Brookes Society Event Reports

Reports from the latest Brookes Society events

Visit to Ardley Energy Recovery Facility, September 10th 2018

Twelve of us met at Bicester Park and Ride for our visit to the Energy Recovery Facility at Ardley. Because of parking restrictions at the Centre, we car shared the last few miles as we had been asked not to bring more than 4 cars. Once there we regrouped in the Visitor Centre under a huge recycled Dinosaur called Meg.

Whilst we drank some very welcome tea and coffee in the teaching room , we listened to a briefing by the Centre’s Learning and Visitor Centre Manager, Jessica Baker-Pike on the various ways to recycle or reuse waste. This was followed by a tour of the facilities decked out in in high visibility coats, safety glasses, hard hats, safety gloves and headphones.

Ardley Recovery Facility

Our first stop was the Control Room where a bank of computers were being used to monitor every stage of the process inside the facility – from the delivery of the rubbish, the lifting of the rubbish with giant grabbers, to the production and filtering of gases, the production of ash and aggregate for the construction industry and the electricity generated which is fed into the National Grid.

Apart from the giant storage area at the beginning of the process where the rubbish was deposited, the rest of the process took place within metal pipes and cylinders so not much of the process was visible. However, we learnt a huge amount about waste disposal –either to be recycled, incinerated or for composting.

Particularly impressive is the generation of electricity which is now able to power 38,000 homes in Oxfordshire. A far cry from the old days when waste disposal was largely deposited in landfill.


Midsomer Murders Guided walk round Thame, Wednesday, 20th June

At 11.30 am on 20th June, 12 of us gathered at Thame Museum to meet Tony Long, our guide for the Midsomer Murders Walk around the town.  He is one of 6 volunteers that undertake these walks that can all be booked at the museum (along with other guided walks) with the small charge they make going to charity  All 6 are members of the Thame Players and his acting enthusiasm was evident with his entertaining repartee as he escorted us around the town. 


He began, in the museum, with an introduction to the town and Midsomer Murders.  There have been 118 episodes of the television series which began in 2001, and there will be 4 more this year.  They have been watched by over a billion people in 100 different countries.  An actor called Elizabeth Spriggs was in the first episode and she came from Thame and is buried in St Mary’s churchyard, along with Robin Gibb of Bee Gees fame who was a resident of the town.  His home, the Prebendal, has been used in a few episodes of the series. 

We were shown various locations used around the town, including the lane to the churchyard, the cricket pitch and different shops in Buttermarket and the market square which had their frontages changed.  The public loos have quite an imposing entrance which had also been used for different scenes!  We finished at the Town Hall which even has its own sign for the series! 

As well as the buildings used for the series Tony talked about the history of others, including the Bird Cage pub which had been in existence since the 1400s where at one time leopards were kept in the attics, and later on Napoleonic prisoners of war in the cellars.

An enjoyable and informative way to spend an hour and a half and we finished with a delicious? lunch in The Black Horse, a local pub recently taken over by the Raymond Blanc group (he of Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons fame).


A Jewish Tour of Oxford

 On 23 May, 17 Brookes Society members met at Pizza Express for lunch and, after a brief introduction to the Jewish history of mainly medieval Oxford, went with our guide Pam Manix, on a 23/4 hour walk around the city.  We were almost overwhelmed with information, Pam certainly knows her stuff. As the Project Historian, of the Oxford Jewish Heritage Committee, she leads these walks regularly, and also conducts her own research into this area of history. She was able to give us chapter and verse about many buildings and their inhabitants particularly round the St Aldate’s area, and on our way we visited the Town Hall, and Pembroke College. We also walked along the notorious Dead Man’s Walk in Christ Church Meadow, which was the route taken by Jews to bury their dead in the Jewish Cemeteries, the first at Magdalen College, later replaced by the one where the Botanic Gardens is now situated.  The walk was very enjoyable, although a bit tiring for some of us old lags. For those who are interested and didn’t come to this event, you can go to, where you can find a self guided walk, and discover the guided tours available by Pam and her colleague.

I attach a picture taken at Carfax of Pam with her rapt audience!