Festival’s focus on coastal village

The Iron Or literary festival returns to North Tyneside next month.

By Peter Mortimer
Friday, 10 May, 2019, 12:28
The Iron Or Festival brochure.

And the village of Cullercoats itself features more heavily in this year’s festival than in the previous three.

In fact, it’s the focus of no fewer than four events.

Elaine Whitesides’ book The Bairn is a beautifully written memoir of growing up in Cullercoats in the 1950s, a time within living memory, but simultaneously strangely distant.

Iron Press first published the book back in the 1990s and it is doing a special reprint for the festival.

Elaine will be travelling up from Nottingham to read from The Bairn on the Friday night of the festival (June 21) at The Crescent Club.

And there will be music from the sea shanty specialists The Keeler.

The author will also run a memoir writing workshop upstairs in The Bike & Kayak Centre on Sunday lunchtime.

Writing can unlock all sorts of memories so why not give it a try?

Cullercoats has always attracted creative artists and This Cullercoats, running on the festival’s Saturday, at 2pm, at the RNLI, features specially commissioned work from no fewer than six working writers who live in the village.

The book styles and approaches vary widely.

There is a wryly written global warming tale from Carol Clewlow, a dark piece of historical fiction on love misunderstood by Kitty Fitzgerald, and my own story offering a possible (though unlikely) explanation for one of the village’s mystery structures.

Of the poets, Pauline Plummer has a single evocative Cullercoats poem, while Harry Gallagher and Jo Scott’s verse responds to the village’s past and present.

The Iron Or Festival prides itself on being small and local, featuring writers associated with the region. It runs for four days every two years and delights in taking audiences on a journey of discovery.

Festival tickets are available online from ticketsource.co.uk/ironpress or by phone on 0333 666 3366. They can also be purchased direct from Cullercoats Coffee at lunchtime.