Squeeze legend, Glenn Tilbrook will join folk stars The Unthanks and renowned singer songwriter, Johnny Handle to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic at Woodhorn Museum later this month.
Thousands of people from across the region and beyond are expected to flock to the UK’s former mining capital Ashington on June 14 for a day of music, memories and entertainment in what is destined to be a memorable celebration of this historic event.
The first Picnic was staged at Blyth Links way back in 1864 and to mark this special anniversary, Woodhorn Museum has joined forces with Northumberland County Council, Northumberland National Union of Mineworkers and Ashington Town Council to make the 2014 event the biggest and most star-studded for many years.
Maggie Lang, chair of Ashington Town Council said, “We were delighted this year to be asked to be both a sponsor and also part of the organising team for the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic which is shaping up to be a great family day out here in Ashington with something for everyone and of all ages. We were particularly pleased that Mike Slaughter, our town clerk (and music guru), was able to negotiate and secure the services of Glenn Tilbrook as a headline music performer for the day.”
Folk music fans are also in for a treat on Picnic day as The Unthanks lead the bait big sing.
Becky Unthank and Niopha Keegan from the award winning folk group have been working with choirs from 20,000 Voices and Wansbeck Voices in South East Northumberland over the spring.
Together they have developed a new repertoire of traditional music and songs from the North East, including some rare folk songs. The project is part of bait, which aims to support more people to create and take part in the arts in South East Northumberland.
As well as live musical performances, the event will also feature a full programme of entertainment for all ages including street theatre and family fun, amazing brass bands and choirs, the traditional Miners’ Memorial Service and amusing activities from comedian and TV star Seymour Mace and friends, who have been enjoying their status as Comedians in Residence at Woodhorn in preparation for their tailor-made performance.
The Northumberland Miners’ Picnic is one of the oldest workers’ gatherings of its kind in the country and is even older than its famous neighbour – the Durham Miners’ Gala.
In recent years Woodhorn Museum has kept the Picnic traditions alive with a day of music, dance and fun for all whilst the National Union of Mineworkers has continued to mark the day with a Memorial Service of commemoration. This year both the Memorial Service and a programme of entertainment and music will be staged at the museum.
Keith Merrin, director of Woodhorn said: “We’ve pulled out all of the stops for the 150th anniversary of this historic event and it will be an amazing day at our museum and former colliery.
“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 all rubbed shoulders with Northumberland miners and their families at the event.
“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.”
:: Admission to the Picnic on June 14 at Woodhorn Museum, Ashington is free, although normal car parking charges will apply. A free shuttle bus will operate from Ashington Bus Station and a free Park & Ride system will also be available. Full details will be available at: www.experiencewoodhorn.com