Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives

A view along the main entrance path at Woodhorn with the old colliery buildings in the background
baby changing facilities icon Food icon Guided tours icon Shop icon Library icon Study area icon Wheelchair access icon

Woodhorn is a vibrant, exciting place to visit all year round with a great programme of activities and exhibitions for the whole family.

Inspired by monster coal cutting machines once used deep underground, the stunning Cutter building and original listed colliery structures house fascinating, hands-on exhibitions and displays. Take an emotional journey through Coal Town and discover a proud mining community; explore the colliery buildings and imagine what it would have been like to work underground; hum along to the brass band at the Miners’ Picnic, see the colourful banners and even design your own. Marvel at the original paintings of the Ashington Group – miners from the 1930s whose story has inspired remarkable play, Pitmen Painters, by Billy Elliot writer, Lee Hall.

Woodhorn is home to Northumberland’s public archive too.

Venue Type:

Museum, Industrial heritage site, Archive

Opening hours

Open: Wednesday through to Sunday (+ Mon & Tues in Northumberland School Hols)
October until March, 10am - 4pm
April until September 10 am until 5pm
(Archives Open 10am - 4pm Wed-Sat.)

Easter 2015: the museum will be open every day from Saturday 28th March - Sunday 19th April. Please note that Brick Planet will not be open Wednesday 25th - Tuesday 31st March but will reopen on Wednesday 1st April.

Admission charges

Free admission
All day parking £3.50

Getting there

Just off A189 Spine Road and C1 National/Coast and Castles Cycle Route east of Ashington.
Nearest public transport Ashington Bus Station - 15 minute walk

Additional info

Access: Most of the buildings at Woodhorn are accessible but as you might expect with the old listed colliery buildings, access to some is restricted. See our main website for a full access statement. Visitors are welcome to borrow one of three wheelchairs or a motorised scooter during their visit, and staff are happy to discuss any special requirements in advance of a visit.

Assistance dogs are welcome at Woodhorn, but family pets are not allowed in the fenced museum area. It would be best to leave your dog at home if possible as Woodhorn's car park does not offer any shade.

The Pitmen Painters were a group of mostly miners from Northumberland who founded the Ashington Art Group in the 1930s and who took as their subject everyday life in their mining community. Woodhorn museum holds the main Ashington Group collection of their work.

Collection details

Archives, Costume and Textiles, Fine Art, Industry, Natural Sciences, Science and Technology, Social History

Key artists and exhibits

  • Pitmen Painters - Northumberland miners who founded the Ashington Art Group
  • Mining history
  • Oliver Kilbourn
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Brick Planet

Brick Planet

  • 1 April — 31 May 2015 *on now

Woodhorn is about to get even more awesome!

Explore the incredible Brick Planet exhibition and marvel at miniature wonders from around the world recreated in LEGO® bricks.

Be inspired by amazing models created by LEGO® brick artist Warren Elsmore and then have a go yourself in our hands-on creation station!

See amazing scale models of architectural land marks from around the globe including Egypt’s pyramids, the Great Wall of China and the iconic St Pancras Station. Be awe-inspired by the natural world in miniature too from the African savannah to Niagara Falls.
Take pride in the North East’s own historic landmarks including the Tyne Bridge, Angel of the North and Bamburgh Castle, all specially commissioned for this exhibition and never seen before!

Admission and parking charge payable

Suitable for

  • Any age


Adult £4.50, Child (5 – 16) £3.50, Concession £4.00, Family 2 adults and up to 3 children £15.50, Family 1 adult and up to 3 children £11.50, Under 5 free


Into The Light

  • 7 March — 14 June 2015 *on now

Into the Light is an exhibition of new work created by artists from The Arts Project based at Northgate Hospital. The work is inspired by the stories and collections of Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives.

The Arts Project is part of the Therapeutic Activities Service within the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. The Arts Project offers an ongoing comprehensive programme of practical art sessions led by professional artists. Patients make and learn about art, a process which directly contributes to positive clinical outcomes including improved well-being and feeling more included in society.

For this project, the artists and patients have worked together with Woodhorn staff to research, develop and create new work inspired by the museum and archive collections. As well as creating the art work, the project participants have co-curated the exhibition, selecting works and making decisions about their placement and presentation.

The professional artists who work for The Arts Project are exhibiting a piece of their own artwork alongside the work of patients and the work will not be attributed. The decision to do this puts the focus on the inclusivity of contemporary art-making and away from the professional and patient relationship.

Into the Light builds on Woodhorn Museum's commitment to presenting work made by artists who may be excluded from the traditional arts world due to health or social circumstances. This strand of programming is inspired by the story of the Ashington Group (Pitman Painters) whose collection is on permanent display here.

