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Celebrating 190 Years of NHSN

30th August 2019

Last week, naturalists from across the North East gathered to celebrate 190 years of The Natural History Society of Northumbria.

A total of 180 individuals attended the celebration, enjoying a social evening in the Living Planet gallery followed by group photographs on the museum steps. An endeavour intended to recreate the now-iconic image of NHSN members assembled at the museum in 1929.

NHSN supporters in 1929 and 2019 – much has changed yet the passion and dedication of naturalists in the North East remains the same.

Later in the evening came a series of talks, delivered in the shadow of Dippy the Diplodocus, by local naturalists and key figures from within NHSN. These reflected on our rich and vibrant history, as well as the continued contribution of our supporters to natural history in the region.

Among those speaking, trustee, Peter Davis, reflected on the pioneering spirit of the organisation and its status as a forum for those dedicated to the study and observation of the natural world. Derek Teasdale and artist, Alison Cutts, considered the importance of our ongoing education programme and young filmmaker, Cain Scrimgeour, delivered a wonderful account of how he became involved with NHSN at an early age.

The photographs shown below, taken by NHSN volunteer, Matt Williamson, give a flavour for what was an enjoyable and incredibly motivating evening.

We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all who spoke on the evening and to Professor Julie Sanders, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University, who kindly served as our host for the evening. Thanks too must go to Tony Henderson who generously featured the celebration in the Journal and Chronicle newspapers.


While intended to celebrate the past, our 190th celebration also provided the perfect opportunity for NHSN Director, Clare Freeman, and Chair, Jonathan Hewitt to reveal our new 10-year strategy: Towards 2029. The result of over a year of hard work, pilots, countless workshops and the input of hundreds of supporters, that will see us strive to do more as we look to further study and protect regional nature.

Our Towards 2029 strategy lays out NHSN’s short term priorities for the next three years, alongside long term aims for the next ten years in the context of a climate and ecological emergency.

Summarising the strategy, NHSN Director, Clare Freeman writes:

Towards 2029 has four aims:

Firstly, we will expand our efforts in studying and protecting the North East’s natural history – that encompasses natural, social and cultural heritage.  We will use our nature reserve, library, archive and partnerships with other organisations to build on existing activities and deliver new initiatives.

Secondly, we will reach and engage more people to grow support for, and understanding of, natural history. This we will achieve through better communications and a busier indoor and outdoor programme. 

Thirdly, we will widen engagement and hear new voices. We have started this through our Women’s naturalists exhibition, Student Award Scheme and 1829 talks and will develop further initiatives in the future. 

Fourth and lastly, we will stand on the shoulders of our past giants and honour their ambition to strengthen NHSN by being more inspiring, welcoming, knowledgeable and professional throughout our work.

More information regarding Towards 2029 and our plans for the future can be found here.

We look forward to updating you all regarding further developments but, for now, we would just like to thank again all those who attended our recent birthday celebration, and those who continue to dedicate their time, knowledge and enthusiasm to NHSN. We could not have reached 190 years old without you.

On a final note, don’t forget to check out our new video, created in coordination with Wild Intrigue, to celebrate 190 years of natural history in the North East. We hope you enjoy it!