Piping in the haggis in Shields as Burns Night arrives

Piping in the haggis at Hedworth Hall in 1978.
Piping in the haggis at Hedworth Hall in 1978.

What better way to mark Burns Night than bring you this wonderful image from the Gazette’s picture archive.

Taken in 1978, it shows the haggis, as tradition has it, being piped into the room at Hedworth Hall.

Girl Guides being enrolled in 1970.

Girl Guides being enrolled in 1970.

The piper is Donald Mclead, of Biddick Hall, South Shields, and the be-kilted platter-carrier is none other than former local businessman, and the person who opened the La Strada nightspot in town, Sandford Goudie.

The event was organised by the South Shields Amateur Operatic Society. Do you remember attending that or similar events over the years?

Meanwhile, Megg Gemmell has been in touch regarding the photo of “newly enrolled” guides at the 30th (Whiteleas) South Shields Company, at Whiteleas Junior School.

The picture shows Miss Dorothy Corner (left) District Commissioner, and Guider Miss Lillian Cole, with the youngsters.

One of the girls on the picture is Megg Gemmell.

She wrote to say: “My niece sent me the photo of the 30th Whiteleas South Shields company. I can identify two of the people on the picture, me and my sister. I am front row second left and my sister, Christine, is on the end of the row right.

“Our names were Margaret and Christine Brash.

“Totally shocked but what a lovely surprise, especially as I haven’t lived in Shields for 31 years, live down south, but my family still lives in Shields.

“Christine is still in Shields.

“Can you tell what date the photo was taken? I reckon I was about seven and my sister would have been nine. We are 56 and 58 now.”

Certainly Megg, the photo was taken in 1970.

Now for another question, this time from reader Douglas Brown, who has memories of a rather unusual visitor to South Shields.

This is what he has to say: “I remember going down to the fairground when I was eight to nine-years-old, so the late 60s, to see a sideshow of a whale in an articulated lorry, on the site of the fairground.

“Would it be possible to check in your archives to see if I’m right or did I just imagine it?”

Well, this is what my predecessor, Janice Blower, wrote in February 2014, after being sent a postcard from Linda Stothard, showing crowds flocking to see a whale in the town.

“I suspect that it might have been Jonah, who, it turned out, had toured the UK and Europe in the 1950s and 1960s on a large lorry, and was put on show, in the early 1950s, on the site of the old Queens Theatre, left vacant by air raids, in Mile End Road.

Linda, who recalled being taken by her father to see Jonah, said: “I remember being on his shoulders and seeing this huge whale, and a man with a microphone, and thinking how amazing it was that this thing had come out of the sea. There were a lot of people there.”