Along with art work on display in this gallery, don't miss the sound installation on the banner ramp where traditional brass band music receives a contemporary twist!

Into the Light is a partnership project between Woodhorn Museum and The Arts Project made possible by funding from Arts Council England and Northumberland County Council.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Parking Charge of £3.50



Norman Cornish

The Lost World of Norman Cornish

  • 2 May — 11 October 2015 *on now

Born in 1919, in Spennymoor, County Durham, Norman Stansfield Cornish was 65 when he was persuaded to write his autobiography. He called it 'A Slice of Life' and indeed it was just that although one could say that it was brought into being a little prematurely given that a further three decades of remarkable activity were to follow its publication.

In the prologue to 'A Slice of Life', he describes the Dean and Chapter Colliery where he was to work, as "lying at the foot of a huge pit-heap which reminds one of a volcano, not only because of how it looks, but also because its contents have been spewed out of the depths in similar fashion". Imaginative and poetic perceptions like this one are present throughout his paintings and drawings which, one might reasonably claim, are his true autobiography.

Reflecting on his work he wrote "I made drawings of pub workers in days past because l was fascinated by the men standing at the bar drinking and talking, or sitting playing dominoes. I was attracted by the wonderful shapes that they make in their varied attitudes. I also realised that life would change in some ways. The local collieries have gone, together with the pit road. Many of the old streets, chapels and pubs are no more. A large number of the ordinary but fascinating people who frequent these places are gone. However, in my memory, and l hope in my drawings, they live on. I simply close my eyes and they all spring to life"

A Northumbria University Gallery Touring Exhibition.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Parking charge of £3.50 applies



Susan Stenger, detail from Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland, 2014

AV Festival presents: Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland

  • 27 June — 26 July 2015

Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland is a multi-channel sound installation based on a cross-section diagram of coastal geological formations from the River Tyne to the Scottish border, drawn by local mining engineer Nicholas Wood in 1838.

Using the diagram as a graphic score, Stenger transforms the geologic into the sonic in a 59-minute work that travels from the coal seams of Tyneside to the porphyritic rocks north of the Tweed, layering instrumental sounds, melodic patterns and signature rhythms from traditional Northumbrian music and dance.

Responding to history, culture and place names as well as the drawing’s structures, she combines surface detail of fiddle and Northumbrian pipe patterns with brass band harmonies, voice, Border and Highland pipes to create a unique portrait of place.

The exhibition is presented in the Workshop Gallery and features the 12.5-metre strata diagram that Wood drew to illustrate the location of coal measures on the Northumberland Coast. In addition, the exhibition also includes an archive display of Wood’s other geological work in relation to the coal measures of Northumberland.

A fully illustrated publication including an essay by nature writer Robert Macfarlane and a CD stereo mix of the installation is available from Woodhorn and online for the special exhibition price of £15 and £20 thereafter.

Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland was commissioned by AV Festival in 2014.
Throughout 2015 AV Festival is touring the work in Northumberland to Berwick-upon-Tweed, Woodhorn Museum and Holy Island. www.avfestival.co.uk

For more information about the tour and to join the AV Festival’s mailing list visit www.soundstrata.co.uk


Parking charge of £3.50 applies

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Vintage Car Rally

Vintage Car Rally

  • 12 July 2015 11am-3pm

Enjoy a grand day out at Woodhorn's Vintage Car Rally.
The North East Club for Pre War Automobiles will be on site with their amazing array of over 50 classic cars. Enjoy viewing the cars, taking your picture with them and meeting the owners!

Suitable for

  • Any age


All-day parking Charge of £3.50



Invasion 6

Invasion 6

  • 19 July 2015 10am-4pm

Come along to Woodhorn's 6th Invasion when we welcome visitors from across space and time!

Meet a host of science fiction characters ranging from Daleks to Doctors, Jedis to Jawas and many more! The day is jam packed with activity (further details to follow so watch this space!).

Also visit our Sci-Fair where you can pick up collectables and sci-fi merchandise, take part in the treasure trail and have your picture taken with the characters.

The Daleks are copyright 1963 BBC Worldwide & Terry Nation Estates. 'Northern Charity Daleks' is a non profit making group, no infringement of copyright is implied or intended. They are in no way affiliated with, or endorsed by either BBC Worldwide or Terry Nation Estates.

Assistance dogs are welcome at Woodhorn, but family pets are not permitted within the fenced museum area. We advise that you leave pets at home.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly


All-day parking charge of £3.50 applies.



