Alnwick museum relocation plan moves a step closer

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Plans to move a much-loved museum into one of Alnwick’s best-known buildings have moved a step closer after planning permission was granted.

The Bailiffgate Museum currently resides in St Mary’s Church on Bailiffgate itself, close to Alnwick Castle.

However, the ambitious trust that runs the museum is hoping to expand, and has set its sites on the Grade I listed Northumberland Hall in the centre of the town.

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The hall was built in 1826 by the third Duke of Northumberland, and currently plays host to private functions such as balls and weddings. However, a lack of use has meant the opportunity for the museum to take control of the site has arisen.

The Northumberland Hall.The Northumberland Hall.
The Northumberland Hall.

At a meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Committee, Doctor Jean Humphreys, the chairman of Bailiffgate Museum, explained: “A central location will give us the greater space that we need.

"It would increase exhibition space and bring in exhibitions that have not been in Alnwick before, working with museums across the country.”

The plans were recommended for approval by council planners, and most of the committee were keen to support them.

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Cllr Jeff Watson said: “This building needs to be used, and I know there has been a lot of work for a long period of time trying to get a design officers are happy with. It doesn’t really alter or affect the building.

“The external view will be hardly any different. We need to utilise our heritage buildings in the manner which they were intended to be, which is for public use.

“I think by putting this museum in, which has done wonderful things over the years, it will be an asset for the town and a good use for the building. This building really needs something done to it and this is the best use for it.”

Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson added: “I think it’s a shame that the Northumberland Hall wasn’t used enough to keep it in its current guise. If people don’t use it, they lose it.

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“If it’s not being used as a ballroom and function space, this is the next best thing.”

Councillors voted to approve the changes by nine votes to zero, with one abstention. The decision whether or not to allow the building to change to a museum must be made by the cabinet.