Work starts on £2m Morpeth Railway Station improvements
26 October 2018
Work has started on giving Morpeth Railway Station which is widely regarded as one of the finest surviving examples of Victorian railway architecture on the East Coast main line between London and Edinburgh, a new lease of life and making it fit-for-purpose for 21st Century train travellers.
Led by Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT) a partnership of the National Lottery, Northumberland County Council, North East Rural Growth Network, the Railway Heritage Trust, and track and train operators Network Rail and Arriva Rail North, is funding the £2.2 million scheme to repair, restore and redevelop the station that was designed and opened in 1846 by Benjamin Green, one of the great pioneering railway architects of his day.
The latest edition of INSIDE MORPETH magazine
22 October 2018
Greater Morpeth Development Trust are proud to support MORPETH Magazine - distributed free every two months to all homes in the Morpeth area
For more information including advertising opportunities - contact the editor Ian Leech
December 2017/January 2018
Picnic in the Park in pictures
31 July 2018
Picnic in the Park 2018 was held in blazing heat on Sunday 15th July...
Here are some pictures to remind you:
Photos taken by Doug Phillips and Gracie Gray
Rail Station Update
20 July 2018
The project is subject to commercially sensitive negotiations which have an impact on the timescale and cost, but once these have been resolved, GMDT will issue an appropriate press update to inform all interested parties on the status of the project.
There will be a presentation on the Station scheme at our AGM on the 9th August at Morpeth Town Hall, starting at 7pm, all welcome.
Morpeth Litter Group - Taking Pride in Our Town
28 March 2018
The Environment Group has been arranging occasional litter picks for some years. It has become apparent that several other groups and individuals are also doing this in and around the town. In the period December 2017- January 2018 in conjunction with Morpeth Lions, some EIG members formed the Morpeth Litter Group. The aim is to avoid duplication, to pool resources, to enhance the appearance of the town, and to feed back information to the Town and County Councils on the most neglected “grotspots”. We will try to meet every month or two to eventually cover most of the town. and to time events to coincide with Britain and Northumbria In Bloom inspections, Keep Britain Tidy Great British Spring Clean and the Lions Protect the Planet month. It is hoped that by lobbying the Councils, their litter picking strategy will be adjusted to include long-term neglected “grotspots”, and might also result in opening up and landscaping some areas which are currently hidden or are neglected wasteland.
Our first event at the top of Postern Burn on February 11th attracted 18 people who shifted 25 or more bags of litter in one and a quarter hours.
Our second blitz on 25th March concentrated on the two older estates in Stobhill, attracted 22 volunteers who collected some 36 bags of rubbish in an hour and a half.
We have been pleasantly surprised by very positive feedback to date regarding the two first events. The events have attracted a diverse range of volunteers of all ages, and many of those helping have told us that they have never done anything like this before and have found it therapeutic both in respect of helping to clean up the town and also because of the humour and camaraderie generated. Apart from GMDT and Lions volunteers those involved to date, or expressing interest in helping, include the Morpeth Justice and Peace Group, Coca Cola Enterprise volunteers and Morpeth Rotary Club, as well as some individuals. We could always benefit from more helpers so please see below.
We have a winner!
18 July 2017
Congratulations to Tim Nichol and Paul Cockburn, the two lucky winners of the GMDT Prize Draw at Picnic in the Park on Sunday.
Tim wins a £30 voucher for Morpeth Tandoori Takeway and Paul wins a £20 voucher for Ephesus Restaurant
"I, Daniel Blake" Screening raises £1025
14 February 2017
The Greater Morpeth Development Trust would like to thank everyone who supported the fund raising screening of I, Daniel Blake last Saturday. The screening was a complete sell out and £1025 was raised in ticket sales and donations for the Wansbeck Valley and the Newcastle West End food banks. May we also thank everyone who volunteered on the evening to make this charity event run so smoothly.
02 January 2017
Staff and volunteers at the Greater Morpeth Development Trust were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of John Caffrey.
John was a highly respected and talented artist and ornithologist and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Morpeth. He provided his expertise voluntarily to the Trust for many years. His artwork will continue to be viewed on many of the information signs around Morpeth.
Image of a Greater Spotted Woodpacker donated by John Caffrey to GMDT.
Now available as one of a series of cards "Birds of Morpeth" produced by the Trust.
Redevelopment of Morpeth Station moves even closer
20 October 2016
The key partners working together on ambitious plans to breathe new life into the historic Morpeth Railway Station have pledged their financial commitments to the proposals.
[photo: l-r Doug Phillips (Chair of GMDT), Natasha Wilding (Northern Rail, Head of Trains & Stations), Cllr Grant Davey (Leader, Northumberland CC)]
It is anticipated that work, which will include on the refurbishment of station buildings and the conversion of some of them into offices for up to seven small businesses, will start on site around March or April next year with a completion date late in 2017.
Greater Morpeth Development Trust which has been working on the station plans for more than four years, says it has secured the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Railway Heritage Trust, train operators Northern, rail network managers Network Rail, and Northumberland County Council to meet the £1.7m cost of the work needed to ensure the 167 year old station is ‘fit-for-purpose’ for 21st Century travellers.
That work will include the creation of a bistro café and improved ticket office services.
For the first time in many years, toilet facilities will be available for travellers using the station throughout the day once the work has been completed, while a quirky caboose-style building may also be located in the station forecourt which could be utilised for additional traveller services.
“We are very close to pressing the button to start commissioning work at the station,” commented GMDT Chairman Doug Phillips. “The financial package with our partners is now in place and just needs the legalities completing to allow us to put the development team together.
“It has been a long journey to reach this point but we have persevered in progressing our plans for the station because Morpeth rail travellers deserve the best facilities and re-developing the empty office space will provide much needed accommodation for small businesses in a unique trading environment.”
Councillor Grant Davey, Leader of Northumberland County Council, said the authority had been keen to work with GMDT as one of the partners on its Morpeth Station plans. “We want to see the Development Trust continue its good work on behalf of the town and developing Morpeth railway station in the way it proposes will help it do that by providing it with a sustainable income from letting out and managing the office space and café.
“It is also important that Morpeth is provided with the best rail transport facilities at a time when passenger services are being improved and expanded.”
Earlier this year Northern won the train operator’s franchise for the next three years and has taken the opportunity to be actively involved in the redevelopment at Morpeth as a major project in its portfolio of stations
Natasha Wilding, Northern’s Head of Trains and Stations (North East) commented: “We are delighted to be working with the Trust to see Morpeth Station is redeveloped to ensure passengers can enjoy modern rail services including improved ticket office facilities.”
Rail users were told recently that more trains from London to Edinburgh will be stopping at Morpeth in the future as well as new cross-Pennine services at a time when Northumberland County Council is keen to press ahead with plans to re-introduce passenger services on the Byth & Tyne route from Tyneside through Blyth (Bebside) to Ashington and Woodhorn..
The South East Northumberland Rail Users Group has also launched a campaign see the existing MetroCentre service to Morpeth extended northwards to Berwick upon Tweed possibly linking up with trains running through the Scottish Borders to Edinburgh along what is being dubbed as the ‘North Sea Coast’ route.
“Potentially these are very exciting times for rail travel in and out of Morpeth with new services being announced alongside our own plans to improve and conserve the historic fabric of the station which has been such a key part of the East Coast rail network for 167 years and a key gateway into the town and south east Northumberland” added Doug Phillips.
Picnic in the Park 2016
08 July 2016
It’s ‘Picnic in the Park’ on Sunday 17th July in Morpeth's Carlisle Park and that must mean one thing…..that the school holidays are just around the corner!
For a number of years now Greater Morpeth Development Trust has been organising the fabulous fun event for the whole family in Carlisle Park as a great way of kicking off the school summer holidays as part of its all-year-round entertainment programme.
The event has grown in stature over the years as more and more local organisations and entertainers have signed up to take part.
This year the ‘Picnic’ has adopted a Medieval Morpeth theme in keeping with the town’s long history and there will be plenty to keep people entertained all afternoon.
For starter’s there’ll a free BBQ courtesy of Morpeth Churches Together. Ellington Colliery Band will be providing musical entertainment and returning after being such a popular entertainer last year will be circus performer Nat Lunatrick. Jo Jingles will be keeping toddlers busy with songs and movements, while children will be able to make their own jewelled crowns as part of a ‘Picnic’ art project.
The Army Cadets will be taking along a climbing wall and for the less energetic Barry Mead will be helping visitors to make their own medieval tiles.
Morpeth Art Group will there along with artist and caricaturist Jan Szymcuk, a contestant in the BBC ‘The Big Painting Challenge’ programme to find the country’s top amateur artist.
During the afternoon there will be many other stalls including one manned by the ladies from Woodhorn Matters who will be inviting visitors to try their hand at the old craft of proggy or hooky mat-making. Guide Dogs for the Blind will also be at the ‘Picnic’ along with face painting, a small animal petting area courtesy of Whitehouse Farm, a bouncy castle and table top stalls from Morpeth Chantry.
The fun begins at 12 Noon and runs until 4pm and the best thing of all says GMDT’s Arts & Cultural Director Frank Rescigno is that there will be no charge for admission.
“It promises to be another great afternoon for all the family and we look forward to welcoming lots and lots of visitors,” said Frank.
Morpeth station plans secures National Lottery funding
03 July 2016
Ambitious plans to give Morpeth Railway Station a major facelift while also creating trackside offices for small businesses have moved a significant step closer with the news that the project has been awarded £797,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. (HLF).
Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT) has secured the money from the HLF’s Heritage Enterprise scheme which through grants can meet some of the costs of repairing neglected historic buildings that would otherwise not be considered commercially viable.
For the past four years GMDT has been working with partners and funders preparing the plans for the 167 year old Grade II listed station building, designed by architect Benjamin Green for the Newcastle & Berwick Railway Company. Morpeth Station is now regarded as one of finest surviving examples of Green’s ‘Jacobethan’ style railway buildings on the East Coast main line between London and Edinburgh .
It is, however, the only one of Green’s surviving station buildings in Northumberland to retain passenger facilities.
The plan is to restore the historic features of the station’s buildings as well as developing offices to create a sustainable future for them by providing enterprise space for seven small businesses. The £1.6m scheme also includes work to re-open the station’s original portico entrance as well as providing a cafeteria/bistro and modernising the ticket office and toilets facilities.
In addition to the National Lottery funding GMDT had previously secured £250,000 from the Railway Heritage Trust which supports the preservation, upkeep and future sustainability of buildings and structures that form part of Britain’s historic rail network, and is in advanced talks with potential partners including Northumberland County Council, Network Rail and train operator’s Northern Rail/Arriva to complete the required final funding package.
GMDT’s Chief Executive David Lodge said::
“The HLF award is a huge step forward towards delivering our proposals for Morpeth Railway Station and we are now confident that we should be in a position to start work on site by the end of this year.
“Securing this grant signifies that HLF has bought into our vision to restore the station buildings to their former glory by giving them a sustainable future and making them fit-for-purposes for the growing number of people who are traveling by train to and from Morpeth. New rail services for Morpeth travellers have already been announced and along with plans to re-open the Blyth & Tyne line to passenger traffic and the new private housing being built around town, they will significantly increase the number people using the station.
“The condition of the station buildings has deteriorated over a number of years and much of the vacant space is currently unused. We plan to change that by creating up to seven serviced offices for small businesses in what would be a unique setting at the side of the East Coast main line track.
“There is a shortage of bespoke offices for small businesses in Morpeth and our plans will go some way towards meeting that demand. Being in the station would also be a wonderful marketing opportunity for new small businesses to get noticed.”
With a build time of around eight months the Trust hopes that the work on the renovated station buildings would be complete by the end of summer 2017.
The station project is the second time GMDT has been involved in restoring one of Morpeth’s most historic buildings. Seven years ago it project managed improvements to the 300 year old Morpeth Town Hall designed by Sir John Vanbrugh who was also credited with designing Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.
About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery
Town Centre Workers' Car Parking Survey
26 March 2016
SURVEY NOW CLOSED... a similar survey for residents will be available in a couple of weeks time
All market towns face car parking challenges and Morpeth is no exception. Before parking charges were removed in April 2014 our car parks were, on average, only 65% full and were under utilised. Recent measurements indicate that car parks are up to 92% full on busier days and 85% on a not so busy day, meaning that at times we will struggle to find a parking space.
So removing parking restrictions altogether seems an untenable solution. In order to find some ways of improving the parking situation in Morpeth town centre, your Town Team would like to understand a little more about the parking habits of those people who work in the town centre.
Morpeth Station through the years!
10 February 2016
Can you help Greater Morpeth Development Trust build up a picture of Morpeth Railway Station over the past 169 years since it opened in 1847?
Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT) is seeking help to build up an historical picture of the town’s 19th Century railway station designed by the renowned architect Benjamin Green who with his father John was responsible for some of the most iconic buildings in the North East.
Later this year the Trust hopes to be given the ‘green light’ to start work on an ambitious plan to refurbish and remodel Morpeth Railway Station to both improve facilities for travellers as well as creating unique office space for up to seven small businesses in its trackside buildings.
The Trust is currently in talks with a number of funders in an effort to put together a £1.6m financial package to allow the work to go ahead.
In the meantime it is also embarking on a community based heritage project to capture the 169 year old history of the station - first opened in 1847 - which is still regarded as one of the finest surviving examples of the Victorian railway network along the East Coast main line.
The Trust is hoping to build up a quality collection of archive material about the railway station with the help of local people who may have old photographs, stories, documents or memorabilia which they are prepared to either donate or allow to be scanned and copied as part of the project.
To begin the project the Trust is organising a number of public engagement sessions starting at Morpeth Town Hall on Wednesday February 17th between Noon and 7pm to give people the chance to find out more about the project and also perhaps contribute archive material to be added to the collection.
If enough material can be collected GMDT is hoping it can be used for research work, interpretation panels, leaflets or even a book to complement the book "Morpeth and the Railways" by Peter R Carling (published by Morpeth Antiquarian Society 2013).
