Welcome to Belford and District Hidden History (BDHH), an evolving exhibition which seeks to throw light on the past of Belford and its surrounding area, and on the lives of the men, women and children who lived here.
From 2008, Fiona Renner Thompson mounted a series of summer displays in empty buildings in the High Street. In 2012, the village Community Group succeeded in obtaining grants under the Heritage Lottery Fund's SOS Villages scheme and from Northumberland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Trustees of Belford Reading Room granted the Group a five year lease of part of this historic building.
The Reading Room was originally provided by the Rev. John Dixon Clark, the then squire, in 1854. His aim was to improve community feeling by bringing landlord, farmer and tradesman into social contact by providing them with access to a plentiful supply of newspapers. To these facilities was added a popular Billiards Room.
During the First World War, it was a well used meeting place for the soldiers billeted in the village. and by the end of the War, needed refurbishment.
When, in 1923, the Belford Hall Estate was auctioned off, the building was sold privately to the Reading Room Committee. Gerard Leather, the owner of Middleton Hall, was particularly keen to improve the facilities for the ex-soldiers, in memory of his three brothers who were killed in the war.
With his encouragement and fund raising, the British Legion redecorated the rooms and repaired the billiard table in 1925. Then, in 1934, when the old A1 through Belford was widened, the old building was demolished to be replaced by the one you see today.
Belford and District Hidden History (BDHH) is registered with the Community Archives and Heritage Group
Yr 3 and 4 from Belford First School visit the Belford Hidden History Museum.
Our first school visit, in fact, from 17 children and teacher accompanied by 2 parents. They enjoyed looking at the displays, using the Touch Screen and Listening posts, and heard about some of the people who have lived in Belford.
The boy pointing to the photo of the soldier is related to him. The photo is one of many in the museum in a display of Belford people who served in WW1.
Afterwards one child wrote in the Visitors Book:
"Class 3 really enjoyed this museum. It was interesting and fantastic."
Over half-term some of the children returned to the museum with their parents and did the quizzes which are always available to anyone visiting. It is open every day from 10-4.
Our First Heritage Open Day 15 Sept 2013
Our first Heritage Open Day was a great success! We prepared by advertising it widely in the locality and leafleted the whole village as well as sending leaflets out via the schools. Heritage Open Day organisation provided bunting to complement our own Northumberland bunting kindly provided by our own Belford Community Group.
Four of the Friends of the Museum were able to be present during the day to chat to visitors. The main attraction was the showing of a DVD of home movies showing Belford celebrating the 1977 Silver Jubilee. This proved quite a draw to villagers who were amused to spot themselves and friends and family at such events as the Brownies Disco, Football Match and Old Years Night celebrations.
Gales of laughter could be heard from the Billiards Room into which we were allowed to extend for that day as people edged their chairs nearer to the screen trying to recognise people. We managed to get a long list of names of people appearing in it. It’s amazing how old-fashioned 1977 looked! The movies were made by the late Mr Nicholson of West St.
We were also fortunate to receive some photographs of Adderstone Hall Farm during the 1920’s and 30’s. These were professionally-taken photographs of workers on the farm. The mystery man leading the horses was featured by the Berwick Advertiser in its publicity for the event and was identified by visitors as Bob Sprott.
We had over 90 visitors that day, most of whom stayed for some time, watching the DVD several times. Most were local but there were also visitors from further afield, some of whom had spotted the event in the official HOD brochure or website.
The newly-installed listening posts were very popular. Sadly only one child came that day but she had fun doing the Blue Bell quiz. We are looking for ways to appeal to more children and both schools have been invited to send groups of children in the future.
It was great to see all the rooms of our little museum thronging with visitors! We are open every day from 10-4 throughout the winter.
Our First Coach Trip to the Belford Hidden History Museum.
We had a party of 25 people employed in the tourism business visit the museum on Tue 25th March 2014 accompanied by a Blue Badge Tour Guide.
We invited them as they were touring the area looking at attractions for visitors which they could recommend.
They seemed impressed with our FREE Museum so lets hope they recommend us as a great FREE attraction in 2014.
This was our first coach party visit!
Comments In Visitors Book At Belford Museum 2013
Amazing to find this little museum – a wonderful archive.
Tweets by @BDHHM
Comments In Visitors Book At Belford Museum 2014
An extraordinary achievement!
Our daughter loved the 2 interactive displays. More of these please.
A remarkable contribution to community coherence.
A lot more to Belford than meets the eye!
Wonderful exhibition with so much information.
A charming museum, what a delight to enjoy.
Researching Family History - interesting and found information.
An excellent source of local information in a beautiful village.
A lovely local source of family history.
What a marvellous community display - well done! Thank you.
Excellent role model for other small villages.
A wonderful trip down memory lane.
I enjoyed finding all of the bells. Fortunately I found them all. This minute museum is so interesting. I learnt a lot about Belford's history in the past. I hope I can come back again with my mum and dad.
Most interesting and a credit to the people who collated and presented it.
How nice to be able to browse through without pressure.
Thank you for opening this fascinating museum to give us the chance to linger and learn.
A very interesting display. I liked the suffragettes display.
I particularly liked the story of Grizzy Cochrane.
An enjoyable and well-resourced museum. Particularly enjoyed the personal stories.
Very interesting, could spend all day going through the archives.
Super information centre - lucky Belford to have such dedicated residents!
An excellent display with masses of info. Congratulations!
A pleasant surprise to find this - very interesting.
Really glad to have missed the bus connection home. Tremendous efforts to tell the stories of those killed in WW1. Terrific end to wonderful day visiting Farne islands.
Very welcoming - lots to see.
An interesting collection - hidden gem!
Excellent community initiative.
Really interesting exhibits and very helpful and knowledgeable guide. Thank you!