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Yarm heritage centre opens with silver nose and nightclub lion on show

Artist Matthew Rosier

Artist Matthew Rosier was commissioned to create the centrepiece exhibition

A restored 18th Century town hall has reopened, housing a new heritage centre marking Teesside’s history from Iron-Age settlers to present-day clubbers.

Work on the Grade II listed building at Yarm, in Stockton, has seen bricked arches opened up and fitted with glass.

The focal point is a permanent display called Island in a River, including artefacts paired with 10 related films.

Among the items is a replica of a 10th-Century Viking helmet said to be the first found in Britain.

Also on show is a silver nose, inspired by local man Tom Brown who lost part of his in battle and was reputedly the last soldier to be knighted on the battlefield.

The exhibited nose was cast on a veteran from Yarm.

Silver nose on display at Yarm's new heritage centreSilver nose on display at Yarm's new heritage centre

Inspired by the story of a local soldier, a silver nose has been cast as one of the exhibits

Recent history comes in the form of a stone lion from the entrance of the former Tall Trees nightclub, with a film featuring the venue’s owner and contributions from clubbers who went on to live on the site.

The objects are housed in a replica Iron-Age canoe carved by a volunteers from a tree trunk washed up at Tees Barrage.

‘Back to the river’

It was inspired by a prehistoric canoe found when the foundations of Yarm Viaduct were being dug in the 19th Century.

“That’s possibly the earliest known sign of habitation in Yarm and it all links back to the river,” said artist Matthew Rosier, who created the exhibition.

“The idea was to contain all of these objects and so bring that ancient connection to the River Tees back into the middle of Yarm and into this heritage centre, which feels like an island in the river of this amazing high street.”

A holographic film of the River Tees will be projected on to the canoe installation at night, referring to floods which have submerged the area over the years.

A stone lion, formerly displayed at Tall Trees nightclubA stone lion, formerly displayed at Tall Trees nightclub

The stone lion formerly stood guard at Tall Trees nightclub – a popular haunt for clubbers and local celebrities

Mr Rosier said it had been “an absolutely massive community endeavour” with almost 100 people contributing to the displays.

The work was paid for with money from the government’s Levelling Up fund and contributions were also made by Stockton Council and Yarm Town Council.

Councillor Peter Monck, town council chairman, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the exhibition was “absolutely fantastic”.

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