New £16m Anglo-Saxon museum and whisky distillery in Wooler welcomes its first visitors

A landmark tourist attraction which aims to transform the fortunes of the Wooler area has wowed its first visitors.
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Ad Gefrin, the £16m Anglo-Saxon museum and whisky distillery in Wooler, opened its doors for previews today.

Founders Alan and Eileen Ferguson hope their transformation of what was a derelict site fronting the A697 will attract up to 35,000 visitors in its first year alone.

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It has also created 60 jobs, with nearly half the positions filled by people living in Wooler.

Ad Gefrin in Wooler.Ad Gefrin in Wooler.
Ad Gefrin in Wooler.

While the Ferguson family has invested heavily, its positive impact on the wider Northumberland economy has also helped to draw in significant funding.

It includes £4m from Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, £1m from North East LEP, and £600,000 from Northumberland County Council.

Council leader and Borderlands Partnership board member Glen Sanderson said: “I want to pay tribute to the Ferguson family and the team at Ad Gefrin for their vision, passion, and incredible hard work to create a first-class visitor destination and distillery which will boost and regenerate this rural economy.

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“Ad Gefrin has highlighted the rich history of the area and will offer a unique, year- round visitor experience with huge financial spin-offs for local shops, restaurants, services, and employment.

Roger Miket and Dr Chris Ferguson in the Anglo-Saxon Museum.Roger Miket and Dr Chris Ferguson in the Anglo-Saxon Museum.
Roger Miket and Dr Chris Ferguson in the Anglo-Saxon Museum.

“This is a such a great news story for Northumberland and for Wooler and we have followed and supported the scheme every step of the way.

“This has included funding from both the county council and a £4m investment from the Borderlands Growth Deal.

"More recently we have worked closely with Ad Gefrin and local businesses to shine a spotlight on the town and ensure that the financial benefits from the influx of visitors are felt by the wider community.”

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Siobhan Younger, chair of the Wooler Traders Association and manager of the local Newcastle Building Society, added: “There’s been great enthusiasm in the local community since the announcement of Ad Gefrin.

"It’s a great asset to the town, creating opportunities for employment, providing amenities for locals and visitors, and enhancing what Wooler already has to offer.

"It has brought back a positivity to Wooler, and residents and retailers are very excited for the future of our wonderful town.”

The Ad Gefrin Museum brings to life the largely untold story of the 7th century Anglo Saxon kings and queens of Northumbria, whose Royal Palace at Yeavering, just outside Wooler, once attracted visitors from all over Europe, Scandinavia and as far away as North Africa.

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The museum will offer visitors an immersive experience and displays of rare and never before seen Anglo-Saxon treasures from the British Museum and other collections, many returning home to the North East for the first time in over 30 years.

Eileen said: “The wholehearted support and enthusiasm of the people of Wooler have carried us through all the challenges and milestones, and we are delighted that so many local people have become so involved in helping to make Ad Gefrin the success we know it will be.

"We want to create a long-term legacy and I hope Ad Gefrin will add a new reason for people to be proud of their town and optimistic for the future.”

Ad Gefrin is open to local residents for private viewing from Tuesday to Friday before officially opening to the public on Saturday, March 25.