Recalling a ‘special year’ on South Tyneside

Folkmoot 77.
Folkmoot 77.
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A call from museum staff for memories and memorabilia from South Tyneside’s “special year of 1977” is being answered by townsfolk.

Forty years ago, the Queen and Prince Philip visited Tyneside, and the world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali came to South Shields.

And to mark the occasion, South Shields Museum is urging Gazette readers to get in touch, and help stage a commemorative display this summer.

So far, the museum has had a good response, but they’d like even more help, as Adam Bell, Assistant Keeper of Social History explains.

“I was contacted by Brian Hunt and Bryan Jackson of Monkseaton Morrismen and Folk Dance Club,” says Adam.

“Members of the club performed for the Queen and Prince Philip on Friday, July 15, 1977, at Gypsies Green Stadium, South Shields, as part of that year’s Tyne & Wear Folkmoot festival.

“Bryan, who has recently written an excellent history of the club, was most forthcoming with his memories and knowledge of the subject.

“Ken Wright also dropped off a reel of Super 8mm film, which I passed on to colleagues at the North East Film Archive (NEFA), in Middlesbrough.

“Dave Parsons, of the NEFA, commented that the film – taken during the Queen’s visit to South Tyneside – was ‘exceptionally good’, and we hope to be able to show it at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery this summer.”

Other people also contacted the museum to share their recollections of this memorable year.

“Nora Imrie kindly donated a ticket, which she had discovered among her late mother’s possessions. The ticket was to see Muhammad Ali at Ron Taylor’s boxing booth, in South Shields, on Saturday, July 16, 1977.

“South Shields-based filmmaker, Gary Wilkinson, also got in touch, to bring to my attention a documentary he had produced about local events of note in 1977, which also included, as it happens, the formation of South Shields punk band Angelic Upstarts.”

The museum has its own “treasures” of the times, as Adam reveals.

“One of the museum’s treasures is a pair of junior boxing gloves, signed by Ali, and these will take centre stage in the new display.”

But despite this, and the response so far for more memories and mementoes, Adam is eager to get even more people involved in the project.

“We’d really love to hear from anyone who has memories of Ali’s visit, the Royal Silver Jubilee celebrations, and anything else that holds special memories for local folk, from 1977,” he said.

If you have a story to tell or a photo or item that you could loan for the display celebrating the year 1977, please contact Adam Bell by e-mailing adam.bell@twmuseums.org.uk or phoning the Museum on (0191) 2115599.

The Gazette recently paid tribute to a local photographer who captured the visits of the Queen and Prince Philip and Muhammad Ali on film. He was the late Freddie Mudditt.

Mr Mudditt’s daughter Julia Northam, 58, a post office clerk who now lives in Billingham, spoke of her father’s passion for photography, and of the many famous people he framed in his camera’s lens.

Meanwhile, a recent article regarding the work of local photographer Amy Flagg, who is remembered for capturing the images of destruction wrought by the Germans on South Shields during the Second World War, prompted reader M. Wilson-Wardle to get in touch.

The correspondent wrote: “I came across your request while doing a bit of research myself.

“Unfortunately I cannot provide you with much information as it was about 60 years ago that I visited Miss Amy Flagg’s Chapel House on a couple of occasions.

“My great uncle, Joseph Jones, worked as her gardener for some time.

“Being so young at the time my memories are few.

“I remember her as a kindly Victorian type of lady who owned a large black chow dog.

“I also remember the large bomb crater in the garden which had been used for a floral feature. As I remember my great uncle was her gardener for some time and had worked as a porter at the Ingram infirmary.”