Just some of the project we have supported over the years.
What we've been working on
At Northumberland National Park we like to be involved in projects of all sizes and over the years have developed a successful portfolio. Take a look at some of the projects helped by our Community and Rural Enterprise Officer.
Situated in Powburn, the Breamish Hall has been in existence for many years, latterly serving as the co-op until this finally closed. Since then, the building has served as the focal point for the local and wider community in a different guise as that of a community hall rather than a community shop. It is a focal point for community activity and provides a valued space for local groups and services that otherwise would struggle to find a home and of course helps to facilitate community cohesion, so vital in rural communities.
As with all old buildings repairs are an ongoing issue and in 2016 the hall committee applied for funding to enable some much needed work to be undertaken on the floors in the main hall and kitchen. If the work had not gone ahead, there was the very real possibility of the hall having to close some of its facilities to users which would have had a negative impact on service users and income.
Total costs for all the work including some insulation and redecoration came to just over £27,000. May Wilson, chair of the hall committee applied for grants from various sources including Northumberland National Park Small Grant Fund and was successfully awarded £2,000 towards the project. All works were completed on time and to a high standard.
The hall was well used by many local groups previously from Branton School, Hedgeley WI and the North Northumberland Spinners, for example, who have used the hall since the early 1980s holding two sessions a month. However, since the refurbishment more groups have come along to book the facilities including a singing group for young children and new social nights have been organised; the refurbished hall is thriving.
One person who went along to the North Northumberland Spinners group was Avril Graham. Her love of wool began when she moved to Rothbury with her family in 2002. Whilst visiting a local agricultural show she was introduced to the art of spinning by the ladies from North Northumberland Spinners. Invited to join their group, the Mondays when she could go spinning became the highlight of her month. So much so that she opened Rainbow Yarns in 2015; a local yarn shop located in Bridge Street, Rothbury.
The shop sells a range of wool from local sources to bigger name brands. Although Avril is passionate about wool, she did not want to exclude anyone with allergies or those on a more limited budget; instead she sees her shop as a community venture as well as a commercial one. To facilitate this inclusivity she also stock cottons and some acrylic blends. The shop prides itself on being accessible to everyone who is interested in creating something with wool and Avril is always happy to assist people with projects either in shop time or as a separate workshop.
Jamie and Victoria Murray farm Sewingshields Farm; a large hill farm which is right on the Roman Wall, set on top of the Whin Sill. Their family have been farming here in pretty much the same traditional way for three generations.
The breeds of sheep and cattle they have always farmed are the native Northumberland Blackface Sheep and the Galloway and White Shorthorn Cattle. They cross these cattle breeds to produce the Blue Grey; a traditional beef suckler cross unique to this region. It is slow growing to provide a tender and tasty premium quality meat. These hardy breeds do well here and can live outside all year round, grass-fed on the hill.
‘Sewingshields Heritage Meats’ is a diversification of the hill farm, set up because the Murrays want to sell their meat directly to the consumer. We felt this was necessary to get a fair price for our product and also because consumers are becoming more aware of where their meat has come from and how it is reared. By selling the meat ourselves we can provide a high quality, low food-miles, high welfare standard product that is fully traceable.
The meat is currently being sold in three local pubs/restaurants along or just off the wall and an interpretation board can be found at the Twice Brewed Inn.
A grant from the Small Grant Fund enabled them to promote and market the business.
Sheep Tales was created as a result of a highly successful Heritage Lottery Project, and carried out between June 2011 and December 2012. The project brought together an enthusiastic group of local people and was centred on Wooler, a town built on its shepherding history.
Through the initial project, more than 1,100 photographs, newspaper cuttings and documents were collated, plus 43 oral history recordings were made. By securing further funding, a core group has continued to develop and build upon the work already achieved.
Through the area grant, this project has continued to explore and celebrate this unique heritage. It is important that people are aware of the importance of sheep, the shepherding heritage of the locality and its associated industries, not only of the past, but also now and into the future in north Northumberland.
Increasing the knowledge and ownership of local heritage, while at the same time enabling local communities and visitors to experience the culture and heritage through a variety of means, will allow the legacy to continue.
Nestled in the heart of the Cheviot hills you will find Barrowburn farm, which since late 2016 has been the home of Scott and Catherine Iley and their two young children.
Whilst the tea room that Barrowburn was noted for may no longer be in operation, Scott and Catherine are still most definitely offering the warm and friendly welcome that also became synonymous with Barrowburn. The chance to truly get away from it all and stay at the farm has always been a popular option with groups and families alike and now visitors will have the added opportunity to sample the newly refurbished Deer Hut self-catering accommodation.
