Access all areas for the public at the site of the National Civil War Centre, Newark
I’ve been fortunate enough to be very close to the development work at the National Civil War Centre in Newark since it began at the end of 2013. The site has transformed significantly over the last ten months, and as I was informed on Friday, the worst of the work is now out of the way. From now on the site only begins to look better.
It’s an exciting project for the town of Newark and for the county of Nottinghamshire as a whole, bringing the subject of the Civil War to life and creating a national tourist attraction which will pull in visitors from all over the UK and the world. In order to provide the public with some background to the project and how it’s taking shape, the team at the Civil War Centre invited them to come along for a special open day and take guided tours of the site to experience a flavour of what to expect come early 2015. It was such a great idea, especially when projects like this are usually boarded up and hidden from the public eye until their completion. Not in this instance.
We were shown around the site by Michael Constantine, the manager of the Civil War Centre. His knowledge and enthusiasm for the project is clear to see from the way he talks about it and we began by exploring the location of the brand new entrance to the Civil War Centre. The image on the right hand side shows how it currently looks now but once complete, it will be a large glass structure. Modern and crisp to look at, it will sit nicely around the existing Tudor and Georgian buildings either side, allowing you to see the existing exterior brickwork on the neighbouring historic buildings. What excites me about this site is the amalgamation of different period buildings into one core museum, which makes for a piece of history in the buildings alone.
We then headed over to the Tudor and Georgian buildings – the part of the site that I couldn’t wait to see! Inside the Tudor hall, everything has been preserved as best it can be. Graffiti still exists in the aged beams as you can see in the image on the right hand side. As listed buildings, everything will be kept as near to the original as it can be – and rightly so. The detail in the brickwork is something to be admired, and the technology we have today did not exist in the 16th century. It was all built using your eye line and your hands. You then walk through a beautiful stone archway into the Georgian building which sits at the front of the site, looking out onto Appleton Gate. Housed within here will be many permanent and temporary exhibitions, telling the story of Newark through the ages. We worked our way up through the heart of the building and into the roof of the Tudor building. This is the bit of the tour I was the most excited about.
The building is currently covered by a scaffold roof, so that the team can work on the Tudor roof away from the elements. All that now remains is the Tudor beam framework from the roof (see main image above). Much of it is covered in graffiti again from when the building was a school. Up here would have been the dormitories. What amazed me with the structure is that not one beam is straight. They’re all warped and weathered. However, they are still able to do the job of keeping the roof in place. The team has the job of dismantling the roof to examine it bit by bit and ensure it’s ready to house the new roof and treating it, before then putting it all back together again, piece by piece. But, it will definitely be worth it when the completion date comes.
Once we had finished in the Tudor building, we headed back outside to the old school hall, where the Civil War exhibition will eventually be housed. As part of the open day, the team from the Civil War Centre had brought along swords, cannon balls, muskets and other items from the period for the public to handle and examine. Everyone couldn’t wait to check them out and it was a real hit with the kids. There was also the chance for the public to bring along their own Civil War items to be examined.
The popularity of the event was clear to see. Every tour throughout the day was fully booked and everyone left the site excited at what we can expect to see in early 2015 when Newark unveils a tourist attraction that is set to take the historical world by storm.
You can view my previous blogs in the series on the National Civil War Centre by clicking on the links below: