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.)

Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives will be closed for the entire week beginning Wednesday 1st March and re open the following Wednesday 8th March.

This will allow us to process a large, recently purchased collection. We apologise for any inconvenience.


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.
Wood & Lake

Fell em Doon

  • 7 October 2017 — 7 January 2018 *on now

“All that is solid melts into air” Karl Marx

Woodhorn Museum presents Fell em Doon, a new body of photographic work by Ashington born photographer Joseph Wilson.

The images included in Fell em Doon document the landscape immediately north of Ashington in Northumberland, once one of Europe’s largest colliery sites. The audience is invited to consider how the rise and decline of industry has shaped and transformed this landscape, both above and below the surface.

After Ashington’s first pit was sunk in 1867, the area saw rapid industrialisation and population growth with Ashington becoming known as the ‘largest mining village in the world’. This process saw woodland cut down and pits sunk with industrial structures and slag heaps dominating the skyline throughout most of the 20th century.

The decline of the coal mining industry in the late twentieth century saw these structures and slag heaps quickly levelled. Woodhorn, now a museum, is the only remaining colliery site of five once operating in the area. The landscape was again altered, and rapidly reshaped in the image of its former natural ideal.

“There’s a brutality here: the many trees cut, pits sunk, and the hundreds of people that passed away both above and below the surface. Walking through the wooded land, one notices a curious echo of violence within the silence and the picturesque.”Joseph Wilson, 2016.

Wilson’s objective documentation of the Ashington Community Woods and QEII Country Park today reveals little of the dramatic cycle of transformation that this landscape and its connected community has endured.

Find out more about Joseph Wilson’s work by visiting www.josephwilsonphoto.com

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/fell-em-doon/

Street & House

The Radical Road

  • 7 October 2017 — 7 January 2018 *on now

The Radical Road- Looking backwards - and forwards Damien Wootten has documented streets in England and Scotland named after historical radical and socialist political figures.

Accompanying this work are photographs of socialist literature connected to these figures. These are from Wootten’s personal collection and have been annotated by previous owners.

Wootten’s work explores the notion of socialist utopianism and raises valuable questions about the role such ideas had in shaping the streets and communities of Britain. The audience is invited to consider the relevance these socialist figures and their ideas hold today and in the future.

The annotated works of literature gain deeper meaning as the notes from previous owners form an intriguing record of how those unknown individuals have responded to the radical ideas within the texts. On a wider level, the texts represent how these ideas spread through society.

‘The Radical Road’ encourages us to look beyond the utilitarian purpose of street names, and to instead interpret them as reminders of Britain’s socialist history, perhaps as a warning against historical ‘amnesia’.

Together, the streets and literature serve as enduring symbols of socialist ideas and values within Britain’s history. As Britain moves into a new era of change and uncertainty, the work urges the viewer to first look back before looking forward.

To accompany the photographs Wootten also exhibits original books from his own collection.

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.
Children looking at winding gear

Dig Deeper! Guided Colliery Tour

  • 4 October 2017 — 4 October 2018 , *on now

Discover more about Woodhorn Museum’s industrial heritage on these guided tours of our historic colliery site.

Explore the colliery buildings and learn more about how Woodhorn Colliery operated during its working life.

Climb up to the winding room of the last Victorian engine house in Northumberland and see a demonstration of the winding gear (only available on these guided tours!).

We’re always interested in hearing your stories too, so come along & share your own knowledge about our coalmining past.

Dig Deeper! Useful Information
- Please meet at the museum Welcome Desk at least 5 minutes before the tour is due to start

- Tours last approximately 30 minutes

- Tour numbers are limited to 12 per session on a first come first served basis

- Tours are free, but as a charity, we welcome your support and have a suggested donation of £2 per person

- This tour takes place in heritage colliery buildings and although it is suitable for children & adults, we do ask that visitors take care and that children are supervised at all times.

- Access to the winding gear demonstration part of this tour involves climbing steep stairs. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes, and those unable to climb stairs are welcome to observe the winding gear turning from the lower level of the winding house.

If you would like to have a chat about whether this tour is suitable for you or your family/group members, please ask a member of staff or contact us on 01670 624455 or by e-mailing visitorservices@woodhorn.org.uk

If you would prefer to book a private and/or bespoke tour of the museum, please get in touch on 01670 624455 or by e-mail visitorservices@woodhorn.org.uk

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free but donations are welcome.

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/dig-deeper!-guided-colliery-tour/

Pumpkin

Pumpkin Trail

  • 21 — 29 October 2017

Can you find all the pumpkins that are hiding in the shadowy corners of Woodhorn Museum? Pick up your trail sheet at the Welcome Desk then explore the museum to try and find all the hidden pumpkins. If you manage to find all the pumpkins, make your way back to the Welcome Desk with your completed trail sheet to receive a small treat!

