NI man opens up his museum filled with items built up over 80 years

A Banbridge man is welcoming visitors to his own private museum filled with items built up over 80 years.

Born in 1940, Norman Kerr has collected objects from a bygone era throughout his life. And a few years ago, he decided to pull the thousands of items together in one place, building a shed on his family farm at 29 Drumnascamph Road, Laurencetown to display everything, calling it Bann Valley Heritage.

Some are pieces he used himself when he was younger, while others have been donated to him and some he has picked up in local auctions, recognising the importance of remembering how things used to be for future generations.

One of the key pieces includes an early prototype of the portable defibrillator invented by Professor Frank Pantridge, powered by a car battery.

The device helped Professor Pantridge create a much lighter version that has saved millions of people in the last five decades.

Bann Valley Heritage is usually only available for private groups, but this Saturday, August 13, Norman will throw open the doors at 29 Drumnascamph Road, Laurencetown, to raise funds for the Air Ambulance NI.

Guest will start with the Everyday Life displays, showing everything from an old-style vacuum cleaner to a manual dentist drill dating back to around the late 1880s. This section features items that would have been part of many homes throughout the years including butter churns, things for cleaning, a kitchen set up and even features objects from slightly more modern times, with a range of early computers and cameras.

Next, visitors will see the section on the Irish linen industry.

Norman has a massive collection of some of the machines used in the process that helped to turn the flax grown in the fields into high-quality Irish linen that went on to be sold across the world.

Outside, guests will be able to take a turn at pulling their own flax in the traditional way.

Norman also has had a keen interest in Irish-born inventor Herry Ferguson and guests will be able to take a look at his 15 models.

Looking forward to welcoming visitors, Norman said: “I have supported numerous charities over the years – Cystic Fibrous, Hospice and children’s cancers and I’ve decided this year to support the Air Ambulance as it is being used more and more and is a valuable service in Northern Ireland.

“This is my private collection and it’s not open usually to the public so it is a great chance to see some amazing artefacts from the past. They’re sure to bring back some memories.”

The event will run from 10am until 4pm. Entry will cost £5 per person with children under 12 free. Flax pulling will cost £1 per person. The event is cash only.

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