The Leeds Association of Engineers reached a milestone in 2015 reaching 150 years since formation in 1865. Apart from breaks during times of war during the 20th century an Anniversary Dinner has been held annually. It is interesting to look back at the history of this prestigious event in the Association’s calendar……
For many years the dinner was held at the Hotel Metropole in Leeds City Centre but other venues have been used such as the Garforth Motor Inn, Castle Grove in Headingley and The Mansion in Roundhay Park, which was a popular venue. We held the event at ‘Leeds Seventeen’ (formerly The Allerton at Moortown) until recently when it was decided to move to Headingley Golf Club at Adel. The latest venue has proved to be very popular with members and their guests.
In the early days there was an invited Chairman who presided over the dinner, along with the Association’s President. The Chairman was the guest speaker but in the 1970s members and guests flocked to hear a particular speaker who outshone even the most distinguished Chairman. Reverend Canon Graham Foley who was the Vicar of Leeds was one of the most entertaining speakers ever and we were fortunate to have him as our Honorary Chaplain for several years. His attendance at the dinner kept the number of guests at a peak and those were halcyon days for the dinner ! Without doubt the decline in the local engineering industry has had an adverse effect on numbers attending the annual dinner but the council has listened to views of the members and responded accordingly. In recent years the format has changed in favour of a more relaxed and less formal agenda. There used to be three speeches and three responses. This took up a considerable part of the evening and so the programme was slimmed down in order to have more time to be entertained and socialise. We have enjoyed comical speakers and illustrated talks instead of traditional ‘stand-up’ speeches. Another feature of the early dinners was musical entertainment with two intervals. A soprano would entertain with a selection of operatic numbers as well as songs from modern musicals. For many years accompanying the various singers would be ‘Norman Hudson at the piano’. Norman would tinkle the ivories of a rather elderly upright piano supplied by the Hotel Metropole. Council would have to engage a piano tuner to get the instrument in some sort of order during the afternoon before the dinner ! At one memorable dinner we were entertained by ‘Dancing Girls’ who put on a splendid show which included the ‘Can-Can’ dance. Council were rather concerned in case the show raised the blood pressure of some of the more elderly members and guests, but all went well !
The 2016 Anniversary Dinner was once again a successful event, being held at Headingley Golf Club on Saturday 16th April. Leeds Association President Barrie Yates presided, ably assisted by Toastmaster John Bentley who kept the guests in order. This year the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Judith Chapman, spoke about the achievements of the city of Leeds as well as her background and opportunity to be the figurehead of the city. President, Barrie Yates, responded in his usual jocular fashion, announcing that after a considerable time in the the largest county in England he hoped to be thought of as an honorary Yorkshireman ! ‘Jas’ Shergill had won the Braime Golf Trophy in the previous Golf Tournament in 2015 and he was formally presented with the prize by the President in front of the assembled members and guests. Entertainment was also a feature of the evening with a young duo performing a selection of songs to backing tracks. The delicious food and wine were well received and the catering staff were thanked for their efforts. The evening was once again organised by Dinner Secretary Alex Rogers, ably assisted by his wife Anne. Alex and Anne had put in a great deal of their time to organise this special event and we are indebted to them for making it a great success.
Here are a selection of photographs of the evening kindly provided by Council Member Ian Scholes. Click on any of the photographs below to initiate a slide show…..