Coopers Company: Recent News

23-May-17 : Coopers Head Meeting

The Annual Head Meeting of the Coopers Company of Newcastle upon Tyne will take place at 7 pm on Monday 12th June 2017 within the Merchant Adventurer's Court, The Guildhall, Newcastle upon Tyne.

A letter will be sent out to all Coopers on our mailing list by the end of May. If you do not receive a letter from the Stewards of the Company then you may not be on their mailing list. Please use the contact form to get in touch so that we can keep you aprised of forthcoming news and events.

18-Jan-16 Three Coopers Companies together at Last

Three different Coopering fraternities met for the first time today at the Guildhall, in Newcastle.

David Hughes, Senior Steward and Peter Blenkinsop, Junior Steward of the Coopers Company of Freemen of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne were hosts to Vivian Bairstow, Master of the Worshipful Company of Coopers, London, and Jim Mearns, Deacon of the Incorporation of Coopers of Glasgow and are shown with the Lord Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne, Councillor Ian Graham and the Lady Mayoress.

Reciprocal visits to London and Glasgow will be arranged in the near future.

25-Jun-14 Coopers Company Head Meeting

The Head Meeting of the Coopers Company of the Freemen of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne took place at 7 pm on Monday 23rd June 2014 in the Merchant Adevnturer's Court, Guildhall, Newcastle Quayside.

The meeting was well attended and two new Coopers, Alexandra Blenkinsop and Bruce Carr, were admitted to the company.

11-Jun-14 Coopers Company Head Meeting

The next Head Meeting of the Coopers Company of the Freemen of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne will take place at 7 pm on Monday 23rd June 2014 in the Merchant Adevnturer's Court, Guildhall, Newcastle Quayside.

Please note that the ever-rising cost of postage has meant that we have been forced to rationalise our mailing list. This means that if you have not contacted the Coopers Company at any point in the last five years then you will no longer receive communications from the company.

However, if you would want to remain in contact with the Coopers Company then please fill in the form on the contact page and we will add you to our electronic mailing list.

28-Apr-14 Four new Coopers Sworn in...

We are delighted to announce that four new Coopers were sworn into the Freelage on 28th April 2014. More so, two of their number were seventh generation Coopers!

They were:

George Winter, son of Ernest Victor Winter

Jennifer Kathryn Arthur, daughter of Nigel Mark Arthur

Antony Mark Arthur, son of Nigel Mark Arthur

David Madin, son of Patricia Madin

Here are some images of the day...

19-Nov-13 Mike Blenkinsop's Vietnam Adventure

Angola has a very special place in Cooper Mike Blenkinsop's heart, being where he met his wife, who was born and raised there.

Mike rode the 8 day 650 km / 9k m of ascent (higher than Everest!) 2013 3C - Charity Cycle Challenge from Hanoi to Sapa between 30th October 2013 to 11th November 2013 (Angola's Independence Day), partly to raise £5,000 for MAG (Mines Advisory Group) to support land mine clearance in Angola, and partly to celebrate his Silver Wedding Anniversary.

At the end of 27 years of civil war in Angola, there were more land mines than population. Between 2004-8, there were 531 land mine accidents, with 144 fatalities, and 385 injuries.

In the village of Luzi, MAG removed 52 anti-personnel land mines and 17 anti-tank mines, and is now thriving with a new market, school, health centre and housing having all been built, with land now being used for farming again.

In a recent letter, Mike wrote...

Well we did it!

I got back this week from Vietnam on Monday, but only by the 'skin of my teeth', as Typhoon Haiyan threatened to hit Hanoi, and close the airport. Fortunately it only hit the coast of Vietnam on Monday, allowing me to escape on Sunday night, to my great relief!

