An Early UK Kite Festival

By Guest Writer Ian Holloway

Winter may almost be over as it is time for one of the first UK Kite Festivals of 2018 to take place.

This is to be held at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea over the weekend of March 31st- April 1st. We shall be flying over sand or over the sea depending upon the tides...

The Venue

The venue is an interesting location. We have, on the coast north of Newcastle upon Tyne, a number of small coastal villages, Newbiggin some 20 miles distant being one of them. Most have a heritage devoted to the fishing industry and some provided a safe harbour for exporting products such as coal and grain.

The Festival is based at the modern Maritime Centre which is well worth visiting. Major themes include the Life Boat Heritage of the village as well as its Fishing Industry . Part of the building also houses an excellent restaurant.

During the course of the day I shall take a stroll along the promenade which is the longest in Northumberland and the walk will be worth the effort.

Newbiggin has an ancient heritage and was little known until Victorian times when the village became popular as a summer holiday and day visit venue for holiday makers and those seeking a day at the “sea-side”, many of whom travelled easily and inexpensively from Industrial Tyneside by rail. Sadly, this travel option is no more.

Today many people choose to live in Newbiggin and commute to centres of employment but before this became popular the village was self contained and may of the inhabitants spoke a distinctive dialect. It was not “Geordie”, commonly, but erroneously, believed to be that of Northumberland, nor was it Northumbrian with its pleasant and distinctive “rolling R” attributed to one of the Dukes of Northumberland, but was closely related to Scandanavian with many words having Viking origins. 

Few people speak this dialect today although the Viking tradition is still to be seen in the distinctive shape and construction of the inshore fishing vessels – the “coble”. These splendid boats are to be found from the fishing ports on the Yorkshire coast up to the Scottish border with minor variations depending upon which boat yard was involved in the construction. These clinker built boats, for which no plans are used, are closely based upon the Viking longship both in looks and in the method of construction although the coble is not a “double ender” having twin keels and a distinctive flat transom. While today most working cobles are motor-powered some enthusiasts have restored and sail the beautiful older lug-sailed version. 

Indeed, Newbiggin has an active Sailing Club for racing dinghies.

On The Day, With A Box Kite...

I shall stop at a small cubic building in the hope that I may be able to sneak a view inside, although I suspect that it is without the equipment I hope to see. It is the building which housed one end of the first Telegraph Cable from Scandanavia to the UK. This ran from Jutland to Newbiggin and was laid in 1868 and was operated by the Great Northern Telegraph Company until the facility closed in 1960.

A few metres further along the promenade is the main reason for my stroll as I shall have reached the “Café Bertorelli”. This unique Ice Cream Parlour was completed in Art Deco Style by the Bertorelli Family in 1937 and here you can drink splendid coffee and purchase the most delicious vanilla ice cream, made to a secret recipe by the present generation of the family.

I plan to fly my box-kite at the Festival and it will, for me, be a leisurely day with none of the stress associated with flying a sensitive twin-line wing.

While I do not expect the day to be warm I do hope that it will be bright with clear blue sky. I hope that I shall not be kite flying in a blizzard, although this could happen!

If it does snow then I shall enjoy another coffee in Bertorelli’s.

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P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

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Wind Speeds

Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7