Tuesday, 25 February 2020



Local people are invited to send written contributions to our new anthology Park Life - celebrating green spaces in North Tyneside. Poetry, prose and lyrics all inspired by local parks (see information below) and a green agenda generally are welcome to reach us by the end of April 2020. Contibutors may email several written pieces to us as our aim is to ensure that all parks in North Tyneside are celebrated in the writing.

The anthology, published jointly by North Tyneside Council and Northern Voices Community Projects, will be launched in September as part of this year's Heritage Open Days events.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,

Doctor Keith Armstrong,
Northern Voices Community Projects,
35 Hillsden Road,
Whitley Bay,
Tyne & Wear NE25 9XF.

Tel 2529531

Northumberland Park

Nestled between Tynemouth and North Shields, Northumberland Park has attracted visitors to its woodland paths, gardens, lake and bowling green since it was opened in 1885.

Northumberland Park offers a tranquil green space with a variety of landscapes, providing a mixture of Victorian elegance and urban wilderness.

Resting on the medieval site of St Leonard’s hospital and chapel – which has been explored using archaeological digs – today it hosts scenic walks, a herb garden, tea room, bandstand, sculpture trail, children’s play area and BMX pump track.

Marden Quarry - Whitley Bay

10 minutes walk from Whitley Bay town centre is Marden Quarry Park – with mature woodland and limestone grassland. It offers an unusual landscape, as virtually the only exposure of magnesium limestone north of the River Tyne.

It is a local nature reserve too, with a large wildfowl lake supporting breeding birds such as the mute swan, mallard, moorhen, coot, tufted duck and seasonal migrating birds.

The quarry park celebrated its 40th anniversary in November 2017.

Richardson Dees – Wallsend

Wallsend Parks are a group of three public parks, close to Wallsend town centre.

They form a resource for wildlife and people in three unique, connected green spaces over 16 hectares in size.

The grounds are adjacent to the Green which was the site of the original Wallsend village in medieval times. In the 19c two large houses stood to the north of the Green; Wallsend Hall and The Red House which both had substantial ornamental gardens now incorporated into the park.

To the south east of the site was the 'C' Pit, an extension of Wallsend Colliery, which was closed in 1854.

Wallsend Parks is made up of:

Wallsend Civic Hall Grounds – a quiet parkland with formal walks and points of historical interest, dating back as far as 1790
Prince Road Arboretum – an open grassland area, sloping down to a natural burn with a mixture of open spaces and beautiful views
Richardson Dees Park – a Victorian park dating from 1900, incorporating formal planting with a wide range of facilities:
multi-age play area
Verandah Café
community pavilion
bowling greens
outdoor gym
tennis and basketball courts
skate park
multi-use games area
lakeside and woodland walks
sculpture story trail

Rising Sun Countryside Park

The Rising Sun Country Park is now a site in Benton that once housed one of the world’s largest coal mines. It has been transformed into a 400 acre natural green oasis. The Park is a site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) and the lake is designated as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR).
The Rising Sun Country Park is a green oasis of 162 hectares, set in the heart of North Tyneside.

Boasting a nature reserve with ponds, woodlands and extensive grasslands; a farm and Countryside Centre, the site is a haven for wildlife and an ideal place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.

Benton Quarry

A quarry of some sort has been here since Roman times and it is said that when the quarry came into full production in the 1800s – the age of the industrial revolution – the sandstone was used to help build some of Newcastle’s famous buildings.

The unfenced quarry became worked out and filled up with water in the 1930s, with the exception of an island known by locals as ‘Froggy Island’ – suggesting it was a haven for frogs.

In the 1960s, the council of the time used the quarry for disposal of building rubble and the quarry basin was filled in. Lime, sycamore and horse chestnut trees surrounded the quarry and it was fenced off. The land inside was basically grassy scrubland and a local farmer used it to feed his goats.

Then in the late 1970s and 1980s trees were planted with the help of local volunteers and Scout groups. The park was left to develop naturally and little more was done until 2003 when North Tyneside Council reintroduced Park Wardens. The old pathways were then reclaimed and the park started to look as it is now.

Silverlink Biodiversity Park

Silverlink Park LNR incorporates Silverlink Biodiversity Park and West Allotment Pond, and occupies approximately 18 hectares in the centre of Cobalt Business Park, just off the A19.
As part of a new development scheme in 1996, a new country park was created on the site of a former rubbish tip.
This 'Biodiversity Park' together with the pond at West Allotment was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2005.
The reserve holds significant biodiversity value, with woodland, scrub and hedgerow, grassland and tall herb, wetland and exposed rock habitats.
In particular, the site is of note for its amphibian and invertebrate population. The ponds and ditches are teeming with invertebrates such as pond skaters, blue-tailed damselfly and whirligig beetles.
Roe deer, fox, brown hare and rabbit can all be discovered in the park's grassland, whilst kestrels are regularly seen hovering overhead.
The grassland is also home to many species of butterfly such as meadow brown, common blue and small white.
A giant sundial sits on top of the central hill, and for this reason the site is sometimes referred to as the 'Sundial Park'.
Free parking is available on site, directly opposite the Village Hotel on The Silverlink North.

