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From the source to the sea: Impact of the Tyne explored in Being Human

Published on: 9 November 2018

The way the North East has been shaped by its rivers will be examined by a series of events organised by Newcastle University for Being Human, the National Festival of the Humanities 2018.

Role of the river

Events which follow the Tyne, all the way from Kielder Water to the North East coast, and even beyond to explore the sea bed, are taking place over nine days this month.

The festival is launched upstream, in rural Northumberland. Rivers of Life will take place at The Sill: National Discovery Centre, in Once Brewed on 15 November. Historians, hydrologists, geographers, planners and storytellers will look at the Tyne’s past, present and future, including how it changed global industry and inspired writers. It will also explore wider issues such as marine pollution and flooding.

A highlight of the evening will be a showing of the 1962 documentary Your Heritage: The River Tyne, featuring the well-known TV newscaster Mike Neville in his younger years. Rivers of Life takes place from 6pm to 8pm.

On the same day, the Foodbank Histories, a History of Food Security exhibition will launch at Newcastle’s Grainger Market. Co-curated by Newcastle University’s Oral History Collective, in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, working with Newcastle West End Foodbank and Northern Cultural Projects, it will showcase real stories of life on the Tyne. The extracts of interviews focus on food insecurity, as well as how those using and working in the Foodbank connect to the Tyne and the role the river plays in people’s lives. Foodbank Histories will be on show between 11:00am and 2:00pm on Thursday 15, Friday 16 November, Saturday 17, Tuesday 20, Thursday 22, Friday 23 and Saturday 24 November.

A spectrum of events

"Everyone knows that Newcastle is a city that draws its identity from its river,” said Professor Matthew Grenby, organiser of Newcastle University’s Being Human hub. “But for our mini-festival we wanted to look further, both upstream and down, from the river’s origins to its endings.

“Our events will explore the river and its impact on the humans who have lived in its catchment, all the way from the Northumbrian uplands, through the city, out into the North Sea. There's a great spectrum of events, showcasing some of the most exciting research taking place at the University across a really wide range of subjects."

The 17th century Guildhall Courtroom on Newcastle’ historic Quayside is the setting for Bodies In, Bodies Out on the 21st November. Visitors will be able to explore the historic room while artist Johannah Latchem will discuss her sound installation which focuses on women’s voices, maritime history and law. The work of the coroner will also be discussed.

Highway to Nowhere: A History of the Tyne’s Piers is a 2.5 mile walk from North Shields, to the entrance of the North Pier, Tynemouth and back again. Along the way, Post-Graduate Researcher Kathryn Collins, who has researched their past, will look at the social history of the Tyne Piers, what the River Tyne would be like without them and what this would have meant for Victorian Tyneside. The walk takes place from 10am to 12 noon on 24 November.

History and culture

On 15 and 22 November, the history and culture of the Tyne Valley will be the focus of postgraduate students from Newcastle University. Origins and Endings: Research at the Cutting Edge will cover topics including the North-East’s Second World War Blitz, and Newcastle’s chilling contribution to understanding the effect of nuclear war.

The audience get the chance to vote for the best presentation in New Voices in Humanities Research, where doctoral students from the region’s universities will discuss their work. This event, presented in partnership with the Joseph Cowan Lifelong Learning Centre, takes place on 22 November.

A special tour of Newcastle’s Victoria Tunnel, led by Newcastle University’s Experimental Architecture Group and Culture Lab, will investigate how the spaces we inhabit can be transformed into experiences that inform new ways of living. The tour takes place at 10am on Saturday 17 November.

The fierce struggles of the Northumbrian Border will be the focus of an Insights lecture by Professor Paul Readman from King’s College London. He will look how at the violence and division of past conflicts was reimagined as romantic heritage. The Cockpit of England: violence, history and nation in Northumberland, takes place at 5.30pm on Tuesday 20 November.

Tyne to Tees: Our Shore and Seas will explore the hidden world lying offshore of the mouth of the Tyne and along the shores to the south by bringing to life our natural and cultural seascapes. This discussion and exhibition will showcase Newcastle University research across a range of subjects, including the amazing ‘Capturing our Coast’ citizen science project, led by the Dove Marine Laboratory. It takes place from 5.30pm to 7pm on Thursday 22 November.

The festival closes on a high, with Songs from the Dam, organised with Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books. Children’s author David Almond’s new book The Dam, tells the story of the Kielder Dam flooding. After the valley was abandoned and before the waters rushed in, renowned Northumbria piper and Newcastle University lecturer Kathryn Tickell and her father Mike, visited the empty farms and homesteads, playing the songs of Northumbria there for one final time. They will be joined by accordionist and clog dancer Amy Thatcher and Songs from the Dam will feature the stories, songs and tunes of the North East. It takes place at Newcastle University’s Boiler House from 7.30pm on Saturday 24 November.

All events are free to attend and some need to be booked

Being Human is led nationally by the School of Advanced Study, University of London in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.




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