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Wor Bella in schools

Peter Sagar is a teacher and local historian with an M.Phil in the regional identity of North East England. 

Before COVID-19, Peter taught day sessions in primary schools (Year 5 and Year 6 pupils) in North Tyneside and County Durham about local and regional history and heritage. 

Such was their success, Peter is now involved with the Bella Reay School Project. Schools in South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Sunderland, Gateshead, County Durham, Newcastle and Northumberland are discussing with him to deliver these much-sought sessions.


Peter explained: "The work is usually conducted over two days. I teach the children local songs and some of the great stories from the North East's Victorian heyday. 


"The pupils have responded to the songs and stories by writing their own songs, writing short pieces of drama and working with me to produce a music hall-type show telling stories from the past, through presentations, old songs and their own songs and drama."


Pupils are so enthused and inspired by Peter's teaching that many bring in artefacts from home or tell him stories that their parents or grandparents have told them. 


He continued: "The work is aimed at helping to raise the pupils' self-esteem and aspirations by telling them about the great things that were done in their local area in the past, including some of the many great inventions and innovations. 


"Students will also learn about other aspects of life in the North East in the years leading up to the First World War, such as how people worked together to solve their problems and the great personal achievements."


Peter added: "I think it is important for pupils to get a good understanding of their own cultural heritage which can then act as a bridge into other cultures and help them to understand themselves as well." 


The final outcome of the sessions - the music hall event - has often been attended by parents and grandparents and is usually performed in front of the rest of the school, helping more pupils to benefit from the work he does.  


Peter has created sessions tapered towards women (munitionette) footballers in WWI: their dangerous workplace conditions, the songs, the fashions and how the women overcame prejudices (football was seen as a "man's game" and "unfeminine"). He also leaves follow-up materials for the schools.

Jarrow Cross C of E Primary School

Peter Sagar spent a couple of days with 44 members of Year 6 in Jarrow Cross C of E Primary School in Jarrow, South Tyneside, in September 2022.


In addition to talking about Wor Bella, Peter taught them a couple of old North East songs and lots of other fascinating topics, including the history of Jarrow and the region.


Peter said: "It was a really enjoyable two days. The pupils were tremendously responsive and worked hard, writing a short play about Bella as well as a song about her, the pit in Jarrow and how we have to use renewable energy now. The children produced a great PowerPoint presentation.


Additionally, in arts and crafts, the pupils created and produced their own designs for football strips in the green and white colours of Blyth Spartans FC and some other football-related work. 

St. Matthew's R C Primary School

We are delighted and proud of this tremendous film made by Maddy Wiblin and the Year 6 pupils at St Matthew’s R C Primary School in Jarrow, South Tyneside, after a two-day course led by Peter Sagar.  


The film tells the story of female footballer Bella Reay, "Wor Bella", and how unfair it was that her brilliant football career was cut short when, at just 21 years old, women’s football was banned by the Football Association (FA) in 1921.


The film also tells us about life in Jarrow and the North East in the second half of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, including the mine at Jarrow, the Co-operative movement, the development of the Yemeni community in South Shields and, of course, Palmer’s shipyard and the Jarrow Crusade of 1936. 


It also features two old music hall songs and…. a new song and a play about Wor Bella, written and performed by the hugely talented students!


Well done to Maddy Wiblin and all the students of Year 6 at St Matthew’s in Jarrow for all their hard and excellent work.

St. Matthew's R C Primary School football banner

Top marks for St Matthew's School football banner!


Having worked closely with pupils at St Matthew’s Primary School in Jarrow, Peter was delighted when the youngsters produced their own banner as part of the excellent two-day session he spent with the pupils.


Peter explained: "The banner represents a number of different themes in connection with the story of Wor Bella and the school.


"It includes references to Bella Reay herself, to the First World War, to a female referee and to Blyth Spartans football teams, both men and women's teams."


Peter continued: "The banner also shows Bobby Moore lifting the World Cup for England at Wembley in 1966, Ronaldo with the European Cup, and a mention of the European Championship (Euros), which was taking place when we were working on the Wor Bella project at St Matthew’s in June 2021."


