I therefore have revisited this topic and thought it would be good to see what's changed... once again using the Firebug and Google page speed plugins for Firefox.
Homepage weight: 384.1K
Number of items: 60
Page Speed Score: 80/100 (Desktop)
Page Speed Score: 65/100 (Mobile)
A decrease in page weight but an increase in the number of items means that the page speed is now very slightly less than it was.
Homepage weight: 468.2k
Number of items: 34
Page Speed Score: 82/100 (Desktop)
Page Speed Score: 76/100 (Mobile)
A slight decrease in page weight and a decrease in the number of items has not had the desired effect on page speed.
Homepage weight: 419.9k
Number of items: 38
Page Speed Score: 81/100 (Desktop)
Page Speed Score: 66/100 (Mobile)
A small increase in the homepage weight but with a significant reductions in the number of items on the page has not improved the page speed score
Homepage weight: 1,100k (1.1Mb)
Number of items: 106
Page Speed Score: 70/100 (Desktop)
Page Speed Score: 59/100 (Mobile)
An increase in the weight of the page by over 200k coupled with an increase in the number of items gives a significant reduction in page speed score (from 87 to 70 - the greatest difference in this test)