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The Prime Minister has announced a delay in the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
See Youtube: Prime Minister's Coronavirus press conference (14 June 2021) for details.

The story so far and next steps

This page gives a behind the scenes look at the development of the project and the next milestones before we open.

The story so far

2015/2016 - we identified that the County Archive was outgrowing its current accommodation and a new home was required. We asked for your views on the new home for the archive and you told us that you wanted a co-located facility, near the city centre, with public transport links, good digital access and modern research facilities, with exhibitions, courses and skills training workshops.

Durham City Charter

Durham City Charter

Bishop Auckland Football Club

Bishop Auckland Football Club

2017 - Mount Oswald was identified as the preferred location after a countywide search.

Mount Oswald late 1860s - courtesy of Anthony Oswald Noel Wilkinson

Mount Oswald late 1860s - courtesy of Anthony Oswald Noel Wilkinson

January 2018 - Cabinet agree to progress the history centre concept at Mount Oswald, co-locating the county archive with other cultural assets subject to public consultation.

December 2018 - first stage of design work complete.

CGI Mount Oswald

CGI Mount Oswald

January/February 2018 - more than 600 of you gave your views on the emerging plans for the history centre project, you told us what services and collections we should co-locate with the County Archive including the DLI collection, here's how we've listened to your comments - see the 2018 consultation for further information.


From the DLI collection


From the DLI collection

January 2019 - Cabinet agree to progress the history centre project.

Summer 2019 - we visited all of the county's Area Action Partnerships and many of you gave your views on the design and your digital expectations for the centre - see the 2019 consultation for further information.

December 2019 - we were awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant towards the development of the activity, exhibition and digital programmes and an invitation to submit a round 2 bid.

June 2020 - Wolfson Foundation pledge £150,000 towards the exhibition space.

September 2020 - planning approval received.

October 2020 - you gave your views on your expectations of a visit to the new centre. We're using your feedback to develop the visitor offer.

October 2020 - we were awarded a European Regional Development Fund grant of £1.46 million for low carbon measures at the new history centre.

March 2021 - Kier appointed

March 2021 - we submitted a Round 2 bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for activities, exhibitions and digital transformation for the new history centre

April 2021 - construction started

Where are we now

  • We are in the construction phase.
  • We are working with exhibition designers to develop the content and design for the exhibitions and the digital space on the first floor.
  • We have started to digitise some of our collections to support our new website, remote access and exhibitions.
  • We are planning what the visitor experience will be like at the history centre.
  • We are starting to develop new and varied volunteering opportunities to suit different interests.
  • We are waiting on the decision from the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Next steps

CGI Exhibition

CGI Exhibition

2021/22 - develop and design exhibition and interpretation content

2022 - complete construction

2022/23 - fit out and collections move

2023 - open to the public

Heritage Fund logo
The Wolfson Foundation logo
EU Regional Development Fund Logo
Northern Powerhouse logo

In partnership with

  • Heritage Fund
  • The Wolfson Foundation
  • EU Regional Development Fund
  • Northern Powerhouse
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