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Hemyock History Group News - June 2010

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The June meeting at the Church Rooms on 10th June at 7.30pm will be a talk on Nynehead Court, the Sanfords and the Canal given by Denis Dodds.

The April meeting was an informative talk with slide illustrations on the subject of Pub Signs, given by Mr Musgrave of Walton. Their historical origin even reached back into Roman History where the Red Post and White Post Inn signs originated as Roman road signs.

The Chequers, too, since it was a location where the Romans gathered to play this game regularly.

The Jack Russell, The King Alfred and the Royal Oak all mark historical associations.
The most memorable amongst many others examples was the Quicksilver Inn, located at the top of Hendford Hill, Yeovil. This was a staging post for the five stagecoaches which left Plymouth daily for London; in particular the Quicksilver stagecoach which carried silver from the mines in Cornwall, very speedily, to London. Mr Musgrave told us that 120 horses were used in total to achieve a superfast service over this journey.
The May meeting was given by David Greenfield on Isambard Kingdom Brunel who came second to Winston Churchill in the BBC poll for the greatest Briton.
His father, Marc Brunel, fled the French revolution in 1793 initially for America but after impressing British naval engineers in Washington with his designs was invited to England where he started his engineering business and his family. Isambard Brunel, born in 1806, was sent to France for his education in maths and engineering by some of the best engineers of the time. Father and son started on their famous tunnel under the Thames using their latest invention of a tunelling machine. This was the first sub-aqueous tunnel in the world which resulted in many problems that had to be overcome. This project brought Beamish and Gravatt into business with the Brunels. As a break from the trials of the London Tunnel, Brunel went to Bristol where he applied and won the contract for building a Bridge over the Avon Gorge. As if this was not enough he became the lead engineer on the Bristol and London railway plus the Bristol to Exeter railway. David gave illuminating information about the surveys, designs and building of the many bridges and tunnels required and the relationship between Gravatt and Brunel.