A thoroughly enjoyable experience yesterday, filming with the Songs of Praise team for their feature on Norman which is scheduled for Sunday May 14th. Garry Boon, the producer, and the rest of the team were delighted by the way things worked out and very appreciative of the contributions made our committee members.
The main interview took place on the Ironworks site where Pam Rhodes asked me about a wide range of topics from the way the location has changed over the decades to NN's faith to aspects of his poetry.
Next stop was the church where our committee members Peggy Troll, Dot Richardson and Society member Barbara Andrews conjured up hot drinks to complement a cake brought by Peggy. The Rev Clive Shaw was also there to greet the SoP team. I think it is so good that, through NN, the church will have its moment on Songs of Praise.
The camera crew got a number of shots inside the church, plus Nicholson's gravestone outside. They then recorded me (voice only) reading four poems: Windscale, Clouded Hills, Nobbut God and Sea to the West. It'll be interesting to see which (if any!) make it through the edit.
Next stop was No 14 where Pam did a piece-to-camera outside and lunch was taken, paid for by the BBC (that's six customers added to the cafe's takings thanks to NN). At that point Garry declared himself satisfied with the interviews etc, and (not for the only time) expressed regret that he wouldn't have more time in the final programme for the NN feature.
Our committee member Sue Dawson then took over as guide, taking the crew to various locations to pick up general views, including the Whicham Valley, and Silecroft.
This was a great experience and a terrific effort by our committee in terms of laising with the BBC team, and now we can look forward to the programme on May 14th.
I had another call from the 'Songs of Praise' team and they have indeed decided to go ahead and film a segment for the show about Nicholson in Millom. Locations will include the site of the ironworks and No 14 St George's Terrace, so that is rich endorsement of the significance of the house. Filming is scheduled for Friday.
It's been a hectic week for several of our committee members this week, led by Sue Dawson who's been doing a fantastic ambassadorial job on behalf of the Society. On Monday a group of 17 students from the University of Nottingham visited Millom as part of a field trip to Cumbria where they were looking at the way landscape influences literature. Their tutor, Kiri Langmead, was in touch with us throughout her planning of the trip and met up with Sue a few weeks ago. On Monday the visit took place as reported on our Home page, and today Kiri brought another group of 13. Antoinette Fawcett, Glenn Lang, Peggy Troll and Dot Richardson all added their expertise to ensure the students had a thoroughly rewarding and eye-opening time.
Meanwhile yesterday Sue, accompanied by Dot Richardson and Society member and church organist Barbara Andrews, met the producer and his researcher from the BBC's 'Songs of Praise' programme who are keen on filming a segment about Nicholson for an upcoming programme. They had lunch at the cafe in Norman's old home and visited the Whicham Valley, Silecroft, Haverigg, Hodbarrow, the Ironworks site, and St George's Church.
So interest in Nicholson is evident from two very different directions. Not only that, there have been tangible benefits to the town. The university is going to make donations to the church, the Discovery Centre and to our Society, and the 'Songs of Praise' team will also be making a donation to the Society - plus, the cafe had a few extra people buying lunch yesterday and the students took the opportunity to spend some money in the town. If we are successful in buying and developing Number 14, we would expect to see a lot more of this sort of thing.
Received an interesting phone call today - BBC TV's 'Songs of Praise' programme is thinking of filming a piece about Norman Nicholson for an upcoming programme. This may include an interview with myself, and where do they want to record it? At the house of course, No 14 St George's Terrace - yet more evidence that this building is a magnet for all with an interest in a poet who had a sharply defined sense of place.
Brilliant report in today's NW Evening Mail. It's very pleasing to see the area's premier paper covering our project in such detail. Big thanks to Natalie for the story and Leanne for the pictures. The publicity generated by our launch event has already yielded one very unexpected but welcome result as the former BBC Radio Carlisle and Radio Cumbria presenter Nigel Holmes has given us detailed information about a cache of Nicholson audio recordings held in the BBC archive. Needless to say, we are following that up.
It was a beautiful day in Millom yesterday. Blue skies, bright sunshine, and wonderfully clear air which seemed to portray everything in a sharper light than usual. Scafell Pike and the Old Man were covered in snow and Black Combe was at his grizzled best, streaks of thinning snow scraped across his forehead as if his flat cap had just been blown off. Inside St George's Church it was warm and welcoming, as we launched our project to an audience of individual members of the public, Society members, and representatives of Millom Council, Copeland Council, the NW Evening Mail and Cumbria Libraries. We also had two published poets in attendance - Martyn Halsall, former Poet in residence at Carlisle Cathedral (and once a trainee reporter on the same weekly paper as your blogger), and Philip Houghton, one of our project's patrons. Phil made a wonderful contribution by reading his own poem 'Echoes' which neatly turns on its head Nicholson's famous poem 'Scafell Pike', looking back from Scafell to Millom instead of the other way about, neatly rearranging Nicholson's own imagery and phraseology. The object of the exercise was to get out the word about our ambitions for the house and our progress thus far. I think we did that, while at the same time we made some useful contacts for the future. Away from the church, we had terrific coverage on BBC Radio Cumbria on the breakfast show, news bulletins and social media, plus news coverage on The Bay so our project team is very happy with how the event worked out.
It's been a busy day, getting things ready for our launch in Millom tomorrow and also liaising with BBC Radio Cumbria over their coverage tomorrow. It's wonderful to feel the enthusiasm that they have for this story and it looks like we are going to be featured twice in the Breakfast show, have a presence in their social media posts, and have another live interview on Sunday! In the meantime The Bay radio station has given us a great spread on their own website and they've also promised to give our launch some coverage in news bulletins tomorrow.
It's been a busy few days, making arrangements for the public launch of our project next Thursday, and sending out press releases etc. Very pleased to see the enthusiastic response of the NW Evening Mail who very quickly ran the story prominently - if you didn't catch it at the time, it's here. We've also just received the detailed quote and documentation from our chosen architect Mike Darwell of John Coward Architects, Cartmel, and that was another exciting moment - it makes everything that bit more real, and to have someone with the expertise and the contacts of Mike on board is a major plus.
A very useful day yesterday. I went to Mytholmroyd in W Yorkshire to meet Sheila Wild, chair of the Elmet Trust, which runs the Ted Hughes house. It was so valuable to tap into another society's experience. Many of the issues which the Elmet Trust face struck a chord, but there are also a number of differences, not least that the Hughes house (where the poet was born and lived for seven years) is owned by Calderdale Council and leased to the Trust. It operates a B&B business so you can book a stay via the Trust's agents, Cottages4You.
Not only did the programme present a reading of 'Sea to the West,' Roger McGough mentioned our plan to buy the house and wished us luck! Great to hear that!
Charlie Lambert, chair of the Norman Nicholson Society