What’s on : Lectures

“A Place in History”. A YPS Zoom lecture

8 Nov 2023
Start time
7:30 PM
Colin Philpott, writer and producer
"A Place in History".      A YPS Zoom lecture

Event Information

A Place in History

Colin Philpott, writer and producer

“A Place in History” is all about a sense of place, about our fascination with the fact that, wherever we are in the world, we’re living, breathing, feeling and thinking where thousands of other people have done so before us. That fascination is heightened when the location in question has been the scene of great events, sometimes joyous, sometimes calamitous, a place where history was made. Colin takes us on a personal journey around Great Britain to visit destinations, such as sports stadiums, that were built to stage great events, or places made famous by a single event such as a disaster, or an event of social, political or cultural significance. Poignant sites include the scene of the Crystal Palace fire; the location of the last civilian death in World War Two; Aberfan village in South Wales where 144 schoolchildren died in the 1966 coal tip disaster; the Gloucester House of Horrors where Fred and Rosemary West murdered eleven people; and a suburban house in New Cross that was the scene of a racist arson attack in 1981. But there are many quirky places included in the talk including the field on the Isle of Wight where Bob Dylan performed in front of 100,000 people in 1969.

This lecture will be held on Zoom at 7.30pm (GMT) and invitations will be sent to YPS members and the general mailing list two days before the event. This is a free event but non members can help to cover our lecture programme costs by donating here:


Member’s report

Colin Philpott drew on his experience as a BBC journalist and producer to take YPS members on a tour of places where news occurred and what happened in the aftermath. Many such events took place in the least likely places, as for example on the cliff top at Scarborough when the Holbeck Hall hotel slid into the sea in 1993. Most, but not all his examples related to horrific tragedies, such as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988, mass shootings in Hungerford (1987) and Dunblane (1996) and violent sexual assaults in Gloucester and Soham. In some cases Colin was able to point to a positive outcome, as for instance, at Lockerbie where the community came together, rebuilding the town and forging a strong relationship with Syracuse, upstate New York, where many of the victims had come from. Several of the buildings involved, for example 25 Cromwell Road, the home of Fred and Rosemary West, have been demolished, but, curiously, the premises where Dr Harold Shipman practised, remained as an NHS surgery for several years before becoming a shop.

Colin touched on the phenomenon of Dark Tourism where sites known for the commission of dreadful acts are visited and his disquiet at certain disrespectful behaviour by some tourists, while acknowledging the importance of understanding our history. He then moved on to question what should be done with famous venues which have lost their importance using the Crystal Palace and Belle Vue Manchester as prime examples of a sad legacy compared with the stadium for the Manchester Commonwealth Games which now hosts Manchester City football club. His example of the venue of Donoghue v Stephenson, a pivotal law suit arising from the discovery of a snail in a bottle of ginger beer, led to a lively discussion as to who is my neighbour. Finally, Colin turned to literary locations including the Old Swan in Harrogate where Agatha Christie famously spent a week incognito.

As Colin himself said this was a random selection, but nevertheless thought provoking. YPS members who would like to learn more might like to read his book of the same name, sadly now only available through Amazon.

Dorothy Nott