New home required for treasured town items

Members of Morpeth Antiquarian Society with some of the items of Morpeths social history at Newbiggin Library in 2012.
Members of Morpeth Antiquarian Society with some of the items of Morpeths social history at Newbiggin Library in 2012.

The countdown has started to find alternative premises for a range of artefacts relating to Morpeth’s social history.

Morpeth Antiquarian Society’s (MAS) activities include running an annual exhibition in the Town Hall and displaying items in shop windows during the Heritage Open Day events in September.

It had a museum at The Chantry between 1965 to 1997 and the museum store then moved to the Town Hall, but it had to find somewhere to keep the artefacts in 2010 when Northumberland County Council decided that it would be occupied by the town council and a team from the county’s registrars service.

Suitable space for the books, photographs, memorabilia, equipment, oil paintings and more was found at Newbiggin Library, but this building is set to close as it has been announced that library services will move into the town’s sports and community centre later this summer.

So the society is having to step up its efforts to find another building and Morpeth residents who would like to help with its fund-raising are being urged to get in touch.

MAS executive committee member Kim Bibby-Wilson said: “Although we would ideally be in Morpeth at the moment, we have a really good space in Newbiggin.

“Given that this is a temporary arrangement, we’ve kept an eye out for potential alternatives, but the library was originally going to move into a new development on Front Street and so going into the leisure centre instead means we will have to find somewhere else sooner than expected.

“We’ve asked the county council and other partners about what accommodation to store the artefacts in could be available and we have some leads we’re investigating, both in Morpeth and outside the town.

“The issue we have is that the rents in Morpeth are higher than what we’re paying at the moment and there are also the removal costs to consider, so we will need to do some fund-raising and any support from residents would be much appreciated.

“We will be discussing the matter with members of the Friends of Morpeth Museum at a summit meeting this evening.”

At the same time, the society is hoping that a museum featuring its items could be part of one of the long-term developments in the pipeline for Morpeth as county council assets become available or get refurbished in the town centre.

Anyone who would like to support MAS can get in touch via email – enquiries@northumbriana.org.uk