PICTURES which provide a window on life in 19th century Hexham have been rescued from a former council building which is no longer in use.

Members of Hexham Town Council were recently invited to see what they could salvage from the former Northumberland County Council offices at Hadrian House, on Market Street, as the building was being cleared ready for its transfer to new owners.

Five framed pictures, which look distinctly Victorian and provide views of some of the town’s most prominent streets and buildings, were discovered alongside a tapestry which is thought to have been created to mark the Millennium in 2000.

The carefully crafted tapestry features the names of more than 50 towns and parishes which, together, made up the area covered by the former Tynedale District Council until local government reorganisation in 2009.

All but one of the images also feature in the book, Hexham Remembered, by Hilary Kristensen and Colin Dallison, which gathers together old photographs, paintings and etchings of the town.

First published in 2006 by Hexhamshire-based Wagtail Press, the book provides dates and details of some of the images from the 1800s.

Dominated by the town’s medieval Abbey and Moot Hall on the sky line, the first image is thought to have been taken in 1890 and gives a view of the town from the railway bridge.

Bearing posters for everything from ‘Reid’s Railway Guide’ to an Italian Operatic Choir concert, another picture shows the buildings that stood at the junction of Fore Street and Cattle Market, before the arrival of the London & Midland Bank in 1896.

The buildings pictured, which were demolished in 1893, stand in the space now known by locals as the HSBC bank on Fore Street.

Shoppers only have horses and carts to content with in another of the pictures, which shows how Hexham Market Place looked in around 1890.

The iconic Shambles is unmistakable in another picture, which is taken from outside businesses on Market Street and gives a view into the Market Place, with the name John Gregg clearly visible on one of the shop signs.

The final, and perhaps most fascinating image, was probably taken before 1862 at The Old Grammar School.

It shows a group of boy scholars outside the building on Hallgate, with the schoolmaster and his assistant in top hats. The school building and master’s house date back to 1684.

Completion of the sale of the Grade II listed Hadrian House is understood to be imminent.

It’s the latest of Hexham’s former council buildings to be sold off by the county council as the authority continues to rationalise its property portfolio.

A planning application submitted by Kirkwhelpington-based Tahir Properties, who asked to change the use of the building to create eight new apartments, was granted last year.

The building was originally a town house before it became a Wesleyan chapel, and then Hexham’s Post Office, before it was used as offices by the Department of the Environment in the 1970s.

Mayor of Hexham, Coun. Tom Gillanders, said: “The pictures are fascinating and I’m pleased we’ve been able to save them from being lost.”

The framed items will now be stored for safe-keeping at the recently refurbished Hexham House on Gilesgate, which is now home to wedding ceremony rooms and holiday apartments, as well as a base for some of the county council’s registrars.