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North Northumberland Spinners (1982-present day)

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Spinning along since 1982

The longest continually running group to use the Breamish Hall is the Hedgeley Women’s Institute – which was established in 1930. The second longest continuous use of the Breamish Hall by a group is the North Northumberland Spinners.

In 1982, Margaret Thompson of Chillingham Barns attended a 6-week spinning class run by Mary Rose Congall at Kirkley Hall a campus of Northumberland College offering land-based, animal and outdoor courses.

After completing the course, Margaret invited some friends round to her house to show them what she had learned.  The group were so enthusiastic that they decided to start an informal spinning group, meeting at Margaret’s house. Through word-of-mouth, their numbers soon swelled, and they required more space – so they decided to hire the Breamish Village Hall. This founding group met on the first Monday of each month and soon had an average of 19 people attending.

Ten years later the group had grown to around 60 members, ranging in age from 12-90 years.

Photo of a group of women spinning wool in a village hall
Some of the 60 members spinning in the Breamish Hall 1991 [Ref: BVPC0477]
Photo of three women rug making in village hall
Rug making May 1999 (L-R: Nora Randall, Meg Thompson, Frances Holmes) [Ref: BVPC0475]

By 2016, the group – now known as the North Northumberland Spinners – was meeting twice each month on the first and third Mondays.

Photo of 5 women spinning wool in a village hall
Spinning in Breamish Hall c. 2016 [Ref: BVPC0467]

Spinners came from the very north of Northumberland and from North Tyneside and the group was starting to attract younger members. Members were regularly attending local shows, such as the Powburn Show, and staging spinning exhibitions for all ages, including children.

Photo of two people spinning wool with a boy watching
Exhibiting at the Powburn Show 2017 [Ref: BVPC0500]

Today (July 2022) North Northumberland Spinners is a multi-craft group, using different types of spinning wheels. Members will often knit articles from the wool they have spun. The group continues to be a community venture, with a local farmer providing first clipping fleeces.

It is very therapeutic and relaxing.

Margaret Murray (spinner since 1979)

The group has continued with the informal and social aspects that were so much a part of the founding members’ ethos in 1982. Free tea, coffee and biscuits are served, and spinners often take a packed lunch to sit and eat together.

Free tuition

North Northumberland Spinners offer free tuition to anyone interested in trying spinning. It is also possible to hire a spinning wheel.


NB: Dates in (brackets) indicate the year when the images were first shared with either the Breamish Valley Photographic Collection or the Breamish Hall Heritage Project and, therefore, the date when permission to use the images was granted.

  • Header image: BVPC0499: Graham Williamson personal collection (2021)
  • BVPC0477: North Northumberland Spinners’ archive (2022)
  • BVPC0475: North Northumberland Spinners’ archive (2022)
  • BVPC0467: May Wilson personal collection (2022)
  • BVPC0500: Graham Williamson personal collection (2021)

Further information

Photo of two spinning wheels with words 'North Northumberland Spinners'

Can you help?

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