A Sense of Place

Bedlington Academy, Haydon Bridge High School, Prudhoe Community High School standing underneath the sycamore tree at Sycamore Gap in Northumberland.

The Education Outreach team teamed up with Historic England, Northumberland National Park, English Heritage and colleagues from the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts and the School of Fine Art to provide a unique educational experience for 90 Year 9 students from Northumberland.

With funding from Historic England we worked with Bedlington Academy, Haydon Bridge High School and Prudhoe Community High School to challenge Year 9 students to write a poem and create a piece of artwork inspired by our Bewick images held in our Special Collections and the majestic beauty of Northumberland National Park.

Each student enjoyed three days of activities…

Day One – Newcastle University

Firstly, the students visited the University Library where they studied the Bewick images held in Special Collections. Next, they walked across campus to the Percy Building where award winning published poet, Sinéad Morrissey delivered a lecture on poetry and Sense of Place. Finally, the students took part in a poetry workshop led by published poets and lecturers from Newcastle University.

“I liked to look at all the different books and materials. It gave me a lot of ideas about what to write”

“I learned how to form a poem through structure and developing a deeper meaning which otherwise I would have struggled with’”

“The poetry workshop helped me have new ideas and it made it easier to get creative and write poems”

Day Two – The Sill, Northumberland National Park

On the second day of the project the students travelled to The Sill where they spent the morning exploring artwork and poetry inspired by the landscape of Northumberland National Park. In the afternoon, a National Park Ranger led them on a walk to Sycamore Gap. On the walk, the ranger and an Education Officer from English Heritage talked to the students about the landscape, heritage, flora and fauna. Then students then took some time out to be inspired by their surroundings and to write poems and do some sketching, which they were able to take home to work on some more.

“It was really fun and I’ve left feeling inspired!”

“I really enjoyed it and the weather was good for the walk! I thought that the opportunity and freedom we had to make notes helped me with my finished piece”

“To walk around allowed me to explore the meanings of art and poetry related to Northumberland”

Day Three- Newcastle University

The third and final day of the project took place back at Newcastle University. The students enjoyed a guided tour of the Hatton gallery and the School of Fine Art before taking part in a Print Making workshop led by Northern Print.

“Fantastic, messy, I loved the painting techniques the most”

“It makes me feel as though I can be crowned with the title of Artist officially – and proud”

“It made me enjoy art more and feel more creative and better at art”


The student’s poetry and artwork was displayed at The Sill, Northumberland National Park throughout August. Several of the students commented on how much they enjoyed the project and how proud they felt of their work.

“It’s a new experience that opens your eyes to things you hadn’t known before”

“It makes me feel proud that my work is good enough to be exhibited”

“I’m very proud that my work can be seen by anyone at the Sill”

Their teachers also felt the project had been extremely successful.

“Our students will take life long memories from this project. It has been incredibly rewarding”

Click on the links below to download the exhibitions in PDF format;

Prudhoe Community High School clickable box to download the exhibition
Haydon Bridge High School clickable box to download the exhibition
Bedlington Academy clickable box to download the exhibition

For more information about the services offered by the University Library Education Outreach Team please visit our website: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/library/services/education-outreach/

A Local Tommy

To commemorate the end of the First World War and made possible with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Year 5 children from Star of the Sea Primary School and Carville Primary School worked with Newcastle University and Cap-a-Pie Theatre company to research, produce and perform a play commemorating the First World War through the archive of a local solider, Thomas Baker Brown.

Our teacher resource pack has been created by Newcastle University Education Outreach team and Cap-a-Pie Theatre Company, to provide a mix of History, English and Drama activities for you to recreate in your classroom.

Download ‘A Local Tommy’ resource pack

The Time Bandits, an historical interpretation group, visited the children in school to teach them about the First World War.

“The thing I enjoyed the most about today was meeting new people and learning new things”

The children visited Newcastle University Library, where they were able to see and handle items from Thomas Baker Brown’s archive including his signallers’ badges, a matchbox, and some of the letters he wrote home to his family.

They worked with comic artist Lydia Wysocki to create their own comics based on the information they had learnt from the archive.

“The thing I enjoyed the most about today was we got to feel objects and listen to experts in History”

“My favourite item in the Thomas Baker Brown archive was the photo of Thomas in his uniform because it meant I could see what he looked like and that makes it all very real”

“The one thing I learned about life in the trenches was that the weather was very liquefied so the trenches were very wet and muddy”

“My favourite item in the Thomas Baker Brown archive was the button cleaner to clean the buttons because I never knew that they cleaned their uniforms’”

“The thing I enjoyed most about today was that we touched really old things!”

“The thing I enjoyed the most about today was making a comic about Thomas Baker Brown”

Back at school, the children worked for a full week with Cap-a Pie Theatre company to co-write and produce their own play about Thomas Baker Brown.

“I am looking forward to being the most perfect actor in the playhouse because I have never acted before in my life!”

“I am most looking forward to performing my play at Whitely Bay Playhouse because of being in front of people doing drama and because my mum will be so proud!”

“Cap-a- Pie theatre company just make it all very enjoyable, like somehow they just make you so happy!”

“The thing I have enjoyed most so far about working Cap-a-Pie Theatre Company is doing the soundscape because it was super fun!”

“I am looking forward to performing our play at Whitley Bay Playhouse because I think I will nail-it because I’ll know what I am doing!”

Related Sources

Thomas Baker Brown

For more information about the services offered by the University Library Education Outreach Team please visit our website: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/library/services/education-outreach/

Our Wallington: Victorian Scrapbook

The Trevelyans were a wealthy influential family who lived at Wallington Hall in Northumberland. They played an important role in politics, culture and education in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Cambo First School sits on the lands of the ancestral home of the Trevelyan family of Wallington Hall now bequeathed to The National Trust. In this project the Education Outreach team at Newcastle University Special Collections worked with Cambo First School to investigate the Trevelyan photo albums. This involved the children visiting the archives, completing various Victorian entertainments during a Victorian day in school, orienteering to re-create the original Trevelyan photos and much more.

Front cover of 'Our Wallington' by Cambo First School and Newcastle University Library
Cambo First School album
Front cover of a Trevelyan family album, Volume 1 (1894-1903)

Click on the Cambo album to turn the pages of the Victorian album produced by the children at Cambo First School in Northumberland.

Click on the original Trevelyan album to get a glimpse of the materials that inspired the Cambo album.

For more information about the services offered by the University Library Education Outreach Team please visit our website: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/library/services/education-outreach/