Unlocking Our Sound Heritage-highlights

What makes Tyneside so distinctive? An exhibition of ten clips taken from the regional Unlocking our Sound Heritage sound preservation project.

A reel to reel playerDiscovery Museum

Launched in 2017, Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH) is part of a national project led by the British Library and funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project’s purpose is to preserve and provide access to the nation’s sound collections by putting them online before they physically degrade or the play-back equipment is no longer available.

The project includes a huge variety of material covering a multitude of subjects and ranges from a single sound to people talking about an aspect of their lives.

One of ten regional partners, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums is the hub supporting the preservation of North-East England and Yorkshire sound collections. Here is a short selection of clips we have preserved during the project.

Making Waves: A Festival of Sound logoDiscovery Museum

To find a transcription of the spoken clips go to

For more information about the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project see https://twarchives.org.uk/unlocking-our-sound-heritage

Postcard showing Newcastle quayside. (1914) by TWCMS : 1999.1517Discovery Museum

Geordie Pride

We start with its people and those who delight in being called a Geordie. But how do you define a Geordie? This interviewee, speaking in 2000, thought it was anyone growing up in the lea of the River Tyne and its many distinctive bridges.

26 secs

The Tyne Bridge beginning to take shape, 2 February 1928 (1928) by TWAS : 3730/15/6Discovery Museum

Opening of the Tyne Bridge, 1928

One of those bridges is the world-famous Tyne Bridge, still for many the iconic symbol of Tyneside. Completed in February 1928, the bridge was officially opened by King George V on 10 October. This extract is taken from his speech.

1 min 06 secs
TWCMS : 2001.2820.1

Postcard showing coal being loaded onto a ship. by TWCMS : 2010.3519Discovery Museum

Coal Transportation

The region’s fame was closely associated with its heavy industries. Tyneside was noted for its shipbuilding, coal-mining and railway construction – industries that came together to ensure that the coal destined for other parts of the country or the world, reached the staithes and unloaded into the ships waiting below.

39 secs
Darlington Centre for Local Studies U400a

Pin badge worn by striking miners after the 1984-85 strikes. (1984) by TWCMS : 2009.2993Discovery Museum

Miner's Strikes, 1984

In the final decades of the twentieth century, the industrial strength of the region came under severe economic pressure. Threatened by a programme of pit closures, the miners went on strike. As the dispute raged on, local communities came together and showed typical Geordie determination to continue their support of the strike.

1 min 09 secs
TWCMS : 2002.172.1

Photograph showing factory workers during the First World War. (1914/1918) by TWCMS : K18078Discovery Museum


In times of hardship and adversity, Geordie women often played a leading role ensuring that life at home continued as best it could. During the First World War women took on the work normally carried out by men in Tyneside’s munition factories.

1 min 02 secs
TWCMS : 2000.6093.1

Postcard showing Cullercoats Bay in North Tyneside. (1973) by TWCMS : 1994.850.5Discovery Museum

Sounds of the Seaside

The saying goes that Geordies like to work hard and play hard, and there’s plenty of opportunities to do so in the region, especially on some of our amazing beaches. Miles of golden sands, plenty there for all to enjoy and a respite from the routine of daily life, particularly so during the heatwave of 1976.

33 secs
University of Sheffield Action Space Extended MS 426

Digital image showing a booth at The Hoppings funfair. (1980/1989) by TWCMS : 2017.269Discovery Museum

The Town Moor Festival, 1992

Geordies are famed for their love of a pint or too, but, of course, there are other forms of entertainment to be had. Maybe in June a visit to the annual Hoppings, Europe’s largest travelling fair, on Newcastle’s Town Moor. Here, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle declares the 1992 festival open, 110 years after the event was first held – as a temperance festival!

39 secs
TWAM Acc 3729

Newcastle United football shirt worn by Jackie Milburn 1951/52 season (1951 - 1952) by TWCMS : 1999.302Discovery Museum

FA Cup final 1951.

People in Tyneside are passionate about many things but perhaps there is one love which exceeds all others - a love of Newcastle United FC. The club’s alumni include many local heroes Jackie Milburn for one, scoring in Newcastle’s 2-0 victory over Blackpool FC.

25 secs
Darlington Centre for Local Studies U400a

Finish tape from the first Great North Run in 1981. (1981) by TWCMS : 2011.762Discovery Museum

Great North Run, 1990

1990 saw the 10th Great North Run from Newcastle to South Shields. The event’s success is not only due to Tynesiders’ love of sport but also because it appeals to their generous, cheerful and friendly nature, thousands of whom are prepared to pound the streets to raise money for their chosen charities.

1 min 14 secs
TWAM Acc 3729

Mount of Budgerigar 'Sparkie Williams'. by NEWHM : 2001.H152Discovery Museum

Sparkie the budgie

What of that wit or quirky sense of humour that Geordies are noted for? Racing pigeons we have heard of, but a talking budgie?? Sparkie Williams (1954 -1962), trained by Newcastle owner, Mrs Mattie Williams, fronted bird seed campaigns and was the inspiration for an opera.

28 secs
NEWHM : 2007.H79

Credits: Story


Unlocking Our Sound Heritage-Highlights is part of Making Waves: A Festival of Sound, which runs from 20 September 2021 to 27 March 2022.

You can find out more about Making Waves by going to https://discoverymuseum.org.uk/whats-on/making-waves-a-festival-of-sound

You can find out more about the Unlocking our Sound Heritage Project by going to https://www.bl.uk/projects/tyne-and-wear-archives-and-museums-unlocking-our-sound-heritage

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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