Meeting Report April 2013
For the last meeting before the summer break we were treated to an illustrated talk by Mike Betteridge from the Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods. Mike is a 'core' member of the Friends which was set up in 1996 to protect and enhance the natural beauty of the woods, increase public awareness, and support other groups. Before his retirement Mike spent twenty eight years working 'on the buses' where he had several roles from conductor to depot inspector. He claims his employment left him with a lifelong habit of consulting his watch. There was no need for his audience to consult their watches during his presentation as they were all too absorbed to do so.
Mike began his talk by giving us a brief history of Gledhow Hall, now converted into flats, which was originally the home of the Thwaites family from the early 17th century. He described how, over the next 400 years, the hall was home to several prominent Leeds families including the Beckett banking family and James Kitson the first Lord Mayor of Leeds. It was he who installed a unique bathroom tiled with Burmantofts 'faience' tiles. During the first world war the hall became a Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital. He also described the spa bath house built by Edward Waddington in 1671 and told us how Ralph Thoresby used to bring his son, who suffered from rickets, there in order to alleviate the complaint. Mike then moved on to describe the work of the Friends and showed many interesting images of the improvements the group have introduced, making the woods a safer and more attractive place to visit. He also showed many beautiful images of the wild flowers in the woods and regaled us with stories of the wildlife, including the success of the pair of swans which inhabit the lake in eventually raising a family. We were most impressed at what the group has achieved and Mikes enthusiasm for the woods was communicated to his audience with many of us feeling inspired to visit the woods and see for ourselves. The excellent images along with Mike's frequent humorous throw away lines ensured the presentation was enjoyed by all.
Images courtesy of Wikipedia.org.uk