The Charity Cycling Challenge was brilliant, and all went well. We arrived in Hanoi on Halloween, and set off first thing next day:

  • Day 1 Hanoi to Mai Chau, by the Song Da Lake, a nice 'warm up' introduction
  • Day 2 Mai Chau to Moc Chau, and the start of serious climbing up to the plateau from the coast in 35 degC
  • Day 3 Moc Chau to Son La, our longest day of 117 km
  • Day 4 Son La to Tuan Giao
  • Day 5 Tuan Giao to Dien Bien, where the French were finally driven out by the Vietnamese
  • Day 6 Dien Bien to Muong Lay, and our first “Cycling in the Dark” experience!
  • Day 7 Muong Lay to Lai Chau, where we had to be bussed to the lunch stop due to the new road being built
  • Day 8 Lai Chau to Sa Pa, climbing 2km up an “Alpine” road over 20 km to Heaven’s Gate
  • Day 9 Day of rest in Sa Pa, and return to Hanoi on the Night Train, to fly out.
  • We cycled 650 km (give or take a few) over the 8 days in 35 degC, climbing hills of up to 10% gradient (usually in the midday sun), that cumulated to an amazing 9k m of ascent – higher than Mount Everest!

    The best for me was the wonderful and friendly reception that we received from the Vietnamese people, especially the children. Over 8 days, we only met two Westerners - quite amazing in this day and age, and feel as if we saw the real Vietnam, which although simple and rural, was clean and tidy.

    Thank you for supporting Flor and I reach our £5k goal for MAG to clear landmines in Angola, and inspiring me to complete the above Challenge!



    You can still sponsor Mike until 9th December 2013 on

    26-Jul-13 Sisters...

    Thanks to the support and help of the Coopers Company and the Town Moor Meny Charity over the last five years, Nina and Alex Blenkinsop, daughters of company keeper Michael Blenkinsop, have both successfully graduated from University Better still, both have immediately landed full-time jobs.

    Nina graduated in French and Portuguese from Bristol University in summer 2012. Post-graduation, she was also supported by the Town Moor Meny Charity whilost she undertook additional training in Lisbon (through the Leonardo de Vinci training placement on the WILL TO WIN 2012 project), where she has worked as an administrator in a hostel.

    Now resident within Lisbon, Nina has been able to visit her aging Portuguese grandparents every week, which has been a great comfort to Nina's parents. Nina has also taken to life in Lisbon so well, that she has even gone to the original Estadio da Luz to watch Benfica!

    Alex graduated in Mathematics and Statistics from Leeds University in July 2013, and has already started working for Summit (Online Consultancy, Marketing and Technology) in Hull as a Data Analyst, but will continue to live in Leeds. Like her sister, she is immediately putting her degree skills into practical use, working alongside newly qualified PhD colleagues on a very fast learning curve.

    Coopers Company Head Meeting

    The next Head Meeting of the Coopers Company of Newcastle upon Tyne will take place at 7 pm on the 24th June 2013 in the Merchant Adventurer's Court within the Guildhall. Please could as many members of the Company attend as possible.

    Coopers Company Swing Bridge Visit

    Following the Easter Closed Guild, held on 8th April 2013, around twenty Freemen from the Coopers Company accompanied by their guests and the Lord Mayor, Councillor Jackie Slezenger, were given a guided tour of the Swing Bridge on Newcastle's historic Quayside.

    The Swing Bridge is the fourth bridge to have been built on the same site, the first being the original Tyne Bridge constructed by the Emperor Hadrian in approximately 122AD.

    Designed by John Ure and built by William Armstrong, later 1st Baron Armstrong, as one component of the River Tyne Commission's overall plan to improve navigation and expand trade, the Swing Bridge spans the River Tyne and connects Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead.

    Work began in 1873 and the bridge was first used for road traffic on the 15th June 1876. On 17th July 1876 the bridge opened for river traffic and allowed ships further upstream so that they could service Lord Armstrong's Elswick works.

    The foundations are concrete-filled cast iron cylinders set in bed rock with granite piers resting upon the cylinders at a little above the height of low water. The eighty five meter cantilevered span weighs 1,300 tonnes and has a central axis of rotation supported by a hydraulic centre press, which is able to move through a full three hundred and sixty degrees. The Hydraulic mechanism is the same machinery originally installed by Armstrong although the pumps are now driven electrically. The pumps feed a hydraulic accumulator, which is sunk into an eighteen meter shaft below the bridge; the water is then released under pressure which runs the machinery to turn the bridge.

    The tour lasted around thirty minutes, and there was an opportunity to see the original mechanism in operation although the bridge itself did not move.

    First Lady Freemen Graduates

    Nina Blenkinsop of the Coopers Company was the first lady freemen to be sworn in whilst she was a student way back in April 2010. We're delighted to report that Nina has now graduated with a 2.1 Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Portuguese.