Mat making demonstrations at Woodhorn

Wansbeck Matters

  • 28 May 2015 12-2pm *on now
  • 4 June 2015 12-2pm
  • 11 June 2015 12-2pm
  • 18 June 2015 12-2pm
  • 25 June 2015 12-2pm
  • 2 July 2015 12-2pm
  • 9 July 2015 12-2pm

Come and watch the traditional art of Hooky and Proggy mat making demonstrated by the Wansbeck Matters. Demonstrations take place in the 1936 Coal Town display area in the Cutter building between 12pm - 2pm every Thursday.

Suitable for

  • Any age
Winding House Demonstrations

Winding House Demonstrations

  • 30 — 31 May 2015
  • 6 — 7 June 2015
  • 13 — 14 June 2015
  • 20 — 21 June 2015
  • 27 — 28 June 2015
  • 4 — 5 July 2015
  • 11 — 12 July 2015
  • 18 — 19 July 2015
  • 25 — 26 July 2015
  • 1 — 2 August 2015
  • 8 — 9 August 2015
  • 15 — 16 August 2015
  • 22 — 23 August 2015
  • 29 — 30 August 2015
  • 5 — 6 September 2015
  • 12 — 13 September 2015
  • 19 — 20 September 2015
  • 26 — 27 September 2015

Free demonstrations of the winding gear take place every Saturday and Sunday at 11.30am and 3pm. There is a maximum number of 10 visitors for each demo, so book at the welcome desk to avoid dispointment.

The Winding House is an historic building that is not fully accessible. Access to the winding gear demonstration involves climbing steep stairs. Children must be supervised at all times. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Thank Folk It's Friday

  • 29 May 2015 2-3pm
  • 26 June 2015 2-3pm
  • 31 July 2015 2-3pm
  • 28 August 2015 2-3pm
  • 25 September 2015 2-3pm
  • 30 October 2015 2-3pm
  • 27 November 2015 2-3pm

Thank Folk it's Friday is a free programme of Folk music held in the Woodhorn Cafe on the final Friday of each month from 2pm.

TFIF line up for 2015 includes...
29th May- Pipers Fancy
26th Jun- Andrew Lobb
31st Jul- Valerie Fairless
28th Aug- Ann Wilkinson
25th Sep- Beeswing
30th Oct- Fools Gold
27th Nov- Chris Kelly

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly



Into The Light

"Raw Vision" The Power of Outsider Art

  • 11 June 2015 2-3:30pm

Artist and Art History lecturer, Simon Terry, will deliver a talk on the subject of Outsider Art, that is, art produced in hospitals and by artists otherwise on the margins of mainstream arts due to disability or social circumstances.

The talk co-incides with the Arts Council funded exhibition 'Into the Light', an exhibition of artwork by patients and art tutors from The Arts Project, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.

In this vibrantly illustrated talk, Simon will consider the work of artists from Goya to Yayoi Kusama and provide an understanding and overview of the development of this important area of work. Simon will look at the work of the Arts Project within this context and feature the distinctive work of individuals who have found a voice and calling in art.

Space is limited so booking is essential, please call 01670 624455.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Free but parking charge applies



Miners' Picnic

Northumberland Miners Picnic

  • 13 June 2015 10am-5pm

This fantastic free family day out is jam packed with things to see, hear and do!

The Northumberland Miners' Picnic 2015 will celebrate Northumberland's heritage with a full programme of traditional and contemporary North East music, song and dance, a regional food and craft fair, street theatre, family art activities and much, much more.


Marquee Stage

10.15 Miners' Memorial Service - remember and celebrate an industry and its people. Featuring Ashington Male Voice Choir and Ashington Colliery Band and followed by wreath laying at The Miners' Memorial

12.00 YPG 4 TIPS! - young Northumbrian pipers group

12.45 Acclaimed folk singer songwriter Johnny Handle

14.00 Music from Appletwig Songbook

15.15 Celebrate our heritage with the Northumbrian Language Society

Main Stage

12.00 Traditional dance from the Hexhamshire Lasses

12.35 Ashington Colliery Band presents favourite brass melodies

13.30 Haalin' the Lines - a premiere of new songs performed by musicians and choirs, inspired by the stories from Newbiggin Genealogy project

15.00 The New Rope String Band - great music and a bit of humour

16.15 The Baghdaddies - with their unique brand of music from around the world

Workshop Galleries

All day Craft Fair with an array of gorgeous local goods

11.30 Music from Bedlington Youth Brass Band

Around the site:

Gallery of Wonder - discover a mysterious and spellbinding exhibition

ANIMATE with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art - free animation and model making activities with artist Lesley-Anne Rose

