Big feast of music at picnic

Glenn Tilbrook
Glenn Tilbrook

County residents can enjoy a day of music, memories and entertainment as an annual event reaches a major landmark.

Thousands of people are expected to flock to Woodhorn Museum on Saturday for the 150th anniversary Northumberland Miners’ Picnic.

The line-up of performers on the day includes Glenn Tilbrook of well-known pop group Squeeze, international folk stars The Unthanks and renowned singer-songwriter Johnny Handle.

The first Northumberland Miners’ Picnic was staged at Blyth Links in 1864.

Other venues over the years include Morpeth, Bedlington and Newbiggin. The only interruptions to the event have been during the war years, national strikes and in 2001 when the foot-and-mouth outbreak cancelled many big public events.

Woodhorn has joined forces with the National Union of Mineworkers (Northumberland Area), the county council and Ashington Town Council to make this year’s picnic very special.

The entertainment for all ages will also include music from brass bands and choirs, street theatre, dance and amusing activities from comedian and TV star Seymour Mace and friends.

Keith Merrin, director of Woodhorn, said: “We’ve pulled out all the stops for the 150th anniversary of this historic event.

“Over the years, Prime Ministers from David Lloyd George to Tony Blair and famous politicians including Tony Benn and Ken Livingstone, as well as former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, have rubbed shoulders with Northumberland miners and their families at the picnic.

“This year, the famous names are from TV and music, but the traditions of the event remain the same and it will be a very special day.”

The picnic starts at 10.15am and also includes a memorial service of commemoration.