Peter added: "There is also a reference to St Matthew’s Primary School itself and to the Jarrow Crusade in 1936."


Once again, the pupils from St Matthew's have excelled themselves. Top marks!


"Our pupils benefited greatly from this project. There was something for everyone. Purposeful activities included script and song writing, performing, computing, arts and crafts. We loved it!" 

Tim Shenton, Headteacher, East Boldon Junior School.


"Peter really made local history come to life. They [the pupils] thoroughly enjoyed their work with him and gained a really good understanding of the issues of the time"

Susan McBeth, Headteacher, Jarrow Cross C of E Primary School.


"Thanks for all your hard work. It was great to see the children gain an real in depth knowledge and insight into their cultural heritage. It was good also to let the children being given the chance to express themselves in a more dramatical and expressive format." 

Steve Bowler, Headteacher of Monkton Primary School.


Peter is working with our education partners: 




2021/2022 school sessions


South Tyneside

June - 23 & 30 2021 - St Matthew’s R C Primary School, Jarrow

September - 21 & 28 2021 - Jarrow Cross C of E Primary School

October - 6  & 13 2021 - East Boldon Primary School

November - 3, 4, 10 & 11 2021 - Cleadon Academy

November - 19 & 26 2021 - Monkton Academy


To be rearranged - Seaburn Dene Primary School 


January 25 & February 1 2022 - Eastlea Primary School, Skipton Close, Cramlington

February 10, 11, 14 and 15 2022 - Blyth Academy


We are collating a small exhibition that will be used for educational purposes at Phoenix Theatre Blyth and then to accompany the tour. If you have any WWI football artefacts we can use, please contact us. 

If your arts, craft, photography group or organisation wants to be involved in creating artefacts for the Wor Bella project don't hesitate to contact us.

Illustrated talks

A series of illustrated talks about munitionettes football during WWI will be held in the run-up to the play next March (2022). More dates and information to be added soon.


The 100th anniversary of women's football being banned by the FA (1921).

Tuesday, 18 May 2021, 10 am to 11 am.

Our good friends Martin Peagam, secretary of the Cleveland & Teesside Local History Society and Robert Nichols, editor of the excellent Middlesbrough FC fanzine Fly Me To The Moon, are speaking at the Middlesbrough and Stockton Local History Month celebrations to commemorate the heroic Munitionettes who played football during WWI and the 100th anniversary of women's football being banned by the FA.


A disgraceful, political, decision that was only overturned by the FA in 1971.


There is no cost for this excellent session.

More events

WEA - podcast with Ed Waugh is online now! 


[Listen via WEA]

[Listen via BuzzSprout]

[Listen via Spotify]

Also available through Apple and Google platforms

County Durham and Northumberland

August 5 - Washington Village U3A

August 9 - Cramlington Hub

September 9 - Ashington WI

Carrying David Tour

Post-show Q&A sessions (all with Micky Cochrane):

September 14 - Queen's Hall Arts Centre, Hexham, Northumberland

September 18 - Alnwick Playhouse, Northumberland

September 19 - The Witham, Barnard Castle, County Durham

October 12  - Whitley Bay Comrades Club (14 The Links, Whitley Bay NE26 1PS). 7 pm.

October 20 - Whitley Bay U3A, Linskill Centre, North Shields, NE30 2AY. 2 pm.

October 21 - Ponteland Local History Society. St. Mary's Parish Centre, Thornhill Road. 7.30 pm.

October 27 - Cramlington Knit and Knatter group. John The Clerk of Cramlington. 10.30 am.


November 3 - Ponteland u3a. 2 pm.

November 18 - Friends of Newcastle Theatre Royal, Newcastle Theatre Royal. Geordie Plays (Vol.1). 2 pm.


December 6 - Newcastle Lit & Phil Society, Westgate Road. Geordie Plays (Vol.1). 6 pm.



January 5 - Cramlington Community Choir. The Hub, Cramlington. 7:30 pm.
January 13 - South Ridge W.I. (Whitley Bay). 7.30 pm.

January 21 - Westoe Miners Welfare. 8 pm.

January 26 - Morpeth Ladies Luncheon Club. 12.30 pm.

