New exhibit in South Tyneside looks back on carnival life

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The forgotten sounds of yesteryear’s beating drums is to be brought back to life in a new exhibition.

As marchers get set to take part in today’s South Tyneside Summer Festival parade - next week they will be able to look back at similar events in history.

The History of Parade and Carnivals in the North East exhibition will tell the tale of an almost forgotten era when it opens its doors at South Shields Museum in Ocean Road, on Monday.

Organised by South Shields production company, Creative Seed and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, it will examine the history and social impact of the parades and marches which were once held regularly across the region.

These included everything from village carnivals in the small communities to the large miners’ galas which would see whole towns turn out into the streets to enjoy the party.

Creative Seed has spent several months researching and compiling memories of this almost-forgotten era, and the exhibition features a collection of photos and video footage of these parades, some of which date back to decades

We’re confident it will evoke lots of memories

Garner Harrris

Garner Harris said: “It’s been a very exciting journey for us, and we’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and hear some fantastic stories.

“Although many younger people today won’t really know, the village parades and carnivals were big events once upon a time, and it was something which would bring the whole community together.

“It wasn’t unusual to see big parades by villagers and handmade floats, while local young peoples’ jazz bands would also march. In the mining areas you could expect to see the local brass bands taking part and people carrying the big banners It was a wonderful thing which has, sadly, almost been forgotten.

“Our exhibition has been created to remind people of this big part of our history, and we’re confident that it will evoke lots of memories for people old enough to remember the era, along with helping teach the younger generation a little about the past.”