Museum’s historic colliery building to be refurbished

The Winding House at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington.
The Winding House at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington.

A museum in south east Northumberland has been awarded funding to bring a major part of the county’s heritage back to life.

Woodhorn Museum in Ashington is one of only a handful of museums and attractions around the country to secure grant support to assist with the interpretation of industrial property.

The historic nature of the building also means that it has not been accessible to all, and whilst we can’t change that, hopefully the new interpretation will add significantly to a visit by those less mobile.

Woodhorn director Keith Merrin

The museum has received £35,000 to refurbish the historic colliery winding house, which has remained largely untouched since the 1980s, and it will install new interpretation material so that it can be permanently accessible to the public for the first time.

Located at the heart of the original colliery building complex at Woodhorn, No.2 winding house was built between 1899 and 1900 and is the last Victorian engine house in Northumberland to still contain a working winder.

Biffa Award has pledged £1.5m over three years to the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) for the National Heritage Landmarks Partnership Scheme, which aims to create a high profile network of interpretation and education projects across the UK that will showcase the far-reaching changes in industrial development that have shaped the nation’s history.

Woodhorn director, Keith Merrin, said: “Although we have been able to offer timed demonstrations of the winding engine, we have not been able to facilitate independent visits to the building so far.

“The historic nature of the building also means that it has not been accessible to all, and whilst we can’t change that, hopefully the new interpretation will add significantly to a visit by those less mobile.”

Commenting on the latest round of awards, Sir Neil Cossons, chairman of the awards’ advisory panel, added: “The third and final round of the AIM/Biffa Award scheme, like the first two, has resulted in a diverse range of really excellent applications, again demonstrating the significance of Britain’s outstanding industrial heritage.

“These grants will support conservation, enhancement of access for the public and major improvements in interpretation.”

Annual awards are allocated to projects that help transform derelict buildings and sites into inspirational resources that tell the stories of people, processes, industrial development and change.

The other successful projects this year include, Burlesdon Brickworks, Hampshire; National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port; Middleport Pottery, Longport; Mail Rail, London; and ss Great Britain, Bristol.