Visitors to Woodhorn will enjoy a brand new museum feature as the doors open on an exciting interpretation experience in the historic Winding House No 2.
The new facility will enable visitors to gain a much greater understanding of the role and significance of the Winding House, thanks to funding by Biffa Award, through AIM (the Association of Independent Museums) as part of the National Heritage Landmarks Scheme.
The huge winding engine has been revealed from ground level and its story is told through the use of animation and historic documentation alongside informative and entertaining oral histories.
Built in 1899/1900 and located at the heart of the original colliery complex (a scheduled ancient monument), Winding House No 2 is the Last Victorian engine house in Northumberland still containing a working winder.
Following the disaster at nearby Hartley colliery in 1862 where men and boys underground were trapped when the single shaft was blocked by the pumping engine beam, it became law that all collieries had a second exit.
The engine in Woodhorn’s second Winding House was originally powered by steam, but this was replaced in 1975 by the Metropolitan Vickers electric winder which continued to operate even after Woodhorn Colliery closed in 1981, until the closure of Ashington Colliery in 1986. Although no longer pulling cages up and down the shaft, the winder engine, wheel and the Winderman’s control cabin on the third floor of No.2 Winding House are still in working order and are demonstrated at weekends and to educational groups.
Jo Raw, Assistant Director at Woodhorn, has overseen the developments of the Winding House. “The funding from Biffa Award through the AIM National Landmarks Scheme has enabled us to create a new, fully accessible experience which will be open to visitors every day.
“The ceiling of the ground floor space now spectacularly opens up to reveal the huge winding wheel above that dominates all 3 floors of the building making it a perfect space for everyone to learn about the crucial role the winding house played in the day to day running of the colliery.”
Gillian French, Head of Grants, Biffa Award, added: “We’re really pleased to be able to use Landfill Communities Funding to support incredible cultural heritage projects. The new Winding House interpretation will be a valuable asset to engage the public in this exciting aspect of our history,”
For more information, visit www.experiencewoodhorn.com