Tuesday, May 22, 2012


The WEA (Workers Educational Association) Middlesbrough Branch under the Tutor/Organiser - ship of Maude Warwick played an important role in the development of the Cleveland Writing Movement.

It was a difficult time for the voluntary WEA branches in the area owing to changes in education provision and the industrial and trade union structures. Course were much hard to get off the ground than before. Family History was always popular but little else was automatically guaranteed to achieve the minimum number of students. A lot of hard work was put in by a largely ageing but totally dedicated voluntary branch. Frank Talling and his wife for example, were long standing members and advocates of the WEA and worked hard for the branch well into their 80's, even through increasing ill health and disability Frank Talling held important posts such as Chair and Secretary and in terms of local literature, was a poet and long standing member of Poetry 20+.

Newer recruited to the branch had been Andy Croft, who since, 1984 had run a number of literature courses for the local branch and a couple of Creative Writing courses (Hemlington 1984) and Stokesley (1986). By the time Trev Teasdel joined the branch and taught his first class in Jan 1986 - Writing for Fun - at the Albert Hotel in Middlesbrough, had had become chair of Middlesbrough branch, soon to leave and start work as a Literature tutor for Leeds University Adult Education at Harrow Rd, Middlesbrough,where the WEA Middlesbrough Branch met.

Andy Croft would come back into the story after 1990 when he managed to achieve funding from the University Community fund to run a wide ranging programme of free creative writing classes in the Cleveland area. Meanwhile Trevor did a lot of ground work through Outlet Magazine and his development of the WEA Creative Writing Programme between 1986 and 1990. A list of the courses can be found in the previous post. These courses, along with Outlet, and a new development of informal writers groups, laid the basis for the annual Write Around festival from which Cleveland's literary development flourished. Trev, with the help of tutor organiser Maude Warwick and his work with Outlet and Community Arts Middlesbrough, established first step Creative Writing course all around the Cleveland area South of the Tees - with students attending from north of the Tees such as Hartlepool and Stockton. Trevor's courses recruited well during a down turn because of Outlet Magazine's popularity and publicity.

Much of this will be documented in other posts on here and in Rebecca O'Rourke's University of Leeds Research into Creative Writing in Cleveland  - Written on the Margins

Meanwhile Trev Teasdel became involved in the Middlesbrough branch as Publicity Secretary, introducing

Alternative Futures
  members /students to the branch through his Creative Writing courses and after Andy Croft left the branch, began to put forward ideas to help the branch revive and survive. Based on a successful courses run under the title of Alternative Futures, tutored by a panel from an environmental group, Trevor suggested this could be developed into a wider programme and might involve re-branding traditional courses into an exciting and progressive programme and could be a key element in the publicity. Some of the courses and ideas were tried out and it did widen the programme but the resources weren't their to develop the full idea. However it did introduce some new and positive thinking into the branch and brought in some younger blood into the branch.

Fuller documentation of this will soon be available on here via pdf files.

Here are a few of Trevors flyers for the branch c 86 /87

Family History

Music course

No comments:

Post a Comment