Latest news

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A brand-new visitor attraction telling the tale of County Durham’s heritage will open this summer.
The Story, based at Mount Oswald in Durham City, is scheduled to open to the public from Friday 14 June.

A brand-new cultural venue and register office for Durham and the wider county, The Story will be housed in the recently restored Grade II listed Mount Oswald manor house, which has been extended to incorporate a purpose-built, contemporary building.

Combining period property restoration with state-of-the-art modern facilities, The Story provides a home for some of the county’s most important heritage collections and an elegant backdrop for the register office, ceremonies, and events.

See here for more information.

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Tyne Theatre & Opera House is a beautiful Grade I listed building in central

They have recently developed a performance calendar to hold details of all
performances from the theatre’s opening in 1867 until 1919 when it was
converted to a cinema.

Thanks to a fantastic team of volunteers who have researched over 24,000
newspaper adverts, programmes and daybills, we now have a searchable
database of over 3,500 events.

These years were the heyday of touring theatre. National companies such as
D’Oyly Carte, and Carl Rosa Opera Company visited, famous actors such as Henry
Irving, Ellen Terry trod the boards, and the theatre was used by local groups such
as the Newcastle Amateur Dramatic Society, and the Tyneside Sunday Lecture

Entries for each production include the dates of every performance, along with
information on the type of performance, writers, composers, cast and crew where

To access the database, visit performance calendar database

If you have any issues with access, or would
like more information, please contact

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When visiting Newbiggin, I spotted a poster in the Maritime Centre about this project and I thought members may be interested.
Newbiggin by the Sea Genealogy Project may be the first attempt by any community anywhere in the world to map its entire family history; to create a complete, online, freely accessible record of everyone who ever lived here. This is an enormous task but we’re already well on the way, with information about some 30,000 people over 5 centuries – and our records are growing every day.

However, this isn’t just some dry list of names. These are real people and they all have stories which we are recovering, recording, publishing and helping to turn into books and music and more.

Many people think that Newbiggin by the Sea is a great place, full of fascinating people, many of whom are inter-related with each other. NBTSGP is helping to prove it.

Our project is run by Newbiggin people, owned by Newbiggin people, accountable to Newbiggin people and relies on anyone who has ever lived in Newbiggin for information and involvement to develop and grow.

Meetings are held in the Newbiggin Maritime Centre and at the Newbiggin Community Activity Centre every month and you can take part online.


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The Tynedale branch received a talk by Diana Whaley who led a project which ran from 2016 to 2020 and which had transcribed and analysed the contents of the 103 surviving Ordnance Survey Name Books compiled between 1857 and 1864.

Each book relates to a place (usually a parish) and contains detailed information about the names of streets, antiquities, geographical features or other points of interest which the Ordnance Survey were surveying and mapping for the 1861 series of Six Inch scale maps of the United Kingdom.

For each feature identified on the map, there is an entry in the Name Book which corresponds to the name as shown on the map. Other information recorded in the Name Book about each feature gives alternative spellings or other variations on the name, the “authority” for each of the alternatives, the situation (describing the physical location in relation to other nearby features) and general observations.

The “Authorities” were local people – generally local worthies, tradesmen or landowners – who were interviewed by the survey teams to establish what each street, stream or prominent building was known as, and how the name was spelled. The general observations – also known as “descriptive remarks” – provide an often subjective additional layer of information about the feature being mapped.

The Ordnance Survey of Northumberland was carried out by a group of nearly 50 people, with just over half being members of the Royal Engineers and the rest civilians. The recent Name Book Project involved more than 40 volunteers.

The website is well worth a visit at

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Access to this page is restricted to current members only.

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Contribution received from Colin Ashworth (

During the period of over 200 years from the middle of the sixteenth century until the late eighteenth century, when the practice of the Roman Catholic faith was illegal in what is now the United Kingdom, Catholics had no churches and no official burial grounds. Even well into the nineteenth century this was the case. Many Catholics were buried in the local Anglican churchyard as there was frequently nowhere else. This can make finding burials difficult for family historians looking for the graves of Catholics or even just a record of their deaths. It was quite common for parish incumbents who were thorough in their work to indicate the religious affiliation of the deceased in their burial registers. The Catholic Family History Society ( has now launched a database of such burials. This can be accessed from the website It uses Google Sheets and so the data can be manipulated and searched or downloaded for that purpose. The society hopes that family historians who notice Catholic, Papist or Recusant burials in the course of their research will be able to submit their findings in one of the several ways explained on the ‘Contribute’ tab on the website.

Web site address is:

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The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Library and Archive is delighted to announce the launch of its new website, a catalogue of information that will enable visitors to view unique manuscripts and photographic collections of the College’s history.

The website will feature a new Surgeons Database, allowing users to trace ancestors who qualified from the College from the earliest days of the barber-surgeons through to 1918.

Existing collections still available on the website include images taken by military surgeon and former Surgeons’ Hall Museums conservator, Henry Wade. Wade carried a small camera to all locations he visited during his time with the Scottish Horse Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance Service. There are photographic collections from the Scottish Women’s Hospitals set up by Elsie Inglis and of an Edinburgh surgeons’ tour of European hospitals featuring some of the most prolific scientists and surgeons of the time. Alongside the photographic collections are digitised 16th-18th century records that demonstrate fractured relationships between the surgeons, barbers, apothecaries, physicians and Edinburgh Town Council.

Web site address (for the College) is:

Web site address (for the Archive) is:

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On 20th September 2018 The Hexham Courant published that:

The Manorial Documents Register for Northumberland is an up to date record of all the county’s former manors that has been compiled over the last four years. The register contains a wealth of historical information and written records that is said to have enormous academic potential.

The paper version refers to the ‘Memorial Documents Register’, but the on-line version has the correct ‘Manorial Documents Register’.

The Manorial Documents Register (MDR) is an index of English and Welsh manorial records, providing brief descriptions of documents and details of their locations in public and private hands. Manorial records include court rolls, surveys, maps, terriers and all other documents relating to the boundaries, franchises, wastes, customs or courts of a manor.

The National Archives website still describes the Register (for Northumberland) as work in progress.

The Northumberland Archives website does not list the Register.

Hexham Courant Web site address is:

National Archives Web site address is:

Northumberland Archives Web site address is: