Deadline to look after the past

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A COMMUNITY group which looks after Morpeth’s historical artefacts has been given a Town Hall deadline.

The range of items relating to the town’s past are currently being stored by the Morpeth Antiquarian Society in a county council building at Newbiggin.

The organisation was offered space by Morpeth Town Council in the Town Hall’s Butter Market to display some of them soon after the authority took on the building with Northumberland Registration Services in 2010.

It has yet to make a decision, but councillors have forced the issue by giving members until the end of March to say if they want to take up the area.

Discussions have taken place between members of the Morpeth Heritage Collections Steering Group – which include Coun Ken Brown from the town council and representatives from the Friends of Morpeth Museum (FOMM), Greater Morpeth Development Trust, the Antiquarians, Northumberland County Council, the Woodhorn Trust and other individuals with private collections.

At a meeting of the Morpeth authority’s Property and Asset Management Committee, Coun Brown said: “The plan that was mentioned at the steering group was to build up gradually towards a heritage centre, starting with putting some items on display in the Butter Market.

“Although its members have done exhaustive research on a range of cabinets that it could use, no progress has been forthcoming with the Antiquarians so I think it’s necessary to give it a deadline.”

The issue will be discussed at the next meetings of the Antiquarian Society and FOMM in January.

Morpeth Antiquarian Kim Bibby-Wilson said: “Our long-term aim is to achieve the safety of the collections and making sure they are accessible to people in the town centre.

“We have looked into either buying display cases or having them made, but this is expensive and we have to decide whether it would be the best use of our funds at the moment.”