A HISTORIC gem in the centre of a North-East city will be put back on the heritage map tomorrow when the National Trust welcomes visitors to a reopened museum.

The public will be able to visit the George Joicey Museum, in Newcastle, for the first time since it closed more than a decade ago.

The museum was formerly the Holy Jesus Hospital, and, in an interactive exhibition room, a colourful band of characters from the past will tell visitors about the site's central role in the social history of the city for more than 700 years.

Teenagers and older people also explain how its story continues today as the National Trust's base for the National Trust Inner City Project.

The site has undergone many incarnations since its time as an Augustinian Friary. It was once a king's manor, where the Council of the North met. The present building dates from a time when it housed freemen of the city who had fallen on hard times.

It was a soup kitchen during the Victorian period, and more recently, it was a chemical manufacturing site, before it became a museum.

Work on the building has been funded with £490,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £200,000 from the Tyne and Wear Single Pot fund, £100,000 from the National Trust, £50,000 from Northumbria University and £5,000 each from the Four Winds Trust and Barbour Trust.

Published: 06/08/2004