Celebrating decades of living, learning and local running

Images from the Barresdale in Living Memory exhibition. Pictures courtesy of Alice Mason.
Images from the Barresdale in Living Memory exhibition. Pictures courtesy of Alice Mason.
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A trio of exhibitions has opened in Alnwick celebrating one of the town’s estates, one of its schools and one of its clubs.

Described as displays about Living, Learning and Local Running, they focus on Barresdale, Swansfield Park First School and Alnwick Harriers, with the first two being the result of projects involving the community.

Images from the Barresdale in Living Memory exhibition. Pictures courtesy of Alice Mason.

Images from the Barresdale in Living Memory exhibition. Pictures courtesy of Alice Mason.

They opened on Tuesday and run until Monday, August 24, providing residents of the town with an insight into how things have changed over the past 60 years in the case of the estate and the school.

Barresdale in Living Memory was developed through a unique partnership between the residents and volunteers from Bailiffgate and features photographs, film and audio recordings of local people and events from the 1950s to the present day.

People were asked to share photographs, memories and stories about life on the estate which documentary-maker Harry Henderson has used to design the exhibition display panels.

Textile artist Margaret Kenny held sessions in the Alnwick South Community Centre for young people and their families with a series of sessions also taking place in care homes for older residents.

Images from the Barresdale in Living Memory exhibition. Pictures courtesy of Alice Mason.

Images from the Barresdale in Living Memory exhibition. Pictures courtesy of Alice Mason.

The brand-new Our Place, Our Streets rag-rug wall hanging will take pride of place in this exhibition.

It involves many different aspects of people’s lives on the estate and by working with Margaret Kenny, who is renowned for her work with communities, a piece of art has been produced which best represents the changing history of Barresdale.

Sheila Starks, a volunteer at the museum, said: “Everyone wants to know more about the things that are closest to them.

“Who lived in my house before me? What work did people do? Why was my house built? What were the lives of children like on my street before the motor car, TV and computers? How were major events in our national history celebrated or commemorated in Alwnick?

Alnwick South First School, now Swansfield Park First School, in the 1970s. Picture courtesy of Swansfield Park First School.

Alnwick South First School, now Swansfield Park First School, in the 1970s. Picture courtesy of Swansfield Park First School.

“This project will add to our understanding of our town and be a rich resource for future generations.”

The project, which has been running for almost a year, has been enjoyed by the whole community and has had people interested in the history, particularly in the post-war era, reminiscing and looking back on that one estate’s rich history.

Another volunteer at the museum added: “I’m not local, but it was amazing to see people unearthing history; everyone enjoyed the meetings.”

The Barresdale in Living Memory exhibition was made possible with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This runs alongside the learning aspect of the trilogy, focusing on the recently-renamed Swansfield Park First School, formerly Alnwick South First School.

60 Years On celebrates six decades of the school’s life, which began in 1955.

The exhibition combines children’s current work and a dip into the past with memories, stories, photographs and memorabilia from the last 60 years. In that time, more than 3,000 children have received their first taste of education at the school.

Children have interviewed former pupils, including one family which has seen three generations pass through the school.

Their memories and stories provide a fascinating portrait of how important the school has been to individuals and the surrounding community.

The exhibition also sees the unveiling of the Swansfield Park 60th anniversary proggy mat-style wall hanging made by staff and children with artist Margaret Kenny.

It also marks a new phase in the school’s life with a new name and uniform and will be of great interest to many Alnwick families and those who are interested in how schools have changed in the last six decades.

The final prong in the three-fold exhibition is the town’s athletics and running club – Alnwick Harriers: A Celebration.

Next Sunday, Alnwick Harriers will welcome more than 1,000 runners to traverse the terrain from Beadnell to Alnmouth in the 35th Northumberland Coastal Run. To mark this occasion, Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery and Alnwick Harriers have joined forces to celebrate the history of the club.

Founded in 1981, the Harriers have played a prominent role in the athletics history of the town, from the Fair Five that used to be held as part of Alnwick Fair to the annual Les Allcorn race through Hulne Park and the inaugural European Cross-Country Championships at Alnwick Castle in 1995, not to mention the weekly training sessions, cross-country events and socials. The display includes photographs, souvenirs, retro kit and memorabilia celebrating the history of the friendliest running club in the North East.

The exhibitions opened on Tuesday and run until Monday, August 24. For more information, visit www.bailiffgatemuseum.co.uk or call 01665 605847.