Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Northumberland Knowledge- Henry Travers

It’s one of the most loved films of all time. But what most people don’t know is that It’s a Wonderful Life’s guardian angel, Clarence, was actually born here in Northumberland.

Born in Prudhoe in 1874, actor Henry Travers is most famous for his role in Frank Capra’s 1946 classic, but he was also nominated for an Oscar in 1942 for Mrs Miniver. Travers grew up in Berwick and initially trained as an architect, before taking up acting and moving the USA in 1917 where he appeared on Broadway for 20 years. He retired from acting in 1949 and died in 1965.

A blue plaque dedicated to Travers has now been installed in Prudhoe town centre. The plaque includes his famous line from It’s a Wonderful Life, ‘Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings’, as well as the words ‘Our very own angel born in Prudhoe’.

The plaque is located on a wall near The Glade area of Prudhoe, with the permission of the Co-op supermarket, so if you’re nearby be sure to have a look and remember the Northumberland-born actor who created one of the most iconic characters in film history.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Campaign to re-open George Stephenson's birthplace

I am encouraged to hear that The National Trust are working with a group of students from Newcastle Business School to find a solution to re-open George Stephenson's birthplace in Wylam. Stephenson lived in the cottage for the first eight years of his life, but it was closed earlier this year due to costs and falling visitor numbers. However, The National Trust said at the time that they hoped the closure would be temporary and they are now working with four students from Northumbria University's Business Clinic initiative, where students form their own consultancy firms to provide free advice to businesses. Meetings are apparently going well, with the students putting forward some good ideas to make the cottage financially viable, including creating a mobile app to guide visitors around the birthplace and they are currently looking into finding funding for the project. I have written to The National Trust making clear my hope that the site will be re-opened, and I hope to see George Stephenson's birthplace back open to the public soon as it is an important part of the region's history and a valuable facility for the community. 

Brilliant Businesses- The Rat Inn

Delicious British food, real ales and a rustic atmosphere- Anick’s Rat Inn is the perfect country pub!

Full of history, The Rat was originally a drovers inn, however the origin of its unusual name is unclear- local rat catchers may have regularly met there, but another story claims that the largest ever rat was caught there, and there is also a tale than the inn’s ale keeper gave information to the crown during the Jacobite risings in 1715 and 1745, and was known afterwards as ‘the Rat’. Whichever story you prefer, you can certainly feel centuries of history in every one of The Rat’s atmospheric rooms.

Locally sourced produce is served in the bar, conservatory and restaurant/dining room, whilst the beer garden is home to incredible views across the Tyne Valley. With both cosy fires and outdoor dining, The Rat is a great place to enjoy a local meal whatever the season.
Next time you eat out, make sure to think of The Rat Inn- it’s one of my personal favourites! 

Monday, 24 July 2017

What's on in Hexham... 24th-30th July

Ahead of another busy week in the constituency, here are a few examples of what’s on in the area this week…

Walltown Family Summer Festival, Thursday 27th- Saturday 29th July, 10am-5pm- Part of National Parks Week 2017, the Walltown Family Summer Festival at Walltown Quarry Country Park will have something for everyone this week. A climbing wall, pizza making, pottery and small animal handling- be sure to pay a visit!  

Taste Tynedale, Friday 28th- Saturday 29th July- Back for a second year, the successful food festival will take place at Abbey Park, Hexham, showcasing produce from all over the North, as well as offering demonstrations, live music and children’s’ activities. It promises to be a brilliant celebration of Northumbrian food- a great way to spend the weekend!

Opening of The Sill, Saturday 29th July, 9.30am-6pm- Celebrate the opening of the National Landscape Discovery Centre, The Sill, on Saturday with live music, craft activities and tours of The Sill’s fantastic grassland roof and viewing platform. Having visited last week, I can promise that it is well worth a visit! 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Sunday Snapshot

It's easy to miss the smaller details... Spotted in Haydon Bridge- the former home of poet and novelist Philip Larkin.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Opening of The Sill

Yesterday I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to look around The Sill, the UK's brand new National Landscape Discovery Centre which is situated in Once Brewed in the heart of the Northumberland National Park and will open to the public on 29th July. 

The Sill is a permanent free-to-enter landscape exhibition with interactive exhibits. Among its facilities are two learning rooms for use by educational groups, which are also available for public events and workshops. There is also a shop providing a wide variety of goods with a particular focus on local talent and creativity and The Hive, a new enterprise hub housing new and emerging rural businesses. 

The building is designed to blend in with the landscape surrounding it, with a unique Whin Sill grassland roof- fully accessible to all- allowing everyone to enjoy the panoramic views in all directions from the viewing platform. It is the only roof of its kind in the world and will be used by students to learn more about carbon capture, geology and ecology. 

There is an 86 seat cafe run by Fresh Element which will source produce from local suppliers and focus on seasonal and sustainable dishes, whilst providing stunning views of the countryside from the all-around windows. Also within the building is an 86 bed youth hostel split over two floors which will provide excellent accommodation for anyone wanting to explore the area. 

This is a fantastic facility, with superb accommodation, friendly staff and great food- a long term project that has come to fruition and everyone in Northumberland should be very proud.

The Sill opens on Saturday 29th July with free activities and events from 9.30am-6pm. 

Friday, 21 July 2017

Friday Focus... on Bellingham

Friday Focus… on Bellingham

Second up in my series of Friday Focus is the village of Bellingham. Why not make a visit this weekend- there’s plenty to see and do!

Situated near to the North Tyne river, Bellingham is a popular destination for keen fishers. It’s also a great place to visit if you’re a fan of cycling or walking- the 2.5 mile Hareshaw Linn Walk is a particular highlight, passing the old ironworks to finish up at a spectacular 30-foot waterfall.

The stone barrel vault at St Cuthbert’s Church is said to make it unique in England. The 13th century, Grade-I listed building is full of history and is definitely worth a visit.

The Heritage Centre is the perfect place to go to learn all about Bellingham’s industrial past. With exhibitions on the Border Counties Railway, mining, farming and more, the museum is a wonderful celebration of Bellingham’s history.

With plenty of restaurants and a hotel, why not make a weekend of it and see what Bellingham has to offer?!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Jane Austen on the new £10 banknote

I was recently able to see the new £10 note featuring one of the great British writers, Jane Austen, up-close for myself. The note was unveiled earlier this week at Winchester Cathedral to mark the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death, and it looks fantastic. There are some very special details to look out for on the note when it is released into circulation in September- a portrait of Austen commissioned by her nephew and the background is inspired by her own 12-sided writing table.  Jane Austen is the first female writer to feature on a bank note – a deserved honour for such a popular and enduring writer.  I look forward to seeing the bank note when it is released later in the year, and I am delighted to see Jane Austen honoured in this way- a truly great British woman.