Memorandum by Dr Fred Broadhurst (WTC
I am a retired academic geologist, formerly
attached to the Department of Earth Sciences in the University
of Manchester. I am now active in the field of education, and
work with the Centre for Continuing Education at the University
of Manchester, the Workers' Educational Association (WEA), the
Wilmslow Guild (an independent adult education centre). I frequently
give one-off lectures on a variety of subjects for schools, and
for organisations and societies of all kinds.
Of particular relevance to the Committee's inquiry
are my experiences in leading town and city walks for the purpose
of showing people the delights to be found in building stone.
Many of the groups that I lead are composed of people with only
a vague idea about what geology is all about. However the features
of the building stone they can be shown in any town or city are
so clear and obvious that it takes but a short time to convert
apprehension into amazement. Many of the comments made at the
end of such walks are worth recording. One man told me that he
had always thought the stones in buildings were just coloured
Walking in towns and cities, in terms of building
stones, could be promoted in two ways:
(1) Modest, but well-illustrated, building
stone guides could be published. Building stone guides to many
British towns and cities already exist, so apart from updating,
no major work is required. Probably the best examples of building
stones walks are those included in the two volume guide "London
Illustrated Geological Walks" by Eric Robinson. It would
be important to stress that the guides are for beginners. Geology
can put people off, until they look at a rock.
(2) Guided walks could be organised. Locations
and frequency would have to be matters of experiment. Initially
there would be a problem finding competent leaders, but this could
be overcome by suitable training. I am shortly to run a short
course to teach "leaders" how to run field courses for
beginnersand I have chosen building stones as my vehicle
for the purpose!
Modern building stones are cosmopolitan in their
distribution. Each town and city has essentially the same range
of stones in its modern buildings, shopping centres etc. However
the other buildings are often constructed of materials that were
available locally. This means that anyone familiar with the building
stones of one town finds he, or she, can recognise many or most
of the stones in another town. Promotion of walking in one town
can thereby help the promotion of walking elsewhere.
Promotion of walking by means of building stones
would help to raise general levels of understanding about the
environment and science in general. Mental as well as physical
stimulation should follow!
Frederick Broadhurst MSc, PhD.