Hundreds turn out for Jarrow Hall’s first birthday

Hundreds of people turned out to help Jarrow Hall celebrate its first birthday.

The former Bede’s World threw open its doors to the public with ‘pay what you want’ admission for all visitors on Saturday and Sunday.

Emma Cox with Murphy and owner Victoria Porter

Emma Cox with Murphy and owner Victoria Porter

Attractions included an Anglo-Saxon Early Medieval Re-enactment Group, Autumn Craft and Food Fayre and animals including Murphy the Giant Irish Wolfhound, miniature ponies and a falconry display.

The birthday celebrations cap off a year that has seen the site attract £160,000 worth of funding will enable its new owners Groundwork STAN to continue to strengthen and improve what is on offer to visitors.

Leigh Venus, Culture and Heritage Operations Manager for Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle (STAN), which operates Jarrow Hall, was delighted with the reaction from visitors.

“We have had hundred of people through this morning,” he said on Saturday, “and we expect the same tomorrow.

Part of this weekend was about allowing people who normally would not - or could not - come here to do so.

Leigh Venus

“It has been really good so far.”

The idea of allowing people to pay as much - or as little - as they wanted had produced some interesting results.

“It has been mixed - we have had people who have paid more than we would normally ask and people who have paid less but it has actually averaged out at around our usual daily rate.

“Part of this weekend was about allowing people who normally would not - or could not - come here to do so.

Laura Bell gets up close with Smurf the pony

Laura Bell gets up close with Smurf the pony

“If it goes well, it is definitely something that we will look at doing again in future.”

Among the visitors were Laura and Martin Bell, who had brought daughters Eva, four, and eight-month-old Alice through from their home in Sunderland.

The family are regular visitors.

“We are actually passholders and come quite a lot - it is definitely a lot busier than usual today,” said Laura.

“It is a lovely place to come. Eva likes to feed the pigs and it is great to be able to support a local food cause.”

Eleven-year-old Emma Cox was making friends with Murphy under the watchful eyes of mum and dad Alan and Angela.

We have been before but this is the first time we have been for a proper visit since it reopened,” said lan, from South Shields.

“It is part of our heritage and history in the North East.”