13-14-15th JUNE 2014 



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 Hi Folks,

Well the last Brownrigg Reunion has come and gone and possibly the last Happy Hiker has been printed—- sadly the end of an era.

For those who didn’t make it this time, I thought I would write down some details of the weekend —- so here goes.

 I arrived at the campsite on the Thursday evening to settle in early with a glass of wine and viewed a bit of football on the telly.  


The weekend started with a what was to be a barbecue at the Demesne Camp Site on Friday night. But due to a well planned mix up, the girls and others had provided a delicious pooled supper  and of course for those who wanted to barbecue still could, and did.  So even better, we had 2 suppers for the price of 1.

However, nothing worse than the smell of a barbecue when you are not partaking and I had to suffer the smells. (continued below photos)---



 reunion 1820140613_200908


We had music from the 40s/50s/60s/70s/80s something for everyone. I have to say I most enjoyed the hits from the forties and will spend some time  listening to these again.

One hit of 1947, ”Hugging and a Chalking” is worth a listen to !!!  I don’t think they could have produced and played it these days.

Plenty of wine and ale flowed and of course talking; but rekindling friendships was the the main course for the evening.  Some regulars to the reunion were missing, but there was still a fairly widespread sprinkling of age groups.

I wish I’d had more time to talk to local lad from Redesmouth, Jamie Bell, who was there with his little son.  Jamie, was at Brownrigg until it closed in 1985. I really need to get his memories of those last years.

Pat, Terry, Dorothy and Brenda were staying at the Demesne bunkhouse, so didn’t have far to stagger to get to bed. 

Apparently one of them (can’t name them on pain of death) had the windows rattling with her snoring and was still snoring in the morning.  The only way the others get any sleep was to stuff their ears with tissue.

Funnily, (maybe not), the one who snores never knows anything about it!

Later, as usual the midges attacked, and thankfully the evening drew to a close.



Saturday really started with a second barbecue at the Demesne Campsite, and more Brownriggers began to arrive and renew friendships.

After the barbecue ended, I decided that I wanted to remember the old school as it was, rather than see it as it is now.  So Rosie and I took the dogs and walked up the Lynn to the waterfall, not much changes here, as a good flow of water tumbled over the falls and the dogs went in for a swim.

The school area was opened for 2 hours from 2pm to 4pm, and  good number of ex pupils used this time slot to visit including Christine Burden who now lives in Beroun.  Christine met up with Helen Congelton, Christine Churchill and Sylvia Hudson.

I took with me a letter from Jack Dawson (ex Ashington) 1953 era, who was unable to attend.  Jacks contact details are updated and in the "Guestbook" section.

Later that evening was to be the "Saturday Night Fling" in the Town Hall.  As usual it was a great evening with plenty of people there entertained by a comedian/singer, and a female singer as well. 

I particularly liked the story Pat related, as she told me that she had booked the acts.  She had just met the comedian for the first time as he entered the hall, never having seen his act before.  He then informed her that he normally just did STAG evenings for the army !!!!  (I would loved to have seen Pats face).  Anyway he did say he would have to tone down his act a bit and I THINK he did.

It did of course turn out to be a great evening.



Sunday morning saw another Brownrigg traditional event organised, the only bit that was missing was the pre-church parade or inspection.

This year, the Sunday Morning Service was organised to be held in St Cuthberts Church.

The pews were packed out to almost overflowing with Brownriggers and the service was led by Sydney Graham.

 Reunion 2014 Church

Above--just starting to fill up  



St Cuthberts, showing part of the roof which Brownriggers donated £1,000 for repairs,

Some of the old faithful hymns were sung out as best that could by the congregation.

I say as best, (a little bug of mine), because organists the world over always play in a key that most sopranos would find hard to hit.  I suppose that makes it a normal service?

Some of the old favourite Hymns were sung.   All Things Bright and Beautiful, O for a thousand tongues, Love Divine, Be thou my vision, Through all the changing scenes of life, How great thou art, and ending with Jerusalem.

