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Burnhope Village (the village that refused to die) is an intergenerational social history project exploring life in the village from the 1840s right through to the present day.

The project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, brought together the Burnhope community (young and old) to research and discover their heritage.

It has included summer activity clubs and an afterschool club, heritage drop-in activities plus visits to Auckland Project Mining Art Gallery, The Big Meeting film premiere, the Durham Miners Gala, regular meetings of the Burnhope Research Group, a school trip to the Durham Records Office for ‘Ask an Archivist’ sessions and community visits to Beamish Museum and The Durham Mining Museum in Burnhope.

Those involved have researched the history of mining in the area and the beginnings of Burnhope Village in 1840 and how it became known as the village that refused to die, by finding out more about

  • The growth of Burnhope and the Co-op movement
  • The General Strike, smallpox and the 1926 Miner’s Gala
  • Social history and engineering accomplishments, 1927-1950
  • The Category ‘D’ notice 1951-1977

Pupils at Burnhope Primary School have also received an Arts award as part of their involvement in the project.

More recently there have been regular sessions in the Primary School with activities linked to the key areas of research, mining, school, shopping and amenities.

Older community members have also been interviewed by Curiosity Creative (a non-profit-distributing social enterprise, dedicated to creating and archiving digital stories made by people in the North East), to create a lasting record of their memories which will be kept at the Burnhope Community Centre.

On Tuesday 22 March 2022, the community came together at Burnhope Community Centre to celebrate the completion of our heritage project with over 60 people and 95 children taking part to explore the artefacts and research gathered during the project.

Burnhope Primary school children came to see the displays and their mining banners that they made into bunting.  We had interactive tables to see what school life and playtime was like in times gone by.  There was also a larger than life board game of ‘Burnhopopoly’ and ‘Battle Coal’.

Everyone enjoyed exploring the household items and packaging from past times and some even dressed up as miners.  Local residents also brought maps and photos to share during the celebration.  

The volunteers involved in the project helped plan and set up the celebration event and were able to share their research findings too, which included a detailed history of the school from its beginnings in the mid-20th century.  This research is still being carried out by volunteers as the Durham Records Office was closed during Covid.

The event was a huge success. It had a happy and cheerful ‘buzz’ filled full of chatter and laughter.  There was a lot of sharing of memories amongst friends and families over a cuppa giving everyone there a chance to catch up with each other and celebrate the history of Burnhope, ‘the village that refused to die’.

If you'd like more information about this project, call us on 0191 374 6561 or email us at