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The Coat of Arms of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne

ISSUE 15 4

RY 201


Front Cover photograph: Town Moor. Photograph taken by Kevin Batey Swearing in photographs taken by Freemen of Newcastle upon Tyne Official Photographer, Steve Brock Photography: Tel: 0191 2863430


Contents Editorial


Seven Brothers


Christmas Guild


Shipwrights Company Trip


Michaelmas Guild


Moor Bank Botanic Gardens


Freemen invest six figure sum to improve Town Moor Hoppings site 10 Without any shadow of doubt 2013 was a year of distinct challenges, all of which were addressed with the overriding objective – sustaining the Town Moors as a unique and much cherished environment in such a great City.

Stewards Committee


Superintendents Report




Special Swearing in Sessions


Our fundamental principles of consistent and transparent good governance in all that we do, via a pro-active and highly committed Executive – the Stewards Committee and fortified by the commitment and wisdom of Guild in session as the governing body.

Town Moor


Summer Spectacular


The Newcastle Fair


Diary Dates


Notice Board


In the context of policy and operational working, it would be remiss to not make a special mention of the Councillors and Officers of Newcastle City Council who do facilitate joint commitments across many of the issues of common purpose for residents and visitors alike. 2014 beckons and the agenda of optimal environmental management will continue as we endeavour to sustain with esteem the inheritance and responsibility of a duty of care vested in all Freemen. Sir Leonard Fenwick CBE Chairman

Magazine Editor: Jim Johnson Tanners Company, Stewards Committee Ian Miller Shipwrights Company, Stewards Committee The Newcastle upon Tyne Freemen Magazine, Moor Bank Lodge, Claremont Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4NL E-mail





The summer is always a very busy time for the Freemen of Newcastle and as you will see 2013 has been an exceptionally busy period which contributed to this publication being late.

During the Newcastle Fair and in conjunction with the City Council during the weekends of the fair we placed a small fairground ride in Northumberland Street and one in Grainger Street to promote the event.

As we continue to step up with our environmental responsibilities with regard to improvements to the moors and all this entails. We are working with Newcastle City Council with a common purpose to deliver improvements for our City including a variety of first class events for the residents of Newcastle, on the moors and in the City Centre.

We hope our publication goes some way in keeping readers informed and gives an insight to the work of the Stewards Committee from our agricultural responsibilities to the administration of the Freemen of Newcastle, one area in which we rely on input from Stewards and Freemen alike is in keeping us up to date by informing of any change in circumstances of your members or family.


Seven Brothers William Sexton Blake posted this photograph on the Freemen of Newcastle facebook site, the photograph is of his grandfather and six siblings at their swearing in ceremony. He noted that there would have been eight but one brother changed his mind at the last moment. Now, are 7 sworn in at once a record?

Christmas Guild 20th January 2014 Christmas Open Guild was presided over by Councillor Margaret Wood, Lord Mayor. Following formalities the Lord Mayor swore in 13 new Freemen.



Shipwrights Company Trip After a pleasant summer, our return river trip from South Shields to Newcastle was held on a very winding September 1st and, blowing down river, it was a very chilly wind indeed. There were about 150 on the boat, above and below decks at first, but as time passed those above deck gradually crept below deck where there was standing room only down there for them.



Our group of 25 seemed to be secreted in every corner of the boat and two were only seen as they disembarked! The commentary by John Grundy was excellent and clearly heard over the sound of the engines – and the sound of the wind to those hardy enough to remain on deck in the icy blast. All agreed that despite the weather it had been a most interesting and enjoyable outing.

Michaelmas Guild 7th October Michaelmas Close Guild is the first of the three annual close guilds which bring together the Stewards of the various Guilds, and when the Stewards elect twelve from their number to make up the Stewards Committee. Serving members of the committee were standing for re-election with the exception of Michael Grey who had relocated to Gloucestershire and decided to stand down from committee after many years of service. There was one additional application from Nick Atkinson of the Ropemakers Company which meant there did not need to be an election with the following being elected. F.H. Alder, Butchers. H. Alder, Butchers. P. Anderson, Bricklayers. C. Atkinson, Ropemakers. N. Atkinson, Ropemakers. A.R. Bainbridge, Goldsmiths. Sir L.R. Fenwick, Shipwrights. W.G.Frizzle, Goldsmiths. K. Hall, Colliers. J. Johnson, Tanners. I. Miller, Shipwrights. H.D. Wilson, Ropemakers.

