The public has the opportunity to find out more about the history of a County Durham community as a heritage festival returns this autumn.

Bishop Auckland Heritage Festival takes place from September until November. Its programme of events will see free exhibitions, fairs and talks held.

The festival has been funded by Historic England and organised in partnership with Durham County Council, County Durham Forum for History and Heritage, and Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone.

A partnership between Historic England and the council, Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone is a five-year project to revitalise the historic market town and regenerate it as a vibrant place for local people, businesses and visitors.

The Heritage Action Zone forms part of the co-ordinated activity by the council and its partners to drive forward regeneration.

Dr Anne Allen, Heritage Action Zone project manager, said: “Once again we have a wide variety of fascinating events taking place as part of the Heritage Festival with many of them free to attend.

“This helps us to further cement County Durham as a place where we value the history of our communities and protect them for the benefit of current and future generations.

“Please take the time to look at the different events organised and come along if you can.”

The festival’s start coincides with a series of Heritage Open Days, which take place from Friday 9 to Sunday 18 September. They will be held at various venues across County Durham, including several in Bishop Auckland.  

From Monday 12 September to Sunday 20 November, free exhibition Picture This: Then and Now will be held at Bishop Auckland Town Hall. Running from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday, it will reflect on the five years of the Heritage Action Zone project to curate local heritage and restore the conservation area. A visual story, it will be told through architecture, art and artefacts from the Bishop Big Dig.

On Saturday 24 September, a history fair organised by County Durham Forum for History and Heritage will be held from 11am to 3pm at the town hall. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet local history societies with music, re-enactment groups, guided walks, talks and bus tours.

On 7.30pm on Monday 26 September, Bishop Auckland Civic Society will hold a talk with guest speaker Dr Andrew Breeze from the University of Navarra, in Spain. It will centre on a Viking battle which took place at Bishop Auckland in the year 844 AD.

On Saturday 1 October, a day focusing on the sporting heritage of Bishop Auckland will be held at King James Academy in the town involving Durham Amateur Football Trust from 10am to 3pm.

Jules Brown, from Historic England, said: “The festival is a fantastic opportunity for people to come along and find out more about the history of Bishop Auckland and what this means for us today. There’s an exciting array of free events and the exhibition turns the spotlight on the Heritage Action Zone, how much it has achieved so far and opportunities for local people to get involved.”

The council has secured £19.9 million of government funding for Bishop Auckland town centre through the Future High Streets Fund, with money earmarked for projects including a new bus station and additional car parking, as well as a scheme to bring vacant properties back into use.

A further £33.2 million is heading to Bishop Auckland from the government’s Stronger Towns Fund, with the funding allocated to a range of regeneration projects across the community. The aim is to attract an additional 1.5 million visitors to Bishop Auckland each year, substantially boosting County Durham’s visitor economy by £240 million and creating almost 4,000 jobs.

Tens of millions of additional investment are also being made in the town by partner organisations such as The Auckland Project, which has committed £275 million.

To find out more about this year’s Bishop Auckland Heritage Festival go to

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Ed Baker
Ed keeps the local news flowing in Consett. To submit content that qualifies for free publication, or to enquire about guest posts & press releases, get in touch at Firefly Magazines.


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