VOLUNTEERS at a popular Sunderland tourist attraction have scooped a prestigious award.
Staff at Ryhope Engines Museum have been named winners of the Marsh Award for Museum Learning in the North East.
Judges received an overwhelming number of applications, but were particularly impressed by the work of the historic museum’s volunteers.
Chairman of the Trust Keith Bell said the 24-strong team of volunteers were the “lifeblood” of the museum.
The 54-year-old grew up in a house overlooking the pumping station and has volunteered there since 1971.
He said his favourite part of the role when visitors come to the museum for the first time.
“Some of the newer volunteers nominated the rest of the trust and the volunteers as a surprise. They were so impressed by the work we get up to here they felt it should be shared.
“The best thing is the look on visitors’ faces, especially younger children, when they come into the museum and see the wonderful engines for the first time.”
Sadly, the steam enthusiasts missed out on being crowned UK champions.
Fellow volunteer Eddy Moore, from Hendon, added: “We were delighted when we found out we’d won the regional award.
“All the volunteers work very hard and its a great boost for the museum.”
Each of the 12 regional winner received £500 and the overall winner collected £2,000.
The awards are organised by the British Museum and Marsh Christian Trust and have been running since 2009.
100 years of service
Ryhope Engines Museum is based in a former pumping station, which was built in 1868 to supply water to the Sunderland area.
The museum is still owned by Northumbria Water, successors to the Sunderland & South Shields Water Company, which built the station.
It closed in 1967 and is now a Grade II-listed building.
Its two 100 horsepower engines are kept working by volunteer members of Ryhope Engines Trust.
The museum holds regular steaming weekends. The next one takes place over August bank holiday.