Terry Ransome

Location: Nailsea, Bristol
About me...

The talks I offer reflect some of the knowledge gained and experiences enjoyed in two very different aspects of my ‘working’ life.
I worked in the aerospace industry for over 30 years – building and testing satellites and spacecraft. That took me to launch sites around the world, the most memorable perhaps being a launch campaign at the Russian site at Baikonur in Kazakhstan – with the UK’s Beagle2 Mars Probe.
That done, I took early retirement but became heavily involved with the British Schools Museum in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. I managed the museum (as a volunteer) for 3 years, and was a Trustee for 6 years. There, I developed a love of local history, acquired an in-depth knowledge of the early history of elementary education, and became an advocate of lifelong learning.
I am currently a Collections Research Volunteer at the Aerospace Bristol Museum.

About my talks...

Talks are all fully illustrated as PowerPoint presentations. I began by speaking to many diverse groups in the Home Counties and East Anglia, and now active in Somerset, Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire – but I’m happy to travel further afield!
I can bring just a memory stick and use your projection equipment, or I can bring my laptop and projector. As a minimum I will need a screen or a plain white wall to project onto. Try me for short notice talks!


My charge is £45 for a talk of 45 – 60 minutes. Outside of the North Somerset / Bristol please add 35p per mile for travel costs.

My Contact Details:

07813 262045

Joseph Lancaster, the Poor Child’s Friend

Joseph Lancaster was a pioneer of elementary education. In 1798 he opened a school for the children of the ‘labouring poor’ in Southwark, London. At that time there was no Government interest in universal education; indeed it was actively discouraged by many in the Establishment.
Lancaster developed a cheap and efficient system for educating large numbers of children. He was soon teaching, singlehandedly, 130 boys in one room.
His ideas became popular; others saw the benefits and founded the Royal Lancasterian Society, which in 1815 became the British & Foreign School Society. Soon, ‘British’ and ‘National’ Schools, followed by ‘Board’ Schools, were opening right across the UK.
The talk shows how Lancaster’s ‘Monitorial System’ worked with 300, 400, or even 600 scholars in one room, and how the Established Church and the Government belatedly accepted, funded, and eventually fully embraced elementary education for all.

Finding Eliza Carr

While I was with the British Schools Museum, we acquired a needlework sampler, worked by Eliza Tabitha Carr and dated 1865. But who was Eliza? What could we find out about her and her school in Bratton?
This talk tells Eliza’s story. She was a West Country girl, born in Wiltshire, a pupil at the British School, Bratton.
The talk follows Eliza through a move to London, and her return to the West Country. It also gives an insight into how girls were taught in the ‘British’ system of education in the mid 1800s.
The talk will be of great interest to local history enthusiasts and family history researchers.

Yuri Gagarin and the Chief Designer

Yuri Gagarin was the first human to orbit the Earth. Some will remember hearing of that momentous achievement on 12th April 1961 – over 60 years ago.
But there is a lot more to the story…..
Yuri came from a peasant background, but his determination to succeed shone through his childhood and youth. His flight into space came at the height of the ‘space race’ and the ‘cold war’. So much of his life story (including his tragic and mysterious death) and the background to his achievement were kept secret by the Soviet Union – until the early 2000’s.
Behind the Soviet space programme was a determined engineer, known only as ‘The Chief Designer’ until his death. His story is equally moving.

To Mars via Kazakhstan

The final highlight in my working life was to work at the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan – from where Yuri Gagarin embarked on his first human spaceflight. It is still busy today launching astronauts and cosmonauts to the International Space Station – and lots more.
I took with me the UK’s Mars Lander Beagle2 – the probe that was ‘lost’ on Mars at Christmas 2003, but ‘found’ 11 years later.
In this talk I tell of my Beagle2 and Kazakhstan experiences – with a postscript on how Beagle2 was eventually found and identified on the Red Planet. A postscript looks at how later Mars probes have fared, and what’s planned for the future.

Filton in Space – 60 Years and Counting

The Filton, Bristol, works of the British Aircraft Company, entered the ‘space race’ in 1956 and provided part of the first British rocket to reach space in November 1957, just a few weeks after Sputnik 1.
The space business continued in the hands of British Aerospace and Matra Marconi Space until in 1999 it transferred elsewhere.
I worked in the space industry for over 30 years and have put together a presentation showing how over 60 spacecraft were launched into space with Filton hardware on board. Of the 60, 47 are still in orbit and most will be there forever.
This talk could be adapted to concentrate on particular aspects of space research or application.


Testimonials & Reviews


“Terry has talked to us on Joseph Lancaster and Yuri Gagarin and both talks were greatly enjoyed by our members. Recommended.”

Brian – Probus Club – March 2022


“Many thanks for your excellent presentation yesterday.
Our members said how much they enjoyed an insight into such fascinating times.
We hope you’ll come again.”

Judy – U3A – July 2022


“Terry spoke to us at extremely short notice (less than 24 hours), when another speaker dropped out.
His talk on Joseph Lancaster was excellent.
Very informative and well presented and was much enjoyed by our members. Thank you, Terry!”

Elaine – Bristol History & Archaeology Society – July 2022


“Terry gave an excellent talk to the Bristol Industrial Archaeology Society on Filton and the Space Race.
It was well illustrated and informative, with plenty of anecdotes along the way.
Thank you for stepping up at short notice!”

Stephen – Bath Spa University – September 2022


“Yuri Gagarin and the Chief Engineer. An excellent presentation, with a great deal of detail about the two person in question,
the Space Race and the secrecy of the USSR at that time. Terry is a great speaker who connects well with the audience.”

Darren – RAeS Birmingham – September 2022


“Terry gave us a wonderful talk last week on Yuri Gagarin and the Chief Designer.
It was fascinating and we all learned something new plus his own experiences are amazing.
Thank you.”

Hilary – U3A – September 2022


“Due to Covid restrictions, and loss of our regular venue,it was well over 2 years from when we first contacted Terry to arrange a talk until it actually took place.
But it was well worth the wait.

Terry took us through some history, his experiences and many of the (largely unsung) achievements of the Filton (bristol) space industry over the last 60 years.

An extremely accessible presentation, explaining basic principles as needed, to help our understanding of the topics presented and their application.”

Robert – Gloucestershire Amateur Radio and Electronics Society – January 2023


“Terry gave his talk “Yuri Gagarin and the Chief Engineer” to Castle point Astronomy club, a week ago. It was an excellent presentation, the members loved it. The talk gives a good insight into what was happening in the USSR during the space race and the roles played by the two persons in question.”

James – Castle point Astronomy club – March 2023


“Terry gave his talk entitled ‘Filton in Space – 60 Years and Counting’ to the Clevedon Probus 2008 Club on Tuesday 28 March 2023. His knowledgeable exposition of aerospace activity at Filton over the past 60 years was very well received by the club members and gave rise to some lively discussion. For those who would like to gain an insight into this subject explained clearly in layman’s terms, I thoroughly recommend Terry’s talk.”

Michael – Clevedon Probus – March 2023


“Terry came to Clevedon Civic Society to give his talk about Joseph Lancaster. We were very pleased with his presentation, which proved to be very interesting and very well illustrated via power point. He was engaging with the audience which promoted some discussion and questions. I would definitely recommend Terry as a possible speaker and also the particular talk he gave to us.
Thank you.”

Jean – Clevedon Civic Society – April 2023


“Excellent talk on Yuri Gagarin to our Probus club in Crickhowell and hopefully arrange another talk later this year”

David – Probus Club – April 2023


“Thank you so much for speaking to my Ladies Circle yesterday.
The ladies really enjoyed your talk on Joseph Lancaster.
They are looking forward to you coming to entertain us again.”

Lilian – Ladies Circle – May 2023


“Terry gave us, the Winscombe Probus Club, an excellent talk last week on Yuri Gagarin and the Chief Designer.
It was fascinating, it gave us a different perspective on the ‘Space Race’ and the ‘Cold War’ and the devious machinations of the Soviet Union at that time – nothing seems to have changed! We all learned something new plus his own experiences are amazing.”

Alan – Probus  – May 2023


“Terry, gave a very interesting and professionally delivered presentation on ‘Finding Eliza Carr’ it showed how many ways a trail can take you.”

Mike – B&AFHS – June 2023


“The members found your talk very interesting and informative and enjoyable”

Diane – History Society – August 2023


“Terry provided us with an entertaining and very informative talk that kept our members fully engaged and keen to ask questions. Will definitely be asking him back!”

 Valerie – September 2023


“Our members were very pleased with your talk I had nothing but praise after the meeting they certainly want you back again thank you
Anthony Holloway Speaker finder for Chipping Sodbury Probus Club.”

Chipping Sodbury Probus Club – October 2023


“Terry gave a very good, thought-provoking talk about Eliza Carr.
Possibly could have done with speaking a little more clearly for those hard of hearing.
Volume is not always the problem.
A difficult one I know only too well. My husband is become progressively deaf.”

Frances – October 2023


“Our members were most appreciative of Terry’s excellent talk ‘Finding Eliza Carr’. His years of research into Eliza’s progression from birth, education and into old age, first inspired by her needlework sampler, were a fascinating insight into one woman’s life in Victorian England”

Marilyn – Tintinhull Local History Group – November 2023 


“Terry Ransom enthralled Rotary Nailsea & Backwell with the three interconnecting threads, over several decades, of his own space engineer career, the life (and premature death) of Yuri Gagarin and the engineer released on licence from a Siberian gulag to develop an intercontinental missile (which morphed into the rocket used for sending satellites and space capsules into orbit).”

Ken – Rotary- January 2024




Terry Ransome Contact Details:

07813 262045

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