Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Lots of Talks Available for Groups

[An image showing Lots of Talks Available for Groups]You may know that I give talks for groups - Women`s Institutes, Rotary Clubs, Round Tables, U3A, churches, historical societies, Probus - anybody who asks, really!

I thought it was about time I provided a list of the talks I have available. Most, although not all, are about some aspect of Local History. This applies mostly to the Leicestershire and Rutland area, but other places too, in particular Essex, where I was born and lived for a good number of years.

There are also some special seasonal ones, with particular relevance to Christmas, Easter and St. George`s Day.

Here is a list of the available talks.

Adventures of the Bearded Cinema Manager. My own adventures when, after being a serial cinemagoer in Southend as a teenager, I entered the entertainment industry as a Trainee Manager at the Odeon Gants Hill just ten days short of my 21st birthday in 1963. It involved long hours, hard work and a good deal of enjoyment.

An Evening With Colin Crosby. Or a morning, of course. Or an afternoon. An opportunity to ask me questions. They can relate to my long careers managing cinemas and theatres, and latterly as a Blue Badge Guide. Or they could relate to any of my interests - cricket; history; rock`n`roll; Essex; railways etc etc.

Christmas Readings - Sacred and Otherwise. A selection of readings, some from the Bible, some from famous writers and inevitably some from "anon", in celebration of the much-loved festive season.

Deeds of the Kings in Leicester. An account of the surprising number of visits paid to the ancient town of Leicester by monarchs, including perhaps most famously Richard III, but also including such kings as James I and his son Charles I, as well as the legendary King Lear.

Ding Dong Merrily on High. The stories behind everybody`s favourite Christmas carols, including "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen", "O Come All Ye Faithful", "Silent Night" and "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night". Some were written by famous poets, some by famous composers, and some were written under unusual circumstances.

Dionysius, Hardulph and Egelwin - the Church Dedications of Leicestershire and Rutland. Everybody knows a St. Mary`s Church, or a St. Peter`s, or a St. John`s. But some churches have obscure and unorthodox dedications. Who on Earth were these little - known saints?

Easter Eggs, the Easter Bunny and the Cross. Easter has become, like Christmas, a time dominated by extravagant spending and chocolate eggs. But Easter is actually the most important festival in the Christian church. What is the background to all this?

England`s Island City. Apart from those who live there, few people realise that the important naval city of Portsmouth is actually built on an island. It has defences from many periods, right back to Roman times, and even has its own seaside resort of Southsea, as well as being the birthplace of Charles Dickens, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, James Callaghan, Peter Sellers - and Sherlock Holmes.

Essex`s Place in English History. Essex has the longest history of any county in England, even eclipsing the hugely historic Kent. Colchester was the capital of Britain even before the Romans arrived, and is where the legions were heading for. And does its name, Camulodunum, ring any bells? Essex has an astonishingly old church at Bradwell-juxta-Mare, the oldest timber one in the world at Greenstead-juxta-Ongar and the foundations of the earliest known one in the country at Colchester.

Essex Legends and Traditions. The folklore of this ancient county is wide-ranging, and involves the likely origins of Camelot, Humpty Dumpty and Old King Cole. Add to these the Whitebait Festival and the Dunmow Flitch, not to mention the famous Witch Country around Rochford, and you have a fabulous collection of the weird.

Essex - The Land of My Birth. Yes, like Graham Gooch I am very proud to come from Essex. It has the longest history of any county in Britain, the oldest town in Britain, the most islands of any county in England, the largest castle keep ever built anywhere, a host of ancient churches, the longest pier in the world. I could go on forever.

Fiends of London. England`s capital has always had its share of murder, mystery and horror. Not only did the city spawn Jack the Ripper, but Sweeney Todd, Spring Heeled Jack and the tales of Sherlock Holmes, usually featuring the eerie London fog.

Heroes of Legend. Some of the stories involving well-known heroes of legend, and a peep behind the curtain to see what truth there may be in the stories. We will be discussing such people as King Arthur, St. George, Guy of Warwick, Richard the Lionheart and Tom Hickathrift.

How to Be a Blue Badge Guide. Along with over a hundred other people, I applied in 1993 to go on a course for Blue Badge Guides. To my absolute delight, I and a few others successfully got through the course and exams, and achieved the coveted Badge in 1994. It`s been fabulous.

Jack the Ripper. The story of the five women who made their awful ends in London`s East End in 1884 at the hands of the fiendish Jack the Ripper, and of some others who may have been his victims. And a discussion of some of the suspects in the frame.

Leicester`s Place in English History. Over the last two thousand years, there has been a Leicester or Leicestershire connection in all the major periods and events in English history. Think of the Jewry Wall, Simon de Montfort, John Wycliffe, Richard III, Lady Jane Grey, the Siege of Leicester and the birth of tourism.

Leicestershire Legends and Traditions. The county, and especially the ancient city of Leicester, have a fascinating collection of folklore. Perhaps the most bizarre is the Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scramble at Hallaton, but one should not forget the Damask Rose Ceremony, the Whipping Toms, the Mock Hare Hunt and stories involving King Lear, John of Gaunt, Richard III and the terrifying Black Annis.

Living By the Seaside. It is probably difficult for people in the centre of the country to relate to, but some of us actually come from near the sea. I spent my childhood and young adulthood in the Southend area, and to this day I miss its wonderful air. Later on, I lived at Ramsgate and also in the Portsmouth area.

Return of the Bearded Cinema Manager. A continuation of the reminiscences started in "Adventures of the Bearded Cinema Manager". More long hours, hard work and fun.

