A new community network will roll out across the former Durham coalfield as part of the £7.25m regeneration programme at The Pitman’s Parliament.

Inspired by the historic lodge system of the Durham Miners Association (DMA), the network aims to revitalise and promote coalfield culture, bringing former mining communities together to take pride in their heritage.

Redhills – Durham Miners Hall recently secured £4.5million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund toward its restoration and renewal as a centre of culture, heritage and education.

The DMA is determined that the renewal of its home will benefit former mining communities across the region.

Historically, the DMA had a branch, known as a lodge, in every mining community. Lodges looked after the welfare of miners and their families in the local area. Delegates from each lodge met in The Pitman’s Parliament at Redhills each month and built a pioneering social system across Durham’s communities before the creation of the national welfare state.

The new network of community lodges will consist of local people and groups who are supported by staff at Redhills to develop cultural activity in their communities. The groups will also be given access to the new facilities and resources at the Miners Hall, helping to shape the future of Redhills and ensure its activities best represent and serve its communities.

The network is launching this week with a community survey in the Sherburn area and will be rolled out across the Durham coalfield area as part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported activity plan.

“More than a generation on from the closure of the last colliery in Durham, the collective values and robust culture of the people of the coalfield live on in vibrant communities. Redhills has been at the heart of the life and work of County Durham for more than a century. We want to ensure that it is the people who shape the future of Redhills, and that its renewal benefits communities across the Durham coalfield.”“We want to ensure that it is the people who shape the future of Redhills, and that its renewal benefits communities across the Durham coalfield.”

Stephen Guy, Chair, Durham Miners Association

Opened in 1915, Redhills was funded by more than 150,000 working Durham miners. From Redhills, the DMA provided education, sickness and unemployment benefits, retirement homes, medical care, community centres, libraries, sports fields and more. This helped provide a platform for the people of the county and a distinct and vibrant culture flourished.

An ambitious project is underway to fully restore and renew the Miners Hall. The addition of new buildings with modern facilities, enabling Redhills to offer a wide-ranging programme of activities and community resources. 

Starting in the Sherburn area, the DMA is offering its resources to create new groups to bring people together for the benefit of the whole community.

The DMA would provide support and advice to help people organise activity in their own communities. Just as lodge delegates did for generations, representatives will meet in the historic The Pitman’s Parliament at Redhills. There they can share ideas for events and activities at Redhills and agree on collaborative projects to take place in their communities.

People in Sherburn and surrounding villages are asked to complete an online survey, to help the DMA understand the local area, and how it can support the community. It also provides people opportunity to get more involved.

For more information or assistance with the survey, email admin@redhillsdurham.org, or call 0191 3868413.