Aerial shot of Ad Gefrin Distillery

Northumberland welcomes £16m new museum and distillery

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The new multi-million-pound regenerative project, Ad Gefrin, Anglo-Saxon Museum and Whisky Distillery, which opened its doors for previews today in Wooler, has created a major new North East tourist attraction and is expected to transform the future of the local community and the local economy. Following four days of private viewing for the residents of Wooler, Ad Gefrin will open officially to the public on Saturday 25th March.

Five years in the planning and building, the spectacular Ad Gefrin project also represents the single most significant investment in Wooler and the surrounding Glendale area of North Northumberland in recent memory. 

Ad Gefrin’s unique combination of immersive Northumbrian heritage experience, distillery tours and tastings has been made possible by a £16m investment, much of it from the founders, Alan and Eileen Ferguson. But the promise of its positive impact on the critically important Northumberland tourism industry has also attracted additional funding of £4m from Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, £1m from North East LEP, and £600k from Northumberland County Council.

Giving comment, Leader of Northumberland County Council and Borderlands Partnership Board Member Glen Sanderson said: “I want to pay tribute to the Ferguson family and the team at Ad Gefrin for their vision, passion, and incredible hard work to create a first-class visitor destination and distillery which will boost and regenerate this rural economy.

“Ad Gefrin has highlighted the rich history of the area and will offer a unique, year-round visitor experience with huge financial spinoffs for local shops, restaurants, services, and employment.

“This is a such a great news story for Northumberland and for Wooler and we have followed and supported the scheme every step of the way.

“This has included funding from both the county council and a £4 million investment from the Borderlands Growth Deal. More recently we have worked closely with Ad Gefrin and local businesses to shine a spotlight on the town and ensure that the financial benefits from the influx of visitors are felt by the wider community.”

The Ferguson family’s vision has already created 60 new jobs, with nearly half the positions filled by people living in Wooler, and the large majority living in north Northumberland, making it one of the largest employers in the area. As a world class visitor attraction, the regenerative effect of more than 35,000 visitors expected in the first year will be immense, with the business uplift to the local rural economy reaching far beyond Wooler’s ancient boundaries.

Siobhan Younger is Chair of the Wooler Traders Association and Manager of the local Newcastle Building Society: “There’s been great enthusiasm in the local community since the announcement of Ad Gefrin. It’s a great asset to the town, creating opportunities for employment, providing amenities for locals and visitors, and enhancing what Wooler already has to offer. It has brought back a positivity to Wooler, and residents and retailers are very excited for the future of our wonderful town .”

For Co-Founder, Eileen Ferguson, today was an emotional moment as she realised her long held dream on the site where her grandfather and father operated their haulage business for nearly 100 years. She and husband, Alan, have been driven by the desire to give something back to their home town.

“I have deep family roots here, so I feel privileged to have been able to put something significant and lasting back into the community that has given us so much. We want to create a long-term legacy and I hope Ad Gefrin will add a new reason for people to be proud of their town and optimistic for the future.”

When it opens its doors to the general public on Saturday 25th March, the Ad Gefrin experience will also put historic Wooler on the cultural map of Britain in a way it has not been for over 1,000 years. The Ad Gefrin Museum brings to life the largely untold story of the 7th Century Anglo Saxon kings and queens of Northumbria, whose Royal Palace at Yeavering, just outside Wooler, once attracted visitors from all over Europe, Scandinavia and as far away as North Africa. The museum will offer visitors an immersive experience and displays of rare and never before seen Anglo-Saxon treasures from the British Museum and other collections, many returning home to the North East for the first time in over 30 years.

"That centuries-old link to the distant past and a timeless hospitality makes Ad Gefrin the perfect signpost to Wooler’s future", says Eileen Ferguson. “The wholehearted support and enthusiasm of the people of Wooler have carried us through all the challenges and milestones, and we are delighted that so many local people have become so involved in helping to make Ad Gefrin the success we know it will be.”

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