Report by Reg Hoare
For those who gathered for the 2019 meeting in Scotland, it would have been unbelievable at that time to think it would eventually be some two and a half years before the seventieth anniversary of the launch of EAGLE could take place at Southport. Originally scheduled for April 2020, the Society finally gathered on the nineteenth to the twenty first of October 2021. The fact that it happened at all was due in no small measure to the persistence of Darren Evans, David Britton and Bob Corn in particular, who between them were determined that the ubiquitous virus would not prevail, despite the Mekon's efforts to ruin our special occasion. Needless to say, the Bliss Hotel overlooking the waterfront promenade at Southport came up to expectations and provided comfortable rooms, conference facilities and good food.
It was pleasing to see so many attending again, including the regulars, but noticeably this time, some not so regular made the special effort for the seventieth. Your scribe was particularly pleased to see Rod Barzilay again, known more to members for his past efforts on Dan Dare work, notably with his creation of Spaceship Away. However we were all very sorry to see Will and Anne Grenham depart early on the Wednesday morning due to Anne feeling unwell. We wish her all the best for a speedy recovery. Anne has contributed much work in the past for the Society as a proofreader for EAGLE Times and we all look forward to seeing her again next year.
The programme of events was designed to follow the usual pattern over the three days, not least with Steve Winders opening the proceedings on Tuesday evening with another of his wonderful monologues titled A Foreign Country. Steve's contribution in this respect is quite unique, being both clever and zany and has become almost the highlight of the Gathering. It will appear in the Christmas edition of EAGLE Times and is recommended reading.
meeting and this was one of those occasions when his expertise was on display.
We returned to the Hotel for our seventieth anniversary dinner, complete with the celebratory cake. Our main talk was given by Keith Hick who is a civil engineer and architect, titled Donald Campbell and Bluebird K7. Our special guest was Gina Campbell who is the daughter of Donald and granddaughter of Sir Malcolm Campbell and herself a record holder of Ladies' Land and Water Speed Records in her own right.
In a Q and A session she gave a vivid account of those record-breaking days involving Donald and the terrible day when her father was killed on Coniston in his last record-breaking attempt on water. Donald achieved both land and water speed records in the same year (1964) but was eventually killed in 1967. Gina is the last of the dynasty and it was not until 2001 that they managed to recover her father from the water and give him a church funeral. A truly engrossing story which went on to nearly midnight. We were all indebted to Darren for arranging such an interesting and famous speaker for the evening.
On the Thursday morning of our Gathering we were treated to three talks. The first was by our own David Britton, who usually speaks on Riders of the Range, but this time it was a talk entitled Storm Nelson - Talking Up a Storm. Although this particular strip was not the favourite feature of any of the EAGLE characters whenever a survey was constructed, it did appear in 44% of all the EAGLES, running from Volume 4 No. 26 until Volume 13 No. 9, comprising some eighteen stories and 433 episode, including one repeated in error! It was written by Edward Trice (Guy Morgan) and drawn by Richard Jennings and sometimes Giorgio Bellavitis, who David suggested drew clearer drawings. It was an interesting study by a member who writes regular articles for EAGLE Times on a variety of subjects. In conclusion, David informed us that the Society had received phone calls in the light of this special anniversary, from Colin Knight, Ron French and Isobel Ryan (the younger daughter of John Ryan).
The second talk of the morning was by again our very own Eric Fernie, titled Three Reminisces, a Parallel and Something Else. A highlight of this piece was his recollection of meeting Marion Ryan (daughter of John Ryan), who had no record of her father's work for EAGLE, so Eric helped her to acquire copies. Brought up in South Africa, Eric met a fellow countryman while walking in Southport, having recognised his distinctive accent. A fascinating parallel and one of Eric's usual interesting anecdotes.
Although the official Gathering had now concluded, some members had arranged a visit to Churchtown to have another look at the Old Bakehouse, where Dan Dare was first produced, as it has been restored since our last visit. This was followed by a visit to the Hesketh Arms for lunch. Your scribe cannot comment on this visit as both he and his lady wife were off to Blackpool to see family and in your scribe's case (much to Steve Winders' delight as a Preston supporter), to watch Blackpool v Preston North End at Bloomfield Road. By coincidence, so were Mike and Kathy Miles, but not to watch football. By the way, Preston lost!
THE BAKEHOUSE VISIT by Darren EvansSeven of us made the trip over to the Bakehouse, four of whom had never visited before. We had prearranged the visit with Mr Henneker, who seemed to enjoy the visit as much as we did. We stayed longer than I expected. Afterwards we all went to the Hesketh Arms for something to eat. The visit was rounded off with a pleasant walk around the Botanical Gardens (to walk off the food) before we went our separate ways. All enjoyed the trip and found it worthwhile. The picture (right) shows the inside of