About Us

Committee members

Ian Burdon (Chairman)

Ian has spent his whole career on Tyneside involved in the electrical engineering industry, beginning at Reyrolle and latterly at Merz and McLellan and its successors in the engineering consultancy profession. He is a Chartered Electrical and Mechanical Engineer. He is keen to see expansion of Friends activities into Communities of Interest actively involved in the various aspects of Discovery’s heritage, artefacts, genealogy etc. and the further establishment of the Special Interest Groups to enthusiastically support day-to-day activities in specific areas of the Museum’s resources and activities.

Graham Bradshaw (Secretary)

Graham worked in the engineering and textile industries before joining Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums in 1985 as a curator in the science and industry department. He became the Discovery Museum Manager in 1991. Following retirement from the day job in 2013 he joined FODMs and is currently the Secretary/Membership officer. He is particularly interested in public engagement with science and technology and is keen to see the Friends of Discovery Museum develop a role in explaining science and technology to museum visitors.

Ed Dinning

Ed is a lifelong Professional Engineer and MIET, now retired, who has specialised in electrical and electronic engineering. He started his career as a student apprentice with A Reyrolle & Co at Hebburn and has worked at senior level with many well known companies. His hobbies are all engineering related and he enjoys the research and restoration of vintage machines and equipment as well as explaining its operation to a wider audience.


Tony Stephenson

Tony is a Newcastle & Gateshead City Guide and is extremely interested in all aspects of the region's history, achievements and heritage and thinks that the Discovery Museum is a fantastic resource to tell our story. He is also part of the Tyne & Wear Heritage Forum and the Northumberland & Newcastle Society but his much less interesting day job is a self-employed programmer.

Chris Watson

Harry James

John Chaney (Treasurer)


The Friends Organisation, Communities of Interest and Special Interest Groups

1.    Organisation of the Friends

The Friends activities are aligned with the activities and assets of the museum and segregated into 4 ‘Communities of Interest’, each with a ‘Community Leader’.  The diagram below shows how the Friends are organised, the names of the principal officers and the 4 main Communities of Interest.











2.    Communities of Interest

The Communities are:

  • Learning and Inspiration - all activities at the museum connected with education, events, entertainment and generally ‘winning hearts and minds'.
  • History of Science, Engineering & Technology – Displays, Galleries, Lectures, Talks etc. covering the main areas of historic activity which have a local connection.
  • Local & Social History - Records, archives and genealogical research etc.
  • Contemporary Design & Innovation – matters of current vocational interest e.g. all things to do with IT and computers, particularly software developments – including games, matters relating to design (in the widest sense) and innovation, nano-technology and similar.

These communities are divided into Special Interest Groups (SIGs) covering particular areas of activity, each with responsibilities assigned to ‘Champions’ who facilitate and encourage activities within his/her SIG.  

3.    Special Interest Groups

The Communities are split into a number of SIGs dedicated to particular subject areas e.g. energy, marine, railways etc. in the technology group (see below).  Each group comprises dedicated kindred spirits with particular qualifications or experience related to the subject area of their SIG.  The SIG ‘champion’ facilitates and coordinates activities in the group.  They keep the  Community Leader informed as to what is happening in their particular SIG.

No attempt has been made here to prescribe how the SIGs operate or who their leaders are.  It is hoped that they will organise their own meetings and activities in the way that they feel is most appropriate.  They will nominate a champion from within their group to liaise with the Community Leader.

4.    Communication within the Friends

Communication between the different Communities and the SIGs is encouraged, indeed, is essential, with cross-fertilisation of ideas and joint working on certain specific 'projects'.  In many cases, displays are
inextricably linked with archived records for example.  Museum staff work with (or are a part of) the Communities and SIGs as appropriate.

5.    Friends Committee

The Friends Committee comprises:
Chairman – Ian Burdon
Secretary – Graham Bradshaw
Treasurers – John Chaney and Paul Atkinson
Leaders of the Communities
Museum staff
All meet periodically (currently monthly) to share ideas, learn what others are doing and (hopefully!) generate some synergy within the Friends organisation.

6.    Activities of the Friends

Some of the activities or initiatives that the Communities of Interest within the Friends might wish to participate in are shown below.  These are grouped under 4 headings:

  • Publicity
  • Events
  • Links & Engagement
  • Displays & Sites







Other activities may be added to these initial lists as more Friends are recruited and interest in the work of the Friends develops.

IP Burdon,
Chairman, Friends of Discovery,
January 2016.


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