Pirates of Crimdon Dene




Pirates of Crimdon Dene

The Treasure of Many Happy Returns


During May half-term families were invited to explore the beautiful coastal surroundings of Crimdon Dene at a free pirate-themed arts activity trail on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 June 2016, 10am – 4pm.

The visitor numbers exceeded expectation with around 2,500 people, mainly families, attending the event over the two days.

Nikki Locke, Head of East Durham Creates said: “We were totally overwhelmed by the turn out. It’s amazing to breathe new life back into a beautiful, under-used outdoor space. It’s nothing less than East Durham deserves.”

Pirates of Crimdon Dene – The Treasure of Many Happy Returns was imaginatively based around a fictional tale about pirates who would return every year to this coastal hide-away to show-off their bounty and share stories of daring-do on the high seas. Over the two days visitors were led along coastal pathways down into the leafy Dene to discover a pirate world full of hands-on activities and entertainment, including:





Captain Odd Sox and his sidekick Pablo Fantastico led their band of  merry shipmates through fun games, circus skills and hilarity including The Annual Pirates Talent Show.


Pirates of Menspants, The Bread and Butter Theatre Company

Two dashing, bearded, sea shanty-singing pirates, recruited new shipmates by wooing the crowds from aboard their barnacled covered ship.


Bell and Bullock present ‘Pirates, Parrots, Sirens and Seahorses’

Captain Bullock rode Polly, his permanently peckish giant parrot, on a quest for treasure, birdseed and romance. Meanwhile, in her Seahorse drawn chariot, Meranda the gorgeous Mermaid flirted with passing handsome sailors.


‘Pearl & Gump Show’ by Dodgey Clutch Theatre Company


Laurence and the Machine

This ‘two-man, one-man’ band entertained the crowds throughout the Festival site.


Blackhall Youth Band

A lively brass performance from the fantastic Blackhall Youth Band.


The Kenpo Kids

This talented youth group showcased their skills in American Kenpo.


Dangerous Productions

Brought pirate stilt walkers to Crimdon Dene.




‘Popple’s Tales’ with Laura Joy Robertson

This interactive two-part tale featured a ‘make me’ craft session, to create part of the story. Laura also performed her classic ‘Trail Tale’ where the story moved throughout the event space.


Susan Warlock

Interactive storytelling involving costume and puppets. Stories included ‘Salty Sue the Pirate Queen’ and ‘Dora and the Sock Monster’.


Alison Allday

An informative and comedic Pirate storytelling performance created especially for ‘Pirates of Crimdon Dene’.


Carol Close

Children listened to stories read by Carol Close from Blackhall Library.


Make & Do Craft Activities:


Creative Youth Opportunities

Guided the young pirates and smugglers of Crimdon Dene to craft their own parrots and pirate hats to wear on the high seas. Not only did young pirates and smugglers learn new skills to help them on their quest but they also captured the look of an old seadog.


Creative Youth Opportunities are a Community Interest Company based in East Durham who will be flying their flag high in Crimdon Dene throughout the event promoting art and creativity with young people.


JD Creative

Visitors joined in easy and fun make & do craft activities including paper cup hooks and pirate hats, walk-the-plank bookmarks and origami treasure maps.


KT RECreative

Children helped make a giant pirate-themed picture using modern techniques based on traditional clippy mat skills.


More activities with Life Mapping CIC and East Durham Childrens Centres.


Food Stalls

Meadows Mobile Catering

Coffee Supreme

The Waffle Co.

Earth & Fire Wood fired Pizza



“We took our 7 year old granddaughter to this event today not expecting much but it was fantastic. The craft tent had loads of imaginative activities related to the theme, our granddaughter and granddad thoroughly enjoyed the spinning plates and diablos, it was great to be able to have a go. The duo 2 man band were excellent and the show was brilliant. We had to leave at 1pm so did not manage to get round the whole range of things to do. We would like to thank everyone involved in the event and congratulate you all on your excellent organisational skills. More of these events please!”

Hilda Martin‎


“Thank you so much this was a super duper event x”

Gem-and Glen Wardymoo

“Amazing day today with the family at crimdon dene. Massive thank you to East Durham Creates.”

Natasha Magdalena Mason


“What a fantastic day at Pirates in Crimdon Dene lots of families enjoyed making pirate hats hooks and swords at the one point table well worth attending anyone who hasn’t been on 10 till 4 tomorrow.”

Debbie Unsworth‎


“Popped down today with my girls to support a friend. My girls are a little older than the kids who were there being 9 and 11 but they still got involved and loved the day. Ended up staying a while longer to explore the beach. . A very enjoyable day :)”

Sam Pallister

“What a well-planned, fun and memorable event today was. A massive well done to the whole team. We brought 6 kids ranging from 16 months to 11 years and I can honestly say there was something for everyone. Fabulous, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any future East Durham Creates activities and events X”

Nichola Hesslewood

“Fab afternoon…well done to everyone involved.”

Fiona Horsburgh

“I had a great day storytelling at the pirates event. Great turnout well organised lovely atmosphere hope to be back next year. (Susan Warlock performer).”

Susan Mary


“What a fab free event!!!!”

Kristy Jane Robson

“brilliant day for the kids loads of activities, crafts and entertainment, thankyou x”

Paula Elves

“Fantastic day! Really well organised and loads for the kids to do. Thank you to all involved in making it such a memorable day!!”

Kirsten McCartney

“Great day had by all, loads of fun filled activities which kept the children entertained all day (adults too).”

Karen Kay

“Brilliant day! My girls loved it all. Thank you”

Sarah Reid

“Fabulous day out would recommend it loads to do and all for free!”
Lynn Purvis

“We had a great day and is certainly worth going too. Would take a picnic and extra bag to carry all the crafts they make as loads to do.”

Karen Kay

“I had a brilliant day daughter enjoyed it loved all the activities overall brilliant day for families also thankyou for the treasure chest i won on the competition on fb my little girl loves it”

Kirstiee Annee Suttonn

“Was a brilliant day lots to see and do wud defo go again X”

Leigh-anne Sutton

“We had a great day! Loads to keep the kids entertained! Great job organisers”

Lisa Hall

“I think you can put this one down as a massive success. Well doneEd Creates team and volunteers.”

June Clark

“It was a brill day Emmie thoroughly enjoyed it so we did hope there is more and thanks to all involved x”

Jan Dougherty

“I had an absolutely fab day storytelling the atmosphere was fantastic a great event hope to be there next year”

Susan Mary

“Really loved the day and everyone was so friendly x”

Michelle Taylor Ward


The Heritage Coast Partnership commissioned East Durham Creates to produce this outdoor event to feature as part of their Reach for the Beach Outdoor Festival (Saturday 28 to Sunday 5 June 2016). This new event was devised especially for the people who live here, using a fun and artistic pirate theme to appeal to family audiences. The idea of ‘Many Happy Returns’ harks back to Crimdon Dene’s former days as a popular resort for many East Durham communities and hoped to stimulate the same effect with current residents.


Commissioned by Heritage Coast Partnership as part of Reach for the Beach Outdoor Festival. Created and presented by East Durham Creates.