The HLHS runs a monthly series of 8 evening talks each year on a variety of topics. Invited speakers give a talk in Hexham on a topic of historical interest.

Currently covid-19 is preventing us from holding physical talks in the Trinity Methodist Hall. These will be resumed as soon as is feasible. In the mean time Zoom is being used to give the talks online.

These Zoom-based talks are only available to members of HLHS. Members who receive HLHS announcements by email will automatically receive the talk details and the invitation to the Zoom talk a few days before the event. Members who currently are not on the announcements email list and who want to watch the Zoom talks are invited to send their email address to – tips for using Zoom are available here. If you’d like to join the HLHS, details are here.

If you would like to see the range of fascinating talks that have been given in previous years, please click here.

2021 Talks

12 October 2021 Newcastle in the Time of Brand and Beilby Dr Sarah Collins

Dr Collins will analyse the rapid development of Newcastle by means of a revealing comparison between Dr Charles Hutton’s 1770 map of the city and the 1788 plan drawn by Ralph Beilby in collaboration with the historian John Brand.

Details to follow

16 November 2021 Inventing the Modern Dog (& HLHS AGM)  Professor Julie-Marie Strange

For centuries, different types of dogs were bred around the world for work, sport, or companionship. But it was not until Victorian times that breeders started to produce differentiated, standardized breeds. Connecting the emergence and development of certain dog breeds to both scientific understandings of race and blood as well as Britain’s posture in a global empire, Professor Strange will argue that studying dog breeding cultures allows historians to better understand the complex social relationships of late-nineteenth-century Britain.

The talk will be preceded by the HLHS AGM.

Details to follow

Talks You’ve Missed in 2021

12 January 2021 William Newton, Tyneside Architect Dr Richard Pears

William Newton (1730–1798) was an architect who worked mainly in Newcastle and Northumberland. Most of his buildings are stately homes in rural Northumberland, but he also created some interesting public works in Newcastle: The Assembly Rooms, St Anne’s Church, the refaced Guildhall, and elegant private housing in Charlotte Square. Dr Richard Pears of Durham University will tell us more of Newton’s work.

To be presented on line via Zoom at 7:30pm

9 February 2021 The First Medieval Cookery Collection  Professor Giles Gasper

Professor Giles Gasper of Durham University will describe the discovery of a collection of culinary recipes within a later 12th century English manuscript which formed part of the medieval library of Durham Cathedral Priory. His talk introduces and analyses this suite of ten recipes for ‘Poitou sauces’ or ‘Poitou relishes’ intended to garnish various kinds of meat, fish and fowl. These are, to date, the oldest medieval recipes for such sauces, and in their role as gastronomic enhancements, the oldest surviving medieval culinary recipes. The approach to food has parallels with today’s concerns for healthy eating. In particular, the recipes encourage a re-consideration of the relationship between food and medicine.

To be presented online via Zoom at 7:30pm

9 March 2021 The Ballast Trade on the Tyne  Dr Peter Wright

In the 17th and 18th Centuries the economy of Newcastle upon Tyne was dominated by the coal trade. A consequence of the vast quantity of coal exported was the enormous amount of ballast that was brought into the Tyne to stabilise otherwise empty collier ships arriving to collect more coal. The sheer volume of the ballast created a major problem for the town in managing its disposal without damaging the river itself. Dr Wright will discuss how Newcastle resolved the problem by enabling a local ballast trade to develop, with an associated business network of local merchants. This generated substantial income for the town and enables us to identify many of the town’s more prominent citizens, both men and women, who controlled the trade and profited substantially from it.

To be presented via Zoom at 7:30 pm

13 April 2021 Death at the Newcastle Savings Bank  Helen Rutherford & Dr Clare Sandford-Couch

On January 6th, 1838, two employees of the Newcastle Savings Bank were found inside the burning bank. One, Joseph Millie, was dead and the other, Archibald Bolam, was injured. He soon became the chief suspect of the murder. Helen Rutherford and Dr Clare Sandford-Couch will describe the twists and turns of a notorious court case.

To be presented via Zoom at 7:30 pm

11 May 2021 TOM CORFE MEMORIAL LECTURE Hadrian’s Wall Stone-by-stone  Dr Rob Collins

Hadrian’s Wall is typically understood as a uniform monument due to the regular spacing of turrets and milecastles. However, the largely ruinous condition of the Wall may disguise a less uniform appearance in antiquity. The talk will draw on the work of the Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeology Project (WallCAP), in which volunteers have examined the Wall at the scale of individual building stones and reconsider the architectural aspects of this imposing frontier monument. Dr Collins is currently project manager to WallCAP.

To be presented via Zoom at 7:30 pm

14 September 2021  Houses and the Hearth Tax in 17th Century Northumberland  Dr Adrian Green

Dr Green will discuss what we can learn about housing in 17th century Northumberland from Hearth Tax records.  As co-editor with the late Dr Constance Fraser of the Northumberland and Newcastle Hearth Tax Assessment, he completed a monumental analysis of records which had taken twenty years before it could be published.

To be presented online via Zoom at 7:30pm