After almost six years of fundraising, work has started on the ambitious renewal of Redhills, the historic Durham Miners’ Hall.
The millions of pounds required to transform the hall as a heritage, culture and education centre have now been secured, thanks to National Lottery Heritage Fund, Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) and Durham County Council.
Other supporters include trades unions, the North East Area Miners’ Social Welfare Trust Fund and charitable trusts and foundations.
Preliminary works began in 2022 before inflation, and rising costs impacted the timetable for the project.
Opened in 1915 as the purpose-built headquarters of the DMA, the hall has been in disrepair and jeopardy for several years. In 2021, it was gifted back to the people via the Redhills charity, who have worked tirelessly to raise the funds to renew and restore the hall.
The work will enable the full restoration of the Grade II-listed hall known as The Pitman’s Parliament. Adding an extension will enable Redhills to improve accessibility and offer a wide-ranging programme of activities and audio-visual displays which bring to life the rich history of the DMA and the culture of the Durham coalfield.
Nick Malyan, Redhills Chief Executive, said:
“Redhills is a part of our world-class heritage that everyone in the region can be proud of. I’m so pleased to be able to announce the progression of the scheme.
The DMA established the Redhills charity to save the Miners’ Hall and preserve the proud history of the Durham Coalfield. Everyone at Redhills and the DMA has worked tirelessly to ensure we achieve this. With the conservation and renovation now underway, we will soon have the facilities to host conferences, events and education programmes here. Most importantly, I look forward to seeing our communities come together once again in the Pitman’s Parliament.”
Helen Featherstone, Director, England North at National Lottery Heritage Fund said:
“Redhills is an important building in our regional and national industrial history. It also tells the story of the Durham Coalfield in a new and powerful way. We have supported the project since 2020 and are delighted to see the capital work underway”
Councillor Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for Economy and Partnerships said: “We are delighted to support the restoration of Durham Miners’ Hall as part of our commitment to preserving and sharing the county’s industrial heritage, cementing County Durham’s position as the culture county. This historic Grade-II listed building is a key part of the county’s mining legacy, and was one of the venues visited by the judges when the
county was successfully shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2025 last year. The works will bring this important building back into use as a venue which not only celebrates the hall’s past but also its future.”
Alan Mardghum, Secretary of Durham Miners’ Association said
“Redhills, along with the Durham Miners’ Gala, is our legacy. Everyone at the DMA is committed to supporting the project and the charity in ensuring future generations get to visit Redhills and learn about our proud history”.
Redhills was recognised by Historic England as among the 100 ‘irreplaceable’ places in the country’s history, alongside the Palace of Westminster and in August 2022, made public its intentions to join a transnational bid to obtain UNESCO world heritage status.
Newcastle-based Mosedale Gillatt is the project architect, working on detailed plans to create an accessible extension, which will provide necessary modern facilities to unlock the potential of Redhills while remaining sympathetic to the existing Miners’ Hall.
Creative design consultancy Bright White is using cutting-edge audio-visual technology to share the inspiring story of the Durham Miners’ Association and the county’s communities.
Thornton Firkin LLP serves as the project manager, providing monitoring and oversight to ensure the successful delivery of the project.
Meldrum Group has been appointed as the construction company responsible for delivering the project, which is scheduled to complete in Autumn 2024.