Toggle menu


Join the library Find or renew books

The FARNE - Folk Archive Resource North East (opens new window) was an exciting and innovative project tasked with bringing Northumbrian music to people's homes across the world. Supported by the New Opportunities Fund in 2001-2003, FARNE gathered unique material from a range of museums, libraries and archives across North East England to create a folk music archive on the Internet. Material including song lyrics, tunes, sound recordings and photographs are all available online from the Archive at FARNE Archive (opens new window)

FARNE image (musician)

From Atkinson's tunebook of 1694 to twentieth century sound recordings the FARNE archive illustrates how life and times have changed in the North East, with songs about industry, conflicts, leisure and entertainment. FARNE shows how music has developed in the region, allowing us to celebrate our rich cultural heritage today.

Content for the Archive came from a range of organisations who were all partners in the project. These are:

The Black Gate (opens new window), Newcastle provided printed material from the Society of Antiquaries

Beamish Museum (opens new window) provided tunes, sound recordings and photos

Chantry Bagpipe Museum (opens new window), Morpeth provided a number of rare tunebooks

Durham University Library Archives and Special Collections (ASC) (opens new window) provided a number of 19th song sheets

Gateshead Council's Libraries Service managed the project

Hexham Border Library (opens new window) provided sound recordings

Newcastle City Library (opens new window) provided many items including songs, letters and images from Thomas Allan, a local printer and publisher, and a range of other unique songs

Northumberland Record Office (opens new window) provided a lot of key resources, including our oldest item, Henry Atkinson's tunebook from 1694.

The Glasshouse (opens new window) were a key partner and provided advice and guidance throughout the project via regular Steering Group meetings.

South Shields Library (opens new window) provided items including a selection of rare Ned Corvan song sheets from the mid 19th century.

Sunderland Local Studies Library (opens new window) provided a number of items, in particular an eighteenth century book of poems by local comedian J Cawdell.

Tyne and Wear Archives Service (opens new window)  provided a range of material, a particularly exciting find being a rare copy of an original George Ridley song book from the mid 19th century.

University of Newcastle upon Tyne (opens new window) contributed much material from its Special Collections and also a home for our digitisation work.

The FARNE Project was funded for a two year period. It became clear from an early stage that digitisation could proceed long beyond these two years. So the FARNE team set about drawing up a Content Selection Policy to help to prioritise material. This policy drove the decisions we made regarding inclusion of material on the FARNE site.

We bore the following points in mind:

Historical significance
Is the item particularly indicative of a development in Northumbrian music, or unique in some way?

Are we presenting a good range of material by date, to give an indication of the development of music over time? We decided that music of the folk revival period should not be included, since it was another project in itself.

Is the item in urgent need of preservation? Is the original extremely fragile?

How accessible to the public is the item already? Has a reprint of the original been published?

Ease of digitisation
How will the item copy? Is it a photocopy or an original?

How useful will the item be to our end users? Is it still of practical interest as a musical work?

Geographic range
Are we presenting a wide geographic spread of material?

Overlap of content
Is material very similar to that which has already been selected?

The Archive is still maintained by Gateshead Libraries. Please email us at with any queries about the archive or re-use of items.