Past comes alive at Washington history festival

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BAIRNS and banners came together to launch an annual community festival in Washington.

A parade of colourful colliery and school banners marked the start of the fourth annual Washington Heritage and Community Festival on Saturday.

Washington Heritage Festival 2013 - the mayor of Sunderland Coun. Robert Heron (third left) talking to World War One re-enactors. Coun Bernie Scaplehorn  (right)

Washington Heritage Festival 2013 - the mayor of Sunderland Coun. Robert Heron (third left) talking to World War One re-enactors. Coun Bernie Scaplehorn (right)

Led by the resounding tones of Murton Brass Band, the arrival of the procession at Albany Park heralded the start of the fourth annual event.

Visitors had the chance to find out more about the town’s past, with an exhibition by Washington History Society.

Chairman Geoff Nicholson said the display of photos from as far back as the 1800s always pulled in a crowd.

“It’s been fantastic. We always have a lot of photographs on display and that gets a lot of people looking at it,” he said.

“A lot of them are more recent and especially the older people like it, as it jogs their memories.”

Nearby F-Pit Museum offered guided tours and the community’s coalmining heritage was celebrated through a display of miners’ banners representing Glebe, Usworth, Washington F Pit, Springwell and Harraton Collieries.

Traditional entertainment was also on offer, with an old-fashioned Punch and Judy show for little ones to enjoy.

Captivated by the puppets was Bethan Jones, four, with mum Simone, 25, from Moorway, in Albany.

The full-time mum-of-two said: “She was a bit little last year, but this year she’s really enjoyed it.

“We’ve done some colouring in and she’s had a go on the slide. It’s nice that there’s something here for the bairns.”

As well as delving into the past, crowds enjoyed more up-to-date entertainment, with Washington band Fiction belting out a selection of rock covers, including Jimi Hendrix’s classic, Purple Haze.

TNT street dance group also had onlookers enthralled with their colourful costumes.

There was a trip down the catwalks of time with a period costume fashion show, as well as a performance from Washington Theatre Group, children’s rides and free activities.

Councillor Bernie Scaplehorn, chairman of the Washington Area Committee, said: “The Washington Heritage and Community Festival is a truly family event, with children at the heart of the celebrations.

“We want to provide the younger members of our community with the chance to learn more about the magnificent history and tradition of the area and feel part of it.

“It’s also a chance for the older ones to remember their part in this shared history but, perhaps most importantly, for everyone to enjoy themselves and we hope everyone will come along to take part.”

Pleasant weather meant a host of outdoor activities also took place, including thrilling aerial displays from birds of prey and a chance for kids to be happily imprisoned, having a kick-about in a football cage.