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  • Writer's pictureClaire Venus

Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery - OOT and Aboot - Talking Coquetdale

By the Out of Town (OOT) Museum

Part of Bailiffgate Museum

23 May - 2 July 2023

The Out of Town (OOT) Museum Exhibition arrived at Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery in Alnwick on 23 May following its touring exhibition in Coquetdale.

The National Lottery Heritage funded project celebrates the rural heritage of one of the most beautiful and remote areas in England. The exhibition “OOT and Aboot – Talking Coquetdale” is the culmination of the outreach work started in 2019 and is part of the volunteer led and run Bailiffgate Museum.

OOT and Aboot takes the OOT museum into the heart of the community and has been running through April and May visiting seven village hall locations across Coquetdale. Visitors have been inspired by this unique memorable touring exhibition based on the life and work experiences of local people who wanted to share their stories and memories.

This is an exciting, interactive exhibition using traditional and modern techniques, hands-on activities, photographs, songs, film and music to celebrate stories of which future generations can be proud.

Visitors to the exhibition can listen to specially composed music by local musician Ian Stephenson and see photographs from local artist Jose Snook.

Sally Brewis, the OOT Project Manager said;

“There has been a huge amount of interest in the OOT Museum since we launched in 2019. The National Lottery Heritage funding allowed us to work with those people who wanted to share their valuable memories of the old way of life and record the distinct Northumbrian dialect to ensure we have a lasting record of a voice that is rapidly disappearing.”

The exhibition has toured around Coquetdale’s Village and Church Halls and has been well received by residents and visitors.

One visitor commented that;

“It captures the heart and soul of the valley and the lovely people who live here.” Another said ‘Very emotive and impressive. Hard to put into words how much hard work, integrity and heartfelt work has gone into this exhibition’.

Peter Dawson, from Rothbury, who is one of those featured in the exhibition said;

“It looks like my childhood!”.

Do not miss this chance to go on an unforgettable journey through this unique experience.

The exhibition will be installed in Bailiffgate Museum from Tuesday 23 May until Sunday 2 July.

There will then be an opportunity to see the exhibition at the Sill on Hadrian’s Wall until Sunday 3 September 2023.

For a full list of opening hours and events, please visit


About the Out of Town (OOT) Museum

“OOT and Aboot – Talking Coquetdale” is a Touring Exhibition celebrating the rural heritage of one of the most remote areas in England and the culmination of the OOT (Out of Town Museum) Project, a National Lottery Heritage Funded Project for the volunteer led and run Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery in Alnwick, Northumberland.

Coquetdale, a sparsely populated rural area in North Northumberland has a rich heritage, a unique dialect, and inspiring stories to tell. Since 2019, the OOT Museum has been working with local people to create a permanent record of a former way of life before the memories are gone forever. We have collected oral history recordings, photographs, documents, artefacts, music, and songs about the heritage of the area which have all contributed to the project. We found key themes and messages and feedback from people attending events and presentations reflected which stories were enjoyed and which voices and insights had the most effect either by being moving, funny, surprising, memorable and gave us a clear steer for what should star in the exhibition.

Like all other aspects of life, OOT was affected by Covid 19, not least because the people we needed to engage with face to face to record their stories and memories, were the very ones that we needed to keep away from because of health conditions or age. Just when we thought we were back on track, Storm Arwen hit Coquetdale badly with many areas cut off for days further restricting access to both local people and facilities.

The stunning landscape has its own challenges for those who live in it. Words such as ‘remote’, ‘isolated’, ‘wild’ and ‘harsh’ are all appropriate. We have learnt that the heritage of transport and getting ‘oot and aboot’ is more complex than we ever realised. In some ways getting around was easier than today with buses running throughout the valley yet, in other ways, journeys which are almost unimaginable to us today were routine. We have met people who regularly travelled more than ten miles by foot, horse, bus, or motorbike to purchase provisions. One person would write to her nearest store with her shopping list – as she said “supermarket deliveries are not a new thing.” Travelling was vital for meeting people, accessing education, pastimes and recreation, holidays, and days out, working life, farming, family life and much more. Forms of transport now seen as recreational (e.g. horses, walking and cycling) were once essential in these communities.

Coquetdale has a rich heritage of local voice and dialect. Very few people now speak with the true Northumbrian accent and dialect, although it does still exist in remote and rural locations. We can appreciate what a rich history exists in people’s memories and voices and how important it is for these to be told and recorded in a local voice. Many artefacts, documents and photographs exist throughout the area archived in private collections, collected through small community projects, or kept in garages, bottom drawers, and storage boxes. School logbooks and church records also hold important information about the harshness of people’s day-to-day lives. Local traditions such as shows and fairs, hiring fairs, rural music heritage, village green sports which evolved due to the rural way of life, still play an important role in village and rural life.


Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery is an award-winning, volunteer-run People’s Museum based in Alnwick, Northumberland. Housed in what was previously a church close to Alnwick Castle, Bailiffgate preserves, maintains and continues to tell the fascinating stories which celebrate the heritage of Alnwick and the district.

Displayed across three floors, visitors can explore a large collection of items on permanent display, as well as a diverse programme of interesting temporary exhibitions and events. The Museum and its dedicated team of volunteers aim to provide an excellent community, educational and tourist resource to the North East.

Winner of the Kids in Museums 2021 Family Friendly Museum Award, Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery has been recognized as one of the best places in the country for early years children to visit. Great for children and adults alike, Bailiffgate details the stunning county and characters of Northumberland.

​​Shortlisted for Museum & Heritage Awards 2023 – Volunteer of Year – Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery Hilary Waugh – One Woman Wonder

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