being Brunel
I K Brunel

History comes alive in well-managed museums and thoughtfully curated exhibitions. Last month I spent the best part of a Saturday on Brunel’s SS Great Britain. The ship and adjoining museum allow you to immerse yourself in Brunel’s achievements. I marvelled at the ship’s size as well as the sights, sounds and smells recreated on board.

There’s a section of the museum called Being Brunel and you go inside his mind. It took me a while to come back to 2019!

SS Great Britain

I enjoy being transported back in time. Our region’s Beamish Museum is subtitled “the Living Museum of the North” and it never takes long for me to accept those working in the shops and pubs are walking, talking examples of late 19th and early 20th century Northerners.

I’m reflecting on North East history as I prepare to perform at a special event this Saturday evening. It’s the 17th Annual Concert commemorating the anniversary of the New Hartley Pit Disaster of 1862.

I didn’t know much about the disaster until summer 2011 when I heard about a call out for contributions to a forthcoming anthology commemorating the disaster 150th anniversary the following January 2012.

 I went away and researched the Hartley disaster. I read books and visited the village of New Hartley. I also went to St Alban’s church yard in Earsdon where I walked round and round the memorial erected to honour the lives of over 200 men and boys who perished in the senseless, needless tragedy.

80259166_10156727685926299_6316966353391583232_nI wrote a poem called History Lesson and it was included in the anthology Still the Sea Rolls on. I’ll perform it on Saturday in the New Hartley Community Hall. It’s my first time on the stage although I’ve sat in the audience several times in recent years.

I will perform the poem for those linked to or touched by those dreadful events of January 1862. I suspect that will be all of the audience and fellow performers.