NoE Areas Moved to Durham

T Winch

It's a great move! It's a shame that after 25 years of playing in a sports hall, now that I'm no longer playing, they've moved it to a proper venue more suited to the purpose. No need to worry about your post-contest libation Blue Juice. You'll be spoilt for choice. The only issue I can see will be parking. A bit more expensive than Darlo


Well-Known Member
Just checking back on where the North of England area has been held over the years...

City Hall, Newcastle: 1945-53.
St. Nicholas Concert Hall, Gosforth, Newcastle: 1954-5.
City Hall, Newcastle: 1956-9.
St. Bede's School, Sunderland: 1960-74.
City Hall, Newcastle: 1975-7.
Town Hall, Middlesbrough: 1978-81.
St. Bede's School, Sunderland: 1982.
City Hall, Newcastle: 1983.
Dolphin Centre, Darlington: 1984-2014.
Gala Theatre, Durham: 2015-

Cities that have hosted the event on given number of occasions:
Darlington: 31
Newcastle: 19
Sunderland: 16
Middlesbrough: 4

This will be the first occasion that Durham sees the areas. It also looks rather that the Dolphin Centre was settled on as a suitable ongoing venue at a time when previously used venues were not proving suitable for whatever reasons, causing regular change in the decade preceding the move to Darlington.


Not going to be popular with those bands around the humber who found themselves being moved into NoE when both Midlands and Yorkshire are already closer.

T Winch

Not going to be popular with those bands around the humber who found themselves being moved into NoE when both Midlands and Yorkshire are already closer.
I would have thought an extra 20 minutes on the motorway is a small price to pay to play on a proper stage with a good acoustic


Active Member
I think it's a great idea. The Gala is a decent venue. Admittedly it's a tad cosy back stage but I'm sure it'll cope. The stage itself is huge, particularly in comparison to the auditorium and offers a good acoustic. I think the seating numbers will be about right - enough to accommodate listeners but bands won't be playing to a largely empty room. Plenty of room for trade stands. There is a small bar upstairs, but there's plenty of other pubs within walking distance, including Wetherspoons on the doorstep.

It's a bit further for the Yorks/Lincs bands, but only 25 mins further up the A1 so hardly the end of the world. Only minor downside will be parking - particularly for coaches, with the coach park located at The Sands, which is only a 5 minute walk, but not ideal when carrying kit, given it's mainly steps! Perhaps they'll sort something out and let coaches unload on Claypath?

Either way, it'll be a pleasant change to not be holding the region's major annual contest amidst kids coming out of their swimming lessons and playing in booming acoustic - I'm fairly sure some of the wrong notes I played back in '96 are still reverberating around the Dolphin Centre.....


New Member
The Dolphin Centre was a hideous venue to perform at and the event is generally not very well organised. The centre is usually busy during the weekend due to people doing activities such as swimming. There's absolutely no security for any of the band members possessions and space was further minimised in the bands backstage area this year due to photographers being present. There's no free parking facilities. Then when you performed it is the largest venue with no audience members. Numbers at this contest are really small during the lower sections so there is never much need for a massive gym hall. A smaller setting would give it more atmosphere.I wish event organisers would choose more practical locations, we pay enough throughout the year in money and time to be able to attend these contests and then when we get there we have to pay additional money, dumped in a corner and rushed on stage to perform to 10 people sat 40-50 feet away. I have played many contests in schools and colleges and they are far more practical with ample free parking, easily accessed, classrooms were bands can have a brief rehearsal on the day, a number of auditoriums and gyms.

I have never been to the new venue but hopefully it wil be a good move.