The world premiere of a new show by poet Ian McMillan will be among the highlights of a four-day music festival later this month (July 16-19).
Last Train to Elvet, which tells the apocryphal story of a circus train visiting Durham Elvet Station in 1953, will be part of this year’s Durham Brass Festival, which runs from July 16 to 19.
The show features brass music, circus themes, drama and live cartooning and also involves Tredegar Town Band, Olympic composer Luke Carver Goss and Private Eye cartoonist Tony Husband.
McMillan, known as the Bard of Barnsley, said:
“Music, words and live cartooning tell the amazing (partly) true story of the circus train that was the last train to Durham Elvet Station in 1953, packed with animals and clowns and acrobats.
“Capriciously, the train breaks down. Now what will the circus do? Come along and find out.”
The festival, inspired by Durham Miners’ Gala and the county’s brass heritage, will also feature brass and classical concerts, workshops, the Fun Lovin Criminals and much more.
A council is facing renewed calls to combat “student ghettos”, after the last local resident of a city centre street described her life as “hell on earth”.
Jackie Levitas, the only remaining non-student on Waddington Street, Durham, said Durham County Council had concentrated on the county’s villages to the neglect of the city – and must decide whether it really “cares” about Durham.
“It’s your duty. People have fled the city. You’ve got to encourage them to come back.
“You must think about how to improve Durham – every decision taken should be an improvement,” the 78-year-old poet said.
Her calls were echoed by Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods, who called the situation “dreadful” and said it left her “almost beyond despair”.
Roger Cornwell, chairman of the City of Durham Trust conservation society, said: “Jackie’s is an extreme form of what’s been going on.
“Her street is treated as part of a student hall of residence. She’s treated as an interloper. The street is totally dead when you get to the (university) vacation.”
“Ensuring a balance in respect of these issues is very difficult,” he added.
“We recognise that in Waddington Street and the adjoining streets almost all of the properties are in student use, largely down to how the market has operated over a period of time.
“We have policies in place which mean future applications for student housing developments take all of the above aspects into account and do not have an adverse impact on local communities.”
While first year students at Durham University live in college, many second and third years – plus postgraduates – live in formerly private homes that have been converted into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) for students.
The council is under pressure to introduce an Article 4 direction, which would force developers to apply for planning permission to convert a house into an HMO, and produce a comprehensive student accommodation strategy, a previous attempt having been rejected by a planning inspector.
Professor Graham Towl, the university’s pro-vice-chancellor, said:
“We are keen to work with the community to ensure there is a positive environment for all who live and work in Durham and Stockton-on-Tees and we welcome open dialogue.”
Source – Durham Times, 15 May 2015
A trio of diverse new films from South Tyneside documentary-maker Gary Wilkinson will shed light on different aspects of the borough’s past.
Prolific Mr Wilkinson has built up an impressive portfolio of filmic works in recent years.
And he shows no sign of slowing down, with his latest projects to be screened at the Central Library in South Shields later this month.
The first film, The King, The Queen And The Punk will be shown at the library’s Wednesday Heritage Club on March 19, from 7pm.
It recalls three key events in South Shields during the 1970s – the visits of HRH Queen Elizabeth and boxing legend ‘The King’ Muhammad Ali and the formation of the punk band, the Angelic Upstarts. Narrated by South Shields poet Alistair Robinson, the film includes footage showing the opening of the Central Library in South Shields by local writer James Mitchell in 1976.
On the same evening, Designs For Life – about tattooing and tattooing practices in South Tyneside – will be shown.
“Now considered by many to be an art form, tattooing is much more visible than it once was. It isn’t possible to go into a shop, take a bus or Metro, and not see patterns inked on skin,” the documentary maker said.
Finally, on Wednesday March 26, at the usual 2pm time for Wednesday Heritage Club, Gary’s film Wildflower will be shown.
A labour of love for the filmmaker, it chronicles the life of Eileen O’Shaughnessy – the South Shields-born wife of writer George Orwell.
Creating the film has involved a great deal of research and has taken Mr Wilkinson around the world, including New York. He first came across Eileen when there was a display about her life in the reference and local history library, and he realised that he wanted to find out more about her and document her life in a film.
He said: “I wanted to show how much she influenced George Orwell, arguably the most controversial and important writer of the 20th century.”
The film is narrated by local poet and dramatist Tom Kelly, who will introduce the event. It is also hoped that members of the Orwell Society will also be attending.
Mr Wilkinson added: “Eileen O’Shaughnessy is one of history’s forgotten people, but is an unsung heroine of the 20th century and certainly, many local people will be surprised to discover that her origins lie here in South Shields.”
Tickets for all the events in the Library Theatre cost £1 each. For further information, or to reserve a ticket, contact the Reference Department on 424 7864.
Source – Shields Gazette, 12 March 2014