Historic Durham Miners Hall receives £4.5m funding

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The historic Redhills Durham Miners Hall building, known as Pitman’s Parliament, has received £4.5m of funding from the National Lottery, allowing a full restoration of the Grade II-listed building and modernisation of the facilities.

Redhills, which was opened in 1915, is said to be in urgent need of repairs. An appeal for funding to preserve the building was initially launched by the Durham Miners Association (DMA) in November 2018. Apart from the grant by the National Lottery, Durham City Council will also provide £1.1m of funding toward the £7.25m restoration project. The DMA is raising the remaining £1.65m from trades unions and other supporters.

The restoration works are set to begin in early 2022, with reopening of the building to the public being planned for Spring 2023.

The additional funding will also enable the addition of buildings and modernisation of the facilities, making Redhills a cultural and social centre for the wider community and creating awareness for the social history and cultural heritage of the Durham coalfield. David Renwick, Director for the North of England at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, has said:

“Industrial heritage in the North is not only significant locally but for the wider region, and plays a huge role in bringing people together and in turn boosting the local economy.”

The DMA has developed an extensive activity plan to increase visitor numbers once the building will reopen. Among the year-round activities are guided tours, concerts, educational workshops, talks, and film screenings. To enable this vision, a team of experts is developing detailed plans, including architectural modernisations, the use of audio-visual technology to share the history of the Durham Miners, and assessments of the artefacts preserved in Redhills by heritage experts to make them more accessible to the public.

Ross Forbes, DMA Programme Director, has said: “The National Lottery Heritage Fund has ensured that the proud story of the Durham miners will not just be preserved, but will continue to be written.”

The Redhills building is recognised as one of the 100 “irreplaceable” places in England, alongside the Palace of Westminster, by Historic England.

The DMA was founded in 1869 as a trade union. Redhills opened in 1915, funded by more than 150,000 miners working in the collieries around Durham. The chamber in the building known as Pitman’s Parliament served as a meeting place for the democratically elected delegates of the Miners Association, allowing them to create a social welfare system that stretched across County Durham and had a lasting impact on generations of people in the county.

Image credits: Redhills Durham Miners Hall

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