TALKS by STEWART LENTON

Stewart Lenton can be booked (01752 862832) to give talks to groups in the local area (in easy reach of Plymouth)

Subjects include:

THE PANAMA CANAL  by Stewart Lenton

This talk has proved very popular with many groups (Probus,Yacht Clubs, History Societies, Mariners, National Coast Watch, Business etc)  It is well illustrated with personal photography as well as diagrams, and gives historical background and other associated facts.

Extract from Newsletter of SW Company of Mariners

The Chairman then introduced our Speaker, Stewart Lenton, who presented a talk about the Panama Canal, illustrated with pictures he had taken during his recent transit on board “Marco Polo”. After qualifying as a civil engineer from Bristol University he had flown RAF Canberra jets during his subsequent 43 year career in the air and is also a Yacht Master. Thus, his perspective of the Canal was not only historical but as both a navigator and a civil engineer. He reminded us of the history of the region from the construction of the first road across the isthmus by the Spanish in 1534, the efforts of the Scots there in 1698 which caused the bankruptcy of their nation and hastened the Act of Union in 1706. After building the Suez Canal, de Lesseps attempted to construct a level canal across the isthmus but 22,000 men died of disease and his company failed – as did his ideas as the sea levels between the Pacific and Caribbean are not the same. Following their victory against the Spanish in 1898, the area became of strategic importance to the USA and in 1905 they began construction of the canal involving a staircase of locks (not a ladder of locks) using the system to be found at Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes. The construction of the 51 mile long canal is one of the largest and most complex engineering jobs ever undertaken. It was opened in 1914 with the first official transit by ss “Ancon”. Transit takes around 9 hours and improvements over the years mean that a convoy system can be used and the Gaillard Cut, widened to 500 ft, can accommodate two way traffic. Average tolls per transit are $54,000; the highest toll to date was $331,500 in 2008 for “Disney Magic”. The Chinese are building new locks and have taken over control of the ports at both ends. He made comparisons between the Suez and Panama Canals and on completion of his talk there followed a detailed discussion upon the responsibilities of pilots when navigating ships in compulsory pilotage areas of the world. Ken Bowers gave the Vote of Thanks and observed that the Canal had developed much since his memories of several years ago. For most of us the Panama Canal meant the arrival of mail and long stand-bys in the tropical heat! He thanked Stewart for his extremely well researched talk and Members offered their customary round of applause.

The Forgotten War by Stewart Lenton

Report In Wembury Parish Magazine of Stewart’s talk to Wembury Probus on 13th August 2010

August’s meeting saw the return of Mr Stewart Lenton to give us another of his numerous talks, this time entitled ‘The Forgotten War’.   This featured the battle for power which occurred in the Oman during the 1960s and early 1970s.   Unfortunately the incident was greatly overshadowed on the world news front by the Vietnam War going on at this time and so its huge importance to the West was not very well appreciated, especially as later Iran changed from being a pro western power into a very hostile one, and so if Oman had gone the same way it would have been disastrous for the supply of oil as these two states occupy opposite sides of the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman through which much of the West’s oil comes.

Stewart started by outlining the longer history of what became Oman, from Biblical times to today,  before focussing on the ‘Forgotten War’ and his part in it.   The situation began early in the 20th century when the then Sultan (Said bin Tamur) who was very anti modernist, created a situation where no kind of modern life or technology was allowed and life there became highly repressive.   This led to a rebel movement which got backed by China and the USSR, and a long gorilla (sic, guerrilla) war followed but eventually a coup took place headed by the Sultan’s own son, who was Sandhurst trained, when they stormed the palace with direct British participation (Something kept very discreet) and who (then) ironically (sic) gave political asylum to the old Sultan.

The rebels were eventually defeated and since then the present Sultan (Qaboos) has presided over one of the most liberal and unlighted (sic, enlightened) regimes in the Middle East.

Note Words in Italics in brackets added by Stewart Lenton

The Canberra (aircraft) by Stewart Lenton

In this talk Stewart describes the characteristics, and gives a brief history of this incredible aircraft which with its various types gave outstanding service to the RAF from 1950 until the last flight in 2005 (Flypast with Red Arrows). He speaks with personal experience of flying PR canberras in the 1960's and 70's

Curiosities in Malta by Stewart Lenton

In this extensively illustrated talk Stewart outlines some curiosities - prehistoric and more modern- which may not at first be evident to the visitor to this small group of Mediterannean islands.   

Fishing Boats by Stewart Lenton

'Caught by Fishing Boats' by Stewart Lenton

A brief outline of the fishing boat registration system and history and the different types of fishing boat and methods of fishing.