Heritage Centre Timeline

This is the Heritage Centre's Timeline over its 25 years existence. Click on the links to expand the timeline and find out more.

8 January 1993

Hexham Courant Article

The Hexham Courant carries an article "Bellingham in Days Gone By" to publicise a display of local photographs staged by Dorothy Bell. The interest created was the genesis of the Heritage Centre.

25 November 1993

Public Meeting

A public meeting forms a Heritage Group and elects a committee of nine, including Dorothy Bell, to set up a Heritage Centre for the North Tyne and Redesdale Valleys.

10 June 1994

Heritage Centre Founded

The original Heritage Centre at Shellcroft, next door to The Cheviot, was housed in the showroom of the former garage of the Thompson family. It was formally opened on 10th June 1994 by Edie Lyons, who had worked for Bellingham photographer W. P. Collier in the 1920s. The Heritage Centre put on a memorable show. Exhibitions included the Border Counties Railway, the Dairy, Kielder Past and Present and Teatime in the 1920s. Temporary exhibitions included the Leek Clubs of the North Tyne and the past glories of the Bellingham and District Amateur Dramatic Society. During its first season, the Centre played host to over 900 visitors. There was plenty to see but this was just the beginning.

6 October 1994

Registered Charity established

The Heritage Centre becomes a Registered Charity (1041300) to preserve and display the heritage of the North Tyne and Redesdale Valleys

15 April 1995

First extension

The opening of Heritage Centre which was now extended to occupy the whole of the former garage. The following year saw the Heritage Centre expand into the workshop of the former garage to the rear. Volunteers spent thousands of hours over the winter months to bring the new galleries up to the required standard. All their hard work paid off. There was so much more to see by the time that the Heritage centre opened for its second season on 15th April 1995. The North British Railway remained an old favourite. There was now plenty of room for a reconstruction of the shop of photographer W. P. Collier. The temporary displays included Farming, Embroidery and the 50th anniversary of VE Day. These temporary displays enthralled visitors, young and old, and have continued to breathe new life into the Heritage Centre ever since.

15 November 1996

First Heritage Centre Book Published

First book published by the Heritage Centre: Northumbrian Heritage 1912-1937, the photographs of W. P. Collier

1 May 1998

Official Opening

Peter Atkinson MP performs official opening of the Heritage Centre

30 November 1999

Preparation for Move

The Heritage Centre closed for the season and was packed into boxes for its move to new premises in the old Bellingham Station Yard

22 December 2000

New Lease Signed

Keys obtained and lease signed for new Heritage Centre premises in the Station Yard.

9 January 2001


Contents of Heritage Centre moved from Shellcroft to the Station Yard

25 May 2001

Opening of current premises

Opening of Heritage Centre in the new premises in the old Station Yard

21/22 July 2001

First Rally

First "Gathering of Vintage Motorcycles, Engines, Tractors, Model Engines and Stationary Engines" organised by Wesley Turnbull in the Station Yard.

18 April 2003

Official Opening

Lord Redesdale performs official opening of the Heritage Centre

20 November 2003

Registered Museum Status

The Heritage Centre gains Registered Museum status and officially becomes the Museum for the North Tyne and Redesdale

3 April 2004

John Grundy Opening

John Grundy, author and presenter, performs official opening of the Heritage Centre

10 October 2008

Extension of new premises

The Heritage Centre was extended to include displays of farming and an area for seasonal exhibitions. Plans were soon being formed for further expansion to include a permanent display area dedicated to farming. Once funding was received, all the displays were carefully packed away once again and put into storage. On 10th October 2008, author and presenter John Grundy formally opened the enlarged Heritage Centre. It was now home to a grey Fergie tractor, a section of traditional dry stone walling and displays of former farming techniques, including the killing of the pig. Space was found for the reconstruction of the Stannersburn smithy, worked by Arthur Grimwood for over 50 years, and the creation of a dedicated area for seasonal exhibitions. The building housed the Tourist Information Centre, now hosted by the Heritage Centre. Bellingham station closed to passengers on 15th October 1956 and to goods on 11th November 1963. 1 After the final goods train departed, the once busy Station Yard soon became a local eyesore. 2 Things changed on 25th May 2001 when the Heritage Centre opened on the site of the old garage, home to five gritting vehicles. 3 The yard soon became a popular venue for activities including the Northumbrian pipers and the vintage motor rallies of Wesley Turnbull. 4 Heritage Centre volunteers worked hard to restore two railway carriages for the opening of the Carriages Tea Room on 17th March 2012.

1 January 2009

Dorothy Bell MBE

Dorothy Bell awarded MBE for her services to the Heritage Centre



Winner of Outstanding Achievement by a Volunteer Run Museum Award (Renaissance North East)

9 November 2011

Special Mention

Special mention in The Curlew Awards (Northumberland National Park)

17 March 2012

Carriages Tea Room Opens

Opening of the Carriages Tea Room beside the platform of Bellingham station which had closed to passengers on 15th October 1956.

23 September 2014

Death of our founder

Death of Dorothy Bell, founder of the Heritage Centre.


Arts Council Award

Winner of Best Volunteer Run Museum Award (Arts Council North East)


Visit England Award

Quality Rose Marque Award (Visit England)

7June 2019

25th Anniversary

Centre's 25th Anniversary. Guy Opperman MP performs 25th anniversary opening of the Heritage Centre


10th October 2019

25th Anniversary

25th Anniversary luncheon with Guest Speaker John Grundy.

4th April 2020

Covid-19 Pandemic

The Centre is temporarily closed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and cannot open for the season.

24th July 2020

Covid-19 Pandemic- Re-opening

The Heritage Centre re-opens on a part time basis Friday-Sunday as Government Covid-19 restrictions are eased but new lockdown restrictions force early closure in September.

18 May 2021

Re-opening after Lockdown 2

The Heritage Centre re-opens Tuesday-Sunday and celebrates the publication of the 25th book inspired by the Heritage Centre and produced in-house. The latest four books, being the result of several months of Government lockdown and known as the Covid Collection, are put on sale. The Heritage Centre Collection now consists of Northumbrian Heritage (out of print), North Tyne Traveller, Roman Roundabout, Road to Bellingham, Redewater Views, Coquetdale Camera (1st edition), Village Photographer, Postcards from Bellingham, W. P. Collier (guide), Coquetdale Camera (2nd enlarged edition), Harbottle Holiday, Photographers Three, Billy Bell, Redesdale Roadman, Redesdale Roadman (e-book), Remaining Poems (e-book), Brown Rigg School, Territorial Training, North British Railway in Northumberland, Northumbrian Railway Reflections volumes 1-3, A Country Bairn, A Countryman at War, Redesdale Recalled, Bellingham Faces & Places.

1 Jan 2022

Tea on the Train

The incumbent business in the carriages terminates their licence and leaves. The Heritage Centre establish a new subsidiary business - Tea on the Train - to provide refreshments

5 March 2022

Tea on the Train

"Tea on the Train" opens for business to the public with two managers and 7 other staff. The start of a new venture.

18 Dec 2022

Illuminated Sheep

The Heritage Centre hosts an illuminated sheep as part of the Lindisfarne Gospels celebrations coming tot he northeast.

Read more about our sheep