Public Lectures

From September to March the Society organises a programme of public lectures on cultural, scientific and antiquarian subjects. These have been held almost continuously since 1889 and are considered one of the most important aspects of the Society’s work.

Full details of last season’s programme are available here as well as the list of the forthcoming lectures. For various reasons the programme does change, so please check the list for the most up to date schedule.

The lectures are held on Friday evenings commencing 7.30 p.m. They take place with the kind permission of the Headmaster in the main hall of the Spalding Grammar School, Priory Road, PE11 2XH. Attendance is excellent value at only £2.50 per person.

Lecture Programme 2017-18

The Vulcan

With Richard Clarke, former chair of the Vulcan to the Sky Club

The Avro Vulcan is an iconic example of British aerospace engineering at its world-beating best. Its impressive list of technical achievements includes being the first successful large delta wing aircraft, leading directly to Concorde and the Space Shuttle, and delivering performance and agility so close to a jet fighter’s that it was given a fighter-style control column in place of the traditional bomber pilot’s yoke. That agility allowed XH558 to deliver amazing air displays.

Surgery and The Theatre in the early 17th Century

With Dr Morwenna Carr, University of Roehampton

How Spies in the Skies became Humanitarian Saviours

With Dr Richard Teeuw, Principal Lecturer in Applied Geomorphology and Remote Sensing – University of Portsmouth

From Arcanum to Zeiller: Meissen’s Inventive Figures

With Gil Darby, Former curator in Ceramics and the Far East at the V&A, Lecturer for Christie’s Education

The History of Fleet

With Joan Woolards

It may appear to be a sleepy little village on the A17 and if you blink too quickly driving past you may miss it. Delve into its history and hear of Romans and Vikings or did King John stop over in Fleet after losing his treasure on his way to Swineshead Abbey.

Could Crusaders of set sail for the Holylands from the thriving port of Fleet or was it really Dick Turpin the infamous Highwayman who stopped at the Black Bull and stabled his famous horse Black Bess.

There is so much more to reveal after 20 years of research.

Women’s Wit of Restoration Theatre: 1660 – 1720

With Beth Cortese, Associate Lecturer of the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing, Lancaster University

The Tower of London

With Captain William Wells, Former Ship’s Captain and Commercial Marine Pilot

Emanuel Mendes da Costa (1717-1791), Early member of the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society

With Aron Sterk, PhD Student in History of Science

Length Measurement: More than a Piece of String

With Dr Andrew Yacoot, National Physical Laboratory  

Since ancient times, metrology, the science of measurement, has played a vital role in everyday life and been essential for scientific and industrial progress. The lecture will introduce The National Physical Laboratory [NPL], the UK's national metrology institute, which for more than a century, has developed and maintained the nation's primary measurement standards to ensure accuracy of measurement.

Notable scientists and engineers associated with NPL include:

Watson Watt - developing RADAR Barnes Wallis - testing models of his bouncing bomb Alan Turing - developing the world's first Automatic Computing Engine

High profile activities include:

Repairing Big Ben

Weighing Concorde

Testing the National Lottery Balls

Developing the world's first atomic clock as well as many other prestigious scientific achievements.

The lecture will discuss length measurement giving an historical introduction and describing the challenges of accurate length measurement. Over the last two decades, nanotechnology, an area of science at an atomic or molecular scale [less than 0.000001mm], has grown and is now affecting everyday life.

This presents new measurement challenges, requiring improvements in measurement capability and new instrumentation. However, the origins of some of the measurement techniques used, often requiring laser light and mirrors, are based on principles of physics dating back to the time of Isaac Newton.

Dr Andrew Yacoot studied physics at Royal Holloway College [University of London]. For his PhD he used x-rays to reveal defects in diamond crystals, related these to the morphology of the crystals and then showed how defects affected diamond's ability to measure radiation doses.

He then worked at King's College, also part of London University, in the area of x-ray microscopy. For the last 26 years he has worked in the Engineering Measurement Group at the National Physical Laboratory.

He leads the area of dimensional nanometrology which is concerned with high accuracy measurement of small distances and objects often approaching atomic dimensions.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and an editor of the Institute of Physics Journal Measurement Science and Technology.    

The Life and Times of The Hon Francis McLaren 1886 - 1917  

MP for Spalding and the only man to serve his country on Land, Sea and in the Air in WW1 

In this talk we take a look at Francis McLaren's aristocratic upbringing and his consequent interaction with many famous personalities and families in the hey-day of British landed-gentry in pre-WW1 Britain. We follow his rise to political prominence and glimpse parliamentary life through the eyes of a young MP destined for stardom when war intervenes. His thirst for adventure saw him volunteer for military service, where his fighting spirit placed him in unusual and dangerous situations and gave rise to his unique service in all three dimensions of the conflict – on land, at sea and in air. His life on the front line in Flanders and Gallipoli and his subsequent death in an air accident also illustrates that no matter what is one's station in life, war is a great leveller.  

Edward Jenner, Napoleon and Blossom the Cow

With Paul Chamberlain, FIBMS, FINS

The Rise and Fall of the Country House Museum

With Tim Knox, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Click here to download the Lecture Leaflet 2017-18