Alnwick and the surrounding countryside, from rolling hills and crags to sandy beaches, from tiny fishing villages to magnificent castles, are steeped in hundreds of years of colourful history. The museum is located in one of the oldest parts of Alnwick and is close by Alnwick Castle. Bailiffgate Museum’s collection is specific to Alnwick and District with the majority of items in the collection relating to local social history. The collection includes agricultural objects, domestic items, railway items, coal mining artefacts, printing objects, photos, paintings, and bound volumes of The Northumberland Gazette. The range of the collections is remarkable. Some of the outstanding exhibits are as follows. The “Arab” press was a foot-treadled machine capable of producing a wide range of printed materials including handbills and trade flyers, cards, documents and book pages. A hundred years ago it would have been found in the majority of print shops all over the world. No less than 46,000 were made by the Josia Wade company of Halifax between 1872 and 1959. The Albion Press, although appearing primitive to modern eyes, was at one time the latest in printing technology. A hand -operated press like this one produced the beautiful Davidson Bible also in the museum collection. Bailiffgate Museum is determined to ensure that every person visiting the museum had the opportunity to experience a taste of what it was like to earn a living underground. It is important for all visitors to remember what an important part of the rise of industrial might throughout the UK was fed by its coal mines, and the miners who risked their lives in the process.
William Davison was born in Alnwick on the 16th November 1781 younger son of William Davison, a husbandman, gardener and farmer, and his second wife Mary. After his school days, probably in 1795 when he would have been 14, Davison was apprenticed to a Newcastle chemist, Mr Hind. He returned to Alnwick in 1802 and set up business as a pharmacist. He then turned to printing. The most prestigious publications were the Book of Common Prayer and The Bible. The Book of Common Prayer was produced in 1817 and was a largish book - about 22.5cm by 13cm - with a large typeface something like today’s 14 point. It included an engraved frontispiece with four other plates within the text. For the section on the burial of the dead, the illustration is of St Michael’s Church in Alnwick showing a view across the adjoining grave yard. The Bible was an even more ambitious publication. This included not only the full text of the bible but also some commentaries upon it. The Bible was originally published in 100 parts and sold for 1/- each. It was a huge job for a local printer to undertake - and also lost money. A bound copy of the whole publication was offered for sale at 26/- after Davison’s death. There is Victorian fire-fighting euipment and a Rothbury Shrovetide Football, in use late 19th and early 20th century. This small leather "football", stuffed with hay, is not much bigger than a large hand ball. It was used in contests between the villagers of Thropton and those of Rothbury; the respective goals were Thropton Bridge and the porch of the Parish Church at Rothbury. This is a splendid example of an item that traces its sporting origins to the medieval period. Football has always been an important part of North East culture, often being at the forefront of the professional game across the country. In 1889, the Northern League was founded in Durham just one year after the Football League (the oldest football league in the world) was formed.
Coal miners lamp: There were many factors that contributed to the short and dangerous life of a miner. Constant dust in the atmosphere irritated lungs and led to serious illness.The pressure of millions of tons of coal and rock above the mine shafts set off roof falls which trapped and crushed many miners. One of the most frightening factors of all, however was the presence of methane gas- CH4 - in mines. This was released from the coal faces after being trapped at the time the coal was formed. Any naked flame such as that in early miners' lamps was always at risk of creating a catastrophic underground explosion. The Davy lamp from which this miner's lamp was developed was invented to try to eliminate the unseen and ever-present hazard of explosion. Sir Humphry Davy discovered that enclosing the naked lamp flame in a wire mesh screen removed the risk of setting off the methane gas and hence saved huge numbers of lives throughout the world. There is much more to fascinate and intrigue. Wheelchair / pushchair access to all areas. Lift to all floors. Standard and fully accessible toilets. Baby changing facilities. Large print information sheets available from reception. Guide dogs welcome.
Location : 14 Bailiffgate, Alnwick NE66 1LX
Transport: Alnmouth (National Rail) then bus. Bus routes X15 stops outside and 470 stops nearby.
Opening Times: Daily 10:00 to 16:00
Tickets: Adults £4.00 Concesssions £3.00 Children (5 - 16) £1.00
Tel: 01665 605847