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Laughter (and alcohol) aplenty at Barnstormers’ Comedy Club


The Barnstormers’ Comedy Club returns to Ropery Hall with a bang this month, and for the first show of the new season, resident host Kevin Precious returns to introduce three more top acts from the National Comedy Circuit.  Jo Marwood recalls her last visit to this popular comedy evening, before the Barton Arts week celebrations in June:

Never one to shy away from an evening of laughter, local ales and a bag of Piper’s crisps, I’ve arrived at one of the last Barnstormers’ Comedy Club sessions before it closes for the summer season.  I am seated with my husband on the far left of the second row, in the tentative safety of semi-shadow, but I’m still nervous that the spotlight may shine upon me and the terror of “participation” may be forced to occur.

I’m not the only one – arriving early to an event usually guarantees a good (safe) seat, but on this occasion the audience is wise to this.  Almost half an hour before the MC is set to storm the stage, people are clutching pints and positioning themselves on the row behind other, taller audience members as a form of protection.  A collective sigh of relief ensues when a group of young, energetic, presumably insane teenagers boldly fill the front row.  Now I can relax – why on earth would anybody waste time engaging with us scarlet-cheeked, mumbling bores, when such fresh meat is readily available for the ribbing?

The Barnstormers’ Comedy Club, held monthly in Ropery Hall at the northern end of The Ropewalk, is something of an institution locally.  Held on the last Friday of the month, from September/October to May, each month features three comedians from around the UK and a compère to introduce the acts.  As with most events, the first act is generally greeted with sober applause but we warm up substantially by the second act, which interestingly coincides with the interval and purchase of alcohol.

The bill tonight includes guest MC Kevin Shepherd filling in for resident compère Kevin Precious, and three comedians by the names of “delightfully offbeat” Howard Read, “erudite” Chris Stokes and “edgy” Diana Spencer.  With a warm-up from Kevin between each act, you’d be forgiven for expecting to casually check your watch as the evening draws on, but I honestly don’t even glance at my phone.  Such is the immersive, captivating world of comedy that I barely glance at my husband to make sure I’m laughing at the right moments.

The half-cut teenagers provide just the right amount of comedic fodder for all three acts, and emboldened by that third pint of cider, there are even a few heckles from further back in the audience – success!  During my last venture to the Barnstormers’ Comedy Club, I sat in the back row but actually felt that it was worth the prospect interaction with to sit closer to the stage.  With approximately 70 people in the audience tonight, the Club has a real feeling of intimacy, of throwing off the constraints of the working week and enjoying an evening of cheeks-aching, eyes-streaming belly laughs.

2017 has also been the year of celebrating 20 years of Barton Arts Week, a showcase of the best art, comedy, music film, theatre and more from across the UK.  Ropery Hall was a key venue during Barton Arts Week in June, and the Barnstormers’ Comedy Club has since enjoyed a well-deserved summer break ready for its glorious return this month!

Miranda Hart, super-tall comedienne once said, “The embarrassment of a situation can, once you are over it, be the funniest time in your life”.  It’s true that once you’ve relaxed into your seat and relinquished your inhibitions, the Barnstormers’ Comedy Club is hilarious, silly, shocking and downright daft, just like all good comedy on a Friday night should be.  If you really dread the prospect of “joining in”, leave it to the professionals and just hope that Miranda (or an equally tall Bartonian) is sat in front of you.

A new era for Baysgarth School

Baysgarth School, under its many names, has been at the heart of Barton and its residents for 86 years writes Joanne Marwood.  Thousands of children have fidgeted whilst being measured for their uniform, with girls folding the waistband of their skirt to make it shorter, and boys scuffing their shoes before the first day of school is out!  Thousands of notes have been passed in class, sandwiches hastily unwrapped at lunchtime, and friendships cemented through the camaraderie of hockey matches against rival schools, dreaded Maths tests and dreams of the future.

