New-look museum to open doors to public

Ken Middlemist from the Aln Valley Railway.
Ken Middlemist from the Aln Valley Railway.

The Aln Valley Railway is due to open its new-look museum and exhibition centre this Saturday to coincide with the start of the 2014 season.

The expanded facility at Lionheart station, in Alnwick, will be opened for the first time to the public following an extensive refurbishment.

It is housed in a new building paid for by the railway with a substantial donation from the Cooperative Group’s Community Fund.

Further funding has come from the town’s Bailiffgate Museum to provide some glass-fronted cabinets and display boarding.

Spokesman for the railway, Roger Jermy, said: “The increased museum and exhibition space has allowed the displays to be more extensive. Many more railway artefacts, documents, photographs and paintings are on show to the public, including various items closely related to the railways around Alnwick.”

Mr Jermy thanked the groups for their support, as well as contractor Owen Pugh who transported the building free of charge from its former site in North Tyneside.

The centre, which sits adjacent to the railway, has undergone extensive internal remodelling, including new wiring and a fresh decoration throughout.

The outside has also seen attention, with a fresh coat of paint and new wheelchair access.

The previous museum building has been used to extend the Buffet Shop café, operated by the Pottergate Pantry, and increase the size of their retail shop.

The museum building will be open alongside the railway free of charge to the public.

The opening of the museum on Saturday coincides with an Easter weekend gala, which will feature an Easter bunny hunt.

Lionheart Harmony Group will appear at the site on Saturday from 2pm.

The performance will include a newly-written, fund-raising Aln Valley Railway song. The CD is likely to be on sale.

The Aln Valley Railway project is an ambitious development to reopen the branchline between Alnmouth and Alnwick.

For more information, visit the railway’s website www.aln valleyrailway.co.uk