Monthly Archives: October 2022

Food for Thought: Newcastle Corn Riots

Shoe Tree Arts in partnership with Heaton History Group was funded during 2021-22 to commemorate the events of 1740 when, following an exceptionally hard winter, hungry Heaton miners, their families and others protested against the high price and shortage of food, especially corn.

The project began with a Zoom talk about the events of 1739/40 by Heaton History Group’s Peter Sagar. You can refresh your memory about the corn riots here.


Three local primary schools, Chillingham Road, Cragside and Hotspur took part in the project. Children learnt about what life was like in their own neighbourhood nearly 300 years ago and what led to a shortage of food and eventually to anger and protests. They learnt what food people ate at that time and even cooked some for themselves. And they interpreted the events for themselves via art, music and drama.


No Corn, No Coal , a short film about life in 18C Heaton and along the Ouseburn and the events of 1739/40, in particular, was made primarily for use by the schools by Heaton History Group’s Tessa Green and Peter Dillon. It it is now freely available to view.

Testimonies, the end of project film, brings together some of the historical research, writing, music and artwork that was carried out during the project. It was again made by Tessa Green and Peter Dillon but see the credits at the end of the film for a full list of people who contributed. The password is: corn

A special showing of the film will take place at the Magic Hat cafe on 30 November 2022. Please contact for details.

General Jane

A socially distanced outdoor production of ‘General Jane’, specially written for the project by Ellen Phethean and performed by a mix of professionals and amateurs from the local community. It focussed on a real life leader of the protesters, Jane Bogie, also known as General Jane.

‘General Jane’ flyer
‘General Jane’ banner by Tessa Green
Scene from ‘General Jane’
Musicians and performers – ‘General Jane’
Havemaypolewilltravel dancers
The audience was socially distanced…
…but it felt like a real treat to be enjoying a live performance in the sunshine.

There have also been writing and animation workshops and a series of talks.

The project was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Joicey Trust and Newcastle City Council.

Mary Eleanor Bowes: the greatest heiress of the north

Wednesday 14 December 2022 7.30pm Open for Booking: members and non-members

Precocious and indulged, Mary Eleanor Bowes, the King’s great-great-great-great-great grandmother, was heiress to the Gibside estate. She became known as ‘The Greatest Heiress of the North’ and had an extraordinary life which included love, tragedy, debauchery, abuse, greed, kidnapping and adultery. Ultimately, her tale is one of triumph against overwhelming odds.

Our Speaker

Anthony Atkinson was born in Gateshead, attended St Cuthbert’s Grammar School, Newcastle and studied Economics at Clare College, Cambridge. He qualified as a chartered accountant and held various positions as financial director in industry before undertaking a management buyout acquiring 32 retail shops from Vaux Group Plc. After selling the business, Anthony reverted to his ‘first love’ of history. He is now a Newcastle City Guide, a volunteer for Friends of The Laing Art Gallery and also a volunteer guide at the Lit & Phil. This is one of his portfolio of ten talks.

Booking and Venue

The event will take place on Wednesday 14 December 2022 at Heaton Baptist Church, Heaton Road, Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 5HN at 7.30pm.

We use the Mundella Terrace entrance. There is on street parking nearby and a car park about five minutes walk away off Jesmond Vale Lane in Heaton Park. If you have mobility needs which mean that you you would require access to the very limited parking by the door of the venue, please request this when you book.

The nearest bus stop is that of the number 1 on Second Avenue near the junction with Seventh Avenue. From there it’s a two minute walk to the church. It is about a twelve minute walk from the Coast Road bus stops near the Corner House.

The closest Metro station is Chillingham Road, about twelve minutes walk away.

The doors open at 7.00pm.  All welcome. FREE for Heaton History Group members. £2.50 for non-members. Members have a priority booking window. Please book your place by contacting / 07443 594154


There is ample room for social distancing at Heaton Baptist Church. The building has very high ceilings and  good ventilation. There is even a gallery in which anyone who would prefer to be further apart can sit. Tea and coffee (with biscuits!) is normally available for £1 per cup.

We look forward to seeing old friends and welcoming new members and visitors.