From the elected Stewards the following positions were proposed and unanimously accepted Sir Leonard Fenwick, Chairman. David Wilson, Vice Chairman. R.M. Grey was re-elected as Honorary Treasurer. Open Guild commenced at 12 o’clock, Councillor Margaret Wood, Lord Mayor, took her seat in the first of the three guilds she will preside over. The City Mace Bearer was unable to attend so for the first time the position of Mace Bearer was filled by a Freeman with Alan Bainbridge of the Goldsmiths Company donning the uniform he carried the Mace and announced the declaration at the start of proceedings. Demonstrating we are always ready to ensure tradition is upheld. Following formalities the Lord Mayor swore in 15 new Freemen.



Moor Bank Botanic Gardens Following a great deal of publicity surrounding the Moor Bank Botanic Gardens, we have produced a briefing note: University Garden, Claremont Road Briefing note 02/09/2013 The Freemen of Newcastle have protected the green environment of the City for centuries, providing the public with the open spaces of the Town Moors for air and exercise as well as enhancing the City vista. The University Garden site at Claremont Road is part of the Town Moors. Newcastle University have made the decision to terminate their lease for this site as it no longer meets their academic or research needs. This is a University decision which the Freemen as landlords have to accept. The site has for 90 years been a private academic facility with very restricted access to the public. The site has an ageing infrastructure, including old metal greenhouses and a heating system which is at the end of its useful life, it is neither efficient nor environmental (on its last legs). To make the site viable in its current form on a long term basis would require significant capital and ongoing revenue expenditure.



Such potential investment would perhaps be better made on establishing and maintaining gardens on a site which was more appropriate for the public in terms of access and availability (e.g. Leazes Park, Exhibition Park). Backlog maintenance of the site is a substantial challenge. Disability Discrimination Act compliance – health & safety requirements to ensure public/volunteer access is fit for purpose – would need substantial capital investment. There are access issues to the site; it has no independent access, resulting in consequent health and safety, security and logistical issues. A primary responsibility of the Freemen of the City is the protection of the Town Moors, including protection against building, tarmacing, concreting etc. on the green surfaces. Potential development of the overall site infrastructure as part of a commercial enterprise will involve ‘blocking out Town Moor land’ e.g. new entrance road, car park etc. This is not acceptable. The Freemen will take stock of organisational options when the site is handed back and we have full access then act accordingly.

The business plans put forward by the volunteers were aspirational, they did not have substance – due diligence assessment is that they are not viable. We have to be realistic in respect of potential lease holders of Town Moor sites; it is in no-one’s interests to grant leases unless they are demonstrably viable in the long term. The stated high financial value of rare ‘botanical specimens’ on site has not been quantified or substantiated. If there are rare plant species and those of special scientific interest on site they should be under the care and control of established organisations with proven long term organisational capability, recognised expertise and sound long term financial viability. The University have given assurance that any plants which are rare or of special scientific interest will be relocated to one of their ‘state of the art’ facilities where they can be protected and looked after appropriately. When the site is handed back by the University the Freemen will maintain the garden and deal with infestation – noxious weeds etc. The external areas can be easily sustained and we shall arrest the decline in particular of any infestation taking root. Investment in the future utilisation of the Moor Bank ‘estate’ will rest with ourselves. We do not envisage any further development of infrastructure, this being our green credentials taking precedent. Urgent maintenance will be prioritised.

better directed towards development in a more appropriate location such as one of the great City Parks (e.g. Leazes, Exhibition, Heaton, Jesmond Dene Parks). The efforts of the ‘Friends of Moor Bank Gardens’ could be well utilised if integrated with the organisations of the ‘Friends’ of one of the local parks, certainly the volunteer organisation for the Trustees of the Exhibition Park is in great need of additional skilled resource. All of the City Parks could benefit from volunteer ‘gardening’ support. Please be assured that in line with our green credentials we will deal sensitively with the site and plants; we have a long track record of making green spaces available to the public. On 1st December control of the site was returned to the Freemen of the City, we will be assessing all aspects of the site and infrastructure once we receive the electrical safety certificate from the University. An in depth survey will be completed then we will, in consultation with, the City and partners consider the best way forward.

