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

Header image includes school children holding Special Collections material, a photograph of Thomas Baker Brown and a child trying on a WWI children's gas mask

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/

A North East ABC

Header image showing a group of 6 primary school pupils holding up their alphabet books

Inspired by a similar project in the North West of England (Heritage Schools does ‘A Manchester Alphabet’) nine classes of Year 5 children from five primary schools in Newcastle and Gateshead researched, wrote and illustrated their own class alphabet books all about their local heritage.

The project began with teachers attending a CPD day at the Philip Robinson Library where they saw items from Special Collections including Joseph Crawhall II’s Old Aunt Elspa’s ABC (1884) and material from the Seven Stories archive. They also received advice and support on creating their own Alphabet Book from Newcastle University Library Education Outreach Team, Historic England, Seven Stories, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums and other heritage professionals. This launched a fabulous project in which the children researched their local heritage and created a page of their class alphabet book.

From Ant and Dec and the Angel of the North to Fenwick’s department store and the Victoria Tunnel, they uncovered some fantastic facts and did some beautiful illustrations, deepening their understanding of what makes the North East of England a unique and special place to live and helping their schools to become heritage schools along the way.

Celebration assemblies were held in each school, with each child receiving their very own copy of their class alphabet book.

If you’d like to get your class to create an alphabet book about their local heritage, you may find it useful to download this instruction sheet.

How to make your own alphabet book

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/

Story of the Civil War in the North East

“Belta, Mint and Enjoyable” were the words used by one Year 8 student to describe their experience at our Civil War Celebration Day at Tynemouth Priory on 22 June. The day saw the culmination of a year’s activities between ourselves, four local schools, four academic schools, English Heritage and heritage professionals that was inspired by our 17th century collections here at Newcastle University Special Collections. Whilst involving numerous partners at heart the project was about inspiring Year 8 students to engage with History, the University and their local heritage in a fun and innovative way.

With £9,927 of Heritage Lottery Funding the project enabled the education outreach staff from Newcastle University Special Collections to work with all Year 8 students across four local schools on four different school disciplines. Each school would work with an academic to gain a deeper knowledge and different perspective of their subject. Following which 30 students from each school would be chosen to represent their school at the celebration day kindly hosted by English Heritage at Tynemouth Priory and showcase the work they had completed.

The following schools were involved.

Bedlington Community Hight School – Food Technology

Year 8 Food Technology students from Bedlingtonshire Community High School visited our Special Collections to see our 17th century recipe book. They transcribed the recipe and then went to the University kitchens to bake the recipes.

“It was great to see the link spreading initially from the library but them drawing in expertise from across the university. Engaging with schools, even within this age group, is essential for the University. We need to be more proactive in schools’ engagement and this project is an excellent example of how this can be successfully achieved.”

-Professor Chris Seal

“Today was awesome!”

-Bedlington Year 8 student

They even got to be on TV!

Kenton School – History

Year 8 History students from Kenton School completed two workshops to find out about the Civil War and Tynemouth Priory and the role it played in the Civil War. On day one they visited the University to see the original resources which inspired the whole project before visiting the School of History to enjoy a lecture delivered by Dr Rachel Hammersley.

Upon returning to the Philip Robinson Library they used the original sources to research and write a pop up museum informing all about the Civil War.

“Just seeing the Kenton pupils so excited about their pop-up-museum and hearing them talk authoritatively to visitors and other pupils about the Civil War in the North East.” Civil War in the North East.”

-Dr Rachel Hammersley – favourite part of the day

“Making the pop up museum because I learnt about what happened in the Civil War”

-Year 8 student

On Day two the students visited Tynemouth Priory to have a guided tour around the English Heritage property given by Dr Rachel Hammersley and the Education Officer for the North East at English Heritage. They then took photos, gathered information and thought about what would make an interesting trail. Upon returning to the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms they created their own trails which other students would then enjoy at the celebration day.

Many of the students remarked about how much they had enjoyed the celebration day as they could see everyone reading their museum or completing the trails.

“Doing the trails because it showed all my hard work paid off”

-Year 8 student

“Designing the trails and seeing the students go round enjoying themselves has been my favourite part of today”

-Mandy Marsh (History teacher)

“All of the children I engaged with today were clearly extremely proud of the work they had done and spoke about it articulately and with confidence.”

-Dr Rachel Hammersley

“It was a great day and the students really enjoyed it. It was good to see all the hard work and the collaboration end with such an enjoyable time.”

-Mandy Marsh (History teacher)

Longbenton High School – English and Drama

The Education Outreach team worked with Tracy Gilman, drama practitioner from the School of English to deliver drama and creative writing workshops to all Year 8 students at Longbenton High School. We then invited the chosen 30 students to the University for a drama workshop.

They spent time interviewing the Time Bandits (Historical re-enactment group) to find out about life in the 17th century. The remaining time was spent writing, editing and rehearsing the play they would eventually perform to all at the celebration day at Tynemouth Priory.

“Liked going to the University as it was fun”

-Year 8 student

“The trip to the university was a very special opportunity for a number of the group whose family have not attended university. They enjoyed being taught in the building and feeling ‘grown up’. A number definitely felt inspired to return!”

-Clare Campbell (English teacher)

The Longbenton students did an amazing job and wowed all with the play that they delivered to all students, teachers, academics, family and public!

“Our students had a fantastic time today and we were so proud of them! Especially as many of them are not the usual students to become involved in events like this – we were amazed at their confidence.”

-Clare Campbell (English teacher)

“The play got to show people our hard work”

-Year 8 student

Monkseaton Middle School – Science

Year 8 science students from Monkseaton Middle School studied our fantastic Medicine through Time resources on Pare and Vesalius to find out about treatments for gunshot wounds in the past. This was brought full circle when they went to the University science labs to find out about blood loss and how infection would be treated now and the use of antibiotics and antiseptics.

“Blood clotting […] was very interesting”

-Year 8 student

At the celebration day we were all able to try out the blood clotting experiments they had developed and find out how dirty our hands are with UV torches!

“It gave the pupils the confidence to talk to others about the project.”

-Gillian Whitmell (Science teacher)

“I was really pleased that the students were keen to get involved showcasing the practical itself. We had to do very little in terms of instructing the students. They were very motivated.”

-Dr Lindsey Ferrie

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/