On the afternoon of Wednesday 13th September 45 members were treated to a very authorative talk under the above title by Dr Carolyn Moreton who is a lecturer at the University of the West of England. She is a scientist and psychologist and for 20 years has been running a degree course in forensic science at the UWE, in conjunction with the Police.
She told us that forensic science is a fairly new speciality, the first laboratory in Britain dealing with it having been established in 1935.
We heard that the roles of a scientist are to examine evidence, to write a report and give evidence in court. In recent years these roles have widened to use the evidence to find the culprits, to investigate on the side of the police and to add to the general police intelligence.
A common function is to determine whether a death was due to murder or natural causes, the most noteworthy recent example being the Shipman case. There may be a need to identify drugs by techniques such as gas chromatography or spectrometry. One feature is that the hair may absorb traces of a chemical such as morphine.
In finding who did it, much use is made of the traces left by all contacts. In the case of footprints size, pattern, manufacturer and style may be determined. Modern laminate floors are particularly good for footprint traces. Fingerprints are of course the classic evidence. Details such as those may be used to find different crimes, often leading to prosecutions for multiple offences.
Dr Moreton had much to say about the modern technique of DNA profiling which is very different from fingerprinting. It is one of the strongest forms of evidence using traces from blood, semen, saliva, skin or the hair roots. If there are 6 similar "loci" there is a 1 in 50 million chance that identification of the suspect is not correct, but using 10 similar "loci" as is now usual the chance of a false identification is 1 in 1 billion. The national DNA database now has over 3 million profiles with 355,000 crime scene samples.
Surprisingly only 2% of DNA records are for females. As brothers and sisters have very similar profiles, familial researching can give clues. A DNA profile may give a clue to ethnicity but this is not used for prosecution.
One advantage of all scientific evidence is that it can be examined or re-examined over a period of time and may be evaluated in the light of more than one theory. DNA profiling is the main feature used in solving many "cold cases" since 1995 and particularly since 1999.
Dr Moreton gave many examples of celebrated cases solved in recent years, some of them in the Bristol area.
The many questions asked by the audience gave an indication of the interest generated.
Stothert and Pitt Crane Makers to the World
Talk by Stuart Burroughs 11 October 2006
Our meeting on the 11th of October was a talk with the above title by Stuart Burroughs, Curator of Bath Industrial Museum.
Mr Burroughs started by remarking that that Bath was not a very industrial city but for many years Stothert and Pitt had been much the largest industrial employer with 2300 employees at the peak in 1950.
In the earliest days in the late 18th century George Stothert first had an ironmongery business but in 1815 he started his own foundry and became a supplier to the construction industry, iron railings being an early major product. Other items supplied to the civil engineering contractors included iron footbridges for the Kennet and Avon canal, machinery for the Box Tunnel and early cement mixers. By the late 1830's he was building steam engines and in 1844 Robert Pitt joined the firm and Stothert and Pitt, Engineers and Founders started the Newark Foundry.
At the 1851 exhibition in Hyde Park they displayed a crane which was the first of a great variety for which they became famous. In 1857 they established a new Newark Foundry in Lower Bristol Road and they became renowned for their dock cranes and other machinery.
In 1890 they built their Victoria Works, also in Lower Bristol Road. In 1892 they supplied their first electric cranes for Southampton Docks and in 1914 they developed Titan cranes followed by Hercules and Goliath. In 1912 they invented the Topliss system for loading and unloading ships, this kept the load at a constant level, thereby saving time. During the 1920's, in addition to cranes they were supplying pumps of all types world-wide.
During world war 2 they built some midget submarines. They continued to prosper but in the 1980's the company was bought by Maxwells Hollis Group and in 1989 manufacture ceased.
Spares for their many products were still required and the designs were passed to the Vickers Group to make these. A small design staff still remains but assembly is now contracted out to firms around the world.
Mr Burroughs concluded by referring to the current controversy as to whether the remaining building in Lower Bristol Road should be conserved or whether it should be demolished and the site used for a modern technical college sponsored by James Dyson.
We were Shown an excellent set of Photographs of Stothert and Pitt Products.The attendance was 49.
Editors Note:- While searching for images to use with this review I came across the Boulder Bank Light House in New Zealand
The adjacent photo was accompanied by this note "The lighthouse sections were cast by Messrs. Stothert and Pitt, engineers of Bath. They were shipped to Nelson aboard the 'Glenshee'. On 4 August 1862, the oil-fired lamp was lit for the first time by the head lighthouse keeper and brother of the harbour master"
I Find that the lighthouse was decommissioned on 4 August 1982 after 120 years continuous service. I believe Bath can take real pride in the service its industry has given to the world.