Belford’s dissenting history is revealed
A RECENTLY restored 200-year-old church clock was the focus of attention at the launch of Belford’s Dissenting Histories project.
The clock had not been working for some years but was repaired and cleaned for its bicentenary and was the subject of a new play performed by the Belford Players to mark the occasion.
Rev Dave Herbert said: “The focus of the launch of the project is the celebration of the 200-year-old church clock mounted in the gallery of Erskine United Reformed Church in Belford.
“Thomas Tait made the clock in Belford village. The clock had not been working for some years, but in its bicentennial year it has been cleaned and repaired and is working perfectly once more.”
Tait was a clockmaker in Belford who also wrote a published romantic poem on the history of Bamburgh Castle. He was also a member of the Erskine Presbyterian Church, now United Reformed Church.
The launch of the project took place in the Ferguson Hall on Nursery Lane with live music from the band ‘Reflections’. As a backdrop for the evening, photographs of events and people at the Ferguson Hall and Erskine Church from the 1950s onwards were displayed on the overhead screen, provided by Belford Cinema, a regular in the village’s entertainment programme.
The following night, beneath the old church clock, the Belford Players performed their new play, ‘Marking Time’, especially written for the clock’s bicentenary.
The excellent play focused on Thomas Tait, the clock, and the commissioning of the clock when Rev John Thompson, a larger than life character, was the resident minister at Erskine.
Mr Herbert, the current minister, reflected: “It was a great weekend, so much of a community’s heritage can be explored through the long and interesting histories of the people and events surrounding this community’s local church.”
The history project focuses upon individuals since the 16th century who have stood up and made a difference, not only in Belford, but the world.
In the United Kingdom, many of our churches are known as Dissenting, Non-conformist or Protestant. All this means is that they stood up against the existing church, either Catholic or Church of England.
The early Dissenting churches appeared in Northumberland during the 16th century, meeting in barns or in private homes. The successors of these early dissenters are United Reformed Churches, Methodist and Baptist Churches.
Mr Herbert said: “This is just the beginning of a year-long exploration of people connected with our church and tradition in the area, starting from Grizel Cochrane, an early dissenting heroine, who held up a horse-drawn carriage north of Belford to save her father’s life in 1685.”
Others featured are Ebenezer Erskine, radical Presbyterian trailblazer, son of a Cornhill vicar who was imprisoned and the late Rev Professor John Hick, one of the ministers of the church during the 1950s who was put on trial for heresy in America. John Knox’s link with the area will also be explored.
Mr Herbert said: “We are grateful for the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund which will help our community to unlock their stories and provide fresh material to display and archive for years to come.”
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Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
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