A lovely flower arrangement  had been made for the occasion (see the photos), and also a special BRS wreath was taken to the front of the church during the service.  This wreath was to be later placed on the graves of Mr Mrs Wash, a fitting end to the weekends activities.


Please take a look at the marvellous piece of needlework tapestry,  I believe produced by Anne Parry.  Elegantly displayed and toasted by Syd and Ed.

Reunion 2014 Syd Ed


Soft drinks,tea and wine with canapés had been provided, I think by the church, at the end of the service to allow people to mingle.


A few of us later met for lunch (see photos) at the Riverside Hotel, overlooking the cricket ground and River North Tyne, and so an era draws to a close?

I hope not ------we wait to see.



A big thanks to all those who have turned up at these events over the years especially those who have travelled from afar and there are many of you from all over the world.


A special thanks to those who have done so much organising over the years to make these events memorable and welcoming.  It’s a lot easier to say thank’s than to imagine the amount of work that went on over so many years.


Another special thank’s to Eddie Graham who produced the Happy Hiker, again for so many years a long marathon almost a saga,  it probably has had a longer run than some newspapers! 


Best Wishes,


Eddie Yarrow (Spuggy)

 Reunion 2014 GroupReunion Wreath


More reports/photos/stories to follow  ? and maybe a bit of video?

If you want anything published please send it in to me 





Friday 13th June

The “Welcome Party” at Demesne Farm will now include a Barbecue, we have some new gas powered barbies so bring your grub along and cook it in style. Lots of good music, a free glass of wine, a great way to get the weekend off to a fantastic start.


Saturday 14th June

Spend the morning browsing round Bellingham, look up all those old haunts, the “Wishing Well” is still there, the little gun still guards the Town Hall, the Long pack is still in the churchyard, so why not take a stroll around and see what you remember.  Brown Rigg itself, both ends, will be open from 2:00pm, so do come along and see the old place one more time, we will have a great photograph display, plus lots of albums for you to browse through, you’re bound to see someone you recognise !!!


In the evening we have a great night of entertainment lined up for you in Bellingham Town Hall so come along and join the fun, sing and dance the night away, cheap bar so you won’t go thirsty !


Sunday 15th June


Our unique Brown Rigg Songs of Praise in St. Cuthberts Church,, starting at 11:00am. Run by Brown Riggers, for Brown Riggers, it’s always a very moving and emotional event.




If anyone is struggling to find accommodation, do please get in touch, we will do our utmost to find you somewhere to stay, there’s always “Room at the Inn”.







 May 23rd

Hi Folks,

RE : Brown Rigg Reunion

An article on the reunion should appear in the Chronicle on Tuesday, please keep a look out for it.

There is a report on page 6 of this weeks Hexham Courant, not a  big one but a report nonetheless, although they don’t seem inclined to use the photographs I sent.

If anyone has access to the Berwick Advertiser, Northumberland gazette or Morpeth Herald, please keep a look out, I have submitted articles to all of them but don’t know if they were published.

Best Regards,

Eddie Graham


It’s all systems go for this years Reunion and all the indications are that it is going to be a bumper year with lots of people signalling their intention to be in Bellingham to join in the fun and game sand meet up with old pals once again. The programme is pretty well sorted out, we have access to both ends of Brown Rigg for the first time, there is a full and expanded display of photographs to go on display and we have some great entertainment for you to enjoy at the Saturday evening party.




Don’t miss the welcome party at Demesne Farm on the Friday evening, bring a bottle or a couple of cans and get the weekend off to a great start. Everybody welcome, some great music on the go, you can dance if you want!!




The barbeque at Brown Rigg on the Saturday lunchtime is a BYO affair, we’ll supply the barbies, you can cremate your own grub.




Tickets will be on sale throughout Friday evening and Saturday for the evening party in Bellingham Town Hall, don’t miss it, it’s always a riot.




ACCOMMODATION : The hotels and guest houses in Bellingham have been posting the “House Full” notices for some time but we always manage to get folk in somewhere. If you are having difficulty finding a place to stay, do let us know, we are here to help.




