Here in the North East we move amongst such richness of heritage and culture, that it’s easy to take such things for granted or pass them by without taking stock of the significance, not just locally but globally. And so it is with Dial Cottage in Killingworth; You could easily walk past this humble building and not realise that it was home to George Stephenson, one of the world’s foremost pioneers in engineering, who built the first working steam locomotive Blucher in its back yard which brought about a seismic shift in the world as it was then. If you closer, you will notice that above the door there is sundial, not just any sundial, but one that was designed and built by Robert and his son George in 1816.
To celebrate its 200 years anniversary, champions of North East heritage, Keith Armstrong and Peter Dixon of Northern Voices Community Projects have put together an exquisite book Follow the Sun, which gives a history of the sundial as well as words and pictures by local people. I have been honoured to contribute a poem, Passing Through, to the book, which also includes work from listenupnorth favourites Keith himself, Dave Alton, G.F. Philips, Robert Lonsdale, Noreen Rees and Steve Brown.
Thanks go to Keith and Peter for organising a fantastic launch at Dial Cottage with readings of stories and poetry (is there a collective noun for writers?) and music and lyrics especially composed by Gary Miller plus the Sawdust Jacks and Anne Sessoms on Northumbrian Pipes.
It was a joyful morning, catching up with old friends, making new ones and hearing their work. It was also very moving to read out your piece in the very room where George Stephenson lived and worked.
Follow the Sun is available through North Tyneside Libraries price £3.50
Dial Cottage is open today (Sunday 11th September) for Heritage Open Day. For details CLICK HERE