Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Family to Mark Famous Song's Big Anniversary; Blaydon Races Has a Beer Named after It

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Family to Mark Famous Song's Big Anniversary; Blaydon Races Has a Beer Named after It

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN WARBURTON

A RIDLEY reunion will see descendants of the Tyneside songwriter mark the 150th anniversary of the Blaydon Races.

Generations of George Ridley's family will travel to Newcastle exactly a century and a half after he penned the famous Blaydon Races anthem.

The Geordie hero's family are scattered across the county but will make their way to the North East for a special get-together.

And for the first time they will come together as campaigners mark the special occasion by launching a new beer, named the Ridley Racer.

Among those taking part is Andrew Ridley, who lives in Gateshead and has a four-year-old son named Harrison.

For years Andrew's grandad Richard, tirelessly campaigned to preserve the memory of the Tyneside songsmith.

Former heavy goods driver Richard first learned of his famous heritage from his father and subsequently learned all six verses of the Blaydon Races and its chorus by heart.

Today Andrew, 32, who is George's great-great-great-nephew, said: "It's more of a meeting than a reunion for me because I don't know a lot of that side of the family.

"George had five or six brothers but never had any children and we've managed to track down a lot of the family members.

"I'm really looking forward to it - my brother, sister and mother will all be there and we all like a good pint.

"It's going to be interesting to meet the other side of the family. It's great to mark the 150th event too - it's a thing of local pride and it should be registered."

The annual Blaydon Races event was immortalised musically by George Ridley, the concert hall writer.

His tune will be sang, whistled and hummed around the region this week in preparation for the actual anniversary which falls on Saturday. For months, members of Blaydon Races 150th anniversary organising group have been planning special events to mark the momentous event. …

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