Killingworth Lakeside

Killingworth Lake is a popular man-made lakeside park. The highlight is a small colony of Mute Swans which attracts a great deal of interest.  At times Whooper and on rare occasions Bewick Swans can also come to visit. There are two lakes, either side of a main road. There is a patch of open grassland on the southern shore and there are patches of woodland along the edges of the park which are home to singing Warblers such as Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler in the spring/summer months.

Close to the road which separates the two lakes, Cormorants and Grey Herons can be seen on some wooden platforms. The site remains a good site for Common Terns and Great Crested Grebes in the summer.

On occasion Black Terns have also been recorded visiting this site.

Royal Quays/ Chirton Dene/ Parks, North Shields

A recently developed park, part of the Royal Quays regeneration. The name comes from the Chirton Burn, previously a culverted burn which ran into the Tyne, but has been restored and integrated into a series of water features. A lake attracts swans, gulls, ducks and wildfowl. To the north it connects with the Parks Centre which was originally a recreation area for Smiths Docks Company workers. To the south it meets the Royal Quays Marina, formerly the Albert Edward Dock.

Weetslade Countryside Park

This is reclaimed from the site of the old Weetslade Colliery which closed in 1966 and can found up near Dudley.

The sinking of Weetslade Colliery began on the 6th of August 1900 and the colliery opened in c.1903. Weetslade had workings connected with the nearby Burradon Colliery, though the two mines had separate ventilation systems. The colliery was on a branch of the Seaton Burn Wagonway. In the 1910s Weetslade Colliery was owned by the Burradon & Coxlodge Coal Co. Ltd., and then in the 1940s by the Hazlerigg & Burradon Coal Co. In 1947 Weetslade Colliery was recorded as producing 160,000 tons of coal for household, manufacturing and steam production. By 1960 there were 638 people employed at the colliery (488 working below ground and 150 working on the surface). Weetslade Colliery closed on the 10th of September 1966. The site continued to be used as a washery until 1980 before being left abandoned. Many years later the site was landscaped to become Weetslade Colliery Country Park, which opened in 2006

Monday, 17 February 2020


used to be countryside
shapely acres of land and now it's
ground for genocide
the sheep jostle with exploding tanks

use our land to plan in
clean out their minds and
leave us

all their rubbish
tins and tanks

to the weekend artists stumbling mumbling in their cottage country haunts running free
between the gunbursts

tins and taunts and
towns and tanks

yes this used to be countryside
shapely acres of land and
now it's
ground for genocide
the sheep drift in city waste

