Nicholas Craig column

Woodhorn Mining Museum opens its doors this week. It aims to attract 75,000 visitors a year to south east Northumberland with its £16m new look.

Woodhorn Mining Museum opens its doors this week. It aims to attract 75,000 visitors a year to south east Northumberland with its £16m new look.

As with the remarkable recreation of life in the early 19th and 20th Centuries at Beamish, the North of England Open Air Museum, nostalgia fires the enthusiasm of many museum visits.

But given another generation, will the momentum of visitors to such museums decrease as mining becomes dry history rather than a vividly remembered part of family life?

I doubt it. Woodhorn and Beamish bring to life the passions and talents of people who powered the region. The nationally acclaimed Ashington pit painters, the huge, emblematic union banners and the remarkable craftswomen who brought their homes to colourful life will live on for many more generations because of their extraordinary abilities.

You can witness such long-term interest at Killhope Lead Mining Museum, where people continue to flock to Weardale to experience life at a lead mine that closed almost 100 years ago.

We have a string of gems which each highlight and conserve the extraordinary ability of long-gone local people. Bamburgh's Grace Darling Museum keeps alive the story of the heroine who rescued survivors of the SS Forfarshire in 1838, and Stephenson's Cottage, where the `Father of the Railways' lived in a one-room house, remains open for visitors.

We can marvel at the work carried out at Heatherslaw Corn Mill, the music created by Northumbrian pipers at the UK's only bagpipe museum, and the pioneering inventions captured at the Discovery museum. We can see how Anglo-Saxon farmers worked the land at Bede's World, and exist alongside Romans or railworkers in a number of museums that honour their contributions to the region.

Our museums are full of new ideas and novel ways of interesting younger markets. Woodhorn is a welcome, memorable addition.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer