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  1. I used to help record a fledgling talking newspaper for the blind (Cleveland News and Views) in the back rooms from 1977.

  2. Acklam Library played an important role in the development of the local creative writing and adult education scene. I moved to teesside in 1980 to do my degree at Teesside Poly and lived in the early 80’s near Tollsby Road so this was my local branch and used it quite a bit for books and cassette albums. Two of the earliest writers groups which began in the early 60’s had met there – Poetry 20+, run by local historian and poet Mary Williams before they moved to the University of Leeds centre before I arrived on Teesside but I remember The Middlesbrough Writers group continued to meet there well into the 90’s.This group was for budding novelists and writers aiming to be published in magazines.They had visiting authors, publishers and agents and was until the early 80’s the main group for writers. In 1986 we published Outlet – a poetry magazine open to new writers and poets which was funded by Northern Arts and Cleveland County Libraries (Frank Jenkins was our main support in regard to the libraries.). The magazine went out free through all the branch libraries in Cleveland and initiated what became the annual Write Around festival with our based at Berwick Hills library via Alyson Perry. We began to develop the writing scene through Outlet and the Middlesbrough branch of the WEA (Workers’ Educational Association). In 1987 we held a special meeting to promote the WEA at Acklam library (see flyer) and the branch held classes there – The Work of Northern Writers was one course tutored by Jenny Smith and I ran one of my many Creative writing courses at Acklam library in 87. In 1988, in association with Frank Jenkins, Outlet magazine held a poetry event at Acklam with contributors reading their work and along side members of various writers groups. I used to attend some of the Middlesbrough writers group meetings to distribute and make contacts for Outlet and help a group of poets there form the Phoenix Poetry Group (led by Margaret Weir and Jean Cumbor) which originally met at Acklam before moving to St.Mary’s Centre as the group expanded. Patty Smallwood of the Middlesbrough writers helped set up Write Now, a workshop group for beginners which came out of one of my early courses and Cathy Baldwin – the secretary helped set up a similar group in Guisborough from another of my courses. Derek Gregory, the chair of Middlesbrough writers set up another magazine Tees Valley Writers from the groups base at the library. So that’s quite a role in the development what is now quite a dynamic writing culture on Teesside and the role of the library service was key to this development in general.

  3. I used to visit every couple of weeks or so with my Dad. I loved it. Must have been in the late 60s or early 70s. Was a huge reader and the library really encouraged that. I’m still an avid reader. Remember the little pouches the cards were put into. The good old days before electronic everything ?

  4. I remember pushing my new born son in his pram here back in 1982. (He’s now just turned 37!) I needed a constant supply of books to relax with while I was feeding him during the day (and night!). I used to bring the pram inside so I could keep an eye on him while I chose my books. Very pleasant memories.

  5. Thanks Gail for your comment. It’s by no means the full history of the writing scene – I’ve got boxes of archives which I started to put on line some time ago but needs a lot of work but Acklam and Berwick Hills libraries played an important role as did the Cleveland County Libraries and Leisure committee.

  6. My local library – I remember it opening, the nearest before that was at Whinney Banks. I loved it, the first time I visited the new library with my dad, he introduced me to the Just Willam books and the Swallows and Amazons series.

    It’s still a great resource, my daughter goes to the Monday morning book group there every month, and both she and her daughter are avid readers. Four generations now.

  7. This is a wonderful photo, my mother worked here (as well as in other branches) and inspired my love of reading.

  8. On my seventh birthday (1958), I knocked on door of the headmaster of Whinney Banks Junior School. The headmaster (Mr Towers ) opened the door and asked me what I wanted. I told him that I wanted to join the library. He filled out a card and gave it to me. After school I ran down to the Acklam Library and they signed me up. I remember being gob smacked at being surrounded by books. I have been that way ever since.

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