Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives

A view along the main entrance path at Woodhorn with the old colliery buildings in the background
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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.)

Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives will be closed on Wednesday 9th September. We apologise for any inconvenience.

For the duration of 'Poppies: Weeping Window at Woodhorn', we will be open every day from 10am - 5pm (Saturday 12th September - Sunday 1st November)

Full details of opening times on www.experiencewoodhorn.com

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.
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

Admission

Parking charge of £3.50 applies

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/coming-soon...-the-lost-world-of-norman-cornish/

Woodhorn

Miners' Gear by Tom Newstead

  • 24 June — 6 September 2015 *on now

This unique collection of work is hand crafted from oak, silver birch and a railway sleeper from Avenue Pit in Seaton Delaval.

" I was born the first son of a coal miner from a fishing village called Seaton Sluice in Northumberland and left school at the age of fifteen to become an apprentice boat builder at Lambies. I worked with a tradesman who taught me his craft and who, to this day, I would describe as 'truly remarkable'. After concluding my apprenticeship, l joined the merchant navy for 11 years as an assistant carpenter. This enabled me to travel the world. This was an invaluable experience for me, in the exposition of my craft. Each new continent, land and city brought with it a new perspective within which l saw different art forms which l could later work with and manipulate into a style that l now uniquely stamp as my own."

This display can be found in the display case near the entrance to the Archives Searchroom.

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/miners-gear-by-tom-newstead/

The Share

The Share

  • 27 June — 11 October 2015 *on now

The Share- A portrait of Guide Post CIU and the cultural life of a community. The Share celebrates the community of Guide Post Social Club.

This new exhibition has been produced over the last year as club members have worked with two artists in residence, photographer Mik Critchlow and ceramicist Emilie Taylor, to create work together based on the people, history and heritage of this incredible venue.

'Guide Post Elvis making his entrance to The Club Lounge' 2014 credit: Mik Critchlow

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Parking Charge of £3.50 applies.

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/the-share/

Poppies

Poppies: Weeping Window at Woodhorn

  • 12 September — 1 November 2015

Poppies: Weeping Window at Woodhorn
By Paul Cummins, artist, and Tom Piper, designer

Admission free. Groups please book in advance (packages available).

Woodhorn Museum will present Weeping Window as part of a UK-wide tour of the iconic poppies sculpture organised by 14-18 NOW.

Weeping Window is a cascade comprising several thousand handmade ceramic poppies seen pouring from a high window to the ground below; the other sculpture on tour, Wave is a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks. These two sculptures, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, created to mark the centenary of the outbreak of war, are now brought to audiences at venues across the country as part of the 14-18 NOW programme. As with all 14-18 NOW projects, the presentation of these sculptures to new audiences across the United Kingdom aims to prompt a new, nationwide dialogue around the legacy of the First World War.

The breathtaking sculptures were initially conceived as the key dramatic sculptural elements in the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London in the autumn of 2014. Over the course of their time at the Tower, the two sculptures were gradually surrounded by a vast field of ceramic poppies, each one planted by a volunteer in memory of the life of a British and Colonial soldier lost during the First World War. In their original setting they captured the public imagination and were visited by over five million people.

The original installation was conceived of as transitory, the sea of poppies growing in size until the final one was planted on 11 November 2014. On completion, however, it was agreed that the works of art at the heart of this broader act of memorial should be preserved for the nation. 14-18 NOW is grateful to the Backstage Trust and Clore Duffield Foundation for their support in securing these sculptures for posterity. For the remainder of the 14-18 NOW programme, Wave and Weeping Window will be on view at selected locations around the United Kingdom. They will then be gifted to the Imperial War Museums and displayed during the autumn of 2018 at IWM North and IWM London.

For more information about 14-18NOW visit http://www.1418now.org.uk/

Weeping Window is from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. Poppies and original concept: Paul Cummins. Installation design: Tom Piper. By Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces at HM Tower of London 2014.

Image credit: © Richard Lea-Hair and Historic Royal Palaces

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Admission free. Groups please book in advance.

Fish and Chips

The Ashington District Star

  • 24 October 2015 — 21 February 2016

Inspired by the Ashington Group Painters photographic artist Julian Germain has embarked on a two year collaboration with local people to produce a new newspaper; The Ashington District Star. The exhibition incorporates the original paintings and maps the editorial process involved in developing a new collection of created and collected photographs about contemporary Ashington and the surrounding area.

