The Heritage Interest Group works together to identify, develop and deliver heritage projects and activity and promote local heritage in Morpeth and the surrounding areas.
All the projects aim to improve the Morpeth area for the community and visitors to the town, increase visitor numbers by promoting history and heritage related to tourism and identify projects to be developed that relate to protecting and promoting local heritage and history.
Over the years, the group has been involved with many projects across Morpeth including the Emily Wilding Davison restoration project, developed interpretation for various heritage sites throughout Morpeth and delivered the annual Heritage Open Days.
Activities in 2015-16
Heritage Network: One important role is facilitating the town-wide Morpeth Heritage Network along with the furtherance of some of the long-term aims of the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan. The feasibility study for a Heritage and Arts Centre in Morpeth was completed during the year by an outside consultant and presented to council and community groups; while it concluded that such a centre would be feasible, the challenge for the future is to continue to engage with stakeholders, particularly the County Council which owns prime sites, to support the initiative.
Gathering: GMDT participated in the usual calendar of events, including supporting April’s Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering, which celebrated a War and Peace theme which also was the focus of Morpeth Antiquarian Society’s researches and exhibitions into the First World War. A mini-display of artefacts reflecting life in the trenches is still on view in the Butter Market glass cases in the Town Hall.
Signage: Interpretation panels showing old photographs and information about the Chantry and Market Place were installed and as part of the Environment Agency’s Flood Protection Scheme the Trust collaborated on signs for High Stanners and Middle Green featuring images and heritage information.
Railway Station: The major scheme to regenerate the railway station through creating office space from unused areas of the historic building continued through the year and has now passed the hurdle of planning permission.
Books: As part of her series of books on the heritage of Morpeth Bridget Gubbins has been busy researching and writing the early history of the de Merlay family, soon to be published by GMDT. The project has involved discovering the French village where the first baronial family of Morpeth originated, establishing links with the local mayor and school, and working on a dramatic presentation, all of which will result in not one, but two, books, for adult and younger readers.
Heritage Open Days: September’s national Heritage Open Days saw an intensive programme of 23 special free events or venue openings over four days –– including new venues at Longhorsley and the Old Bakehouse Millennium Green, a display at Morpeth Railway Station and a musical presentation on the songs and tunes relating to Admiral Lord Collingwood. The Trust was most grateful to Meg Wilson for co-ordinating the logistics and publicity of our HODs events. A return to university means Meg is unable to help in person for 2016, but another willing volunteer, Val Knowles, has kindly stepped forward. Special thanks must also go to GMDT administrator Karen Tweddle and minute-taker Alison Byard for their hard work in supporting the group over the year.
Kim Bibby-Wilson, Director for Heritage
All of GMDT's Interest Groups help to deliver regeneration projects and support other groups operating within the Morpeth area. Our ethos is to work in partnership for the benefit of the community so if you are interested in working with us on a project - just get in touch.