The Doctor Who treasure trove in a Northumberland village cellar | Museums

At first look the Northumberland village of Allendale, with its pub and publish workplace and random parking, is like tons of of sleepy, charming villages throughout the UK. It’s the Dalek that means one thing out of the strange.

Behind the Dalek is a four-storey Georgian townhouse. Within the cellar of the home is a outstanding and unlikely assortment of greater than 200 costumes, props and paintings telling traditional sci-fi tales of Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Star Trek, Flash Gordon, Marvel and lots of extra.

Collectively they make up the gathering of certainly one of Britain’s most eccentric small museums, certainly one of many to be successfully compelled into hibernation due to the pandemic.

Most are run on a shoestring. Not all of them will reopen. However Neil Cole, a trainer and creator of the Museum of Classic Sci-Fi, is cheerfully optimistic in regards to the future.


“The closure has allowed me to restructure the museum and create extra space,” he says. “In a approach it has been helpful as a result of it has given me time I don’t usually get.

“I’ve made the most effective of it. I don’t have a lot of cash however I’ve received a lot of vitality and I do every part myself.”

Neil Cole posing in the Museum of Classic Sci-Fi
Neil Cole, creator and proprietor of the Museum of Basic Sci-Fi. {Photograph}: Mark Pinder/The Guardian

Cole’s willpower to create a museum in his home dates again to childhood. “I bear in mind being 5 and going to Blackpool and there on the entrance was a Tardis,” he stated. “It was the BBC official exhibition.”

Inside had been the monsters he’d seen on the TV, and it was fabulous. “It was like a blurring of actuality and fiction. From that second on, I simply needed to do one thing prefer it. That was the kick-off and it by no means left.”

Like many, Cole’s entry to sci-fi was watching Doctor Who. For him it was Jon Pertwee (simply) and Tom Baker. A few of his earliest recollections are “sitting down at Saturday teatime, ready for the Grandstand titles to complete. Then there was Basil Brush, which was cool, but it surely was Doctor Who I used to be ready for.”

He realized to learn by Marvel comics, he stated, and would scour native paper TV listings for any outdated sci-fi movies on in the lifeless of night time. “My dad was excellent with that, he’d let me keep up.”

It took Cole about 5 years to transform a rotting, flooded cellar into a area appropriate for a museum.

Each costume or prop or piece of memorabilia he has collected over time has its personal story. What seems to be like a drab, nothing-to-it, cheesecloth gown is definitely massively thrilling and vital, Cole insisted, as a result of it’s a costume from the 1976 Doctor Who story The Brain of Morbius.

It was worn by one of many primary characters, Ohica, and was the primary costume Cole purchased. “I had a bike which I used to be going to school on and I offered it to get that. I ended [up] having to get the bus but it surely was value it … to me this was a little bit of historical past, it has a little bit of magic.”

He has many benefactors and supporters, pointing to a robotic mummy’s head from the 1975 Doctor Who serial Pyramids of Mars, which in the extremely specialised world of Doctor Who gathering is one thing of a zinger. It’s the solely surviving head and was donated to him as a result of he would put it on show and never promote it. “I received it from the son of the milkman who was given it because the BBC had been chucking it in a skip in the Seventies.”

A Dalek and more on show at the Museum of Classic Sci-Fi.
A Dalek and extra on present on the Museum of Basic Sci-Fi. {Photograph}: Mark Pinder/The Guardian

Every object comes with detailed data which geeky guests have a tendency to understand. A fancy dress from season 4 of Star Trek: Deep Area 9 for the Rasiinian ambassador Runepp was designed by a fan as a competitors prize.

“They fabricated his design and the fan ended up on the set in his personal costume,” stated Cole. “How cool is that?”


The museum has grow to be embedded in village life and has survived a run-in with county council planners who, in 2019, objected to Cole’s home made Dalek standing proudly exterior the museum.

The dispute got here after Cole thought he had gained everybody spherical. He had restored a ramshackle wreck of a constructing and was creating one thing totally different. “I stated: ‘Look, I do know it sounds mad however you will get new vacationers. You’ve received your walkers, you’ve received your lead historical past buffs, you’ve received your cyclists. Now you’ll get your movie buffs, your comedian readers.’”

The story went all over the world and the council backed down.

The museum lately had a grand reopening whose visitors included Sophie Aldred, who performed the Doctor’s companion Ace in the Nineteen Eighties, and is filming a documentary in regards to the museum. The complete weekend was a nice event, stated Cole. “The museum has introduced a lot into the village. We had [the Daleks’ fictional creator] Davros in the Co-op.”

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