Barton Grammer School Caistor Road 6 The new school buildings on Barrow Road have risen like a phoenix from the ashes over the past several months, and the corridors and classrooms are finally ready to welcome eager young minds for years to come.  Taking a trip back in time, it seems like only yesterday that the “Lower School” on Caistor Road was closed and demolished in the early 2000s.  Step further into the past and recall the merger of Barton Grammar School (on Caistor Road) and Beretun Secondary Modern School (on Barrow Road) in 1975.  Some may even have faint memories of the school first opening in 1931 as Barton-on-Humber Secondary School!

From its early days known as the “Grammar School” in the mid-1930s, the school welcomed boys and girls who passed the 11+ exam, with those who didn’t pass the “scholarship” remaining in either the Council or Church Schools until school-leaver age, when many young adults began to learn a trade.  When Beretun Secondary Modern School opened its doors, pupils left their Primary School to join the masses attending this new school on Barrow Road, with the more academic students transferring to Barton Grammar School on Caistor Road.

This division naturally fostered a rivalry between the two schools and its pupils, which only ceased when both Barton Grammer School Caistor Road 15schools merged in 1975 and named Baysgarth School, with the buildings colloquially split into the “Upper School” and the “Lower School”, linked by a path alongside the shared sports field.

The new intake of 11-year-olds, from primary schools in Barton and the surrounding villages, were housed in the Lower School (the original Grammar School buildings) for their first year.  For new students, accustomed to their familiar primary school environment where lessons were all based in one room with the same teacher, a transition to the Lower School was often overwhelming!  The cavernous school hall with its dark-stained wooden floorboards, creaking under new shoes, led to long corridors and the infamous Science classrooms in the lower “dungeons”.  Clutching their new bags and books, and conspicuous in fresh uniforms, students were placed into one of six houses – Ancholme, Bardney, Lindsey, Newton, Treece and Wold.

Barton Grammer School Caistor Road 5The houses were named after a combination of influential people from the town and school’s history, and local connections.  “Treece” house was named after British poet and writer Henry Treece, who once worked as a teacher at the Grammar School.  During the Second World War he joined the Royal Air Force as an Intelligence Officer, and when the war ended he returned to his teaching post and progressed to Senior English Master.  He also continued to write and contributed broadcasts to BBC radio. Whilst teaching at the Grammar School, one of his pupils was Ted Lewis, author of Jack’s Return Home (subsequently retitled Get Carter).  Recognising Lewis’ talent for writing and art, Henry Treece encouraged him to pursue his dreams, so he enrolled at Hull Art School, later becoming an animation specialist and writing nine published novels.

Many happy school day memories are recalled – the Grammar School hymn, “Keep Faith”, which was sung to herald Barton Grammer School Caistor Road 5the end of term and the start of the holidays; cricket matches with the teachers in the summer sunshine, and more recently, the annual talent show with staff showcasing their singing and dancing skills!

The closure of the Lower School left just the annexe on the Caistor Road site and the other buildings on Barrow Road to house pupils from Year 7 to the Year 13.  A move away from the house system meant that pupils fell into smaller form groups for morning and afternoon registration.  For creative students, a purpose-built drama studio and large school hall gave them the perfect platform to hone their talents, and for students keen on Science, laboratories were ready and waiting to create all manner of experiments.  Much excitement was felt when the Van de Graaff generator was installed in the Physics classroom!

Barton Grammer School Caistor Road 5The new Baysgarth School is built on the existing site of the original school on Barrow Road, with brand new facilities including a “Sports Village” with skate park – a far cry from the original sports hall and gym recalled by those who remembered their PE kit!  If you are interested in exploring the new school, an Open Day is being held on Saturday, October 7.  You won’t be guaranteed a trip down memory lane, but this new era of Baysgarth School is certainly an opportunity for future generations to carve their own paths, make their own memories and follow their dreams.  Take a look at some of the old class photos from decades past – if you can spot family, friends, neighbours or even yourself, we’d love to hear your memories of school days!

Barton Beretun School 1Barton Beretun School 3   All photographs of Barton’s secondary schools gone by courtesy of   Brian Peeps

A death in the Great War enables generations to enjoy delights of Baysgarth House and Park

George Robert Marmaduke Stanbury Taylor

One hundred years ago tomorrow (September 30, 2017) the lives of one of Barton’s most eminent families, like so many others whether rich or poor around the country, was changed forever.

