Bellingham Heritage Centre home of North-East rail hails "crucial" £174,000 Lottery Fund grant

By Ben Miller | 25 January 2011 | Updated: 20 January 2011
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A photo of the inside of a heritage centre
Bellingham Heritage Centre is about to get two new carriages© Neil Denham
A hugely popular homage to the North-East’s rich railway history will use a £174,000 grant to turn two of the first trains ever made by British Rail into a classroom and gallery.

The Bellingham Heritage Centre, which has been based in the picturesque Northumberland village’s former station since being opened by volunteers in 1994, will use the Lottery cash to refurbish and install two Mark 1 carriages in the station yard for use by visitors and school groups.

A photo of the outside of a brick building in rural lands
Volunteers founded the Centre 17 years ago© Neil Denham
“We are delighted with the news,” said Terry Bragg, the Heritage Centre Chairman.

“This Heritage Lottery Fund grant is coming at a crucial time in our development.

"We have twice as many visitors coming to the Heritage Centre as we did three years ago with visitor numbers for 2010 up by more than 25%
over 2009.

“The railway display is a huge attraction and the new railway carriage will give us more exhibition space as well as a learning space for children and young people.

“The North Tyne and Redewater area is full of history and culture and magnificent landscapes. Thanks to this grant, more people will be able to enjoy some of the rich heritage of the area.”

A photo of old artefacts in a museum
More than 2,500 items are held in the building© Neil Denham
Visitors can see more than 2,500 local photographs at the centre, as well as permanent exhibitions on the Border Reivers, local coal pits, stone quarries and ironworks. It is home to the local Tourist Information Office and holds a database of names of former locals.

A three-year education programme will be designed for local schools, and volunteers will be taught how to conserve and present the artefacts they cherish.

“The Heritage Centre provides a great insight into the varied heritage of the local area and is a hugely important resource,” said Ivor Crowther, of the HLF North-East.
 
“This project means its fascinating collections will be available for more people to appreciate and learn about.”
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