Wansbeck Matters - traditional hooky and proggy mat making

The Squirrels - street theatre from two larger than life cheeky dancing squirrels

20,000 Voices and Wansbeck Voices - pop-up choir performances during the day

Children's craft activities with Jane Gower

Face painting by Izzy

Food stalls

Assistance dogs are welcome at Woodhorn, but family pets are not permitted within the fenced museum area. We advise that you leave pets at home.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
Benny Graham

Sound Strata Exhibition Launch and Folk Music Concert

  • 27 June 2015 1-4pm

Join us in the Workshop Gallery for the exhibition launch of Sound Strata at Woodhorn Museum, followed from 2–3pm by a concert of traditional Northumbrian music and rapper dancing featuring leading local folk musicians: Stewart Hardy (fiddle), Andy May and Chris Ormston (Northumbrian pipes) and Benny Graham (singer). The concert references folk musicians key to Sound Strata, including James Hill (influential Tyneside fiddler) and Tom Clough (known as ‘The Prince of Pipers’, he lived in the mining community of Newsham in South East Northumberland). More information here.

Admission free, no booking required. Concert starts promptly at 2pm.

A return coach is available from central Newcastle to Woodhorn Museum.
Coach Tickets: £5, advance booking recommended, contact: info@avfestival.co.uk


Parking Charge of £3.50 applies

Statue of Nicholas Wood at the Mining Institute, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Nicholas Wood Lecture

  • 15 July 2015 2-3pm

Join historian Bill Lancaster to explore the life of talented nineteenth-century mining engineer Nicholas Wood, who revolutionised deep mining and transportation. The talk is organised to coincide with the exhibition Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland which features Wood’s 12.5-metre strata diagram that illustrates the location of coal measures on the Northumberland coast. In addition, the exhibition also includes an archive display of Wood’s other geological work in relation to the coal measures of Northumberland.

Throughout the nineteenth century, a circle of men from Tyneside, Wearside and the Great Northern Coalfield, such as George and Robert Stephenson (friends and colleagues of Nicholas Wood), helped create the modern industrial world. Bill Lancaster will talk about this group of innovators, who in 1852 founded The Mining Institute in Newcastle with Nicholas Wood as its first president.

Nicholas Wood was born in 1795, at the farm of Daniel, lying between Bradley Hall and Wylam, of which his father was a tenant. In 1811, through the influence of his father’s landlord Sir Thomas Liddell, he was sent to Killingworth Colliery to learn the profession of a coal-viewer. At Killingworth, Wood met George Stephenson and made the working drawing from which the first Stephenson safety lamp was made and tested in a dangerous blower in Killingworth Pit. By the 1830s, Wood had acquired a considerable reputation as a colliery and railway engineer, and was rapidly extending his influence in the coal trade. By 1844 he was managing the important collieries at Hetton, had become the sole owner of Black Boy, Coundon, Westerton and Leasingthorne collieries, and part owner of Harton, Hilda and Jarrow collieries. In response to the Mines Inspection Act of 1852, local colliery owners and mining engineers formed The Mining Institute, of which Nicholas Wood was elected the founding president.

Bill Lancaster was the founder and editor of Northern Review, a Journal of Regional and Cultural Affairs, and the director of the Centre for Northern Studies from 1997 – 2007. Until 2008 he taught at Northumbria University and was director there of the Centre for North East History. He was awarded a BA in History and Sociology, a MA in Comparative Social History and a PhD in History from Warwick University. He was elected fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1991.

Free, advance booking recommended, phone: Woodhorn Museum on 01670 624 455


Parking Charge of £3.50 applies

Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey Display

  • 31 August 2015 11am-3pm
  • 28 October 2015 11am-3pm

See beautiful birds of prey on display from 11am to 3pm and catch one of the spectacular flying displays by the team at Ridgeside Falconry with flying demonstrations at 12pm and 2pm.

Suitable for

  • Any age


All-day parking charge of £3.50 applies.



Periscope rifle Gallipoli

History Fair

  • 25 October 2015

Celebrate the rich and diverse heritage of the region at the Northumberland History Fair. Come along to learn more about local history and to meet some of the organisations who preserve it.

Suitable for

  • Any age


All day parking charge of £3.50 applies.

Christmas Craft Fair and Winter Weekend 2015

  • 5 — 6 December 2015 10am-4pm

More details to come

Getting there

Just off A189 Spine Road and C1 National/Coast and Castles Cycle Route east of Ashington.
Nearest public transport Ashington Bus Station - 15 minute walk

Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives
QE II Country Park
NE63 9YF






01670 624455


01670 626121

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.