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Barbara Hodgson

From Greggs to Colmans: New 'Scran' exhibition offers food for thought

Ocean Road curry houses; Colmans Fish and Chip shop; Minchella’s ice cream and Dickson’s pork butchers are among the local foodie favourites being celebrated in a new exhibition in South Shields.

Guaranteed to whet the appetites of proud locals, the show - called SCRAN. A History of Food & Drink in South Tyneside - is inviting visitors to indulge in all things food during its run at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery and they'll have plenty time to do so as it's on until next year. The exhibition charts the story of local food and drink from Roman times up to the present day, highlighting along the way such staples of North East cuisine as stottie cakes, leek pudding, singing hinnies and the variously-spelled panaculty.

Visitors are also being offered a chance to have a say in creating another regional favourite as Minchella & Co is inviting people to put forward their suggestions for a new flavour of ice-cream, which will go into production next year.

Read more: 12 of the best North East foods and where you can get them

Among the exhibits in the exhibition, which has plenty to read and see, is an eye-catching Greggs outfit - part of the popular bakery chain's fashion collection with Primark - alongside a T-shirt advertising the 60-year anniversary of fellow local favourite Dicksons, whose origins are examined alongside those of Minchella, Colmans and other iconic venues in the borough. There is lots to reminisce about too, in its exploration of local food and drink businesses over the years, with a retro kitchen on display, for instance, and old Newcastle Brown Ale adverts.

SCRAN. A History of Food & Drink in South Tyneside will run until January 2024 (Colin Davison Photography)

The exhibition also features local pubs and breweries of yesteryear; cafes; restaurants and works canteens and takes in wartime food rationing, covering traditional home-cooked food from a range of local communities living in the borough and examining the decades following the Second World War when the region's culinary horizons were broadened with the introduction of flavours from far beyond the UK.

The museum, in Ocean Road in the heart of South Shields, is all about showcasing the heritage of South Tyneside and the people who shaped it and its big summer show, which will run until January 25, offers free entry so that as many people as possible can see it, although donations are always welcome.

Kitchens like this were once a familiar sight in Tyneside homes (Colin Davison Photography)

Besides celebrating local success, Scran doesn't shy away from the emergence in recent years - and continuing rise - of food banks to tackle food poverty. And its content is set to grow over its lengthy run.

Museum manager Geoff Woodward said: “We are very excited to be presenting this special exhibition exploring and celebrating the rich story of food and drink in South Tyneside. Food and drink are such universal themes, deeply rooted in human cultures - something we all engage with and enjoy, and something that connects families, friends and communities."

The big summer exhibition at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery will develop further, with community involvement, over its long run (PR)

He added: "The exhibition will also continue to develop. Over the coming months we will be working with the community to uncover additional stories, recipes and objects that can be added to the displays.” Other visitor attractions at the museum include two floors of industrial and maritime exhibits; artworks; a Creature Corner and Victorian Pantry café.

The building, which dates from 1860, was originally built to house the South Shields Literary, Mechanical and Scientific Institution and then became a library before reopening as a museum. See its website here for more information, including opening times and events.

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