PHONE A FRIEND :  Maybe you know someone who hasn’t yet experienced the great atmosphere of a Brown Rigg Reunion, or maybe they just haven’t heard about it. If you are in touch with any Brown Riggers, give them a call and invite them along, everybody is welcome.




Eddie Graham




Brown Rigg Reunion Society.




2014 Reunion   13th /14th /15th June 




Committee Meeting 11. 03. 2014




Committee Meeting held at Ridley Arms, Stannington, members present :


Pat Batey, Terry Dodd, Dorothy Hankin, Syd Graham, Eddie Yarrow, Eddie Graham






A general discussion took place on the format for the 2014 Reunion and it was agree that the focus should be on Brown Rigg, with a more action packed programme, dispensing with the Friday evening BBQ but, instead, having a “Welcome Party” at Demesne Farm.  Guests would be invited to bring some grub for a pooled supper and their own drink. Eddy Yarrow will source music, also try and obtain projector to show slides of BRS photos.






There is now extra accommodation at the Bunkhouse and the lounge is considerably larger Boys & Girls may have to sleep separately. Spare beds at present.




A possible programme would be :




Friday : Informal drinks, get together , Welcome Party.




Saturday : Possible exhibition at Brown Rigg, possible barbecue at lunchtime, top end only open 2:00 to 4:00pm, will need somewhere to park as caravan site will be busy, contact Peter Loyd to check out availability of field, site proprietors looking for photographs. Pat, Terry & Dorothy to visit and liase. Eddie to contact Peter Loyd.




Sunday : Syd had been to visit the Vicar and has secured St. Cuthberts for the Sunday service, we will need to print hymn sheets. Speakers invited to take part. Possible tea in Rede Hall afterwards, glass of sherry as well !!! Collection goes to St. Cuthberts.




Financial : We have approximately £890 in the kitty, Eddie reported that Happy Hiker subscriptions were decreasing while postage charges were rising. Need to watch financial outlay very closely.




Happy Hiker As above, readership decreasing, younger Brown Riggers not interested either in subscribing or submitting articles. Publication will cease after 2014 Reunion. Best to concentrate on website and social media. EY suggested archiving Happy Hikers and putting them digitally on the website.






Dorothy said there were still some BRS ties to sell, suggest these may be sold at reunion


Debate about the Brown Rigg Book, are there any left ??


Eddie will send Happy Hikers to Gordon Robson.


Agreed to hold a formal lunch for committee after church (and get pxxxxd !!!)




Next meeting will be as required.




Committee Meeting 16. 11. 2013.


Committee Meeting held at Ridley Arms, Stannington, members present :

Pat Batey, Terry Dodd, Dorothy Hankin, Syd Graham, Eddie.

A general discussion took place on the format for the 2014 Reunion and it was agree that the focus should be , if at all possible, on Brown Rigg, with a shorter, more action packed programme, dispensing with the Friday evening activities. It was also agreed that this would be the final reunion to be organized by the present committee.

A delegation will visit Brown Rigg early December with a view to discussing with the owners of both parts of the site, the feasibility of basing the Reunion at Brown Rigg and centreing all the activities there.


A possible programme would be :


Friday : Informal drinks, get together somewhere in Bellingham, nothing organized


Saturday : Possible exhibition at Brown Rigg, barbecue at lunchtime, possible to hold evening entertainment in assembly hall or caravan site’s social centre. Eddie stressed we need a “Plan B” in case this does not materialize.


Financial : We have approximately £1000 in the kitty, Eddie reported that Happy Hiker subscriptions were decreasing while postage charges were rising. Need to watch financial outlay very closely.


Happy Hiker As above, readership decreasing, younger Brown Riggers not interested either in subscribing or submitting articles. Publication will cease after 2014 Reunion.


Church Service Syd said he was happy to discuss holding this at St. Cuthberts but that in 2012 the Vicar had been “Difficult” It was felt the best approach would be to a member of the Parochial Church Council. Syd said he wanted the committee to be part of the service in recognition of many years of hard work.


