Morpeth Antiquarian SocietyMorpeth Antiquarian Society


Roland Bibby 1917 - 1997

John Roland Bibby was born in South Terrace, Cottingwood Lane, Morpeth, in 1917. Apart from his war service in Burma during World War 11 and brief periods working in Glasgow and Gateshead, he never again left Northumberland.

During this time, the society's tiny Museum was established in the Chantry chapel in the 1960s. and the first festival was held which grew into the highly successful Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering. He was prime mover of the magazine "Northumbriana", the periodical celebrating Northumberland. He also set up the Northumbrian Language Society, of which he was both Chairman and a Fellow. 

He was a scholar and writer. His articles on local history and topical issues for the Morpeth Herald appeared for over 50 years, with a short break in 1989 due to ill health. From the 1950s until his retirement he taught history at Blyth. He lectured in local history and language at every opportunity. His 'Bothal Observed' is the definitive history of that village. He was a dialect poet with a puckish sense of fun.

Roland Bibby 1917 - 1997
Roland Bibby 1917 - 1997

His championship of all things Northumbrian, its music, dance, history, literature, language, customs and scenery led to many calls on local radio, TV and national media and generated correspondence from all around the world. His studies were deep and comprehensive and his knowledge was profound.

He was a modest, humble, gentle giant, whose mild demeanour belied a dogged-some would say stubborn determination to fight for all he believed in. He never spoke a word in anger. After a setback he simply talked about the 'innate contrariness of life'. dusted himself down and prepared to go back into battle against all he saw as destroying the natural beauty and harmony of his beloved Northumberland. He was much loved, admired and respected. We miss him.

Janet Brown.

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