artists amongst tanks


Keith Armstrong

Thursday, 6 February 2020


Shakespeare and Company. Erdesdun Publications, Whitley Bay 1975.
Giving Blood. People's Publications, Newcastle 1977.
Pains of Class. Artery Publications, London 1982.
Love Poems. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 1984.
Dreaming North (book & LP). With Graeme Rigby. Portcullis Press, Gateshead Libraries 1986.
The Jingling Geordie: Selected Poems 1970-1990. The Common Trust & Rookbook Publications, Edinburgh 1990.
Poets' Voices. With Cynthia Fuller, Michael Standen & others. Durham County Council & Tuebingen Cultural Office, Tuebingen 1991.
The Big Meeting: A People's View of the Durham Miners' Gala. TUPS, Newcastle 1994.
The Darkness Seeping: The Chantry Chapel of Prior Rowland Leschman in Hexham Abbey. With introduction by historian
Colin Dallison & illustrations by Kathleen Sisterson. Northern Voices & Crowquill Press, Belfast 1997.
Innocent Blood: the Hexham Riot of 1761. With historian Tom Corfe. Northern Voices & Crowquill Press, Belfast 1996.
Old Dog on the Isle of Woman. Cold Maverick Press Legend Series Number 1, Sunderland 1999.
Our Village. Memories of the Durham Mining Communities. The People's History, Durham 2000.
Bless'd Millennium: The Life & Work of Thomas Spence. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2000.
The Town of Old Hexham. The People's History, Durham 2002.
Imagined Corners. Smokestack Books, Middlesbrough 2004.
Out to Sea. With artist Rolf Wojciechowski. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2004.
Sweet Heart: Erotic Verse. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2006.
Angels Playing Football: Newcastle Poems. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2006.
The Hive of Liberty:The Life & Work of Thomas Spence. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2007.
Hermann Hesse in the Gutter: Tuebingen Poems (1987-2007). With translations by Carolyn Murphey Melchers. Northern Voices,
Whitley Bay 2007.
A Blush in Staindrop Church. Christopher Smart (1722-1771) in Durham. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2008.
Common Words & the Wandering Star: Jack Common (1903-1968). University of Sunderland Press, 2009.
From Segedunum to the Spanish City. North Tyneside's heritage in words and pictures. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2010.
Grand Times. The story of the Grand Hotel, Tynemouth. Grand Hotel, Tynemouth 2010.
The Spanish City. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2010.
The Light in the Centurion. The story of Newcastle’s historic bar. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2011.
Splinters: Poems by Keith Armstrong. Hill Salad Books (Breviary Stuff Publications), London 2011.
The Month of the Asparagus: Selected Poems by Keith Armstrong. Ward Wood Publishing, London 2011.
Still the Sea Rolls On. The Hartley Pit Calamity of 1862. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2012.
North Tyneside Steam. Northern Voices Comunity Projects, Whitley Bay 2014.
Thomas Spence: The Poor Man’s Revolutionary. With Alastair Bonnett. Breviary Stuff Publications, London 2014.
Follow the Sun. Northern Voices Commmunity Projects, Whitley Bay 2016.
The Pitman Poet of Percy Main: Joseph Skipsey. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2017.
Wallington Morning. Poems by Keith Armstrong. Wild Boar Books, Lincoln 2017.
The Wooden Dollies of North Shields. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2018.
Tyne Anew. Celebrating Public Art in North Tyneside. Northern Voices Community Proects, Whitley Bay 2019.
Including: Revival,True Faith, Toon Talk, Red Pepper, Poetry Review, Iron, Aesthetica, The Poetry Business, The Ranfurly Review, The Penniless Press, Citizen 32, Morning Star, The Recusant, Kenaz, The New Statesman, Other Poetry, Poetry Scotland, True Faith, Dream Catcher, Episteme, Northern Echo, Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Sand, North East History, North East Life, The Informer, StepAway, Northern Review, X magazine, Poetry Salzburg Review, Ash (Oxford University Poetry Society), The Cheviot, The Galway Review, Culture Matters.
Recent anthologies:
Golden Girl. Poems on Newcastle upon Tyne. Credo, Newcastle 2001.
The Seven Deadly Sins. University of Groningen 2002.
Mein Heimliches Auge Erotic Yearbook. Konkursbuch, Tuebingen 2002.
Red Sky At Night: Socialist Poetry. Five Leaves Publications, Nottingham 2003.
War On War. Sub, Breda, 2003.
Paging Doctor Jazz. Shoestring Press, Nottingham 2004.
Microphone On. Poetry from the White House Pub. White House Press, Limerick 2005.
Paint the Sky with Stars. Re-Invention UK, Rayne 2005.
Miracle and Clockwork. Other Poetry, Durham 2005.
North by North East. Iron Press, Cullercoats 2006.
Revival. White House Poetry, Limerick 2006, 2007 & 2009.
Both Sides of Hadrian’s Wall. Selkirk Lapwing Press, Selkirk 2006.
The Wilds. Ek Zuban, Middlesbrough 2007.
Two Rivers Meet. Poetry from the Shannon and the Tyne. Revival Press, Limerick 2008.
Kemmy’s Limerick Miscellany. Limerick Writers’ Centre 2009.
Fishing and Folk. Life and Dialect on the North Sea Coast. Northumbria University Press, Newcastle upon Tyne 2008.
Emergency Verse. Poetry in Defence of the Welfare State. Caparison, Brighton 2011.
The Robin Hood Book. Verse Versus Authority. Caparison, Brighton 2012.
Anthology for a River. Danu Press, Limerick 2012.
The Blue Max Review. Rebel Poetry. Fermoy, 2012.
View from Zollernblick. Regional Perspectives in Europe. Grace Note Publications, Ochteryre 2013.
How Am I Doing For Time? Five Years of Poems, Prose and Pints. Harrogate 2014.
The Spirit of Tolpuddle. Citizen 32, Manchester 2014.
Anent. Hamish Henderson: Essays, Poems, Interviews. Gracenote Publications, Ochtertyre 2015.
More Raw Material: Work Inspired by Alan Sillitoe. Lucifer Press, Nottingham 2015.
De grote dikke hobbyrockencyclopedie. Uitgevers Passage, Groningen, 2016.
Half Moon: Poems about Pubs. Otley Word Feast Press, Otley 2016.
1916-2016, An Anthology of Reactions. Limerick Writers’ Centre, 2016.
Voices from the Cave. Revival Press, Limerick, 2017.
Word Sharing: A Literary Anthology. Kulturamt, Tuebingen, 2017.
Bleeding Sketches. With The Whisky Priests. Whippet Records, Durham 1995.
Out to Sea. With The Ancient Mariners, Jim Mageean, Ann Sessoms. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2007.
Sound City. With Rick Taylor, Bruce Arthur, Pete Challoner, Ian Carr & Bob Fox. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2007.
The Elvis Diaries. With Jim Nunn. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2007.
The Poetry of Percussion. With Bruce Arthur. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2008.
Mad Martins. With Gary Miller. Whippet Records, Ferryhill 2017.
Sing a Song for Henshaw. With Chris Ormston. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2018.
The Pitman Poet from Percy Main:The Life & Times of Joseph Skipsey (1832-1903). North Tyneside People’s Centres 1991.

Further information: Northern Voices Community Projects, 35 Hillsden Road, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear NE25 9XF, England. Tel 0191 2529531. Email: k.armstrong643@btinternet.com