LOCAL history and an old sporting tradition will be highlighted later this month at a 145-year-old celebration of the region’s proud coal mining heritage.
The annual Northumberland Miners’ Picnic will be held on June 9 at Woodhorn Museum and Archives Centre near Ashington – 10 years after major changes were made to the event’s format.
This year’s picnic will feature a packed day of family entertainment, and will also include BBC Two’s road show The Great British Story: A People’s History in the centre’s iconic Cutter building.
Focussing on the history of the everyday lives of British people, it will see BBC North East presenters meeting visitors and also offer the chance to find out more about local history and how to uncover personal heritage.
There will also be the Great Boxing Booth Revival Stage, inspired by the fairground touring boxing rings of old. Instead of fighting, the platform will provide space for an entertaining range of performances, including Morris dancing, street dance and even a Dalek/Cyberman stand-off linked to Woodhorn’s science fiction-themed Invasion exhibition.
The event is inspired by the miners’ picnics first held in Northumberland in 1867, which were traditionally both political rallies and a family day out. In its heyday it was a major national occasion, with many key leaders of the day attending. In 2002 the organisers, the National Union of Mineworkers and Wansbeck Council, decided to make radical changes to its format following the massive rundown of the coal industry in the North East.
Today it is a celebration of Northumbrian culture and the region’s mining past, as well as a social gathering. This year’s line up includes brass band music, heritage skill displays, a performance marquee, clog dancing, a regional food and craft fair and a funfair.