    Since graduating, Nina has joined the United Euro Bridge programme (part of the Leonardo da Vinci scheme), which commences with four months training in Lisbon.

    Quaside Walk / Extraordinary Head Meeting, 28th April 2012

    The Coopers Company held its first Extraordinary Head Meeting in living memory on Saturday April 28th 2012 in the dining room of the Broad Chare Public House, Newcastle at 12:30 pm. This purpose of the meeting was to formally admit a number of Coopers to the company who, either through health or work commitments, would otherwise find it difficult to attend the normal Head Meeting, which is always held in June.

    Those Coopers who took the oath in front of the assembled company were Mr. Bryan Jones and Mr. Malcom Oxnard.

    The meeting was preceeded by a walk along the banks of the River Tyne in the company of City Guide John North, who delivered an excellent talk on the many features we encountered along the way, despite suffering from the aftermath of a heavy cold. Many thanks, John.

    Special thanks to those Coopers and their families who came along. It's a shame that we sent out over eighty invitations, out of which less than twenty Coopers replied.

    Is this how companies die?

    After over eight hundred years of history?

    Not on our watch.

    Swearing in, 22nd March 2012

    At a ceremony held in The Guildhall on Thursday 22nd March 2012, two new Coopers were made Freemen of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne in front of Lord Mayor, Councillor Geoff O'Brien:

    • Margaux Alexandra Blenkinsop
    • Ralph Maughan

    Social Event 2012

    Junior Steward John Oxnard is currently trying to organise a social event in the Guildhall in the coming weeks. We will make an announcement here and on the Freemen's Facebook page very shortly.

    The Coopers Company of Newcastle upon Tyne : Update 2011

    The Head Meeting for the Coopers Company of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne will be held on Monday, 27th June 2011 at 7 pm in The Merchant Adventurer's Court in the Guildhall on Newcastle's Quayside. This is later than usual, because Easter is later this year.

    Historically, the date of the Head Meeting of the Coopers Company has been defined as the first Monday following the feast of Corpus Christi and in 2011 Corpus Christ falls on Thursday 24th June.

    The Stewards are currently putting together a brief newsletter outlining our activities for the coming year.

    Apart from the Head meeting in June, we're also trying to organise a boat trip on the River Tyne and a visit to the Planetarium at the Centre for Life in Newcastle. If you would like to attend any of these events then please get in touch at the above address.

    In the last year, approximately thirty new Coopers have been sworn in as Freemen, both at the Guildhall and at private ceremonies held at the Civic Centre. Sadly, we can only give an approximate number because very few of these new Freemen have actually been in touch with the stewards of the company, and even fewer attended the social evening last November.

    Furthermore, due to administrative issues, a number of Lady Freemen have been admitted to the freelage even though there was no Steward present to verify their claim. We need these individuals to contact the stewards as a matter of urgency.

    The rules of the Coopers Company clearly state that even though a Freemen may have been admitted to the freelage through the City of Newcastle upon Tyne he or she is not a member of the Coopers Company until they have attended at least one Head Meeting, taken the company oath and paid any dues to the company, and if these conditions have not been met then the admission of future generations to the company, and the freelage, may be denied.

    We accept that some people may find it difficult to attend the Head Meeting for a variety of reasons, and the stewards are fully prepared to make allowances, particularly if a Cooper has mobility or health issues.

    If you are affected by these rules then please get in touch at the above address.

    July 29th, 2010 : History as female triplets become Freemen

    From the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 29th July 2010

    In another first for the City of Newcastle upon Tyne and, in particular, The Coopers Company, triplets Dr. Helen Blenkinsop, and her sisters Elizabeth Blenkinsop and Catherine Crocker were sworn in at a ceremony in the Silver Room at Newcastle Civic Centre in front of Lord Mayor Brenda Hindmarsh.

    Helen, a clinical psychologist, Elizabeth, a lawyer, and Catherine, a primary school teacher, were watched by their parents as they held a musket and Bible and signed the oath.

    Catherine, whose husband is also a Freeman, said: "We're really please and excited to be here. It is an honour to be able to carry on the family tradition."

    The family's relationship with the Freemen of Newcastle can be traced as far back as 1757, when the triplets' ancestor John was sworn in on April 21.

    He was apprenticed to Michael Hymers, a Newcastle Cooper, for seven years and became the family's first Freeman.

    Read the full story here.