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Newsletter February 2014

The HEDFAS Quarterly Newsletter
                                                                                                      February 2014

A warm welcome to the first of our four editions of the HEDFAS Newsletter for 2014.


Carpets of snowdrops, still beautiful in  our battered woods

Françoise White

The picture above is Lion Meadow, taken by a friend whilst canoeing across. It seems barely credible that this is actually the Stewards Enclosure car park for the Henley Royal Regatta! We do so hope that none of our HEDFAS members have been too adversely affected by this, the worst flooding in living memory.

In spite of the torrential rain and high winds heralding the start of 2014, the first two HEDFAS lectures have paved the way to another splendid year full of interest, learning and pleasure.

What an enormous debt of gratitude we owe to Françoise White who, in 1977, founded HEDFAS.  Little did she know what a thriving, vibrant society our Henley-on-Thames branch of NADFAS would become, and how proud she would be.  Long may it last!  I wonder how many members knew Françoise. Do please get in touch if you did - we would be most interested to hear.

Françoise with her family

Colourful crocuses heralding spring


Very early spring daffodils - what has happened to our seasons?

                                        We do hope you enjoy all the activities within HEDFAS this year.

               ............. to carry on Françoise White's good work we need more help


Behind the scenes there is a dedicated, enthusiastic, team known as the HEDFAS Committee, who provide a wonderful range of activities for you to enjoy. Some members have been there for many years. They help maintain our traditions and provide very valuable experience. Others have joined more recently and are already making some excellent changes. But all good Committees need fresh faces to help develop ideas - and we are a large Society  -  so do think about joining us. 

How much work is involved, how much commitment is there, and what special skills are required?
• It is useful to have a basic knowledge of computers, but we have jobs on the Committee to suit all types as, like other NADFAS Societies, we adapt to change and new technology.
• Each Committee member is allotted a different responsibility. Newcomers are always given friendly support and there are plenty of enjoyable training sessions available at National and Area level if you are interested in getting more involved.

• There is a degree of commitment but HEDFAS is a voluntary organisation and no-one is expected to put in more than a reasonable amount of time. We meet five times a year, and as most of us are involved with other activities, we fully understand the demands of holidays and family!!
Finally being a HEDFAS Committee member is fun!   So if you think you would enjoy being part of the team please get in touch.  Either email us on or telephone Pauline Simmonds, our Chairman, on 0118 969 7033.
                                    We look forward to hearing from you


            A truly memorable day out with Andrew Davies to
The Isle of Dogs and Limehouse
                                                     on Thursday 23rd January                                            


As the coach left Henley just after 8.15am all on board were looking forward to Andrew Davis enlarging our knowledge of Docklands and heaving sighs of relief that it was not raining.  That soon changed when we hit M25 traffic and RAIN, but it did not dampen our spirits.

When we met up with Andrew outside the London Museum he assured us that by the time we had had coffee and a good look round the museum the weather would brighten – and he was right!

London Museum charts the history for London docks from Roman times up to the 1950's, but the docks that we can see today began to take shape from the 1650’s.  Garroway opened a coffee house about this time, only closing when business moved up towards the City in 1820.

London was in competition with Bristol and despite being easier to access Europe, dock security was a problem that threatened to drive more trade to Bristol.  The solution was to create a Customs House, Police station, lock-up and Arsenal.  Warehouses were built with no ground floor windows and then windows that were small with iron grilles fitted.  These measures helped and, coupled with the new Import and Export docks being “cut” in from The Thames and surrounded by high walls, London soon gained its reputation as the “City of Ships”.

Almost 1,000 ships a week used the port and not all would have dock access.  Lighter boat men would transfer cargo from ship to shore.  When pea-souper fogs came down the Lightermen could identify different docks by smell.  Fish, coffee, sugar, spices and leather were all traded, but wool was champion.  Under the docks are over 28 acres of cellars which were used to store rum, brandy and wine.

All this trade allowed some men to make vast fortunes.  The Beckford family was one such and the founder's son William inherited £100 million (in today’s money) and became Lord Mayor of London twice, once in 1762 and again in 1769.  Of course there was temptation for the likes of security officers and dockers and one measure to prevent petty theft was to have all pockets on uniforms sewn up.  After all a handful of pepper corns could fetch a week’s pay.

Our next stop was Canada Square and No 1 Canada Square is better known as Canary Wharf. Its 59 floors dominate the area.  At the core for this area's development was a commitment to build the highest quality environment in which people could work, live and visit.  To this end long wide walks and avenues lined with trees and squares filled with modern art create a feeling of space and calm.  Richard Wentwork created “Globe”, a line of clocks along Westferry Road, to remind us how close to the Meridian Line this area is.  In Cabot Square, James Horrobin’s railings are reminiscent of cogs used on the steam engines that worked in the docks and in the Cabot Place Shopping Mall, Emma Biggs designed the floor mosaics as an antidote to the rigidity of the buildings.

After lunch we enjoyed a walk around the area of Poplar, so named after all the poplar
trees planted to act as a wind break for the river and Limehouse.  The views from MacKenzie Walk over to the City afforded some great photo opportunities of the modern architecture there.  The “Cheese-grater”, “Gherkin”, “Shard” and “Walkie-talkie” all looked stunning, sun-lit against a blue sky. But hidden away were much older architectural gems, for example St Anne’s Church by Nicholas Hawksmoor in Limehouse.  Luckily for us the wonderful Georgian sea captains' houses built in Narrow Street were saved from demolition in the 1970’s by David Owen and friends turning them into now highly desirable homes backing onto the river.

Limehouse was the area where the dock support industries grew.  Rope making and sail making all flourished here and the area was home to various sailors' mission houses.  The Chinese also cornered the market in laundry but the advent of domestic homes owning their own machines in the 1960’s forced  them to move up to the West End into the restaurant trade.

Too soon the day was over and we were heading back home.  As a taster day the area had so much to offer and I for one will head back there.
                                               Ann Downing


Young Arts News:

                   This Year HEDFAS are again sponsoring The Henley Youth Festival with
                                                       Art Workshops for Schools

                                                            Fire the Inventor Automata Workshop
                                        Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th March 2014
       Fire the Inventor Automata Workshop will take place on Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th March at the Henley Youth Centre. The sessions on both days will be at 9.15 a.m., 11.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m.

Children are invited to connect art and technology by making a moving toy or automata.  Using a mix of pre-made parts, craft materials and random bits and pieces, participants can make and take home a cam-based machine which bursts into life at the turn of a handle.

Volunteers are urgently needed to help at these sessions.  If you are able to come please email us on or telephone our Young Arts Representative, Louise Marten, on 01491 412815.
                                                  Henley College Student Chosen Again!



This year the Royal Society of British Artists has again chosen 20 paintings produced by the NADFAS RBA Scholars.  

For the third year running one has been chosen from Henley College.  Elena Real-Davies' picture, Sea Food, Still Life, will be shown at their annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London

No less than 52 Societies submitted over 465 art works from 87 schools, so the RBA had even more of a challenge than usual to select the NADFAS RBA Scholars.  The exhibition will run from 5th to 15th March 2014.                         



And finally ......



Some of our HEDFAS members are very laid back.


We hope you have found this newsletter interesting and enjoyable.