Hidden treasures could see the light

ACTION is hotting up to put Morpeth’s hidden historic treasures on public display.

The Morpeth Heritage Collections Steering Group is expected to confirm within weeks that it will take up the offer of display space in the Town Hall.

The proposal was first put forward about 18 months ago when Morpeth Antiquarian Society was forced to move its collection out of the building because its storage room was needed for offices.

However, there have been delays in progressing the plans due to the cost of museum quality display cabinets, which can be as much as £14,000.

In December, Morpeth Town Council’s Property and Asset Management Group issued a deadline for a decision by the end of March on whether the offer of exhibition space would be taken up.

And after further discussions among the steering group, which has representatives from the Friends of Morpeth Museum, Morpeth Antiquarian Society, the Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT), Morpeth Town Council, Northumberland County Council, The Woodhorn Trust and private individuals with collections, it is anticipated that the plans will now go ahead.

Morpeth town councillor Ken Brown, who is a member of the group, said: “Things are starting to move on now.

“About 12 months ago GMDT commissioned a feasibility study on heritage in the town and the approach that was to be taken was an incremental one, starting off small and building up to a heritage centre somewhere in the town.

“The installation of display cabinets is the very first step of that incremental plan.

“The steering group met last week and hasn’t come to a definite conclusion, but given that meeting and some events since then, it is now of a mind that this is the first step of that approach.

“There is a meeting coming up and I’m confident that there will be some decision made on putting on displays in the Butter Market.

“The collections steering group will write formally to the town council to ensure that these plans are robust and in place.”

Coun Brown said the Friends of Morpeth Museum will bear the cost of the cabinets, which is likely to be around £3,000 each.

The update came at last week’s meeting of the Property and Asset Management Committee.

Members were told that the items expected to go on display will not have a high monetary value, but are important heritage pieces and will tell a story about the town.

The displays will feature treasures held by the Morpeth Antiquarian Society.

They will also include items from other collections, and some exhibitions may show pieces from the civic collection.

Coun Brown said: “They will tell a story, rather than be of value in themselves.

“For example one of the first exhibitions could be something to do with the Morpeth Olympics to tie in with the Olympic Games.

“The collections we are talking about aren’t just the ones held by the antiquarians.

“There will be things from King Edward VI School and private collections as well.”