More information about the project is available from GMDT’s Karen Tweddle who can be contacted on (01670) 503866 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting Ready for the Gathering
08 February 2016
The 49th annual Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering - the annual festival of Northumberland’s music, dance, crafts and dialect.- is Friday 1st - Saturday 2nd - Sunday 3rd April and will feature: pageantry, concerts, workshops, sessions, barn dance, street shows, re-enactments, dance displays, bells, competitions, storytelling, orienteering, exhibitions, bellringing, talks.
Special themed events for Fools, Fires and Fuddling! Medieval life, fires of Morpeth, drinking! Commemorating the 800th anniversary of King John setting fire to the town in 1216, plus a bit of April fooling and drinking songs.
Entries for competitions in arts & crafts, writing & composing and performing are now open. See the website for details and entry forms.
Appeal for Patrons:
Support for the Gathering through one of two Patron Schemes will help keep the event running...
Ticket Patrons: for a minimum donation of £40 (or £70 per couple) paid in advance you can support the Gathering and also receive a free ticket per event requested – a guaranteed discount on the weekend!
Plaque Patrons: for a minimum donation of £12 you can support the Northumbrian competitions by paying towards the cost of one of the more than 80 winners’ shields that we provide each year.
For both schemes application forms and further information are available from the Gathering Office: Westgate House, Dogger Bank, Morpeth, NE61 1RE. Tel. 01670 513308 E-mail: email@example.com
Rail Station Redevelopment - Survey Prize Draw Winners
01 December 2015
Morpeth Rail Station Survey
Thank you to everyone who helped GMDT by completing the recent online rail users’ survey. The winners of meal vouchers in the free prize draw were:
Mrs Crosby, Morpeth
Andy Hinshaw, Morpeth
William Thompson, Morpeth
Rachael Harris, Cramlington
Susan Slassor, Morpeth
Ross Caulfield, Guide Post
Vikki Smith, Morpeth
Stephanie Trewick, Ashington
Many thanks to Lollo Rosso, Italian Restaurant and Morpeth Tandoori Indian Takeaway, The Chantry, for sponsoring the survey by providing vouchers
GMDT is at an advanced stage with the funding proposal for the redevelopment of Morpeth Railway Station. Thanks to everyone who completed our on-line survey - the information you have provided will help us take the proposal forward.
Rail station redevelopment proposals include:
- Formal portico entrance to station building and platforms
- Remodelling of the existing ticket office
- New “Portico Cafeteria” and ticket collection area
- Upgraded toilet facilities
- Small business ‘Enterprise Hub’: 6 or 7 business units, plus reception / kitchen
- Revised forecourt car parking, new bicycle racking and extra amenity planting
- Improved forecourt lighting
The overall project will cost around £1.4m and if all goes well, the scheme could start in June 2016.
26 October 2015
The 2014-2020 LEADER programme for Northumberland Coast & Lowlands opened for funding applications on Monday 26th October.
For this new programme, the area covered has been extended so that businesses and community organisations in Morpeth, east to Lynemouth and south and west to Stannington and Ponteland are eligible to apply.
The EU-funded LEADER is a 'bottom-up', community-led approach to delivering rural and community economic development through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), which is managed by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).
The budget is denominated in Euros but at the current rate of exchange, the total funding for the seven year Coast & Lowlands programme is £1.98M.
There are six National LEADER priorities:
Support micro and small businesses and farm diversification,
Boost rural tourism,
Increase farm productivity,
Increase forestry productivity,
Provide rural services, and
Provide cultural and heritage activities.
The 2014 - 2020 LEADER programmes in Northumberland will provide grants to rural small businesses, farmers, foresters and communities for projects that create jobs and grow the rural economy. 70% of the available funding to Local Action Groups (LAGs) will be used for measures designed to directly support the creation of jobs and economic growth and the remaining 30% to indirectly support jobs and growth.
The main benefits of the LEADER approach are:
Local people have a better knowledge of local challenges that need to be addressed and the resource and opportunities available.
They are able to organise local resources for the development process in a way that does not happen with traditional ‘top-down’ approaches.
This gives local people a greater sense of ownership and commitment to the projects, which in turn allows them to make the best of their local assets.
The approach can help develop trust and positive working relationships amongst the local community and businesses
Town Benchmarking Survey 2015
08 October 2015
Morpeth Town Team carryied out its third annual town benchmarking exercise in October 2015.
The exercise includes footfall counts, monitoring of car park usage, recording shops, businesses and vacant properties in the town centre, recording where shop customers live - and and general survey of people visiting or living in the town.
The more views, perceptions and opinions we get - the more accurate and representative the benchmarking exercise will be so...
Reports from the benchmarking exercises carried out in previous years can be downloaded from the Town Team page on this website.