Shoppers take a step back in time

Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade Chairman John Beynon, left, and artist Ivan Webley are pictured with the main T&G Allan alleyway mural.
Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade Chairman John Beynon, left, and artist Ivan Webley are pictured with the main T&G Allan alleyway mural.

A MORPETH artist has turned back the clock to help brighten up a key thoroughfare.

After years of calls for the alleyway next to T&G Allan to be improved, work has now started to transform the corridor between Newgate Street and Back Riggs.

The Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade spearheaded the campaign and £10,000 was provided from the small schemes allowances of county councillors Andrew Tebbutt and David Moore.

So far, work has been carried out to install new lighting, clean the pavement and paint the T&G Allan woodwork, while the ceiling has been plastered, boarded and painted.

Ivan Webley was commissioned to provide the murals for the blank wall and he has now completed his main piece — a painting of shops and buildings from Newgate Street in the first half of the 20th century.

Chamber of Trade Chairman John Beynon said: “Various people and groups have been trying to do something about this alleyway for many years.

“Newgate Street traders were saying that as it was dark and uninviting, it was putting people off going through to the street so this project was one of my priorities when I became Chairman last year.

“After securing the funding we discussed what to do with the alleyway and decided to make it more interesting by including artwork, and more helpful for businesses by having a map of Newgate Street with listings of the shops and illuminated signage.

“It has taken a bit longer than we thought, but we are delighted people can now see for themselves that things are happening to improve this route.”

The picture by Mr Webley already in place is a view of Newgate Street with the Town Hall and Hollon Fountain, in its original position, in the background.

“I’m very pleased to be part of such a worthwhile project,” he said.

“To put together the painting I chose the most interesting shop fronts from photographs taken between 1900 and 1950 so it is not of any particular year.

“I couldn’t find any information about Pentland & Co, but when I spoke to 95-year-old resident Lance Robson he remembered that it was a tea room.”

Over the coming weeks, work will be ongoing to install at least another four paintings by Mr Webley, as well as the map and signage.