With a grant from Northumberland National Park, the Iley’s updated the furnishings, put in a new bathroom and redecorated throughout, giving the interior a needed makeover and the ability to offer comfortable and updated accommodation for guests to this remarkable part of the Cheviot hills.
Branton Community Primary school is situated in the small hamlet of Branton in the Breamish valley on the edge of Northumberland National Park. As a small rural school, Branton has recently twice had to fight the prospect of closure due to low pupil numbers but is now a thriving primary school and community nursery, with 30 pupils on the combined roll.
Part of the school ethos has always been to embrace the rural way of life and part of this has manifested itself in the establishment of a forest school area with the natural progression of two members of staff undertaking and achieving their level 3 Forest School Leader accreditation.
With help from a National Park grant, the school has bought a range of equipment and tools to enable the pupils to develop their skills and confidence while working of forest school activities.
2017 sees the Northumbria Basketry Group celebrate its 10th anniversary and as part of that anniversary a touring exhibition and associated activities encompassing five venues over the course of the year was instigated. The venues are the Watchtower Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed, the Jubilee Institute, Rothbury, The Hearth at Horsley (Corbridge), Beamish Museum (Stanley), and the Durham Dales Centre, Stanhope (Weardale).
At each venue, the exhibition and associated activities are open to the public free of charge for three days.
The purpose of the project is to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the Northumbria Basketry Group during the last ten years and to promote both the group and the craft of basketry and every aspect of weaving with willow and other natural materials.
The exhibition will also display a wide range of baskets made by members and associates at all developmental stages and each venue will have workshops and drop-in taster sessions.
Funding from Northumberland National Park along with other secured funding enabled a successful exhibition to take place in the Jubilee Hall in Rothbury over the course of the late bank holiday weekend in May.
Corsenside Parish is a rural community lying approximately 20 miles away from Hexham, (the nearest town of any size). The Parish includes land within Northumberland National Park and settlements very near the Park boundary.
The main village, West Woodburn lies on the A68. There are a small number of local facilities in the parish including a church, school, pub and post office. However, Corsenside Parish Hall is the only public building suitable for holding community activities. It, therefore, plays an important part in combating social isolation, particularly amongst the oldest and youngest members of the community, and those with long term health conditions.
In recent years the building suffered from being less well used than it had been in the past, resulting in some areas of the building needing to be updated. A new and enthusiastic group of trustees came forward and have succeeded in breasting new life into the building.
Along with other secured funding, a grant from the Small Grant Fund enabled Phase 1 of the building refurbishment – carrying out essential repairs to make safe the areas affected by dry rot in the floor, to be undertaken.
Not for profit organisation Rothbury Makers Market is the brainchild of Loraine Lawson and Juline Batchelor, both local crafters who saw a need for a market to showcase the wealth of talent that is to be found in the Coquet valley and beyond.
They established a monthly market, held at The Jubilee Hall in Rothbury every 1st Saturday of the month, where work of local Northumbrian artisans and crafters is showcased.
Revealing the Border Roads is an ambitious project to research and reveal a number of ancient routes across the Cheviot hills, running down into the Coquet Valley i.e. Clennell Street, Dere Street, Salter’s Road and The Street. The project aims to combine people’s love of walking these routes and couple it with an understanding of the surrounding landscape.
Mechanisms for doing this include: a series of fold-out laminated cards or maps that will describe specific walks along sections of the routes; a book that covers each of the main routes through the Cheviots; website, public events and talks and school engagement.
The arts and crafts group at Greenhead Village Hall set about re-upholstering the chairs in the hall rather than spending a huge amount replacing the chairs. The group employed a tutor to show them how to do this.
They also resurfaced the hall floor, as it is used regularly by the youth club and a dance club. As the local community are refurbishing the village hall, they have benefited by learning new skills and working together to contribute towards the upkeep of their local hall.
This fosters an ever stronger sense of community in the village while encouraging local people to take ownership of their village Hall.
After re-launching the Bellingham Show to much acclaim in 2013, the show committee were keen to continue momentum in 2014 by attracting families from the National Park and further afield from urban areas such as Newcastle.
The Bellingham Show offered the opportunity to encourage families to come and experience North Tyne rural life; its culture, heritage and landscape and hence develop a greater understanding of the area and those close by in the National Park through hands on activities and experiences.
The Bellingham Show was enhanced by providing more stimulatory, educational activities for children and young people, to give them a better understanding of the North Tyne landscape, environment, skills, people and culture.