Probus Club

Probus Club of Chippenham


The Probus Club is for retired or semi-retired professional and business men in Chippenham or the locality. It was formed in 1981 and is one of over 1500 such clubs in the United Kingdom.

Our programme includes talks both by visiting speakers and by our own members, and each meeting includes a break for refreshments which provides a chance for us to catch up with our friends.

We also enjoy a pre-Christmas lunch, an Annual Dinner in April and a Garden Party in July.

Our partners are specifically invited to join us at a number of meetings but are also welcome at any other meeting which they feel may be of interest to them.

The club meets at 2:15pm on the first and third Wednesday of each month, except during August, at Kington Langley Village Hall.

New Members are always welcome and you are invited to come to any of our meetings to see if you would be interested in joining.

More details about the club can be found on its web site

Probus Club of Chippenham

The guest speaker at the first meeting in April was Alan Truscott who presented each member with one of the more unusual items from his collection of antiques. They were then asked to describe it and suggest a possible use before Alan provided more information on its provenance and purpose. Some of the more unusual items were early bicycle lamps, Roman scent bottles and toddy lifters. Alan also spoke about other items in the various collections which he and his wife have accumulated over the years

The members greatly enjoyed the discussion with Alan on each item and warmly endorsed the thanks of Kevan Leach, the President, for a most entertaining and informative afternoon.

The meeting was followed a week later by the Club’s Annual Dinner at Chippenham Golf Club.   As well as their enjoyment of the meal the members and their guests were required to tax their brains over dinner to find answers to a quiz prepared once again by the President

The speaker at the next meeting in May will be Dr.Christopher Scott to talk about the Civil War in Wiltshire

Programme of Meetings

Our programme of meetings runs from September to July.

Probus Club of Chippenham
Programme 2018/2019
5_Sep-18 Joseph Priestley in Calne Norman Beale
19-Sep-18 Reminiscences of a Concorde Test Pilot Alan Smith
3_ Oct-18 My Journey to the Weakest Link (Wives and Partners Invited) Linda Dowsett
17_ Oct-18 The London Story (Part 2) : From the Normans to the Great Fire (Lunch at La Flambé) Mike Stone
7_Nov-18 The Arctic and the Weather David Head
21_ Nov-18 From Russia With Love (Wives and Partners invited) Phil Redyoff
5_Dec-18 Burma – The Chindits Bjorn Watson
19_Dec-18 Christmas Lunch with wives and partners
2_Jan-19 Tuna Fishing in Oman (Wives and partners invited) Kevan Leach
16-Jan-19 My Job as an MOD Dog Handler Dave Williams
6_Feb-19 Annual General Meeting
20_Feb-19 The Royal Navy : Role and Organisation (Wives and Partners Invited) Royal Navy Presentation Team
6_ Mar-19 The Discomforts of Bath (Lunch at La Flambé) Dickon Povey
20_Mar-19 The Bloodhound Project : World Land Speed Reeord Martin Evans
3-Apr-19 A Walk Along the Thames Path : Runnymede to Hampton Court (Wives and Partners Invited) Bill King
10_Apr-19 Annual Dinner with wives and partners
17_Apr-19 The First 500 Years of Trinity House Ian Gibb
1_May-19 Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow (Wives and Partners Invited) David Reed
15_May-19 Hillforts to Pillboxes in Wiltshire : Episodes from Wiltshire’s Military Past Nick Baxter
5_Jun-19 A Discussion on Alternative Energy (Lunch at La Flambé) John Clark
19_Jun-19 Arctic Convoys David Head
3_July-19 Shakespeare’s Stage (Wives and Partners Invited) Chris Scott
17_Jul-19 Garden Party with wives and partners

Reports on recent meetings

The Civil War in Wiltshire

2nd May 2018
At the first meeting on 2nd May Dr.Chris Scott gave us a talk about Wiltshire’s involvement in the 17th Century Civil Wars between the forces of the Crown and those of Parliament.

They are known as the English Civil Wars but Chris pointed out that they also affected Wales, Scotland and Ireland so should more properly be called the British Civil Wars.

He described the power struggle which led to the conflict and told which side the County’s MP’s and other dignitaries supported. He then told us of conflicts in the various Wiltshire including the Battle of Roundway before finishing with stories of various uprisings both during and after the wars.

The Wiltshire Air Ambulance

16th May 2018
The next talk on 16th May was by Douglas Looman who told us about the origin and history of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, described the helicopter that is now in use and then told us about the crew comprising a pilot and two para-medics. The Air Ambulance which is part of the South-West Ambulance Service has just moved into its new base at Melksham. Douglas finished his talk by telling us about the work of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Trust and in particular the need for donations from the public to keep the helicopter operational.

Data Protection Regulations and The History of the Pyramids

6th June 2018
At the meeting on 6th June the President gave a report on the implications for the club on the new data protection regulations. The members endorsed his report which required some changes to the club’s constitution and membership requirements.

Mike Stone then gave us a talk on the history of the pyramids in Egypt. Well over one hundred have been discovered and they were built as tombs for the pharaohs and their consorts with most being located on the west bank of the Nile. The earliest tombs were single story structures or mastabas until the architect Imhotep conceived the notion of stacking them in decreasing sizes to create the pyramid. Mike finished his talk with a discussion on the construction techniques required to move the large stone blocks.

Wilts and Berks Canal Trust.

21st March 2018

The speaker at the Probus Club meeting on 21st March was Alan Lank from the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust.

Alan emphasised that the official name of the canal was not the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal but the Wilts and Berks Canal as this was the name in the Act of Parliament creating it.

The canal is 70 miles long from Semington to Abingdon and Alan told us about the history of the canal from its completion in 1810 up to its abandonment in 1914. This was due in part to loss of trade to the Railways with the collapse of the Stanley Aqueduct in 1901 hastening its demise.   It was closed in 1914 with the passing of the Act of Abandonment. The canal then fell into disrepair with some parts especially in Melksham and Swindon being built over.

In the 1970’s the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust was formed with the long term objective of restoring the canal to create a sustainable and environmentally friendly resource for people and wildlife. The total estimated cost of the renovation was half a billion pounds.

Alan took us through various sections of the canal and the work necessary to renovate it including the need to divert its path through or around Melksham and Swindon. We were also informed that the Trust had recently acquired the Peterborough Arms pub at Dauntsey as the Trust HQ. It also hoped to include a small museum and reopen it as a pub.

Alan completed his talk by showing us photographs of much of the work on the stretches between Melksham and Chippenham including the Pewsham locks and some of the new canal on the edge of Swindon.

The Trust is always looking for volunteers to assist in its work and details can be found on the Trust’s web site

Our president thanked Alan for a most informative and interesting talk demonstrating the scale of the work to bring the canal back into use.