Museums Take Pick of Society's Goods; Group Quits Home after 120 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson

MUSEUMS have lined up to take their pick after a learned society quit its historic headquarters after more than 120 years.

The Newcastle Society of Antiquaries has moved from the 13th Century Black Gate in the city to the Great North Museum: Hancock.

Much of the extensive collections of the society, which was formed in 1813, has gone on show at the new pounds 25m venue.

But there were still plenty of items left in the Black Gate which need new homes, so other museums in the North East were invited to see what was on offer. One of the most popular was a set of 50 First World War recruitment posters, many in mint condition, which were found rolled up a drawer at the Black Gate.

The football used in the annual Shrove Tuesday game at Rothbury in Northumberland until 1867 also emerged. There were sugar cutters, from the time when sugar came not in granules but in large lumps.

Also on offer for loan was the ornately carved wooden Bible box which was given to the society in 1837 by the eminent North East mining engineer John Buddle.

Among a range of musical items was a 19th Century roller organ, hundreds of music wax cylinders, and wooden slide whistles.

Other items included a model of a guillotine made by Napoleonic French prisoners of war from bone meal remains, cock fight spurs, tinder boxes, metal fire insurance wall plaques, linen smoothers, 18th Century copper engraving plates of North East scenes, 17th Century crossbows, and cannon balls from the 1640 Battle of Newburn.

"There was also and 18th Century mouse trap which used a huge wooden block of oak to flatten the mouse," said society vice president Derek Cutts.

Thousands of volumes from the society's extensive library have been moved to the Great North Museum, while archives have been transferred to Woodhorn Museum and Archives Centre near Ashington.

NEW LEASE OF LIFE THE empty Black Gate could find a new life as the entrance to Newcastle's historic core.

A bid of over pounds 1m will be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in April at the centre of which will be the Black Gate. …