Interesting history of an arts venue


May and June were busy months for Lancaster Park WI.

At May’s meeting, Angela Hannon and Di Jackson entertained members with an interesting account of the Customs House at South Shields.

They showed enlarged photographs from 1865, when the first Shields Ferry, a rowing boat, was in use.

Men going to sea in the early years enlisted there.

In later years, the building was used for examinations. Part of it was used as a morgue, but it was later converted into a kitchen.

The 1980s saw the Customs House become an arts museum. In the 1990s, the Arts Council purchased the building for £1.

At the present time, it houses function rooms, a community theatre, an arts centre and a cinema.

An Arts Council grant has enabled it to remain open from January this year.

During May, a number of members joined a coach trip to the beautiful Jacobean house of Kiplin Hall in North Yorkshire. The wonderful setting played host to a flower and craft exhibition, part of the Northern Federation centenary celebrations.

A breathtaking collection of handicraft work, stitching, knitting, patchworking, decorated cakes, floral art and jewellery-making adorned tables on three floors.

In addition, there were small workshops running on the landings, with some items for sale.

At June’s meeting, Carol Napper gave a short account of her day trip to London to attend a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace. One member from each WI up and down the country had been invited, making a large crowd. A somewhat-windy day meant having to hold onto their hats.

Members were reminded it was not too late to put names down for August’s outing to Craster and Howick Hall.

All four entries for the Victorian broach competition would be entered at the group meeting at Stannington in June.

During the same week as the June meeting, Eileen Herne travelled to London as our delegate to attend the annual meeting at the Royal Albert Hall.

Our next meeting, on July 2, is a centenary celebration, with Sandra Dickinson giving a demonstration on flower-arranging.

, with refreshments to match this special occasion. New members are always welcome.