Ex boss speaks of sadness and pride after closure of Anglo-Saxon museum in Jarrow

The closed gates at Bede's World Anglo Saxon Heritage site and museum
The gates remain closed at Bede’s World Anglo-Saxon Heritage site and museum following the winding up of the charitable trust that managed the site./ Photo by: Paul Nicholson.

The former director of Bede’s World, Jarrow’s Anglo-Saxon museum, has expressed his “incredible sadness” at the site’s closure.

The museum, which also contained a replica of medieval farm, was forced to close to the public last Friday (February 12), as the charitable trust that managed it went into liquidation.

The closure has put the jobs of 27 employees at risk.

The museum’s official website advises that the attraction is “closed for the foreseeable future”, and ends with the simple message: “Thank you for everything”.

Mike Benson, the former director at Bede’s World who left last month to take up a similar role at the National Coal Museum at Wakefield, said: “A small independent museum service like that, it sails to the wind continuously, and the majority of the staff there were working ten hours a week unpaid, week in week out, and in a way that’s just how it is for those kinds of organisations unfortunately.

“I was extremely proud to have worked alongside, not only the people that worked there, but the communities that we were there to serve.

“I think you’ll find that there will be some sort of package put together. I think people are working hard now to get the doors opened again.”

The attraction had a permanent sixth form situated there and will be a particular loss to the many primary schools throughout Tyne and Wear that visited.

Karen Herbert, a teaching assistant at Brighton Avenue Primary School, who visited Bede’s world a number of times with her classes, said: “We can all watch shows on television, or listen to what a teacher says, but there is nothing like going to Bede’s World, having a look and seeing what Anglo-Saxon houses were actually made from and how they lived.

“The staff were extremely knowledgeable and brilliant with the kids. It’s essential that the council find a way to reopen the site.”

There have also been concerns for the farm animals that lived at the site.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “The welfare of the animals at Bede’s World is important to us.

“As part of interim arrangements, we can confirm that the animals are being well cared for on the site.”

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