Film ID: NEFA 21607 Video of NEFA Allendale Celebrates New Year ALLENDALE CELEBRATES NEW YEAR 1978-79 1979 Visitor TabsDescription This short film by South Shields filmmaker Lilian Wincote concentrates on the traditional New Years celebrations in Allendale, Northumberland. The celebrations involve tar barrels, set on fire and paraded around the village. Title: Allendale Celebrates New Year. The opening view shows how snow soon covered houses and streets within a few days of its starting on the 27th December 1978. The weather would prove to be severe enough to cut off Allendale from the outside world. Cars and people make their way along slush and ice covered roads. Snow covered cars are parked in front of the Dale Hotel. A man tries to dig his snowbound Mini van free. A general view shows the church tower where power cuts had caused the clock to stop. Shrubs in the foreground are covered in frozen snow. People clear snow from the road, others spread grit on the road. Preparations take place in the village centre, where they are stacking old wooden pallets for a bonfire, as part of Allendales ancient New Year fire festival.They cover the stack with brushwood. Later this will be lit by flaming barrels as the old year dies. More general views follow of a man clearing the snow with a shovel. A man rides by on a horse. General view of a frozen stream. An interior shot shows the guisers preparing themselves in costume and make up before the big event. Night shots of the 45 men [known as guisers, as they are 'disguised' in costumes] as they carry the traditional flaming tar barrels in procession [fairly dark] around the boundaries of the village, before setting alight to the bonfire. More shots of men carrying the barrels [known as 'kits']. The 'kits' of tar thrown onto the pallet stack light the large bonfire, and the fire takes hold. The guisers walk past in fancy costume. Others revellers and other guisers in fancy dress, call upon friends and neighbours as 'first foots', to bring in the New Year. More general views of the bonfire follow. The film ends on the following day which shows a burnt and smouldering patch where the bonfire was, as a team of men tidy the area. General shots of the village still covered in snow follow. Title: The End of 1978 Title: Into 1979 [written in the snow] Context A wild and quirky fire festival burns in the New Year at the Northumbrian village of Allendale. The thrilling, fiery Tar Bar’l festival lights up the night in sleepy Allendale, cut off from the world by heavy snow in 1978. Serenaded by a silver band, the remote Northumbrian village burns in the New Year with a procession of flaming tar barrels, carried aloft to a bonfire in the Market Square by fearless local men in bizarre costumes, known as ‘guisers’. When the fire dies down, folk go first-footing, then gather in the pub for dance and ale. The amateur filmmaker, Lilian Wincote MBE, a retired headmistress and founder member of South Shields Cine Club, describes the Allendale ritual as ancient and of pagan origin. But a 1933 edition of the Hexham Courant dates the ceremony to around 1858, when a burning tar barrel was used to light a Methodist band’s New Year’s Eve concert at the old Wesleyan Chapel. The original guisers wore top hats and tail coats, which evolved into the eccentric garb still worn today. In the 1940s, a village shopkeeper, Vesta Peart, started to make many of the guisers’ costumes. As a token of their appreciation, in 1949, she became the only woman ever to carry a tar barrel in the procession, traditionally a male preserve.