Fifty years of Northumberland memories on public view

 
Tom Temple with his cine camera under his arm Tom Temple pictured with his trusty cine camera under his arm

A lifetime's hobby of a Northumberland farmer has become a unique historical gift to the county of his birth.

Tom Temple ran the family farm near Morpeth but his love of the land was matched only by his passion for making films.

If it moved he would capture it on his cine camera.

In doing so he created a unique archive of daily life in the Northumberland market town.

His collection spanned five decades starting in the late 20's.

The many hours of film have been acquired and digitised for posterity by the county Archives Service.

I am one of the few privileged enough to have seen every frame he took.

I spent several very happy days at the Archives at Woodhorn Museum near Ashington watching 50 years of Northumberland life unfold as I researched the entire collection for our BBC Inside Out film.

A favourite moment has to be the cigarette smoking athlete in the Morpeth Olympics. The event used to be annual gathering of sporting hopefuls.

Tom captured the epic moment when a man leapt over the bar in the high jump and who stands up after his tumble with a fag end still pursed between his lips.

He surely deserved some kind of medal!

Community celebrations

The range of things caught on film is astounding.

The side-car racing at Druridge Bay and seriously dangerous water battles on the River Wansbeck in the Morpeth regatta would surely be banned today.

Morpeth's high street in the 1920's or 30's Morpeth's high street in the 1920's or 30's

It seems the whole town appears on film as they hold rallies, parades and community celebrations over the many decades.

There's every chance the scenes will bring back great memories of those days - you might even recognise yourself on film!

If so I'd love to hear from you - so please do email me at chrisjackson@bbc.co.uk

As a farmer, Tom naturally documented agricultural life.

For several generations the Temples grew crops as market gardeners and sold them in stalls in Newcastle.

To the modern viewer it dawns on you that it really wasn't that long ago that ploughs were being dragged up and down by horses, and trains were belching steam as they thundered by.

What struck me is just how many people you used to see working in the fields, whereas now you're lucky to see a lone farmer in his tractor.

Tom would probably be amazed at all the attention the fruits of his lifetime's hobby is now getting.

Start Quote

Morpeth Games

We are extremely lucky to have this collection”

End Quote Sue Wood County Archivist

His sons Clive and Geoff are thrilled the collection of cine-film is now has a prized place in Northumberland's historical records.

The boys were extras in many of Tom's films, notably when he made his own documentaries, such as following the Wansbeck from source to the sea.

He even made his own captions and edited them together as well as any modern professional.

He had an eye for cinema and even managed to blag a lift in a helicopter to film Warkworth from the air - at a time when there was only the one ancient bridge over the river Coquet.

These films are now available for the public to view at Woodhorn - although you're best making an appointment. You may be there quite a while!

In the meantime you can watch extracts from the archive films here:

The lifetime's hobby of a Northumberland farmer has become a unique historical gift to the county of his birth.

BBC Inside Out North East and Cumbria is broadcast on Monday, 14 January on BBC One at 19:30 GMT and nationwide on the iPlayer for seven days thereafter.

 
Chris Jackson Article written by Chris Jackson Chris Jackson Presenter, Inside Out, North East & Cumbria

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