February 2 - Blyth u3a. Blyth Town FC. 1 pm.

February 3 - Blyth Rotary Club. Noon.

February 7 - Phoenix Theatre, Blyth. 2 pm & 7 pm.

February 9 - Wickham u3a. 2 pm.

February 14 - Felton and Thirston WI, Felton Village Hall. 7.30 pm.

February 16 - Sunderland u3a. 1.30 pm.

February 22 - Killingworth Local History Society (Harry Clasper talk). 7.30 pm.

February 23 - WHIST, South Shields. 1 pm.

February 23 - Blyth Library. 5.30 pm.

February 25 - Morpeth Antiquarian Society

March 1 - Stannington W1. Stannington Village Hall. 7.30 pm.

March 2 - North Shields Library. Women's football in North Tyneside and the region during WWI. 2 pm

March 3 - Newcastle & Darlington Retired Rail Staff, Gateshead Bowling Green Club. 1.30 pm.

March 3 - Blyth Spartans FC. Croft Park. (If you are attending, please confirm the time with the venue). 7 pm.


March 6 - A celebration of International Women's Day with South Tyneside Council at The Word, South Shields. From women's football in WW1 to the present day. Tickets are only £2 via The Word website. 1 pm to 3 pm. 


March 8 - Whitley Bay Library. International Women’s Day talk on Wor Bella. 2 pm.

March 9 - Gateshead Local History Society. 1.45 pm

March 10 - Seaton Deleval Arts Centre public talk. 7 pm.

March 14 - Blyth Library. 7 pm (online).

March 15 - Blyth Community Hub. 3.45 pm.

March 16 - Wednesday Heritage Club. The Word, South Shields. 2 pm.

March 16 - Thropton WI. Thropton Village Hall, Northumberland. 7.30 pm.

March 21 -  Jesmond WI. 7.30 pm.

March 22 - Blyth Phoenix Theatre, open/public rehearsal. All welcome. No charge. 1 pm.

March 22 - Wideopen WI, St Columbas Parish Church

March 24 - ​Whitley Bay FC - The Seahorse Pub, Hillheads Park, Hillheads Road, NE25 8HR. 8 pm.

May 7 - Newcastle City Library. Local History Month. Talk on Geordie Plays (Vol.1). 1 pm. 

May 13 - The Friday club. Broadway Methodist church, Cullercoats (Harry Clasper talk). 7 pm

May 14 - Local History Day. North Shields Library. Geordie Plays (Vol.1). 11 am.

May 19 - Guidepost and Sheepwash W.I.

May 24 - Killingworth Local History Society (Harry Clasper talk)

June 9 - West Denton Dollies (WI). TBC.

July 11 - Belford WI

September 14 - Cramlington WI. The Hub, Forum Way, Cramlington. 7 pm. 

September 20 - Hepscott WI. Village Hall. 2 pm.

October 19 - Peterlee u3a. 10.30 am.

North Benwell Youth Project

Wor Bella bunting_edited.jpg

The Young People's Committee at North Benwell Youth Project (NBYP) has taken Wor Bella to heart, producing this excellent bunting depicting Bella Reay and the story of Blyth Spartans Ladies.


The NBYP exists to work with - and empower - people up to the age of 25 living in that particular catchment area of Newcastle. More than 90% of attendees come from an eastern European Roma background, bringing their rich and diverse ancestral culture into the Geordie culture to create new and exciting happenings and fusions.


Margaret Ridley, lead Youth Worker at NBYP explained: "The young people's committee have been inspired by the story of Bella Reay and what she achieved through her footballing talent. They also admire the fact that women took on what were deemed as "men's roles" during World War I in the munitions' factories."


Members of the NBYP will be attending the Saturday matinee at Westovian Theatre, South Shields, on Saturday, 2 April 2022. 

North Tyneside Arts Studio

North Tyneside Arts Studio have created a terrific Wor Bella exhibition at Tynemouth Metro Station.  


The organisation, based at the Linskill Centre in North Shields, specialises in art for mental health, with more than 30 years of experience in the field.


The exhibition runs throughout April 2022 and is on the footbridge that straddles the two Metro platforms.

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