Listening PostA SERIES of audio recordings celebrating the rich heritage of North Tyneside have been published online with the aim of adding a tourism boost to the area.

Writer and audio producer Rachel Cochrane, who runs spoken word website, brought together dozens of writers for the Culture Bites project, which was part funded by the Arts Council and North Tyneside Council.

The writers, both professional and amateur, gathered at a number of North Tyneside’s iconic venues, from The Old Low Light in North Shields to Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House, and were inspired to craft plays, short stories, letters and poetry which were then recorded at the venues.

The podcasts are now live and available for everyone to listen online. They have already attracted hundreds of downloads across the country and Rachel, of Stocksfield, Northumberland, is also planning to take them on a tour of North Tyneside via a mobile listening post.

She said: “The North East is such a place of great culture and great locations and it inspires people to be creative.  This project focuses on North Tyneside and the resulting podcasts provide an opportunity to share its wonderful culture and heritage with a global audience. The aim is to celebrate what a beautiful place it is and also to attract new visitors to North Tyneside.”

The podcasts include an oral history recording made at Old Low Light Heritage Centre with memories from women whose fathers and grandfathers fished from the Fish Quay at North Shields. They recall the daily lives of their relatives at sea and how women weren’t allowed on the ships – it was considered bad luck.

Said Rachel: “I think if you don’t record these memories then you’re in danger of losing them and they’re actually part of who we are and what makes the people of the North East. These are real voices telling real stories.”

At Segedunum Fort and Museum, Rachel ran creative writing workshops with participants developing and recording work on the theme of ‘Journeys and Frontiers.’

There has also been a recording of short stories and poetry, created by Victoria Watson’s Elementary Writers group and inspired by Whitley Bay and St Mary’s Lighthouse. One of the pieces was a letter to a sweetheart from a Russian soldier on St Mary’s Island as a place for cholera isolation.

Another podcast features a live performance of the radio play, Figureheads, by established writer Noreen Rees, inspired by four wrecked ships’ wooden figureheads, which are to be found at the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House Museum at Tynemouth.

Eddie Darke, North Tyneside Council Cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism said: “This unique project celebrates the wealth of culture and history found throughout North Tyneside. It’s great to see our places and buildings inspiring local writers, and I’m looking forward to hearing the stories they have created.”

The podcasts are available through listenupnorth.comand the listenupnorth channels on iTunes and Stitcher as well as via the portable listening post. The listening post will be on tour at Segedunum Museum and Fort from July 18 to August 7, St Mary’s Island Visitor Centre fromAugust 8 to 21 and the Old Low Light Heritage Centre in late August.