Running Cinemas around Portsmouth. As part of my long career managing cinemas and theatres, I ran the Odeon at Cosham during the mid 1970s, and the Empire at Havant in the mid 1980s, becoming heavily involved in the Chamber of Commerce, Carnivals and British Film Year.

Running Cinemas in Ramsgate. During my long career managing cinemas and theatres, I spent some time in Ramsgate in the late 70s, arriving to run the Classic Cinema. When the company also took over the Kings Cinema, I became one of the first managers to run two cinemas simultaneously.

Running Cinemas in Southend. As part of my long career in cinema and theatre management, I worked at the Ritz at Southend as Assistant Manager in the mid 60s, and later was appointed Deputy General Manager of Rank Cinemas Southend (Odeon, Ritz and a retail shop). It was here that I honed skills dealing with audiences for big concerts, including the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry etc.

Running Cinemas in Westcliff. During my long career managing cinemas and theatres, I worked at the Classic at Westcliff in the mid 70s. Westcliff was where I spent my boyhood and youth, so I was particularly pleased to be able to manage this cinema, which had recently been refurbished. While I was there, we twinned the cinema, making me one of the earliest managers of a twin cinema in the country. I invented the concept of Classic Queen, took part in many carnivals and gave my first talks to groups. I also ran late night shows, all night shows and seasons of rock films, and became the first cinema manager to write his own weekly column in a local newspaper.

St. George of England. All English people should know that 23rd April is St. George`s Day, when we celebrate the patron saint of England. Critics point out that St. George was not English, but actually only one of the patron saints of the four home countries (St. David) actually came from that country. It`s also the day when many prominent Englishmen (most famously William Shakespeare) were born or died.

Street Names of Leicester. This ancient city has more than its fair share of eccentric street names. Some refer to gates in the old town wall, while others appear to, but actually don`t. Among the names discussed are Butt Close Lane, Church Gate, Every Street, Gallowtree Gate, Horsefair Street, Pocklington`s Walk and Sanvey Gate.

Street Names of London. London, and in particular the old City of London, has a wonderful collection of old street names, and each one has a meaning. Some of the names discussed are Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Cheapside, Cornhill, Crutched Friars, Holborn, Houndsditch, The Minories and Poultry.

Tales for Hallowe`en. A popular talk in the weeks leading up to 31st October, when the division between the land of the living and the land of the dead becomes indistinct. Tales of ghosts, hauntings and witchcraft.

The Holly and the Ivy. Christmas Traditions, especially the surprising number which have little do with Christmas as a Christian religious festival, but have been added, either from other cultures or invented in modern times. Among those discussed are Christmas cards, Christmas crackers, Christmas pudding, holly, mince pies, mistletoe and pantomime.

The Illustrious Earls of Leicester. Leicester is one of the oldest towns in the country, and the title "Earl of Leicester" dates back to shortly after the Norman Conquest. Many famous men have held the title. Amongst these are John of Gaunt, Simon de Montfort, Robert Dudley and Thomas Coke, while the Leicester Codex and Leicester Square both have connections with the Earls.

The Island Where England Began. There was no England until after the Roman legions had left, and the English tribes began to invade. According to tradition, the Isle of Thanet (then very much a proper island) was given to the Jutish chieftains Hengist and Horsa, who were not satisfied with this and overran the whole of Kent. On the same spot where they landed, St. Augustine arrived, on his mission to convert the English to Christianity. Today, Thanet is best known for the seaside resorts of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs, but there is also a huge amount of history.

The Longest Pier in the World. Southend Pier is not only the longest, but is also one of the oldest, of the great pleasure piers. Constructed when Southend was cementing its reputation as a fashionable resort, it allowed steamers to bring passengers from London at all states of the tide. It has survived fires and the maritime equivalent of irresponsible driving.

The Oldest Town in Britain. Colchester, Britain`s oldest town, was not only an important Roman town, but was the capital of civilised Britain even before the arrival of the Roman legions - when they landed at Richborough they made straight for Colchester. Here one can experience the breathtaking sweep of history. Colchester Castle has the largest Norman keep ever built, on the foundations of the largest religious building ever constructed in Britain. Whereas a few towns have mediaeval town walls, Colchester has Roman Walls, including the famous Balkerne Gate, not to mention the foundations of the earliest known Christian church in Britain.

The Unexpected Kings. A discussion on some the men who were expected to become King of England, but didn`t, and some of the men who were not expected to become King, but did. Those in the first group include the Black Prince, Prince Arthur and Prince Eddy, the Duke of Clarence. The second group includes Henry VIII, Charles I and George VI.

Well I Woke Up This Morning. Adapted from a typical first line of a blues song, this reflects my love of music. I grew up listening to the radio, with the lovely tunes from English light music in my ears, and was amazed at the initial popularity of rock`n`roll. Musical heroes include the Andrews Sisters, the Beatles, Ludwig van Beethoven, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Eddie Cochran, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Gilbert and Sullivan, Joseph Haydn, Jerry Lee Lewis, Glenn Miller, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd, Cole Porter, Bob Seger, Frank Sinatra, Roy Wood and Link Wray.

Who is Santa Claus? This much-loved character with many names (do you call him Father Christmas? or Santa Claus? or just Santa?) is an important part of modern Christmas, but you can look for him in vain in the New Testament. So where did he come from? He has many strands to his background, and from a good number of cultures, and not all of them are jolly and cuddly - some are distinctly dark.

So if you would like me to come and give your group one of these talks, just get in touch. You can ring me on 0116 - 2611576 or email on