Spring Meeting


To be held in CARDIFF on Saturday 25th APRIL




Report on the UKARA Spring Meeting

26 April, 2019 at Shoreham Yacht Club.


A selection of photos.    Click the small square box in the control panel above to enlarge to full screen and then click each photo to advance to the next.

The weekend started well for Richard and I, as we settled in to our hotel, a mere ten minutes drive from the Yacht Club.  I know the Welsh contingent were in a hotel in the opposite direction – about 20 minutes away.

I have to be honest and say that we had a good dinner and then retired, after a longish day.

On Friday morning, following a good breakfast we set off and found the yacht club easily.  Having managed to get as far as the room we had been given, without the crate in which the tape recorders were, falling to pieces, we were greeted by Keith and Gwen and the Welsh contingent.  The crate did then fall apart.

Shortly we were joined by Steve B-W and Dan, also Paul and Margaret Reeve.

Keith and Ken wrestled with the technicalities of the kit, whilst Gwen issued coffee, tea and biscuits.

The morning was refreshing in its laid back lack of timing and rush.  Keith introduced the programme and then Peta gave details so far about the Autumn meeting and AGM – see later.

We then had a selection of ‘old’ recordings and some comparison recordings from more recent times.  Keith showed his expertise in editing with a piece he had made for Soundtrack many years ago.  Ken had brought a recording of the Cardiff Military Tattoo. 

Richard gave a potted history of how Hospital Radio in Oxford had changed, including references to the portable tape recorders brought in the now deceased crate.

After more coffee, Peter showed a video of how the recording of the Military tattoo had been made.  It makes you remember how hard these things were before the advent of transistorised and digital recording gear.  It is a good thing we were all younger and able to carry the kit up many sets of stairs.

Shortly we set off for Shoreham Airport, where we were told a little of the history of the airport and then expertly guided on a tour of one of the hangars.  Here we were fortunate to meet the owner of a Chipmunk who was only too happy to talk to us about it.  We also had to wait whilst a small helicopter took off because there was no way we could have been heard otherwise.

Back to the ‘terminal building’ which is frequently used as a film set, having been unchanged since it was built in a wonderful Art Deco style.  Inside, it was the same too and very elegant.  A brief encounter with Ken Alwyn – now in his 90’s, who we all remember from Friday night is Music Night -was an added bonus.

A quick look at the fire station and it was back to the Yacht Club for a splendid lunch.  A super array of sandwiches, chips, samosas, fish things and chicken bits, dips and other oddments.  There was plenty, we all ate our fill and then took some away.  The table looked as if it hadn’t been touched.

Back to our meeting and we viewed a couple of videos from Cardiff and a recent recording of a swing band by Richard.

Thanks to Keith and Gwen for looking after us.  It was a very enjoyable day, more relaxed than some of our other events and really enjoyable for that.



A report of the 2018 Spring Meeting

Saturday April 14th 2018


Station Road, Highley  WV16 6NZ

The meeting was held at the museum of the Severn Valley Railway.   Thanks are due to Mike Dickins, who, living nearer than the rest of us, undertook to sort out the details and make sure we were getting what we needed.  It was pleasing to see that Tony Faulkner was able to join us.

We started, as was customary, with coffee, served in the meeting room of the ‘Engine Shed’.  This was never in fact an engine shed, it was purpose built to house an interesting collection of steam locomotives and memorabilia, plus a cafe, shop and aforementioned meeting room.   First item of the meeting proper was a talk from Malcolm, one of the volunteer guides, on the history of the Severn Valley Railway, and an explanation of how it now operated as a charitable trust, with a few paid staff and a lot of volunteers. 

Following the talk we split into three groups, so that we could visit the ‘King’s Carriage’, a coach which was designed as part of a royal train for King George 6 and the Queen, as they toured the country during the second world war.  Once again Malcolm was our guide, so he had to repeat his talk three times.  We could understand why this was necessary, as the coach had little space for moving about,  and we had to progress from room to room in single file.

Next was lunch.  This was a do-it-yourself affair, most people opted for the cafe (there were no other food outlets for miles) and fortunately the food proved to be highly satisfactory.

After lunch we reassembled in the meeting room, and had a minute’s silence in memory of Mike Thompson, followed by a tribute to him put together by Peter Jones from You Tube material and Ken’s photographs from past meetings.   Peter also updated us on the financial position – we are still solvent  - and then we discussed the content of the next meeting (details elsewhere) which Peta has arranged.

