Published on April 5, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour


Humour Grasps the handle of the people’s carrier

A call for a memorial to a Tyneside character and his passion for the Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle attracted several proposals – and now the preferred design’s construction is well under way.

The Ouseburn Trust, which oversees the heritage and cultural development of the area to the east of the city centre, invited artists and craftspeople to submit designs that would reflect the character of Eric Larkham, historian, raconteur, pub devotee and ale lover who died last year. Eric was a founder-member of the Trust and felt deeply about the area’s heritage and its future welfare.

The winning design is a wooden plaque with marquetry inlay designed by Colin Hagan, a graphic artist who works out of the studios at 36 Lime Street, Ouseburn. The production of the plaque is being carried out by woodworker/maker Pavel Petria who is also based in the Ouseburn Valley.

Lesley Turner, admin and communications officer at The Ouseburn Trust, says: “We really appreciated the proposals submitted. Members of Eric’s family, friends and the Trust got together to choose it.”

The Ouseburn Trust has set up an appeal to raise £2,000 to contribute to the project which is intended to encourage people to explore every aspect of it and to get to know it better. Colin Hagan put his mind to thinking about what the Ouseburn Valley meant to Eric Larkham, what typified his character, and what would not only define him at a glance but add a gently humorous aspect to a memorial.

He says: “Eric’s signature was a carrier bag which he always had with him and caused a bit of amusement. I took the shape of that, inserted a silhouette of Eric, and made a map of the key places he was interested in and passionate about – Byker Farm, the Victoria Tunnel and all the Ouseburn pubs.

“Eric fought long and hard for the preservation and future development of the area and he really knew his stuff which I hope the design reflects. To get the commission was quite sweet.”

Sally Larkham is delighted with the plaque and the efforts that have gone into it. She says: “All of us were surprised and touched by the proposal to commission a memorial for Eric in the Ouseburn Valley where he spent so many happy hours, in recognition of his contribution to its past, present, and future.

“We’d agreed that it shouldn’t be too solemn a commemoration so the Trust’s appeal for designs did, we feel, strike the right note. When we saw Colin’s design, with an immediately-recognisable silhouette of Eric striding along, hair flowing, carrier bag in hand, there was really no contest.”

Details of the memorial appeal, its unveiling and various Ouseburn Valley events at

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Alastair Gilmour

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