Memories - The Northern Echo

The Northern Echo

MEMORIES in The Northern Echo is an institution. It is a 12-page supplement that appears on a Saturday, the paper’s best-selling day, and it has just published its 600th edition.

It is about far more than just nostalgia – although it is dripping in that, as can be seen from the three sample editions which include features on old buses, lost cinemas and falling in love at a recently demolished bowling alley. Memories is also very up-to-date, connecting with the news agenda of the day, be it the war in Ukraine or, to coincide with the Lionesses’ triumph in the European Championship, the pioneering women footballers of yesteryear. This story, with amazing pictures from a newly rediscovered scrapbook, was the result of years of research. It resulted in several follow-ups as more footballing families came forward, and it was picked up by local BBC television. Memories’ platinum jubilee edition again shows the phenomenal reader interaction and involvement with so many readers sending in their personal royal memorabilia. That edition also features a story told for the first time about the day in 1960 the Queen visited a new town and met the first baby to be born in the town. The Queen’s visit was obviously well known, but it was only when Chris Lloyd, who writes and compiles Memories, was out giving one of his local history talks in a village hall that the first baby introduced herself with the words: “I think you’ve been looking for me.” She’d been aware she’d been mentioned in previous stories, but was too modest to come forward until she made a personal connection. The talks are all part of the Memories brand – Chris has to limit his outings to two a week as there is a supplement to produce – and as well as making it onto the telly, Memories has a popular weekly 20-minute slot on local BBC radio in which Chris gives a taste of the stories in the weekend’s edition. Memories also encourages people to get involved – a piece to promote an open garden which featured a town’s tallest tree inspired more than twice as many people to visit as had in previous years, raising more than £2,000 for charity. Indeed, as one of the submitted supplements shows, a reader was inspired by an article to trek into the wilds of the upper dales in search of a ruined pencil mill. Online, Memories is behind a paywall, but its stories still often top the most read charts at the weekend. Readers genuinely love the supplement, not just for the nostalgia it evokes, but also because it chronicles stories before they are lost. It adds to the community’s sense of place and identity, and it contributes to local pride. And it is a darned good read: how could you fail to be interested in the world’s only professional dart spitter?