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Especially for children

Admission

Suggested donation £1

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/pumpkin-trail/

Pitman Painters

Spotlight Tour: The Pitmen Painters

  • 21 — 29 October 2017 ,

These bitesize tours will introduce you to the inspirational story of the Ashington Group of artists (also known as the Pitmen Painters) and showcase a few highlights from this incredible collection.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free but donations are welcome.

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/spotlight-tour-the-pitmen-painters/

Bird of Prey

Halloween Weekend: Birds of Prey

  • 28 — 29 October 2017

Discover the fascinating world of birds of prey and see spectacular displays with the team from Ridgeside Falconry.

The popular and interactive flying displays take place at 12 noon or 2pm (weather dependent). Ridgeside Falconry will also be on hand to answer your questions about the birds of prey alongside their static display from 11am – 3pm.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

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

Storey Teller at Woodhorn

Halloween Weekend: Terrible Tales

  • 28 — 29 October 2017

Join professional storyteller Gary Cordingly to hear spine-chilling tales from Northumberland’s past!

Gary delved deep into the Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn to uncover some of the scariest stories from Northumberland’s past. Set in Woodhorn’s atmospheric colliery site, these storytelling sessions will scare, surprise & delight visitors in equal measure!

Please arrive in good time for the storytelling as the doors will be closed for the 30 minute session.

Children must be accompanied by an adult. Suitable for families with children aged 3+

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/halloween-weekend/

International Men's Day

  • 19 November 2017 11am-2pm

Join bait for a free interactive and fun family workshop to celebrate International Men’s Day.

The day will offer a number of different activities for you to enjoy, including animating your own story, sketching your own characters, and illustration. It is hosted by members of bait’s male art steering group, who have been working with local artists to develop a range of workshops designed to offer more opportunities for men to get involved in the arts. The activities take place in the Workshop Galleries.

It’s a great opportunity to try something different, meet new people and find out what’s happening with men and the arts in the area! We hope you can join us. Registration is not required - just turn up on the day.
www.baittime.to

This project has been commissioned by Woodhorn Charitable Trust through the bait programme. bait works in partnership to support more people in South East Northumberland to create and take part in inspiring and high quality arts experiences. bait is part of the national Creative People and Places network.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/international-mens-day/

Christmas Scene

Woodhorn's Winter Market

  • 9 — 10 December 2017

Enjoy shopping for gorgeous Christmas gifts and special treats at Woodhorn’s winter market held inside the historic Workshop Galleries.

Discover beautiful crafts, delicious local produce and gifts to delight your friends and family from some the region’s best makers and crafters.

Treat yourself and enjoy a glass of delicious mulled wine as you browse the delightful seasonal stalls.

Free admission.

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/woodhorn-winter-market/

Father Christmas

Father Christmas

  • 9 — 24 December 2017

To book a session please ring 01670 624455, 10am-4pm, Mon-Sun.

There’s nothing more magical than watching the faces of children light up as they meet Father Christmas in our cosy grotto.

Our 30 minute experience takes place in the atmospheric colliery stables and it includes time for children to meet Father Christmas and to enjoy crafting a seasonal decoration. Children will also receive a lovely small gift to take home.

Cost per child £8.50. Tickets on the day subject to last minute availability.

Suitable for

  • 7-10
  • 0-4
  • 5-6
  • 11-13

Admission

Cost per child £8.50

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/father-christmas/

Christmas Box

Christmas Crafts

  • 9 — 10 December 2017
  • 16 — 17 December 2017
  • 23 — 24 December 2017

Get that festive feeling by creating your own Christmas bauble to take away and add to your tree!

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

All donations welcome

Website

http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/christmas-crafts-1/

Family Skating

Pityard Skating Rink

  • 9 — 10 December 2017
  • 16 — 17 December 2017
  • 23 — 24 December 2017
  • 27 December 2017 — 7 January 2018

Advance booking available, please ring 01670 624455 to book a session, 10am-4pm, Mon-Sun.

Enjoy a fun and unique skating experience on our Pit Yard Skating Rink, right in the heart of Woodhorn’s stunning historic colliery site.

Skating prices
Adults £6.50
Children £5.50 (up to 12 years old)
Price is for a 30 minute session (including skate change time) and skate hire. Open to ages 2+ and under 5s must be accompanied by an adult. Please wear warm clothing.

This is a synthetic ice rink.

Autism Friendly: Autism Friendly Skating Sessions available on Sunday 24th & 31st December and Sunday 7th January 10am – 10.30am. Advance booking essential to allow us to manage the number of skaters during these sessions (please ring 01670 624455 to book a session, 10am-4pm, Mon-Sun).

Planning a party with a difference? Private hire of the Pit Yard Skating Rink is available. Please email: functions&venuehire@woodhorn.org.uk for more detail and availability.

Admission

Adults £6.50
Children £5.50 (up to 12 years old)

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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