A month in the life of Morpeth Town Hall

An art exhibition in the Corn Exchange.
An art exhibition in the Corn Exchange.

Morpeth Town Council Clerk GILLIAN TURNER highlights a selection of functions that were held in Morpeth Town Hall as 2012 drew to a close.

IT’S official, Morpeth Town Hall is now the number one venue for civil weddings in Northumberland. But lots of other community events also take place in the building every week.

Lectures

Various lectures and seminars have taken place, for example the Institute of Physics.

Morpeth Town Council also holds its committee meetings weekly on a Wednesday evening in the Council Chamber, and members of the public are always welcome to attend.

The Corn Exchange is an excellent venue for lectures, with adjustable lighting levels that can enhance presentation. Seating is available for 100 to 120 people.

Community Cinema

Two films, How Green Was My Valley and A Christmas Carol, were screened in November and December. Both films were well attended and much enjoyed by all.

Again, the seating capacity is appropriate for up to 120 people comfortably.

In these days of expensive cinema admissions, the Town Hall Community Cinema is a welcome addition to the entertainment programme.

The Community Cinema is organised by the Greater Morpeth Development Trust, with a financial contribution from Morpeth Town Council, and performances are scheduled to take place on the first Friday of the month throughout 2013.

Hollon Tea

The ‘tea’ is a long-standing tradition in Morpeth, celebrated each year on November 5, the date of Mary Hollon’s marriage. This year, more than 70 people attended the event, where a three-course lunch was served, entertainment was provided and a good time was had by all.

Remembrance Day

On Sunday, November 11, hundreds of people paid tribute to the fallen of past conflicts and to the courage of those on active duty today.

The parade, led by Morpeth Pipe Band, left the Town Hall for the Cenotaph where the traditional service was held.

On return to the Market Place, all those taking part in the parade were invited back into the Town Hall for refreshments.

The relaxed atmosphere and ability to meet so many different organisations is very welcome and only achievable in a large venue, such as the Town Hall.

Police Commissioner election

On Thursday, November 15, the Town Hall became a polling station for the newly-established Police Commissioner elections. Booths were set up in the Corn Exchange for local residents to cast their vote.

Fairs

Several craft fairs took place on Saturdays. The users are regulars, proving just how popular and successful it is to hold these events in the Town Hall.

The ability to have different lay-outs is very much appreciated, enabling the display of all items to their best potential.

Special Christmas fairs took place during December, the venue being so popular that two were held consecutively on the same day – the Parish Church and Friends of All Saints First School. Morpeth Theatre Group was lucky enough to have a day to itself, but all were a great success.

November 24 saw the switching-on of the Christmas lights, and at the same time a Mistletoe Fayre was held in the Town Hall. More than 30 stalls were included, selling everything from jewellery to babies’ bibs.

In the Butter Market, Val Pope was brewing delicious mulled wine while staff and students from the Mayor’s charity, Collingwood School, ladled out hot soup. The snowflake Christmas lights on the façade were an inviting welcome to the fair and refreshments.

Citizenship ceremonies

On Wednesday, November 21, the ballroom hosted a citizenship ceremony for 31 people, coming from countries as far as Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Ecuador, Japan, Philippines, South Africa, St Vincent, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.

This is always greatly enjoyed by the participants, who find the elegant, yet welcoming venue something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Wine tasting evening

A local trader, Bin 21 held a wine tasting evening, which was well received by all of those in attendance. The use of variable lighting and the opportunity to have different lay-outs demonstrates the Town Hall’s suitability for this type of function.

St John’s hearing aid exhibition

Also in November, the St John’s Hearing Aid Group held another of its exhibitions in the Corn Exchange.

The group is a regular user of the Town Hall and travels all the way from Grange-over-Sands, showing just how widespread is the popularity of the venue.

In Bloom thank-you event

A thank-you event was organised for all of those organisations and individuals who helped the Morpeth 2012 In Bloom campaign. It was another successful year which saw lots of gold awards and silver trophies coming to Morpeth.

Senior representatives and judges of Northumbria in Bloom joined us for the evening and were amazed at the transformation.

The last time they came the Corn Exchange hosted a magnificent display of our projects and schoolchildren’s artwork for the Olympics.

Art exhibitions

Three local artists (Ivan Webley, Tom Maley and Gordon Thompson) held an exhibition within the Corn Exchange in December. Exhibits included bronze sculptures, paintings of Morpeth and photographic artwork.

Christmas ‘Socials’

Several organisations held their Christmas socials in the Corn Exchange and Ballroom. The Ballroom was kindly decorated by Gill Hartill, from Rutherford’s department store, for the festivities.

20,000 Voices held a special Christmas coffee morning in the Corn Exchange with more than 50 singers taking part. Visitors to reception appreciated the live concert, even if behind closed doors.

Routine

Apart from the more interesting and exciting events, the Town Hall has proved a popular venue for meetings of various organisations.

DAWN held a Board meeting, one of several during the year, in the Corn Exchange and Northumberland County Council has held traffic management meetings, licensing hearings and coroner inquiries here.

The Town Hall is ideally suited for all types of business meetings, reflected by the frequency of repeat bookings.

Bookings are already being taken for special events in 2013 and we are delighted to note that some of these are ‘first-timers’.

Popularity is spreading – there is a lot to offer and we look forward to receiving some new challenges.

l For further information about using the Town Hall contact Morpeth Town Council on 01670 514314.