21 June 2002

NORTHUMBERLAND INFOCUS

THE Royal Show regional features are an opportunity for some of the rural areas of Britain to display their unique character, and to promote their tourist attractions and local specialities to visitors. The idea started four years ago with a display from Cornwall, and it has become so successful that other counties are queueing up for a chance to take part.

This year it is Northumber-lands turn to fly the flag – and in this case it is the countys own red and gold flag, claimed to have the longest history of any flag in Britain with origins stretching back to Oswald, the 7th century ruler of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria.

There are three sections to the Northumberland area at the Royal Show. The upper section off Avenue J will feature clothing furniture and other products made in the county, plus a series of demonstrations and a display of Fell ponies and Bedlington terriers, the countys own dog breed. There will also be a representation of Hadrians Wall to provide a backdrop to a display of the living conditions for the soldiers who guarded this distant outpost of the Roman empire.

The main Northumberland marquee is in the central section, housing displays and produce from Northumberland people and organisations. Local food and drink specialities will be featured, as well as arts and crafts associated with the county.

Section 3 is off Avenue M where adult performers and almost 200 school children from the county will provide a programme of music and songs with a distinctive Northumberland flavour.

Also included in the Northumberland promotion will be details of one of the north-east regions top tourist attractions, the Duchess of Northumber-lands £15m Alnwick Garden project, and show visitors will also be able to see and hear the Northumbria Pipe, a musical instrument uniquely associated with the county.

Northumberland claims to be Englands least densely populated county, and offers tourists some of the most traffic-free roads in the country and more castles open to the public than any other English county.