Northumbrian Scribes: Waterlines

I love a ferry trip across the Tyne.

Heading to the north side will always remind me of my first job in journalism.

When I started work as a trainee reporter at the News Guardian, North Shields was my patch and the regeneration of the fish quay was just getting off the ground.

Tourism Minister David Evennett

L-R: Tourism Minister David Evennett, Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell and Pearl Saddington, centre manager of the Old Low Light.

It’s now a vibrant hub of activity, with fishing boats still heading out in the early hours and offering their catch of the day to the local fishmongers and restaurateurs.

Cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and offices are now as familiar sights as the boats, but the heritage of the area has not been forgotten.

One of my favourite places to visit is the Old Low Light, the oldest surviving, occupied building on the fish quay.

The Grade II listed building began life as a lighthouse, established in the late 16th century to work alongside the Old High Light as a navigation point for ships entering the Tyne.

Having served many purposes over the years and eventually falling into disrepair, it was fully refurbished and given a new lease of life as a heritage centre in October 2014.

Northumbrian Scribes

Members of the Northumbrian Scribes enjoying the preview event of Waterlines.

It’s middle floor tells the story of the fish quay (and has a dressing up section that my children love) and it also has a cafe, shop and top floor community space/gallery.

The gallery is currently home to an exhibition by the Northumbrian Scribes, a group of calligraphers from the north east, entitled Waterlines.

Inspired by the coast and showcasing a wide range of disciplines, it is the first Spring exhibition held by the Northumbrian Scribes and also their first at the Old Low Light.

I was fortunate enough to see some of the works in progress at the calligraphy class I attend with some of the members, run by the chairman of the Northumbrian Scribes, Susan Moor.

Among my favourites were New High Light and New Low Light, by Hazel Abbott, The Ballad of Marsden Grotto, by Judy Elphinstone, and Swimwords, by Dominic James.

Tourism Minister David Evennett was one of the first visitors to the Waterlines exhibition, along with Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell.

Mr Evennett was in the constituency to see how investment in the area will boost tourism and support the local economy.

He told the News Guardian: “I was delighted to see how the works on the Old Low Light in North Shields have brought the building back into use.

“It is a fantastic example of how our unique historic buildings can be saved and used to benefit local communities.”

The Old Low Light benefited from £750,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund, which alongside the Heritage Lottery Fund, is also supporting the restoration of the Spanish City dome in Whitley Bay.

The Old Low Light is open daily, from 10am to 4pm, and Waterlines runs until Sunday, May 29. Some of the pieces are available for sale.

*Thank you to Alison Spedding Photography for her picture of the Tourism Minister’s visit.

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