Today we set sail for Woodhorn Museum for swashbuckling family fun inspired by the North East coastline and the sea. This half term, Woodhorn is host to a pirate school and other sea-themed family activities. We also enjoyed live folk music, and the stunning regional art exhibition celebrating the coast, shipbuilding and seafaring heritage.
Captain Raggy Beard’s Pirate School
After our arrival at Woodhorn, we headed to Captain Raggy Beard’s Pirate School. This runs every hour on the half-hour from 10:30 until the last session at 3:30. The pirate school is held in one half of the Cutter building (the long building near the carpark) and is decorated with pirate flags, chests of treasure, and the odd skeleton leaning against the wall.
Captain Raggy Beard is gentle, and young visitors will be totally captivated as the adventurer tells his tales of life on the high seas and teaches them some fun pirate skills. He had obviously seen some of his pupils at an earlier session, but he remembered their names and encouraged them to show off their “rargh!” in a competition, as well as showing them some of his treasure. Some of the children were wearing absolutely amazing pirate costumes today.
I think the pirate school is best suited to the under 6s, though some older children (aged 9) were taking part today and were included in the activities by Captain Raggy Beard and seemed to enjoy themselves. Pirate School lasts for about 40 minutes.
Pirate hat craft
Pirate themed fancy dress is encouraged, but don’t worry if you don’t have a hat as there will be the opportunity to make and decorate your own in the family craft sessions. The craft session closes at around 3:20 – we got there at 3:25, unfortunately. The lovely Woodhorn staff made us a couple of pirate hats but moved the boys on to the regular colouring-in table. Without the proper pirate hat craft equipment, their enthusiasm was short-lived, and quickly they wanted to go and play outside again before Woodhorn closed for the day at 4 pm.
We did not take part in the treasure hunt, as we just did not have time! Special trail maps can be picked up from the Welcome Desk. Find all of the “X” marks the spots around the Museum, answer the questions and a small treasure treat will be waiting.
Sea and Maritime Heritage Exhibits
I really liked the other half of the Cutter building’s gallery room. It houses OPEN: OCEAN, which is the museum’s first open art exhibition and showcases artists from across the region. The music in the room is soothing, sea-themed and just loud enough for you to notice it but not for it to take over.
We loved looking at the paintings, finding our favourites, and seeking the picture with a “something” in it (bird, windmill, wave, and so on).
We missed, due to not allocating enough time for our visit to Woodhorn today, the exhibition BEAM REACH BLASTING, which chronicles life aboard the Oosterschelde, a three-masted schooner, among crew and trainees on a 500 nautical mile sail across the North Sea; and THE WILLIAMS EXPEDITION: Rediscovering Antarctica highlights the story of William Smith, a carpenter’s son from Seaton Sluice who built a ship in Blyth and discovered Antarctica.
Songs of the Sea
While we enjoyed a homemade cake, and drinks, in the cafe, we were fortunate to hear a local musician singing songs of the sea.
Musicians will be performing each day from 2 pm. There is a little children’s activity area next to their stage, which kept our children amused. Building blocks, colouring, and books are a few of the items I spotted to keep the troops entertained while you drink your Americano while listening to the Songs of the Sea.
Outside of the cafe is the excellent playground, with pulleys, stones, ropes and a super high slide! The rest of the Woodhorn Museum is brilliant, with plenty to entertain and fascinate the whole family.
Woodhorn’s new membership scheme
All of these great family activities are free with Woodhorn’s exciting new membership scheme. From 10th February, children 16 years and under go free and adults will pay just once (£7) for 12 months unlimited return visits to the museum. Parking is free too.
Full details on all of Woodhorn’s events and the new membership scheme can be found at