Wynyard Hall, England
By Syd & June Burns  © 2009

Syd & June Burns recently visited Wynyard Hall where June trained to be a teacher in 1959. Their visit marked June's 50th anniversary of attending the institution. While the Burns relished the lavishness of the hall, they found some of the venue’s access lacking.

Syd & June Burns at England's Wynard Yard Hall

Syd & June Burns at England's Wynyard Yard Hall.

 June assured me that the current luxury of Wynyard Hall was not available in the late '50s.

 Wynyard Hall is in the Northeast of England. During WWII it was used as a teachers training college and was part of Durham University. June did her teacher's training there from 1959. We managed to talk them into a tour last year as the Hall was only being used as a conference centre with limited hotel facilities. June's roommate, Jeanette, thought it was a great idea to celebrate the golden anniversary and that we should stay a few nights. The hell with the cost. We knew that it was a new venture for the hall so we were prepared for a few glitches. We were informed that they only served evening meals from Thursday to Sunday, and  to our surprise, we found on arrival that in the past week it had changed to full catering. http://www.wynyardhall.co.uk/



Bathroom shower chair.


Inaccessible pull cord.

Bathroom shower chair.

  Inaccessible pull cord.

Everything about the hall was superb, except for the accessible bathroom. They had only paid lip service. The only thing that would aid a disabled person was a toilet frame. June was not impressed. There was a huge heated towel rail that helped June on and off. She was expecting it to collapse on the floor at any time. We could not believe the position of the lighting pull cord. It was over 6 foot off the floor. The bath and shower were totally impossible as there was no chair. We went off to see the management, and a chair was provided and a piece of string was attached to the pull cord. The chair was of vintage quality.  See the picture. We were helpless laughing. As usual we worked around the problems and were not too dischuffed as the management held their hands up and admitted they did not have a clue as they had just started taking guests.June will write to them and lay down her recommendations. The toilet in the main hall was impeccable. Had they done the bedroom the same way it would have been 100%.

The place is awe inspiring. The ceilings in the bedrooms are 20 ft. high and the rooms are spacious. Plenty of turning space. The food was excellent, the staff being really attentive. They had their own specialties such as purple potatoes and carrots. We had not come across those before. The dining room was huge with paintings of the Lords and Ladies of Londonderry, who originally built the hall on the backs of the mining communities. They owned all the rights of the mines in Durham, which was substantive.

 We had all wanted to visit Beamish Living Museum. An open-air museum established in 1970 for the purpose of studying, collecting, preserving and exhibiting buildings, machinery, objects and information illustrating the development of industry and way of life in the North of England. Their words not mine.

It needs a whole day to get around all the exhibits, from coal mines to a village of the 1914 era. There were people in the dress of the day, and kids on school trips were also dressed up in the turn of the century clothing. It made the museum a really living experience. At lunch time we had a pint and a pie in the old pub. There was even sawdust on the floor for those who wanted to spit. Not that anyone had that idea. As they say, a spit and sawdust pub. The whole complex was wheelchair friendly for 90%. Some of the mining buildings by their construction were impossible, but June said it did not detract as there was so much to see. http://www.beamish.org.uk/Home.aspx

The next day we visited the seafront and marina of a town called Hartlepool. Very wheelchair friendly and lots to see. Amongst other things it has the dubious reputation of hanging a monkey during the Napoleonic Wars. A ship was washed up and the only survivor was a monkey. Never having seen a Frenchman the monkey was put on trial and hung as a spy. They have lived forever being asked "Who hung the monkey"? We put a few hours in there, returning to Wynyard to explore the grounds, with restored walled gardens, rose gardens combined with old cottages. The majority wheelchair friendly.


We left midday Friday after spending three days of total luxury and really forgave them for the wheelchair unfriendly bathroom. We are sure it will be rectified quickly.

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