Volunteer’s call at historic South Tyneside site

Jarrow Hall volunteers Jim Robertson
Jarrow Hall volunteers Jim Robertson

A retired motor mechanic who called into a historic South Tyneside site has found a new vocation in his life.

Jim Robertson is one of a number of volunteers who help take visitors back in time to the Anglo-Saxon period at Jarrow Hall.

Having the opportunity to not only volunteer at the village but to learn and study ancient crafts and then showcase these skills to visitors, is very rewarding.

Jim Robertson

The 70-year-old, from Boldon Colliery, re-enacts an array of crafts once used by those living in that era, helping to give people a more authentic experience during their visit.

He is now calling on others to come on board at the historic site based in Church Bank, Jarrow.

He said: “On my first visit to Jarrow Hall two volunteers were using tools from the medieval period to build a small boat from wood and that was it, I was hooked.

“I love the outdoors and spent many years in the scout movement. Having the opportunity to not only volunteer at the village but to learn and study ancient crafts and then showcase these skills to visitors, is very rewarding.

Jim is self-taught in range of crafts - which include weaving on a warped loom, spinning with a drop spindle, carding - the process in which raw wool is combed so that it all runs in one direction – utilising a rotary quern to grind wheat into flour and wood turning.

He volunteers at the village on Thursdays and Fridays and is joined by his wife Meg on Saturdays who demonstrates tablet weaving.

He added: “I love entertaining people and it is a great feeling when visitors shake my hand and thank me for sharing my skills. I would recommend volunteering at Jarrow Hall to anyone that is looking for an interest that will keep them busy and stimulated. This is a very important site for historical reasons and the link to St Bede. It also has ambitions to be a real hub for community interaction and for that reason people wanting to know more about volunteering at Jarrow Hall will receive a warm welcome.”

Jarrow Hall is also home to an exhibition and the farm includes sheep, four Dexter bullocks, two Berkshire pigs, two Iron Age pigs and two Hungarian Mangalitsa long haired pigs. There are also hares, chickens and goats that visitors can fully interact with at designated times.

Rebecca Maw, operations manager – Communities Groundwork South and North Tyneside, said: “Jim is a much valued member of the team at Jarrow Hall, he brings the Anglo Saxon village to life and visitors really enjoy speaking to him as his passion for and knowledge of Anglo Saxon life is remarkable. “There are many volunteering roles at Jarrow Hall for all levels of knowledge and experience, this includes living history roles such as Jim undertakes, or you could get involved with family activities, administration and visitor services.

“We welcome people with existing skills, but this is not essential as training and support is available from existing volunteers and the staff team.”

For information on volunteering at Jarrow Hall call 0191 424 1585 or visit www.jarrowhall.org.uk/make-difference-volunteer