Yarm Town Hall Heritage CentrePhoto: Stockton on Tees Borough Council

Step through the grand arches of the newly refurbished Yarm Town Hall and prepare to be transported through time. The historic building, now transformed into the Yarm Town Hall Heritage Centre, unveils its crown jewel: “Island in a River,” an immersive exhibition that celebrates the town’s rich history and its captivating connection to the River Tees.

“Island in a River” is more than just a collection of dusty artifacts. It’s a vibrant tapestry woven from ancient objects, contemporary art installations, and the voices of the local community. At its heart stands a remarkable replica of an iron age canoe, meticulously carved by Yarm residents from a washed-up tree. This evocative vessel echoes a prehistoric canoe discovered and lost 150 years ago, believed to be the earliest sign of human presence in the town.

Photo: Stockton on Tees Borough Council

As dusk settles, the exhibition undergoes a breathtaking metamorphosis. The canoe seems to float on a projected holographic film of the River Tees, swirling around the building’s windows. This mesmerizing display evokes the floods that have shaped Yarm’s story, casting a captivating reflection on the past.

But “Island in a River” is not just about grand vistas and ancient relics. It’s about the people who have called Yarm home throughout the centuries. Artist Matthew Rosier, in collaboration with over 100 local residents, has woven their stories into ten captivating short films. From a silversmith casting the nose of local hero Tom Brown to a contemporary reenactment of a pivotal meeting that led to the founding of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, these films bring Yarm’s past vividly to life.

This transformative project is a testament to the power of community spirit. Yarm Town Council, supported by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and funding from the government’s Levelling Up Fund, has breathed new life into the Grade II listed Town Hall. The meticulous restoration honors the building’s heritage while creating a captivating space for future generations to discover Yarm’s story.

“Island in a River” is more than just an exhibition; it’s an invitation to step into the heart of Yarm’s past, present, and future. Open on Thursday to Sunday from 12noon to 6pm, the Heritage Centre welcomes visitors to embark on a journey through time, carried on the currents of the River Tees.

Key Takeaways:

  • The newly opened Yarm Town Hall Heritage Centre unveils its immersive exhibition, “Island in a River.”
  • The exhibition blends ancient artifacts, contemporary art installations, and community stories to showcase Yarm’s rich history.
  • At its heart lies a replica iron age canoe, echoing a prehistoric discovery and symbolising the town’s connection to the River Tees.
  • Ten short films, created in collaboration with locals, bring Yarm’s past to life, from historical figures to everyday stories.
  • The project marks the culmination of community efforts and funding initiatives to revitalise the historic Town Hall.

Visiting “Island in a River” promises to be a unique and enriching experience for anyone interested in history, art, and the power of community.