As for community purpose, we will continue to work with ‘Greening Wingrove’ and other relevant community organisations and shall see how this unfolds. If there were to be significant investment of resources (financial and effort) either public or private, to develop a botanic gardens for the benefit of the public then this would be



Freemen invest six figure sum to improve Town Moor Hoppings site By Mark McCormick As the holders of the absolute right to the Newcastle Town Moor herbage, per The Newcastle-upon-Tyne Town Moor Act 1988, the Freemen of the City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne have the responsibility to manage and maintain it primarily for cattle grazing in order to continuously exercise this legal right. Under this Act of Parliament, which perpetuated the (original) Newcastle-upon- Tyne Town Moor Act 1774, the Freemen’s Stewards Committee is responsible for their business affairs, involving the day to day administration of land, properties, grazing rights, investments and charities. The Freemen have therefore always had responsibility of ensuring that the entire area of the site occupied by the Hoppings, which measures over 40 acres, was fully restored to fitness for grazing on each occasion after the fair vacated the moor.

Last year’s fair was one of the worst ever affected, suffering the most atrocious weather in living memory and consequently leaving the ground in one of its worst ever conditions as a result. In fact, 2012 saw the wettest June for 100 years. Additional work and expense was therefore required to repair the groundin the wake of the 2012 event and the Freemen have spent in excess of £100,000 in carrying out this work. After last June, the seemingly never-ending wet weather that plagued much of the remainder of last year and the early part of this year delayed this work taking place, as well as the formation of the new grass root structure following the initial re-instatement and re-seeding. The high water table level also prevented effective drainage. Overall over 400 tonnes of debris have been dug out and thousands of tonnes of topsoil have been imported. Further improvements to the infrastructure have also been carried out. The service road that encompasses the entire area of the moor occupied by the Hoppings has been improved and a new service road has also been installed. This new road connects the very south west end of the service road with the road system adjacent to Exhibition Park that showpeople and the general public drove along immediately before exiting the moor via the Claremont Road gate, at the very south end, during the Hoppings fair.

One of the new French drainage systems running across the Town Moor.

The level of work and ultimately the expense required to accomplish this is very much dependent on the weather conditions that prevail during the event and during its 130 history the Hoppings has suffered its fair share of rain, which soon turns the Town Moor surface muddy.



This road was used for the first time recently for the showpeople attending the new Newcastle Fair to get on and off site with their vehicles. It will be used as part of the car park exit route at possible future Hoppings fairs, should the event hopefully be reinstated. The on-site drainage system has also been enhanced as in addition to the refurbishment of the existing drains, which have been cleaned and restoned, three new main drains have been installed as well as two new 12 inch drains and one new nine inch drain. The latter three utilise the French drainage system and

are at the bottom of purposely dug 1.7 metres deep trenches. The hollow drainpipes are perforated and the trenches have been refilled with stones through which the water will filter down and then enter into the drainpipes through the holes in them. The two trenches, or stone trails as they now appear to be at ground level, containing the 12 inch drains both run across and beyond the width of the area of the moor occupied by the Hoppings. One is at the very northern end, which proved to be the most challenging area of the entire site restoration programme, and the other crosses over the Forsyth path. The existing lateral field drains tap into these, which then tap into the main drain which runs alongside the Great North Road. The new main drains are also at the end of these stone trails. The recently dug trench containing the nine inch drain runs alongside and in parallel

with the new service road. All the new drains link into the existing ones and the new pipes feed into the Great North Road storm drains. Jim Johnson of the Freemen’s Stewards Committee told World’s Fair: “The work on the new and repaired drains was carried out to benefit the Hoppings site but as a consequence should help to improve flooding issues in the nearby Brandling area of Jesmond”. Chairman of the Stewards Committee Sir Leonard Fenwick also commented on the new drainage work saying: “We’ve returned to proven methods that have served the test of time”. The Town Moor is on a gradual incline, with two hills at the top, and the area the Hoppings occupied is right at the bottom of this, so any surface water therefore runs straight down to it. Reproduced by kind permission of The World’s Fair Ltd’

