Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Community Unites to Unveil History of Town's People

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Community Unites to Unveil History of Town's People

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY HENDERSON

PICNICS were not only the preserve of the Durham miners.

Bedlington Miners' Picnic in Northumberland was a major event, with 65,000 taking part in 1954.

In 1972, which marked the 21st Bedlington picnic, 18 brass bands took part in march contests.

The town's long history of mining sat alongside allied industries such as Bedlington Iron Works and the community's rather underplayed but major role in the development of the railways.

More than 150 locomotives were built at Bedlington, including the first engine to run in Holland called De Arend (The Eagle) and in Italy.

This rich vein of industrial history is one of the aspects of Bedlington's past which will be explored in a community project.

The venture, Bedlington - Our Heritage, is a joint effort by Bedlingtonshire Development Trust and Leading Link, a social enterprise company based in the grounds of the town's St Benet Biscop High School.

The project has been awarded PS10,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund's All Our Stories programme.

Its aim is to involve the town's community in uncovering its history and using approaches such as film, drama and a trailer-mounted mobile exhibition to tour local venues.

The trust already has a heritage track record in this former railway manufactory. The trust's Malcolm Robinson says: " After organising the Olympic torch parade and a Diamond Jubilee celebration in the town, attended by over 1,000 local people, this project allows us to delve deeper into Bedlington's history and find out a lot more about this fantastic area."

This includes an inscription carved into the wall of Bedlington's medieval St Cuthbert's Church, which says "Watson's Wake, 1669."

The story is that Mr Watson was a well-known sleepwalker, who got a most unwelcome wake up call.

He was apparently sleep-walking, or climbing, the church tower in 1669 when a shout woke him and he fell.

Eight schools will be among the venues to take part in the project, which will see people adding their own stories and contributions and young people presenting their versions of the town's history in plays, poetry and music. …

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