Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Middlesbrough Writers Group c 1962 -1990


Formed c1962 - As with Poetry 20+, this was one of the earliest writers groups in the modern period and one of the longest running. I haven't got an official start date but it began in the very early 1960's and I believe it began in 1962. If anyone can confirm this one way or the other, then please do so using the comments below. The group finally ended around 1993 (again not sure of this date but it was in the early to mid 1990's after about 30 years.).


This was a highly popular writers groups with an average of at least 30 members. The long standing chairperson was

Derek Gregory
Derek Gregory
  Pamela Christy of Bishopsgarth, Stockton and the long standing secretary was Cathy Baldwin of
Guisborough. In 1987-88 Derek Gregory of Middlesbrough took over the chair for a while as did Margaret Weir  of Gt. Ayton 1988 - 89). The group had a number of well published writers on board including Eleanor Fairburn who's most popular novel was The Green Popinjay and Middlesbrough based Eleanor was also an early Creative Writing tutor working with Leeds University Adult Education and the local colleges in the area up until the 1990's. Eleanor's courses were based around Writing for publication. Gt. ayton based Novelist an Creative writing tutor Barbara Gamble was another high profile member of this group. Heather Bennett (Norton based) was another published short story writers and Creative Writing tutor in the group. 

Where did they Meet
The group met at Acklam library in Middlesbrough but may have also met in the past at Leeds University's Harrow Rd Centre in it's early days. Again if anybody can throw more light on this group - then please do so. They met on the second Wednesday of the month in the evening.

In their own words "The group aims to help members achieve a saleable standard of writing for fact and fiction markets. Guest speakers, market research studies, competitions, mutual support, Q & A sessions, New members welcome" Guest speakers covered were published writers, agents etc. Mostly centred around article and commercial short story writing or novels and nonfiction books. The members came from all over the count of Cleveland.

This was one of the most highly successful and long standing and well organised of the Cleveland Writers Groups. It had a narrow focus towards commercial forms of writing but boasted some of the areas most successful novelists and writers and functioned efficiently for them for over 30 years. In the early days writers were more isolated in the area but in the wake of Outlet and Write Around the group's long standing experience and contacts enabled it make a goodly contribution to the developing local writing scene. The group took part in the Annual Write Around Festival from 1989 to c 1993.

Other Activities

The group held annual conferences - usually in a local hotel around a theme such as Article writing with a published writer and a meal.

Finance - Membership fees / door charges, grants from time to time.

Links with Other groups etc.
Margaret Weir
There was some crossover of membership with Poetry 20+ in the early days especially as Middlesbrough Pamela Christy was involved in the first regional Write Together meetings at Durham although this was for worker Writer Groups who were more focused on community writing than commercial writing. Trevor Teasdel of Outlet magazine attended for a while to represent and distribute Outlet magazine to members c 1988. A result of this were more contributions from members to the magazine; Trevor judged one of the short story competitions, the group were well represented on the early Write Around meetings - with Margaret Weir, Derek Gregory and Cathy Baldwin and Pamela Christy getting involved. Cathy Baldwin attended Trevor's WEA Guisborough Creative Writing course and helped form the resulting Guisborough Writers Group in 1988. Margaret Weir, who was chair at the time, wanted to form a new poetry group for those in the group who wanted  more focus on poetry. Trevor helped Margaret and Jean Cumbor and Demaris Perry form The Phoenix Poetry group in 1988 (based in Middlesbrough) which combined some members of Middlesbrough Writers Group and former members of Trevor's many creative writing classes of the time. Margaret became Trevor's partner and and a co-editor of Outlet, a co-founder of Write Around and Leeds University Creative Writing tutor. Derek Gregory went on to found Tees Valley Writer in 1990 - a more up market local publication. Derek also got involved in the development of Write Around.
writers didn't cater so much for poetry. Writers who straddled poetry and prose forms might attend both. In 1984

Writers Tips - PDF Link below or on Issuu
This link HERE is to a PDF file of Middlesbrough Writers Group booklet -  WRITERS TIPS publication which some writers might find useful albeit written before the cyber days! It has articles on Article Writing, Writing outlines, Mills and Boons etc by Eleanor Fairburn, Diane Taylor, Gordon Wells.

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