Saturday, July 10, 2004

Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum



The Morpeth Chantry Museum maintains one of the finest collections of bagpipes from all over the world. Scotland's highland pipes are the most well-known but every country in Europe and many elsewhere has its own particular type of bagpipe. The Morpeth museum's collection, housed in a medieveal chantry attached to Morpeth castle in Northumberland, is centered around the development of the bellows blown Northumbrian small pipe and lowland pipes and borders pipes native to the area. However, the museum has samples of most European pipes.

Or at least it does at the moment. It may not tomorrow. The bean counters have decided that cancelling the museum's lease and opening a restaurant on the site will bring in a lot more cash. As one writer put it to the management:
For such action to be taken would seem to me to be a gross act of cultural vandalism. Northumberland is one of the only counties in England to have it's own regional instrument, the Northumbrian small-pipes, associated with which are musicians of immense kill and of international reputation. (I'm thinking here of Alistair Anderson, DPD of the Folk Degree Course at Newcastle University, and of the superb piper and composer, Kathryn Tickell.) Their playing of that unique and complex instrument has been central to the promotion of Northumberland as a county of great beauty, history and artistic integrity, whilst the Bagpipe Museum itself attracts people from all over the world year after year. It is an effective resource in terms of education, tourism and regional identity. I understand that a restaurant is poised in the wings to take it's place. The Bagpipe Museum provides sustenance for the mind and the soul. Restaurants just sell food.

The Castle Morpeth Borough Council has requested input to help them decide the museum's fate.

Those interested in expressing their views on the Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum can e-mail Ken Dunbar of the Castle Morpeth Borough Council at ken.dunbar@castlemorpeth.gov.uk