Stewards Committee There are many areas of activity which have required extra input by Committee during the summer, land management including completion of the Elizabethan style fencing on the Forsyth playing field, land drainage assessment on Town Moor, Hunters Moor, and in particular Nuns Moor. Events management in co-operation with City Council officers has taken up a great deal of time both for Committee and our staff. As reported our summer event at Moor Bank Lodge was once again a success. Lease management review to ensure compliance of existing leases, we are conscious that old lease renewals have to be brought up to date to fit with current legislation also to have a full reinstatement clause something lacking in leases in the past which has proven to be an expensive

omission, especially when a lease is terminated and the tenant has the right to neglect their responsibility and walk away leaving the reinstatement for the Freemen to fund. We continue to work very closely with Newcastle City Council officers and councillors to achieve what is beneficial for the City and its residents, the latest project we are supporting is the grant funded £3m renovation of Exhibition Park, to assist we have made part of the Town Moor Exhibition site available for the plant used during the work which will be fully reinstated by the contractor on completion of the contract. Funding the renewal of the fence between the Town Moor and Exhibition Park with the Elizabethan style fence is to be our financial contribution to the project.



Superintendents Report As the end of our grazing season draws to a close, we can look back on the decision that we took in the spring to defer the start of our grazing season as a very good one. The sun shone to provide us with a better summer than usual, and a great year for prolonged grass growth ensuring that most of our moors could run with high numbers of cattle almost through to the closing date. Our graziers have once again reported back to say they have had another great grazing season, and their cattle have done very well on the Town Moors. The environmental programmes I discussed in the last edition have now been completed; the drainage on the Town Moor has been significantly enhanced along with a new extension to the service road on the Festival site. I’m hoping to monitor the progress of these new drains over the winter months to see what impact they have on the environment as a whole. Forsyth Road playing fields new Elizabethan fence has now been installed. Our staff have been busy keeping the grass cut so the local populous can enjoy the open recreational space. During the summer months the grass has needed to be cut on a weekly basis and underneath the perimeter fence strimmed at the same time. The boundary along Highbury has been sprayed off with Round Up as it was heavily infested with invasive weeds. As we now enter our autumn period our staff will be assisting the graziers with the removal of their cattle, and shutting down the water supplies to the water troughs for the winter.



Mr Chris Atkinson will once again be assisting our staff with the installation of new troughs on the Town Moor and Castle Leazes moor, and we are hoping to add a new trough at Moor Bank Lodge in our back paddock which we use for sick cattle until they can be collected and removed. Mr Atkinson has supplied us with the materials we need to install a water supply into the new agricultural building, we are to install this over the winter period as part of the winter works programme. The Stewards Committee have given the green light for a lot of drainage exploratory works to be carried out on the main Town Moor, where we now have issues that if they are not addressed will impact upon the condition of our pasture. We are hoping to start these works as and when the ground conditions allow over the winter months. Once we have discovered what is causing the problems we will be drawing up schemes to correct these and hopefully have them all repaired prior to the cattle returning in the spring. Kevin Batey Town Moor Superintendent.

Hoppings The Town Moor Hoppings or ‘Festival’ site as recorded in the Town Moor Act 1988, underwent a major reinstatement programme during the late 2012 and early 2013, including major drainage works and extending the service road. As reported in issue 14. Irrespective of the fact that it was becoming obvious that the site could not safely sustain a fair and was cancelled, a decision overseen by the Northern Section of the Showmen’s Guild to put the fair ‘out of order’ and remains in place, a decision that mystifies as at the time we had 15 months until the 2014 event to address any issues. To report a full account of the issues involving the Northern Section of the Showmen’s Guild we would fill the whole of this publication, a snapshot follows. Over the summer there has been a campaign by Northern Section of the Showmen’s Guild officials to disrupt any fair which was organised by ourselves or the City Council, including threats and harassment to the fairground operators in an attempt to discourage their attendance to fairs in Newcastle. In one instance where there were three fairs arranged to be held at the same time as the cancelled Hoppings, one at TVTE Fair Gateshead, organised by individual Showmen, The Great Toon Fair, Nuns Moor Newcastle, organised by individual Showmen, and one at Herrington Park Washington organised by individual Showmen including officials of the Northern Section Committee and a member of the Northern Syndicate the previous lessees of the Hoppings. All separate fairs set up to fill the void in the showmen’s calendar, yet one fair being singled out for harassment through the