George Robert Marmaduke Stanbury Taylor, the heir to barrister Robert Wright Taylor of both Baysgarth House and London, was killed in action at Wieltje, near Passchendaele on that day.  He was buried in the Mendinghem British Cemetery near Proven, north-west of Ypres. Continue reading »

Carousels to candyfloss – all the fun of Barton Fair over the centuries

Do you remember those blissful summer days wandering home with a goldfish in a plastic bag that you won at the fair, the scent of candyfloss and fried onions in the air? It sounds poetic, whimsical almost, when we explore the changing nature of Barton Fair, with tales of circus tricks, homemade toffee apples and steam-powered carousels aplenty.

Barton Market Place (Courtesy of Brian Peeps) Barton Market Place (Courtesy of Brian Peeps)

Reading through Barton Parish Magazine archives, a semblance of the Barton Fair began in 1202 and was part of a celebratory religious feast. It was customary for a fair to be held on the first Sunday after the great feast of Whitsun, Trinity Sunday, and was naturally transferred to the following day when the Market in Barton was moved from a Sunday to a Monday in 1202. The fair became chartered in 1248, and apart from its subsequent change to a Thursday (to coincide with the new Corpus Christi Day in about 1312), the Barton Fair continued for many years as a “pleasure fair”.

Continue reading »

Heritage Open Days Events Part 2: Walks and Talks

P3 Far IngsThey say you shouldn’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk. Well when it comes to Barton’s Heritage Open Days, we can do plenty of both, and we do it with style. Come along to any of our six walks and talks to see what we mean.

Guided tours and open building – St Peter’s Church – Sunday September 10, 10am – 3pm with guided tours at 10am, 12 noon, and 2pm Continue reading »

Heritage Open Days Events Part 1: Special Events and One Offs

RopewalkEveryone from near and far will get the chance to take part in a range of exciting one off events taking place between September 7 and 10, Barton’s Heritage Open Days 2017. From walks and talks to special openings and children’s quizzes, it’s all there.

These two special blogs will give readers a sneak preview of what is to come over the long weekend, so you can decide which events to put at the top of your list. Continue reading »

Theatre through the ages in Barton

If William Shakespeare is correct in writing “all the world’s a stage”, then that certainly seems to apply to Barton-upon-Humber, which continues to celebrate a proud tradition of theatrical performance, writes Jo Marwood.  Many venues in the town, from the historic Joseph Wright Hall to the natural landscape of Baysgarth Park, have played host to professional and amateur performances alike over the years, and 2017 is no exception.

With two family performances in Baysgarth Park already under its belt, including internationally renowned Bash Street Theatre’s “Bellevue Hotel”, and a busy schedule at Ropery Hall, the Temperance Hall (Assembly Rooms) and Joseph Wright Hall planned for autumn, the town certainly has little opportunity to pause for dramatic effect! Continue reading »

Wildlife Day at the Waters’ Edge Visitor Centre and Country Park

This coming Sunday, July 30, the Waters’ Edge Visitor Centre and Country Park is giving everyone the opportunity to get out and enjoy their local countryside while learning about the wildlife that calls it home.  The park will be hosting its biggest event of the year; a family focused, activity filled Wildlife Day. To get involved and support local wildlife, just pop along to the Waters’ Edge in Barton between 10am and 5pm on Sunday. Most events are free and it’s a great day out.

Special events will be taking place throughout the day, all over the country park and the centre itself for children and adults alike. See noble birds of prey in all their airborne glory, watch really wild drama courtesy of Rhubarb Theatre, go bug hunting, make pottery snails and garden plaques in the Activity Zone and learn about bees, woodlands, flowers and natural medicines during a range of walks and talks throughout the day. Continue reading »

Contact Details

Tourist Information
Telephone: 01652 631500

Barton Town Council
Telephone: 01652 633598

Barton-upon-Humber Tourism Partnership
Telephone: 01652 660380