A closed hotel in Northumberland reopened briefly yesterday – for a very special band of guests.
The doors at Longhirst Hall, near Morpeth, were open again briefly for the Moore family – which owned the venue in the 1930s and 40s, with two of its number living there as children and one of those born there.
The family had booked its former home for a reunion, only for it go into administration.
However, the building’s owners agreed to a brief opening of the doors to allow the Moores back inside their old stomping ground.
Harry Moore, who ran a grocery business Moores Stores, bought Longhirst Hall in 1938, living there with wife Maud.
The couple had four children, Patricia, Gordon, Kenneth and Margaret – with the latter born at the family home.
It was around 1948 when the family sold the site to the local authority which turned it into an approved school and later a community home for boys.
Over the years, Margaret and Gordon, whose dad shot to fame in 1958 when his horse won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, lost touch with their siblings.
In recent years, Margaret searched for them online only to discover they had died.
However, she managed to make contact with their families.
Last year, Margaret arranged a reunion at Longhirst, only for the venue to go into administration and close months later.
Fortunately, she had not paid a deposit but had to find an alternative venue, with Ramside Hall at Durham ultimately secured.
However, one family member got in touch with Longhirst’s owner Stephen Cowell, of Felton Property and Investments Ltd, who agreed to open up the venue to allow the family access to its former home.
The reunion went ahead over the weekend with more than 30 family members, spanning four generations, travelling to the region from as far afield as Australia, America and Sweden.
Yesterday the party travelled from Ramside to Longhirst where Mr Cowell allowed them access.
Margaret, 74, now O’Doherty and living in Cornwall, said: “It is just so lovely to be back.
“I just have this special feeling about this place, it is because I was born in it.
“I have always kept an eye on what is happening at Longhirst over the years.
“It is the sort of place you can tell them about but they have to see it to understand.
“We have all got on really well.”
Gordon, 80, and living at Otterburn, added: “We have learned things that we did not know and probably told some people things they did not know.
“The family have been out of touch so long and people have got on great.”
The pair recalled playing in the grounds of Longhirst as children and how during the Second World War, it was requisitioned by the army with Nissen huts for the soldiers in its grounds and officers’ accommodation inside.