Northern Section committee including trumped up charges of interference against the Nuns Moor Fair in essence an attempt to benefit the promotion of their fair at Herrington and in part due to the fact that the best nationally acclaimed fairground rides chose Nuns Moor as the place to be. Because of the threat of being fined by the Northern Section committee some operators pulled out. A great deal of Showmen throughout the country have stayed in touch and offered ongoing support for which we are very grateful. The organisation of the Nuns Moor Fair was also disrupted by having their promotional banners slashed or stolen, the set up of attractions was delayed because the entrance bollards could not be lowered as super glue was poured into the locks. Through the support and help of the City Council the fair was able to proceed and was said to be a great success, even the police commenting in the local paper of their delight that there were no incidents reported, and for the first time there was not one complaint by local residents throughout the event. Despite the success of the event all those Showmen attending the Nuns Moor Fair subsequently had punitive



fines of £10,000 each imposed, this action being promoted by the Northern Section Committee. Similar threats were made to those attending the Newcastle fair, including at a meeting of the Northern Section where an official is quoted as saying ‘anyone who attends the Newcastle fair should be shot’, once again some showmen pulled out through fear of fines and reprisals, thankfully because we had administered the fairground part of the Newcastle fair we were able to liaise so no action was taken against these tenants. Due to this breakdown in trust and confidence in the Northern Section officials we wrote to The President of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain to request their intervention, although sympathetic they were unable to intervene unless invited by the Northern Section, consequently we wrote to the Northern Section to formally



request they invite Central Office of the Showmen’s Guild to take over and open dialogue with regard to the issue of the ‘Out of Order’, and in the interest of openness copied the letter to all Section Chairmen, Central Office, and all Tenants of the Hoppings. Up until this time our offer to attend a pre-meeting of any meetings with the showmen to enable the facts to be laid before the members and give them the opportunity for a Q&A, this was declined the reason given as non members of the Showmen’s Guild could not attend their meetings, then following our letter and in a strange turn around we received an invitation from the Northern Section to attend a meeting to discuss our letter, we were not even shown the courtesy of being asked of our availability to attend yet it was publicised in the trade newspaper. Our letter clearly laid down the reasons for our request for Central

office intervention and we remain resolved in this position. We are committed to hold a vibrant sustainable Hoppings and have put a tremendous amount of effort and finance in to ensuring the site is in readiness for 2014 and from comments received is appreciated by the majority of Hoppings tenants, unfortunately members of the Northern Section are being deceived by the distortion of the facts by a small minority who are motivated by personal gain. It is sad that a small group can tarnish a highly respected organisation such as the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain, which is why we have requested National intervention. A feeling of déjà vu. 1912 was exceptionally wet and much damage was caused to the surface of the Moor during the Festival by a great collection of roundabouts and other amusements drawn by heavy traction engines. As a result, the Committee, in 1913 consented to the holding of the Temperance Festival, but refused their consent for the letting of sites for

roundabouts and amusements. The Corporation in spite of the opposition of the Committee let sites for the roundabouts and amusements for the Festival. The Freemen sought an injunction which was served, The Defendants justified their proposed action by the authority of the Corporation under an Agreement, dated the 4th June, 1913, and made between the Corporation and the Defendants. This Defence raised the question of the right of the Corporation to let sites on the Town Moor for such purposes without the consent of the Committee. On Friday 29th May 1914 the case was heard In the High Court of Justice. Chancery Division. Case: Walker & Others (Stewards Committee) -V- Murphy (Showman) and Others (Corporation). before Mr Justice Neville. The injunction was upheld and the authority of the Freemen confirmed. Consequently the fairground did not return to the Town Moor for 10 years. Let’s hope history is not repeated.

FreemenMagazine Magazine


Special Swearing in Ceremony Following her election as the Lord Mayor, Margaret Wood presided over the swearing in ceremony on June 24 2013. She was accompanied by her husband, Councillor John Wood, who was Lord Mayor 2009/2010.



Town Moor LOOK at Newcastle Town Moor today and you’ll see a peaceful - some would say rather too peaceful - green space of over 1,000 acres, dotted with grazing cattle. Apart from the Hoppings fair or charity runs, nothing much seems to happen there. But this rare surviving public space, always jealously protected from encroachment, hasn’t always been so quiet. People used to be executed here. They would be brought along the route of what is the modern Gallowgate (hence the name) to be hanged on the Moor’s southern edge. Up to 20,000 spectators might attend for what was generally considered a grand day out, with food vendors and alehouses doing a roaring trade. No fewer than 14 Newcastle women were hanged there in 1649 for supposedly being witches, alongside one man accused of being a wizard. The authorities, trying to satisfy a wave of public anti-witch hysteria, had paid a fee to a notorious Scottish witchfinder for every person he condemned. Suspects were pricked with a pin: if they bled they were considered innocent and, if not, guilty. Some sort of trickery, such as a retractable point, was almost certainly used. Ordinary criminals were also executed on the same spot: for example, Richard Brown in 1751 for his daughter’s murder, and pawnbroker George Stewart in 1764 for shooting a keelman. Theft could be a capital offence in those days. In 1776 Robert Knowles, the North Shields postman, was hanged on the Town Moor for having stolen a letter containing two £50 Bank of England bills belonging to Robert Rankin, a merchant. On September 2,1786 Henry Jennings, a convicted horse thief, was put to death here too. Before he swung, he

was cool headed enough to address the spectators on the meanings of slang words used by villains at the time, requesting that this information be posthumously printed for the public good. Armies have encamped on the Moor, such as General Wade’s Hanoverian forces of 15,000 men and 200 guns, during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. It also saw celebratory troop musters, like the grand field day on April 21, 1801, in honour of Nelson’s victory over the Danish fleet. In 1831 the Northern Political Union held a meeting on the Town Moor - always a popular venue for big political rallies and mighty deliberations – attended by over 50,000, to support the Great Reform Bill. The contemporary Fraser’s Magazine gave a humorous review of the day’s speakers. One Radical leader apparently spoke “with some considerable reference to himself”, and a young Quaker attorney, while treated kindly by the tough crowd, failed to be taken seriously because of his “lad-like appearance”. Mr B, one of the secretaries of the union, was a noted speaker at small private debates but “here, poor fellow, his voice, which is only fit for a room, was lost in the immensity of space”. And Thomas Hepburn, the pitmen’s leader, is said to have spoken some sense, but “more frequently mixed along with it a great deal of gibberish”. The meeting FreemenMagazine


was hastily brought to a close when it was noticed that “the people were giving signs that they were anxious to be at home”. The Moor’s history as pastureland goes back to the 12th century, and the Freemen of the City, its traditional guardians, have long been entitled to graze cows there. Thomas Bewick’s aunt, a Freeman’s widow, exercised this right enthusiastically. The famous engraver lived with her in Pudding Chare as a young apprentice and later complained that he felt he’d lived on nothing but milk during that time. Some limited mining, at sites like Spital Tongues colliery, has always been allowed on the Town Moor, and the two-mile Victoria Tunnel was built in 1842 to transport its coal to the Tyne. On completion of this great engineering feat, a party was held for the 200 construction workers at the Unicorn Inn in the Bigg Market. They were “regaled with a substantial supper and strong ale” and entertained by the Albion Band. In 1867 there was a terrible accident, killing eight people, on the 18


Moor. A quantity of Nobel’s Blasting Oil, a nitroglycerine preparation used in mines, had been found stored in the cellar of a public house, and it was decided the volatile substance should be removed to the Town Moor and buried in old mining pits. Sheriff John Mawson and town surveyor Thomas Bryson accompanied the cart to see the job done, along with other officials and several curious bystanders, including some young boys. At first, things went well. The corks of the nine canisters were successfully drawn, the oil emptied out, and a policeman called Wallace assigned to cover it with soil. Meanwhile, the sheriff led the rest of the party over to a nearby hillock to dispose of three canisters whose contents had become crystallised. What went wrong next will never be known, but suddenly there was a terrific explosion from this area, shaking the earth and showering debris everywhere. An unfortunate cabman, driving at least a hundred yards away, was actually blown forward onto his horses’ backs. Wallace, protected by an earthen bank, was unhurt.

But several people had been killed outright, and three very badly injured survivors - Mawson, Bryson and a young boy named Samuel Wadley - were conveyed by cart to hospital. Samuel died there two hours later, and Mawson and Bryson the following night. In happier times the Moor has been frequently used for sports and pastimes. Since the 1700s some 29 different recreations have been recorded there, including rabbit coursing, baseball and competitive walking races. In 1848 the Early Risers’ Club met on the Town Moor to play sports before eating a hearty breakfast at a nearby inn, proving that hitting the gym before work isn’t such a new idea. The almost forgotten sport of potshare bowling, a miners’ favourite, involved men competing to see who could throw a small bowl the furthest along a roped-off course. Championship matches were held on the Moor from the 1820s onwards, with thousands flocking to see great players like Robert Gledson in action. Football was played on the Town Moor up until 1885 by West End, one of the two Newcastle teams then in existence, and a 300-foot roller skating rink was also built there. The Newcastle United Workmen’s Golf Club opened on the Moor in 1892 and still survives - with a shortened name. Horse racing was held from 1721 to 1882. Race week, with its full array of side events, was an especially popular occasion and usually carefree, apart from the very serious Fenian riot which took place there on June 27,1866. Fenian agitation was then at its height and a gang of more than 300 Tyneside Irishmen had been wandering around all day, spoiling for a fight. Later, when taunted, they attacked people almost at random with shillelaghs and soon a steady stream of injured victims, including policemen, was arriving at the infirmary.

Order was only finally restored when the chief constable himself led a force of 40 men into the fray, and the Fenians fled. Arrests were made, and 17 Irishmen were each sentenced to a year’s hard labour. The Hoppings is probably the Moor’s best-known event. Held every June, traditionally in dreadful weather, it began as a temperance festival in 1882. In its heyday, before the end of the 1960s, you could ride on the Steam Yacht or Chairoplane, visit the boxing and wrestling booths, see flea circuses, Wild West displays or the motorbike Wall of Death. You might challenge the King of the Guessers to try and estimate your age to within a year. Or perhaps be good-naturedly fleeced into paying a penny to visit an exhibition run by one of the showmen. Inside, a ‘Holy Friar’ would turn out to be a frying pan with a hole in it, and the ‘Fall of Greece’ was a picture of a candle lying on its side. But there was a disclaimer at the entrance warning: “Don’t come in, there’s a catch”. The Town Moor has seen it all. There as a smallpox hospital and isolation unit in a secluded spot at its centre from 1882 to about 1958, the demolished buildings now marked by a small plantation of trees. Other land was used for an airstrip and troop-training in the First World War, and a radar station and anti-aircraft battery in the Second World War. Still owned by Newcastle City Council, the Moor now provides a green lung for the public and a haven for wildlife. It almost sounds staid... but the unexpected is never very far away. In 2007, for instance, a streaker was being chased by police across the grass there when, for no apparent reason, he proceeded to turn round and chase them for a good 15 minutes. On a particularly bracing day. The Town Moor boring? Never.



Summer Spectacular 3rd August 2013

The now annual event for Freemen and their families held at Moor Bank Lodge on the first Saturday in August was again a resounding success from the gates opening at 1.30pm through to the close at 4.30pm. In addition to the main entertainment by Heartbeat, led by Doug Tate, House Carpenters Company, the Hog and lamb roast, Falconry display, Wood sculpting, the 101st Regiment Royal Artillery pipe band led by Pipe Major Ian Alexander, Tanners Company which were supported this year by two Scottish dancers. Guests were also entertained by a display of Morris dancing by the Monkseaton Morrismen. Two cookery demonstrations by Michelin Star Chef Kenny Atkinson (Ropemakers Company) were held in the small marquee and proved very popular with all seats quickly taken to see how a celebrity chef cooked game.



