The Border Readers

When Stephen Tomlin moved from Lancaster to Northumberland in 2017 he set about establishing a rural touring circuit of cultural and community venues under The Border Readers banner.

In 2018, Haunted: Ghost Story Readings for Halloween was launched, with Stephen working with other regionally based colleagues as co-readers. He chose stories to give local audiences an intimate and memorable live listening experience. By 2019, with nearly double the number of venues, a further selection of supernatural fiction was presented to audiences over an even wider geographical area. In the midst of setting up the 2020 tour, Covid-19 struck and the programme was postponed until further notice. Stephen decided NOT to go ahead again this autumn due to ongoing uncertainty and potential restrictions that would affect our intimate style of presentation. However we remained open to ‘pop up’ performances at new venues postponed from last year, presenting a line up of ‘greatest hits’ from previous tours.

We are at Humshaugh Village Hall on Thursday 28th October Tickets can also be bought in person at Humshaugh Village Shop during normal weekday opening hours, £6 adults /£4 older children.

We will be at Gallery Forty5 Main Street Felton on Saturday 30th October The arts centre is open daily or phone 01670 – 783424 to book. Tickets £6 adults /£4 older children.

Both events start at 7.30. Seating at both venues is cabaret style tables and chairs, lights will be turned down low and there will be a licensed bar. Our stories are suitable listening for all curious adults and children over 10 years of age.


Janine Birkett Born in Northumberland and raised in Newcastle, Janette spent her early career touring with Northumberland Theatre Company before joining the Northern Stage Ensemble and performing at Theatre by the Lake; the New Vic Stoke; and the Stephen Joseph Theatre. In the 1990’s Janine was Byker Grove parent, Maggie Watson for three series; and she played Jenny Elliot, Billy’s Mam, in the film Billy Elliot. Other TV and film appearances include: Emmerdale, Hollyoaks, Holby City, The Royal, Inspector George Gently and Coronation Street. BBC Radio drama includes the long-running series My Uncle Freddie and the Jarrow March play, A Woman’s Walk. In the last four years Janine has narrated 40 audio-books including several by Vera author, Ann Cleeves.

Grace Kirby has been an actor, director and teacher for over 30 years. Graduating with BA Hons in Creative Arts from Newcastle Polytechnic she started her career with Tyneside community theatre, Dodgy Clutch. Stage credits include Communicado’s Fringe First award-winning Carmen: The Play and performing alongside Stanley Baxterin one of his legendary Edinburgh pantos. She performed with Hexham based Theatre sans Frontiers on their first English play Diamonds in your Pockets by Linda France and returned in 2018 to workshop new pieces based on Sherlock Holmes stories. In 2019 Grace worked with Librarian Theatre in an adaptation of Quentin Blake’s The Green Ship as Mrs Tredegar on a tour of libraries in southern England, Manchester and Cumbria.

Stephen Tomlin For almost half a century, since qualifying as a specialist teacher from the Central School of Speech & Drama, Stephen has worked extensively as an actor in television, theatre and radio as well as being a director, writer, researcher, role player, teacher and tour guide. Audio includes many voice overs & narratives as well as roles in Radio 4’s The Archers, Writing the Century and Home Front alongside many single dramas and serials. Based in Lancaster from 1976, Stephen also produced promenade Shakespeare, ghost story readings and Christmas concerts at Lancaster Castle under the demi-paradise banner from 2000 – 2016. Since 2017 he has been happily resettled in the north Tyne valley.


Christine Poulson enjoyed a successful career as an art historian and academic before turning to crime writing. She worked as a curator at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the William Morris Society, and taught for the Open University and at Cambridge. That city and its surrounding Fens feature in the first of her Cassandra James series of crime novels. Safe as Houses (2007) is a hair raising tale of a young professional couple and their small child, haunted by the unseen presence of something, or someone, that gets into the smart system controlling their home.

Edith Nesbit (1858-1924) When a pair of newlywed artists settle down in a rented cottage in a quiet village, they look forward to a pastoral life of creativity and domestic bliss. But little do they suspect what can happen in the English countryside come Halloween! Man Size in Marble is a well crafted gothic shocker that reveals a very different side of the famous children’s book author, best known for The Railway Children and Five Children and It.

Kate Clanchy is a leading poet, short story writer and teacher who first came to prominence as the winner of the 2009 BBC Short Story Award. The Wall, originally commissioned by English Heritage, was inspired by her 2017 residency at Housesteads Roman Fort. A moving and beautifully written tale of family loss, love and redemption set on modern day Hadrian’s Wall, it’s as satisfying and original as a good contemporary ghost story can be.