Charting a town's development

Morpeth Camera Club

Member Davy Bolam gave a presentation entitled Now and Then, where he projected contrasting images of slides and prints, some up to 100 years old, showing Morpeth as it was and the same scenes today.

He invited the audience to add nostalgic memories.

Aerial shots from the late 1920s to 1932 showed Morpeth’s quarry, police station, court house and jail, the gasworks, waterworks, and the mart next to the Coliseum cinema.

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From a closer perspective we saw that the town used to be very compact, densely housed with many alleyways.

More aerial views showed the workhouse, Grammar School, nurseries around De Merley Road, and St George’s Hospital.

The Old Co-op in Newgate Street, now Econofreeze, brought back memories of big sacks of flour and sugar, loose goods and brown paper bags.

There was a sign at St James’ Church to ‘Help us build St Aidan’s’. In Manchester Street, the old Simpsons Sweet Shop has been owned by the same family for over 100 years. It was formerly The Baby Wear Shop and before that Simpsons Bakery.

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Images of The Wesleyan Chapel, terraced houses and the Masons Arms contrasted with modern apartments and shops.

We saw A. Woods Fruit and Veg shop where Appleby’s now stands, large advertising hoardings in Mains Place, Noble & Daglish’s shop and the Grey Nags Head.

Beside the Clock Tower were civic parades, with the Cavalier Restaurant in the background.

Memories of Micah Elliott’s sweet shop, now Micah’s tearoom, were followed by the single lane Meccano bridge, before Oldgate bridge, with tales of people washing cars in the Wansbeck whilst crossing the ford.

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Before and after shots showed the construction of Curly Kews in the 1950s, the New Market bus station, then Baysland, with washing lines and external steps to the flats.

Rare night views led to a great shot of Rutherford’s with a walk-around arcade, and later photographs showed the reconstruction of Sanderson Arcade.

A 1985 photograph of Northern Rock Building Society with a display of prints taken by members of Morpeth YMCA Photographic Society, now Morpeth Camera Club, followed.

Davy documented the changing face of Bridge Street, and there was a scene of a lorry crashed into Walter Wilsons, a visit of Princess Anne, and a shot of the Rendezvous fish and chip café in Castle Square.

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Old fire engines attending the Smails fire in 1969 and Olivers Mill in 1995 contrasted with a view of the mill as flats.

There were shots of the floods from 1963, 1968, 2008 and 2012, steam trains, the Wansbeck Piper and the last train on the Wannie Line.

Changes all over the town had been recorded, from Swinney’s Engineering, Jennings Garage, Boutflours Smithy to Presto, Safeway then Morrisons.

With many other images, this was a riveting evening that took us all down memory lane.

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