£1.1million donation for 'Pitman's Parliament' Redhills as Durham County Council agrees funding

Council bosses have agreed to invest more than £1million to secure the future of one of Durham’s most prestigious buildings.

Friday, 12th July 2019, 4:45 pm
Redhills: Durham Miners Hall.

The Grade-II listed Durham Miners’ Hall, known as Redhills, is both a local and national heritage treasure.

Built in 1915, it houses the Pitman’s Parliament where colliery delegates took important decisions that transformed the county.

This ranged from building homes and welfare halls to setting up community hospitals and libraries.

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With urgent repairs needed to secure the future of the building, Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) hopes to transform Redhills into a community and arts hub.

However this is subject to a £4million bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the £6.7 million project.

This week, Durham County Council’s Labour leaders offered a helping hand to the scheme which needs match funding to secure lottery cash.

This included donating £1,103,615 to the project to boost fundraising efforts.

The DMA has already secured £1million of match funding and raised £50,000 of the remaining £600,000 needed.

However, the council funding is considered crucial to sustaining the venue for future generations.

Durham County Council’s Liberal Democrats raised questions about the scheme.

Leader of the group, Coun Amanda Hopgood, praised the efforts of DMA to improve and protect heritage around mining and trade unions.

But she asked for reassurances that council leaders would have a say on the project in future to “protect the council’s investment and the future of the building.”

Cabinet member for Transformation, Culture and Tourism, Joy Allen, confirmed several conditions would be attached to the funding decision, including regular updates and checks around grant payments which would help provide “assurance and accountability”.

The council will also have a place on the Redhills project steering group and representation on the board of a charity set up to run the centre.

Redhills was selected by Historic England as one of the 100 places that bring the country’s “rich and extraordinary history” to life.

A recent inspection indicated the building would be rendered unusable unless a full roof repair is carried out within the next five to ten years.

New plans aim to transform the site into a vibrant community centre, arts hub and centre of research for all ages.