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.
Mat making demonstrations at Woodhorn

Wansbeck Matters

  • 3 September 2015 12-2pm *on now
  • 10 September 2015 12-2pm
  • 17 September 2015 12-2pm
  • 24 September 2015 12-2pm
  • 1 October 2015 12-2pm
  • 8 October 2015 12-2pm
  • 15 October 2015 12-2pm
  • 22 October 2015 12-2pm
  • 29 October 2015 12-2pm
  • 5 November 2015 12-2pm
  • 12 November 2015 12-2pm
  • 19 November 2015 12-2pm
  • 26 November 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
Discover more about Woodhorn

Family Colliery Tours

  • 5 — 6 September 2015
  • 12 — 13 September 2015
  • 19 — 20 September 2015
  • 26 — 27 September 2015
  • 3 — 4 October 2015
  • 10 — 11 October 2015
  • 17 — 18 October 2015
  • 24 — 25 October 2015
  • 31 October — 1 November 2015
  • 7 — 8 November 2015
  • 14 — 15 November 2015
  • 21 — 22 November 2015
  • 28 — 29 November 2015

We are offering Family Colliery Tours every Saturday and Sunday at 2pm, starting from the Welcome Desk. This is a chance to find out more about the fascinating history of the colliery buildings. This tour is suitable for both adults and children alike.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly

Admission

Please book in advance by calling 01670 528 080 or at the welcome desk. Adults £2.95, Children £1.95, family ticket (2 adults + 2 children) £9.00. No unaccompanied children please

Winding House Demonstrations

Winding House Demonstrations

  • 5 — 6 September 2015
  • 12 — 13 September 2015
  • 19 — 20 September 2015
  • 26 — 27 September 2015
  • 3 — 4 October 2015
  • 10 — 11 October 2015
  • 17 — 18 October 2015
  • 24 — 25 October 2015
  • 31 October — 1 November 2015
  • 7 — 8 November 2015
  • 14 — 15 November 2015
  • 21 — 22 November 2015
  • 28 — 29 November 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
TFIF

Thank Folk It's Friday

  • 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...
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

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/thank-folk-its-friday/

Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey Display

  • 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

Admission

All-day parking charge of £3.50 applies.

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/birds-of-prey-display/

Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Days: Woodhorn Museum: Poppies - Weeping Window at Woodhorn

  • 12 — 13 September 2015

Woodhorn Museum is pleased and honoured to announce that it will present Weeping Window as part of a UK-wide tour of the iconic poppies sculpture organised by 14-18 NOW.

Weeping Window, a stunning cascade of poppies, originally formed part of ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, an artwork featuring thousands of ceramic poppies at The Tower of London by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper.

At Woodhorn, Weeping Window will cascade over 55ft from the winding wheel of the No.1 Heapstead, more than twice the height of the original installation at the Tower of London. The No.1 Heapstead (built in 1897) is an instantly recognisable symbol of the industrial heritage of the region and will provide a dramatic new backdrop to the work.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/directory/woodhorn-museum-poppies-weeping-window-at-woodhorn

Ice Rink

Winter Festival Ice Rink

  • 28 — 29 November 2015 10am-4pm
  • 3 — 6 December 2015
  • 10 — 11 December 2015 10am-5pm
  • 12 — 13 December 2015 10am-4pm
  • 17 — 18 December 2015 10am-5pm
  • 19 — 23 December 2015

The Ice Rink will be in place from 28th November to 23rd December. The opening hours are as follows:

28th Nov 10am - 4pm

29th Nov 10am - 4pm

3rd Dec 10am - 5pm

4th Dec 10am - 5pm

5th Dec 10am - 5pm

6th Dec 10am - 5pm

10th Dec 10am - 5pm

11th Dec 10am - 5pm

12th Dec 10am - 4pm

13th Dec 10am - 4pm

17th Dec 10am - 5pm

18th Dec 10am - 5pm

19th Dec 10am - 4pm

20th Dec 10am - 4pm

21st Dec 10am - 4pm

22nd Dec 10am - 4pm

23rd Dec 10am - 4pm

Last admission is 30 minutes before closing. Admission charge payable for a 30 minute session.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Adults £5.50
Child £4.50

Santa

Meet Father Christmas

  • 28 — 29 November 2015 From 10am
  • 5 — 6 December 2015
  • 12 — 13 December 2015
  • 19 — 23 December 2015

Visit Father Christmas in his special grotto in the stables at Woodhorn. He's waiting to hear what's on your Christmas list and how good you've been during the year. £6 per child

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

£6 per child

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
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9YF
England

Website

www.experiencewoodhorn.com

E-mail

generalenquiries@woodhorn.org.uk

Telephone

01670 624455

Fax

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.
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