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Good Friday Marching

Good Friday March image

There are very few records about the Good Friday Procession of Witness in North Shields, despite the fact that it’s an annual event which, in its heyday, was quite spectacular and involved huge numbers of people.

The event focussed around Northumberland Square as either a start or finish point.  We know that, in the 1960s, around 2,000 children would take part in the march before returning to their own churches to receive an orange as a gift.  The significance of the event to the area was underlined by the fact that the groups assembled in Northumberland Square would be addressed by civic dignitaries and the local MP before heading off on their procession of witness. This makes it all the more surprising that so few records of the event exist.

As part of our ongoing involvement in the North Shields Heritage Action Zone project, we decided to address this lack of information by capturing the memories of people who actually took part in these marches either as children or adults.  It has been a really interesting and enjoyable project to work on and we hope you enjoy reading their stories.

This video is a rare record of the Procession of witness from the 1960s. We are indebted to the family of Andrew Dunn for allowing us to use this video and to hold it in our archive as a valuable record of this major event.

The variety of organisations which took part in the event is shown here from Sunday Schools to the Salvation Army and from Girl Guides to the Boys Brigade. It shows how it was enjoyed by everyone taking part and how it was well supported by the residents who turned out in large numbers to watch it go by.

Browse our Good Friday Marching memories below. We will be adding more memories as we collect them. If you have a memory of marching on a Good Friday that you would like to share, then please get in touch with us via our Contact Us page.

Boys Brigade on Good Friday March

Marching with the Boys Brigade

Gilbert Hugman

Good Friday Marching with the Cubs and Boys Brigade

I’m Gilbert Hugman, I’m 74, I was born in Tynemouth at my granny’s house, but I was brought up in North Shields in West Chirton. It was during my time at Collingwood School that someone told me that the new church on Verne Road opposite the Nautilus had Scouts as well as Cubs so quite a few of us decided we wanted to go along and join the Cubs. We went into this place, and I can even remember the smell of it, the varnish on the parquet floor, it was that new. It couldn’t have been many weeks we’d actually been going when it was coming up to Easter time.

Brownies on Good Friday March

Brownies on Good Friday

Hazel Shields and Jean Hillaby

Good Friday Marching with Cullercoats Methodist Church

I used to take the Brownies, the Brownie Pack was from Cullercoats Methodist Church, they were the 4th Brownie Pack. We used to get a bus from the Cullercoats Church and that had the Sunday School and all the uniform organisations in and we would arrive at the North Shields Square, we had places to go to and we used to stand there.

Children in their new Easter clothes

Children in their new Easter clothes

Pam Sanders

Good Friday Marching with Sunday School

I’m going back to probably the late 1950s early 1960s. I went to Sunday school at Wesley Methodist Church on Coach Lane in North Shields and although I was also a member of the Brownies I don’t ever remember marching with the Brownies. I think it was the Sunday School because a massive part of Good Friday in North Shields at that time was marching in your new clothes and although it was the Procession of Witness, it was always referred to just as Good Friday marching, and it was something we really looked forward to.

Good Friday Marching 1972

Easter Parade, Good Friday, 31st March 1972. North Shields

Trudi Thompson

Marching as a Family

I started very young because my mum marched all her life and she’d been the Brown Owl for Howard Street Baptist Brownies. It’s just always been something that we did on a Good Friday.

Good Friday Marching

Good Friday Marching

Joan Purves

Good Friday Marching with Stephenson Street Congregational Church

I was part of what was Marden Congregational Church and they met in Monkhouse School for quite a few years and then we went to Stephenson Street Congregational Church in North Shields and we started the marches from there.

Memories of Good Friday marching from our earlier collections.