Farewell to the Wansbeck Music Festival

The closing concert for the 2019 Wansbeck Music Festival, which was held on Sunday evening at St George’s United Reformed Church in Morpeth, brought to an end the festival in its current format.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 05 April, 2019, 20:00
From left, Morpeth Mayor Jack Gebhard, Elin Devine Douglass, Florence Mills and Marjorie Chambers, Civic Head of Ashington.

The winners included Elin Devine Douglass. She received the Jeannie Maddison Memorial Trophy (strings).

Florence Mills won the Peggy Bell Cup (piano) and she was also awarded the Audrey Stimpson Shield and Bursary for being the most promising U16 entrant.

One of the winners at this year's Wansbeck Music Festival.

The Wansbeck Musical Competitions made their first appearance on May 19, 1906. The name changed to Wansbeck Music Festival in 1955.

In its early years, all of the sessions took place over two days and combined music played a large part as the small village choirs much appreciated the opportunity to sing as part of a large choir.

The first competitions were held in the Masonic Hall in Morpeth, then in St James’ School. Later, permission was given for the Court House to be used. They were suspended during the Second World War and resumed in 1946 – by 1955, the now Wansbeck Music Festival took place over four days.

A range of locations in Morpeth and Ashington were used for the festival over the years and when the then Wansbeck District Council sponsored it in 1980, Newbiggin Sports and Community Centre became a venue.

Award winners and participants at this year's Wansbeck Music Festival.

In 2006, there were more than 1,500 performers over nine full days and six evenings. In 2013, this had reduced to six full days and five evenings.

The festival is a charity run by volunteers and will officially close later this year.