Friday, June 14, 2013

Pete Firman Conjuring up a Few Tricks at Saltburn

Magician Pete Firman, described as the poster boy of British comedy magic, will conjure up a preview of his Edinburgh Festival when he returns to his Teesside roots.

He is perfoming his new show at Saltburn Community Theatre on Sunday, July 14.

As one of the stars of BBC1’s The Magicians, the Middlesbrough-born illusionist and comedian has also written and appeared in shows including Derren Brown’s 3D Magic Spectacular and Dirty Tricks.

He is now gearing up for his seventh Edinburgh Festival with a brand new act, Scoundrel. He said: “Working on a new show like this is just like starting again. I love creating new material and I always look forward to Edinburgh.”

Growing up around Linthorpe and Acklam, Mr Firman has happy memories of visiting Saltburn.

“I used to love Saturday mornings walking on the pier and beach at Saltburn with the family when I was growing up. I genuinely love the place, so I’m really looking forward to coming back for this gig.”

He added: "Expect the unexpected," he added. "I try and present the most impossible things that people have ever seen in the funniest way possible. Let's see what happens."

Doors open at 7pm on Sunday, July 14, for Pete Firman’s Scoundrel show which starts at 8pm at Saltburn Community Theatre.

Tickets costing £10 can be bought from Saltburn Health Foods on Station Square or by visiting

Pete Firman plays the Edinburgh Festival at The Pleasance Courtyard between July 31 and August 25. For more details visit

Monday, June 10, 2013

Saltburn Artists Project ready to re-open

Thanks to a £70,000 grant Saltburn Artist's Project has been saved.

The building which housed the Saltburn Studios and Gallery was crumbling and the future looked uncertain after annual funding from the Arts Council was stopped.

However, the Arts Council did grant a one-off £70,000 payment towards refurbishment and to help the Saltburn Artists Project charity to continue to run the studio and gallery themselves.

Helen Gaunt, development manager at the Marske Road building, said: “The whole of the front of the building was leaning to the side, the wood was rotten and the roof was leaking. Thanks to the grant the frontage has now been rebuilt and clad in cedar and all the studios have been dry lined and the roof fixed. We’ve also maximised space and created four new studios and the flat above the gallery has been renovated. We’re hoping to use the flat for artists in residence.”

Major building work was completed in the Spring.

The artists themselves then spent many hours fixing up the interior and the building will be finished just in time for the launch weekend on Saturday and Sunday, June 15 and 16.

Miss Gaunt said: “The exterior is so much better than before and I think it’s improved the environment for our community as well enhancing the space for the artists.”

There are 16 studio artists including fine artists, a silversmith, a photographer, a graphic designer, a ceramicist, and a dressmaker.

Saltburn Studios and Gallery will be open from 12pm until 4pm every weekend from this weekend. An exhibition of work will be on show in the exhibition space as well as demonstrations by artists in their studios.

The event is part of the Festival of the North-East which is a series of events held in June across the region. For more information visit

Friday, June 07, 2013

N.E.R. Not Easily Rivalled

A handful of railway stations in the north of England still display a large, strikingly beautiful wall mounted map made of coloured, glazed, tiles. These are the survivors of several put up by the North Eastern Railway company at the turn of the twentieth century.

The directors of the North Eastern Railway, meeting in 1900, authorised their General Manager, George Stegmann Gibb, to erect large maps of the company’s passenger network at several of their stations. They were to be constructed of sixty four 8” x 8” glazed tiles, with a further eight 8” x 4” ones spelling out the company name at the top. Lines over which they had running rights were included, as were large scale map tiles showing the docks owned by the NER.

The result was a very beautiful tile map, which showed the entire NER passenger system. The tiles were made at Jackfield tile works – now part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum – by Craven Dunnill and Company Limited.

As well as a few lines belonging to other companies most of the NER's own passenger lines were shown, and the map also includes some nearby features such as lakes, lochs, country houses and their parkland, battlefields, castles, abbeys, monasteries and cathedrals. Very attractive, but simple, colouring was used. What is immediately apparent when first looking at an NER tiled map is the sheer size of the Company’s network. Stretching from Berwick to almost Rotherham, and Carlisle to Withernsea, it is easy to see why this was once the world’s largest railway company.

Very little is really known about these tile maps but at least 25 of them were displayed at various stations, the last, it is believed, by 1910. A contemporary author, G.W.J. Potter, wrote that they were a “striking improvement” and that the idea had “attracted considerable attention, and its adoption has much to recommend it – being easily cleaned, very legible, practically everlasting...” Quite prophetic stuff, because a century later 12 tile maps still exist, 9 of them at their original stations - those at Beverley, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Morpeth, Saltburn, Scarborough, Tynemouth, York and Whitby.

The map at Saltburn, previously 'hidden' behind a very worn, scratched Perspex covering, was given a facelift yesterday when the old protective covering was removed and replaced with a new one. The tiles continue to look striking and attract as much attention now as they did when the map was first installed.