previous generations turned their backs on industrial change. 'Most of the nineteenth-century poets were completely bewildered by the new machine age,' he stated. Our own programme began with a presentation by Millom historian Marshall Mossop who explained how the railways were crucial to the development of the town - not just by providing a means of transport for iron and iron ore, but also by creating, through the railway embankments, a perfect environment to hold back the marshland which otherwise would have encroached on the developing community. Marshall explained how different rail companies competed with one another and speculated that iron ore might never have been discovered at Hodbarrow had one scheme gone ahead, because the approaches to a proposed viaduct over the River Duddon would have blanketed the very spot where iron ore was first located.
Having heard the history, members then explored the reality, retracing the line of the former track which linked the main line with the ironworks, led by Sue Dawson. Beautiful weather made this a most rewarding experience, with crystal clear views of Black Combe and the distant fells. Those who preferred not to walk were able to explore the Discovery Centre and were also given a photographic presentation by Marshall of the locations which the walking group was visiting.
After a break for lunch, the afternoon was dominated by discussion of four Nicholson poems in which railways feature prominently: 'Coastal Journey,' 'Scarf Gap, Buttermere,' 'Ravenglass Railway Station.' and 'The Riddle'. Two groups were led by Antoinette Fawcett and Glenn Lang. Feedback from the groups will appear in the next edition of 'Comet'. Tea and cake (kindly provided by Peggy Troll) was accompanied by a briefing by Jade Hughes of the Discovery Centre regarding their successful bid for Lottery funding, a matter which was naturally of great interest to the NN Society members. One piece of news was that the Centre's aim to include a hologram of Norman Nicholson in their very detailed and informative Nicholson Room has had to be dropped for practical reasons.
Chair of the NN Society, Charlie Lambert, thanked the Discovery Centre for their excellent hospitality, and all those who had contributed to a very successful day.
Slideshow pictures by BRIAN WHALLEY
Leaving his bright trail over Black Combe’s dark sky
St George's Church, Millom
Sat June 3rd 2017
We marked the 30th anniversary of Norman Nicholson's death in the best possible way: reading and listening to his poetry in a place that was so special to him, St George's Church, in his home town of Millom. Members of the Society read their own choices of poems, on the theme of Mortality and Immortality, giving us a total of 18 Nicholson poems ranging from his blunt war poem 'Cleator Moor' to the familiar 'Sea to the West' and the children's poem 'I Don't Believe in Ghosts', read by Haverigg Primary School pupil Sophie Milligan. We also heard an extract from Nicholson's autobiography 'Wednesday Early Closing', and Phil Houghton reading his own poem 'Echoes', which imagines a viewer loooking back from the fells to Nicholson in his attic eyrie in Millom.
Our special guest, Christine Boyce, enchanted the audience with her recollections of her work designing the wonderful Nicholson Memorial Window. She pointed out many key details in the stained glass and showed us her diagrams from the planning stage of the project.
We celebrated a different form of writing by singing a hymn written by Nicholson in 1983, 'Come, Workers for the Lord,' with Barbara Andrews on the church organ. Then, after closing words from Nicholson's biographer and vice-president of the Society Kathleen Jones, we dispersed to the sound of the organ raising the roof with one of Norman's favourite hymns, 'Hills of the North, rejoice'.
AGM and presentation by Dr Antoinette Fawcett: Nicholson and Italy, April 1 2017
Network Centre, Salthouse Road, Millom LA18 5AB
The AGM proper was preceded by a presentation by Charlie Lambert, the Society's chair, on the progress of the Norman Nicholson House Project. Charlie recounted the main developments over the last 12 months and concluded by stating that the working group was now in a position to submit a formal application to the Lottery for a 'Resilient Heritage' grant to pay for John Coward Architects, of Cartmel, to undertake a detailed survey of Nicholson's former home, to prepare estimates for the cost of renovating and extending, and to work with us in developing our concept for the long-term future. Full details of the NN House project can be found here.
Detailed minutes of the AGM will be sent to members in due course. The main points were: Brian Charnley kindly offered to take over from Dot Richardson as treasurer and his appointment as such was duly approved. The Society's updated constitution was approved. Reports were presented by Glenn Lang (secretary), Dot Richardson (retiring treasurer), Antoinette Fawcett (membership secretary) and Sue Dawson (schools & communities). Under 'Any Other Business' Charlie Lambert reported that our Heritage Lottery Fund officer had recommended that we join the Heritage Trust Network, an organisation which offers advice and support to groups like ours who are interested in acquiring a property of significance. Members agreed that we should go ahead with this.
The current rate of membership fees was discussed and it was decided to make a modest increase in the subscription from March 2018. The cost of adult membership will rise from £12 to £15, and the cost of a couple's membership from £18 to £20. Youth membership will remain at £6.
Antoinette's fascinating talk revealed that Nicholson's poetry (from the Pot Geranium collection) had been translated into Italian by Roberto Sanesi (1930-2001). It was a sign of the esteem in which Nicholson was held that Sanesi should take on the task. He was a highly-respected literary translator who had been commissioned by TS Eliot personally to translate his own poems. In the course of her research at the John Rylands Library, Antoinette came across a previously undiscovered letter from Sanesi to Nicholson, written in 1958, the letter now being an important contributor to our understanding of the links between Nicholson and Italy.
Antoinette also stated that Nicholson possessed works in the original Italian and learned the language himself, encouraged and tutored by Enrica Garnier.
She concluded by quoting another of Norman's Italian admirers, Spartaco Gamberini, who, after reading the Pot Geranium collection, wrote to Norman: "You are a European poet, free at last from the cosmopolitan provincialism of London".
Christmas Lunch, December 3rd 2016
Around two dozen members gathered at the Netherwood Hotel in Grange-over-Sands for a very enjoyable social event. This was our second such occasion and, as in 2015, the staff at the Netherwood looked after us superbly. Following an excellent meal our membership secretary Antoinette Fawcett announced the creation of Honorary Life Vice-Presidencies for three members who have, over the years, contributed in a truly outstanding way to the study of Nicholson's work: Neil Curry, Kathleen Jones, and David Boyd.
Pictures by JOHN TROLL
Study Weekend at Cockley Moor