I'm delighted to become a committee member of the Heritage Centre Bellingham at Bellingham: an accredited museum telling the stories and heritage of the North Tyne and Redesdale.The Heritage Centre is entirely run by volunteers and celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2019.  Along with the Volunteer Co-ordinator I'm putting in place practical methods to find out more about our visitors - what their interests are, where they are from.

Visitors to the Heritage Centre come from all over Britain and beyond, and many of them are seeking family history information from the Heritage Centre's extensive database of family surnames from the area.  In the past, the North Tyne and Redesdale were the haunts of the Border Reivers who lived by stealing cattle and sheep across the border into Scotland.  From around 1650 life became a little easier, and by the early 1800s there was a thriving coal and iron industry.  The iron industry was in already in decline by the time the Border Counties Railway arrived in 1861, because of the high cost to transport iron by pack horse from Bellingham to Tyneside.  If the railway had come sooner to make the iron works more viable, perhaps Bellingham would have become a great industrial centre.