Agreed to hold a formal lunch for committee after church .


Next meeting will be in January 2014.



Edward Graham 19 May 18:34
Was up at Bellingham yesterday, somebody's dug a big hole in the main street, hope it's filled in by June 8th !!!!!! Called up at Brownrigg , the place is looking mint, Morag & Richard have done a fantastic job on the place. We will have a display in the Assembly Hall and will be showing the movie shot on location at Brownrigg, "Stalag Luft" on a giant screen. Found a couple of places if anyone is looking for accomodation, PM me for details. Not long now, hope the weather picks up !!!!!!

Brown Rigg Reunion

June 8th-9th-10th

FridayMeet at the Demesne Camp site and bunk house for a Bring your own food BBQ.

BBQ’s will be heated and ready to use.

Music will be supplied by your very own Brownrigger Eddie Yarrow, and his group "LONGTIME GONE"

Saturday. The Bunk House is open all day.

Take a walk to the Heritage Centre and see the wonderful permanent Brown Rigg display, now housed in the railway carriage in the station yard.

The top end of Brown Rigg will be open to visitors from 2 until 4 only. Syd and Eddie will be there to meet and greet you. Go have a look around, but please do not overdo the welcome.

We have two great entertainers for you at night in the town hall:- Brenda Collins, a wonderful comedienne and Brodie Michael who will sing for us. Tickets ONLY £5.00



The Brown Rigg Church Service



Readings by Brownriggers. Rousing Hymns

Collection from us for the MURC

Tea/coffee and social get together

Afterwards in The Bunk House




BRS Reunion committee meeting

Ridley Arms, Stannington

Thursday 19th April 2012

Present. Eddie Yarrow, Syd Graham, Dorothy Hankin, Terry Dodd, Pat Batey

Bank Balance £1262.97

Friday, Pat contacted Iben from Riverdale, who promised to look out for the BBQ’s and let her know if they were there and we can have them. Terry said she will try to get one from a contact and Eddie Yarrow also said he could probably source one too. PB & TD to get charcoal. The marquee is OK; two gazebos are to be arranged by PB & TD Entertainment will be supplied by Eddie Yarrow and his ensemble “Long Time Gone” Electric extensions to be supplied by PB TD and Eddie Y. Dorothy suggested we pay EY but he was willing enough to have his camp site fees only. EY will put a poster of the weekend events onto the web 

Saturday….Brown Rigg will be open from 2-4. Syd and Eddie Graham to organise that. PB stated that she was not willing to do a stint there, but was on duty at the Bunk House and the Heritage Centre.SG suggested a hike/walk up the Linn in the morning. Left to be sorted on the day, weather and demand permitting.

Evening. Entertainment booked. Hall Booked. Bar Booked. Cleaner booked. Hall cost to be confirmed by PB. . Tickets SG to arrange. £5.00 each.  Cost of the hall to be confirmed by PB.

Sunday.  Church service at the MURC. SG handed out the service sheets to be perused. Boiler and teapots to be confirmed PB.

Heritage Centre. SG had suggested to Dr Ian Roberts that they could maybe do with another display cabinet, but this was refused on the grounds that there was not enough room to house one. EY suggested we supply 2 basic computers to display the BRS photos. A computer, costing around £100.00. SG said he had one at home we could have the loan of. This was agreed and EY and PB would get together ASAP to scan the photos and try to get them ready for the reunion. EY said he was going to contact Woodhorn to ask them if they would supply us with copies of any BRS material, seeing as it is Bellingham HC who needs to display it. WE all agreed that the opening event was excellent, and the BRS display wonderful. Photographs have been donated from the filming of ‘Stalag Luft’ via Julie Wilson and PB, also autographs of the actors who took part. David Walmsley (HC) has these scanned and a display board designed ready for copy.  PB has written to Stephen Fry and awaiting a reply, with baited breath, hoping he will give us some memories of his time filming at “our beloved school” 

Cheque. A cheque was made out for the 2nd instalment (£500) of the £1000-00 we said we would give to the Heritage Centre. PB will deliver. (DONE)