Visitors flock to the Gathering

Morpeth Gathering 2014'Town Hall architect Sir John Vanbrugh'Picture by Jane Coltman
Morpeth Gathering 2014'Town Hall architect Sir John Vanbrugh'Picture by Jane Coltman

More than 1,000 people have taken in Northumberland’s biggest cultural festival.

The 47th Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering offered more than 60 traditional indoor and outdoor activities over three days from Friday to Sunday.

This year’s festival focused on the 300th anniversary of Morpeth Town Hall, as well as the area’s mining heritage, marking both the 150th anniversary of Northumberland Miners’ Picnic and 30 years since the Miners’ Strike.

Visitors travelled from near and far to take in the unique Gathering atmosphere, enjoy its entertainment and learn more about the county’s heritage.

Gathering Committee Chairman Kim Bibby-Wilson said: “We are very pleased at the response.

“The bad weather held off for the pageant on Saturday and even though we had rain on Sunday we were able to accommodate all of the outdoor activities in the Town Hall until the afternoon when it brightened up and the battle re-enactment could take place outside the castle as planned.

“The whole event went very well and we were very pleased with the turn-out. Despite the fact that there was a huge science festival and two food festivals in the region, we still managed to maintain our audience.

“We had people there from France, Germany, Switzerland, Finland and across the British Isles.”

The Gathering included performances and competitions of music, dance, crafts and dialect, family events, orienteering, plays and concerts.

A new Lynda Swift Trophy was introduced for the adult art class to honour one of the Gathering’s most active committee members, and steamroller The Coquet Lass made a return to the festival by popular demand.

Pupils from Morpeth First School contributed to the Town Hall exhibition, while children from various schools attended drill practice with a Roman soldier, before taking in art sessions.

There was some concern when storyteller Sedayne broke a tooth on a sandwich, but fellow performer Chris Bostock and his son stepped in to ensure an evening Twilight Tales performance went ahead.

Visitors could try a range of activities and a rapper sword dance workshop, led by Star and Shadow, proved a particular success.

The whole community joined in the festival, with special help from the 8th Morpeth Methodist Guides and 4th Morpeth Scouts. Local businesses F.H.Hardy florist and The Sewing Box were particularly praised for their detailed window displays, celebrating the Gathering’s main themes.

Mrs Bibby-Wilson said: “The Gathering has been going for so long now that we are getting second and third generations of families coming along, not only in the audience, but as performers and volunteers, which is very nice.

“It is the region’s main folk festival, but the Morpeth community does support it very much, for which we are very grateful. Of course, we are always looking out for more people to come and help.”