Association of Open University Graduates




Ormesby Hall Parkland
Taken by Jean McKenna








Durham Town Hall Main Hall

The Mayor's Chamber-Durham Town Hall

News of AOUG in the North (09)

Welcome | News | Diary Dates

Newcastle Central Library - The Charles Vision Building.

The café of Newcastle Central Library, is well known for its tea and cakes and is much used by shoppers and visitors to the city. We sat and talked and watched the rain for a while. It is called the Charles Avison Building after a famous local musician. It is a community hub too, lending books, helping with computer courses, plus there are small art exhibitions and talks. The archive and family history research area are well used and helps many individual trace their family history. One can sit for hours looking over the rooftops of the city in quiet contemplation.

Violet Rook






Heighley Gate

Heighley Gate Garden Centre in Northumberland is near Morpeth via the A1 and one can travel further North to Wooler and beyond, to the Cheviots. The countryside is vast, with beautiful fields and forests and in the Winter is very wild and cold. From the garden centre one can go to Morpeth and see the Bagpipe Museum and that was discussed as a future trip, everyone keen to see the collection of Northumberland Pipes. The centre at Heighley Gate is famous for its garden displays and friendly atmosphere and a centre to visit in any season. At Christmas it sometimes has Reindeer to entertain the visitors.

Violet Rook











Ormesby Hall

On a warm, sunny day, we visited Ormesby Hall located in Middlesbrough, Teesside. On approaching the main drive the sight that beheld us was enough to make us stop and just drink in the scene. We were pleasantly surprised to find an impressive Georgian house surrounded by luscious parkland with sheep grazing in the fields. This Grade I listed building, once the Pennyman family home, has many tales to tell that filter back over the last three hundred years and end with the last two owners, ‘traditional Jim’ and ‘socialist Ruth’. It is quite plain to see the impact of Ruth throughout the house and artisitic nature coming to the fore; grand theatrical posters embellish the walls in her private studio which provide a sense of unique and incredible talent, capturing one’s attention. Ruth was a truly remarkable woman, ahead of her time and of course generous to the local community.

A gentle walk through the elegantly furnished period rooms with numerous objects of art in particular oil paintings of the Pennyman family provided a glimpse of the personalities and lifestyles of past generations. There were many opportunities to ask questions and the guides were both pleasant and knowledgeable which really added to our enjoyment of this visit. We immersed ourselves in the historic detail taking time to sample the delights of the main highlights of this estate.
There were three incredible railway layouts, essential for railway model enthusiasts. The Corfe Castle Station layout was generous in size, measuring twenty six feet by nine feet, which attracted a great deal of attention due to its fine and intricate attention to detail. It showed just what could be done with a great deal of patience and a love of the railways. The period covered was 1922 for the London and South Western Railway with volunteers on standby to explain each aspect of its construction. It was donated by Ron Rising (died 2006 aged 84 years) in 1995 and had taken thirty five years to build in his loft. We were informed that it was painstakingly taken apart in sections and then reconstructed on this site. The buildings are a fascinating insight into the past with skilled and realistic rendition; everything made from life-sized drawings and scaled down. Fascinating and encouraging for all concerned. Definitely worth a visit and a good time was had by all.

Jean McKenna


A Visit to Durham Town Hall

A group of us met at the Gala Theatre Durham where we had tea and then walked to Durham Market Place where Lord Londonderry sits on his horse, his huge statue guarding the entrance to the city.

At the Theatre we sat near the window over the river and talked of our experiences with The Open University. Tea drank, and scones eaten, we then had photographs taken by the statue of the Monks of St Cuthbert carrying the Saint’s body trying to find a resting place for their beloved leader.

Then to the building near St. Nicholas Church with its new office that leads to Durham Town Hall, the hidden treasure of Durham, a city with many treasures, the cathedral, and the castle. Few people realise the secret hall and assembly rooms which look out onto the City’s main square.

The Town Hall occupies the site of a mansion built for the Neville family, the Earl of Westmoreland which was obtained by the Crown in 1569 after the Rising of the North Rebellion. That building served as a textile factory, a school and a workhouse and was pulled down in 1850, the present Town Hall being built in 1851 by P Hardwick, an early member of the Arts and Craft movement. The present building is composed of the Crush Hall, the Main Hall, the Guildhall, the Mayors Chamber and the Basement. It is a working building where several organisations hold meetings, but the government of the city is conducted up the road at the County Hall.

Our group was shown around by a guide named Gary who provided a detailed history of the building from describing the life and work of Count Boruwlaski, whose small clothes are in a glass case in the foyer with a life size statue of the Count who was about thirty nine inches or ninety nine centimetres in height, to the vast Main Hall with the paintings of former mayors and its ceiling reminiscent of Westminster Hall. The design is of the Perpendicular Hammerbeam type and was built in 1851.

The Mayor’s Chamber is considered to have been built originally in 1500, with the coat of arms of one of the Prince Bishops above the door with a crown denoting the Prince Bishop Lord Crewe he and his fellow Bishops were only answerable to the King and God. Our guide told a tale of ghostly sightings featuring a painting in the Mayor’s Chamber. We walked around the building and listened spellbound to its history.

Violet Rook



Executive Representative - Jean McKenna 01429 232959

Local Contact
Newcastle - Violet Rook 07962 276091