The rest of the afternoon was occupied by playback of various items contributed by members.  David Holland offered three items, the first of which was a visit to HTV studios in Cardiff in May 1991.  This brought forth many comments on the lines of “there’s a young .......” and “I had hair then”

Mike Dickins had a fascinating recording in which he discussed, with a wildlife expert, a Victorian book which attempted  to represent bird calls in print.  This caused some hilarity as the written descriptions were compared with actual bird recordings.

Stewart Smith had made several recordings in Bolton Abbey, a very ‘live’ acoustic, and we were able to compare recordings including a choir and a guitar duo and see on the accompanying photographs where the microphones were placed.  We discussed the merits of using a mid/side configuration to give some control over the stereo spread at the post-production stage.

David’s other items were his recording of part of Malcolm Arnold’s ‘Four Scottish Dances’ and a short film of a visit to the war cemetery at Dozinghem, where his Grandfather James William Holland was buried.

In the course of the afternoon we had drinks and muffins to prepare us for the ardours of the trip home (except the six of us who were staying overnight in Telford – we had the tea and muffins anyway, then went out for a meal).

Richard Simmons



UKARA Spring Meeting 2017            

Long Wittenham Village Hall, near Didcot, Oxon, OX14 4QQ and Pendon Museum  

Do have a look at the Pendon Museum Web Site www.pendonmuseum.com




This year's Spring Meeting was another great success.

Here is Richard Simmons' report:


UKARA spring meeting,  April 2017

The meeting actually started the day before for us, as Peta had to drive to Long Wittenham to collect the hall key.  This did give us a chance to check the car parking facilities and the hall’s layout.We arrived on Saturday at what we thought was early, but Tony Faulkner was already there.  We were able to let him in and help unload his kit, and while we were doing that, the rest of the equipment arrived, courtesy of Ken and Peter.  Peta led a willing team of helpers unpacking and plating the buffet lunch, ready for the lunchtime break.  Coffee and biscuits were served to the remaining travellers as they arrived.

Chairs were put out, and after a few necessary administration matters, we sat down to listen to Tony’s talk. He had brought along some prototype Röde microphones which he was helping to develop and test.  These included a ribbon microphone with integral preamp, I think a first for the company.

 I was intrigued to find out that we were not the only ones to turn up for an OB or recording and have no idea where soloists would position themselves.  Tony talked about these and other problems of location recording, illustrated with clips taken from a Röde promotional video of a concert he recorded in Australia.

Tony also spoke of the growing use of video in recording generally, either as promotional support for the music content, or as a product in its own right, in which the audio plays a vital part.  Video brings its own problems when filming a live performance.  How much will the director tolerate microphones in shot?  Should the sound ‘follow’ the pictures (i.e. make the flute louder when a camera is tight on the flautist’s cleavage)?  Tony thinks not, and I believe most of us will agree with him.  Lots of discussion was generated, and much interesting information and opinions ensued.

Next, it was members’ turn to take the floor, and we heard and discussed items presented by our colleagues.  This is always good, as we can become quite isolated working on our own, and hearing other people’s work, and the attendant problems, can be really useful.

The next highlight on the programme was of course lunch.  Peta had prepared an excellent ham, cheese and salad lunch with cake to follow.  Sadly we did not rise to the challenge of eating everything prepared for us, but it had been bought fresh, so much could be frozen.  Our freezer is now full of surplus food.  (She did not charge UKARA for the unused but salvageable food, so we stayed in budget.)

The day was a good joint effort.  Food, equipment, content (thanks Tony) and venue all came together well.  I hope that those people who, after lunch, ventured along the road to Pendon museum appreciated the wonderful scenic modelling and realistic railway models there.  The largest of the three Pendon scenes models the scenery and buildings of the Vale of the White Horse as they were in the 1930s, and does so in very accurate detail.

We agreed that the next meeting would be on September  2nd at The British Motor Museum, Gaydon, Warwick  More information will follow in due course.


UKARA Spring Meeting 2016

A very successful meeting was held in Peterborough.

Our guest speaker was Matt Lewis
Dr Matt Lewis who has undertaken a project involving development of sound systems to be used in recreating various effects caused by differing forms of deafness.