CG rendering of Durham History Centre.
Jane Imrie

Durham manor house to be transformed into history centre under new plans

Plans to transform a Durham manor house into a new history centre for the county have been unveiled.

A planning application has been formally submitted to restore Mount Oswald Manor House and convert it into a centre of archive, heritage and registration services for County Durham.

Under the plans, the Grade II-listed building would be fully refurbished into a centre documenting the history of the county through historic records, photographs and objects.

In addition to the county’s archives, the centre would house historic registration records, historic environment and archaeology records and local studies collections, including The Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Collection.

The site would also host exhibitions, activities and events and provide a countywide outreach programme for children, schools and communities, as well as being the new location for Durham Register Office.

Cllr Joy Allen, Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, commented: “Our plans for Durham History Centre are based on providing an opportunity for our whole community to experience, enjoy and engage with the unique heritage of County Durham and its people.

“Restoring and enhancing the beautiful Grade II-listed manor house and its grounds, would open up new spaces for everyone to use and enjoy and provide a secure future for our important heritage collections.”

If plans are approved, the ownership of the Manor House and surrounding land will be transferred by current owners The Banks Group to Durham County Council for a nominal fee to secure its future use.

John Ruddick, senior property development manager at The Banks Group, added: “Locating the history centre within the Manor House site makes clear sense and will ensure it has a prestigious new home that reflects its importance to the city and county and makes everything that it holds readily available to the public.

“The redevelopment of the Mount Oswald site was designed by Banks in support of the county council’s vision of Durham City acting as a driver of economic growth in the county.

“As a long-established Durham-based family business, we are pleased to be seeing several different aspects of these plans now being realised to the benefit of both the city and the wider region.”

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