Special thanks go to Jean Bainbridge and Vera Harvey who worked tirelessly to serve the refreshments of tea and coffee along with local beer and the wine which proved very popular and soon ran low, Ricky Alder, Butchers Company was on hand to rush to the local supermarket to replenish stocks, not forgetting Alan Bainbridge who managed once again to put on what was described by one guest as a cracking day. We look forward to this year’s event which is planned for the 2nd August 2014.

The Newcastle Fair 9th – 18th August 2013 A City Council desire to hold an event during the school holidays in Exhibition Park brought together City Council officers and the Freemen to organise the event.

The City regularly organise markets, picnics, sports activities and music events on the Exhibition Park wanted to expand the event offer by including a fairground within the event, because of our experience in fairground organisation we were asked to administer the fairground side of the event. Our events team identified the ideal position for the fair on the Town Moor old exhibition site adjacent to the park, many of our readers will remember this as being the site of the Tyneside Summer Exhibition, using this area allowed the events on the park and the fair to merge.

Park being held on both weekends was officially opened on Saturday 10th by the Lord Mayor Margaret Wood who toured the markets and then enjoyed all the fun of the fair along with members of her family. Every day in addition to the fairground rides and attractions 4 bands entertained every night on the specialist sound stage making a total of 40 bands over the 10 days the event ran.

It was particularly pleasing to see so many people with prams or disabilities able to access the fairground due to the pedestrian area being tarmac, making the event very much a family affair. The fairground opened daily from Friday 9th August with the events on Exhibition





Monday 20th January 2014

Sunday 11th May 2014 St. Nicholas’ Cathedral, Newcastle.

Held upstairs in Newcastle Guildhall (on Quayside, bottom of Dean Street) Close Court of Guild (for Company Stewards only) begins at 10.30 am. Open Court of Guild (for all Freemen of Newcastle upon Tyne) commences at 12 noon prompt. You must be seated by 12 noon for the Open Guild in readiness to receive the Lord Mayor. The meeting concludes with new Freemen being called, and if present sworn in by the Lord Mayor. Following the proceedings a buffet lunch is served in the Merchant Adventurers Court.

EASTER GUILD Monday 28th April 2014 Held upstairs in Newcastle Guildhall (on Quayside, bottom of Dean Street) Close Court of Guild (for Company Stewards only) begins at 10.30 am. Open Court of Guild (for all Freemen of Newcastle upon Tyne) commences at 12 noon prompt. You must be seated by 12 noon for the Open Guild in readiness to receive the Lord Mayor. The meeting concludes with new Freemen being called, and if present sworn in by the Lord Mayor. Following the proceedings a buffet lunch is served in the Merchant Adventurers Court.

Robing in the Cathedral Refectory at 9.30a.m. for commencement of parade into the Cathedral at 9.45a.m. with the Lord Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne. All Newcastle Freemen are welcome. Should you need to borrow a robe there will be a small quantity available on the day. To assist on the day, parking will be available at Moor Bank Lodge and transport at 9:00am to and from the Cathedral will be provided.

MICHAELMAS GUILD Monday 6th October 2014 Held upstairs in Newcastle Guildhall (on Quayside, bottom of Dean Street) Close Court of Guild (for Company Stewards only) begins at 10.00 am. At this particular meeting the Stewards Committee is democratically elected via ballot for the ensuing year. Open Court of Guild (for all Freemen of Newcastle upon Tyne) commences at 12 noon prompt. You must be seated by 12 noon for the Open Guild in readiness to receive the Lord Mayor. The meeting concludes with new Freemen being called, and if present being sworn in by the Lord Mayor. Following the proceedings a buffet lunch is served in the Merchant Adventurers Court.

Annual Guild Days Christmas Guild - the first Monday after 13th January Easter Guild - the first Monday after Easter Monday Michaelmas Guild - the first Monday after Michaelmas Monday 22


Notice Board Bereavements James Carlton Glass Tanners Company Derek Hastings Jack Hiscock Shipwrights Company Albert Oxnard Coopers Company John Brian Angus Skinner and Glovers Company Vivienne Wilson Taylors Company A.S. Brown Butchers Company



Freemen of Newcastle upon Tyne Superintendent and Office Mr Kevin Batey, Moor Bank Lodge, Claremont Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4NL Tel: 0191 2615970 Email: Website:

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