In 1906 a group of miners in Shiremoor organised a collection for the midwives of the then Earsdon District Parish.
The midwives were grateful for the money, but requested that it be used for the benefit of all the local children. At this time there was much hardship in the area. In 1907 the Shiremoor & District Children’s Treat began.
A barrel organ was hired and pushed all the way from North Shields. The first competition was a ‘baby show’ judged by the midwives and focussed on health issues, such as weight. School choral competitions and maypole dancing followed. The original shield for this is held by the current committee.
The then Duke of Northumberland heard about this group of miners and a gentleman’s agreement was struck. As long as there was a Shiremoor Treat, the Duke would make land available. The agreement has been honoured to this day.
Through time the hired barrel organ was replaced and improved upon by the ‘travelling fair people’ who visited the town moor. The travellers were invited to the town moor by the Newcastle Temperance Society. This was an alternative to the drunken debauchery of the Northumberland Plate which was held at Gosforth Park. At the end of Race Week the fair folk break up into groups and move on. One group comes to Shiremoor. To this day the Treat is held on the first Saturday after the Northumberland Plate. The children march from local schools e.g. Shiremoor, Holystone, New York and Backworth. They take part in various activities which are organised by the Committee.
Through the decades we have progressed from steam driven rides and coal-fired ovens that provided hot water for the refreshment tent. The tent was staffed by local women in full waitress uniform serving cream teas etc with china cups. Today we have self-service buffet type food with disposable plates and cups. We have electricity powered by generators for tents and public address systems. The contrast between then (baby shows, maypole dancing and choral competitions) and now (we have girl’s football and modern dance displays) is immense.
The Treat is not a registered charity and is funded by donations, local business advertising, raffles etc. The current Treat Committee inherited this noble and generous tradition from the local mining community. It has evolved into the biggest and oldest organised day out for children in the North East, if not the whole of England.
[Extract from an article written by Eddie Dunn and first published in
Tyne & Tweed, the Journal of the Association of Northumberland Local History Societies, Volume 60, October 2006.]
Film and photos from Treats past and present
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