Historic Redhills - the home of the 'Pitman's Parliament' - has new owners in a landmark handover

A famous North East building – which represents decades of history for generations of mining families – is under new ownership.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 3:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st October 2021, 3:40 pm
Historic Redhills which has had a change of ownership.
Historic Redhills which has had a change of ownership.

Redhills in Durham has been handed over to the Redhills Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) by the Durham Miners Association in a landmark move for the 106-year-old building.

The Grade II-listed building was purpose built as the headquarters of the DMA in 1915. At its heart is The Pitman’s Parliament.

But a new future beckons and the Redhills CIO board is chaired by Chris McDonald who comes from a mining family in Blackhall. He is also a cornet player in the Durham Miners Association Brass Band.

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The DMA executive and representatives of the county’s banner groups at the Miners Hall as DMA Secretary Alan Mardghum passes the flame to Chris McDonald, Chair of Redhills CIO.

Redhills is facing a major restoration and renewal which will cost £7.25m, with Durham County Council providing £1.1million in matched funding and a further £1.65m pledged by trades unions and other supporters.

The historic hall will be fully restored and new buildings will be added with modern facilities to improve accessibility and offer a wide-ranging programme of activities and community resources.

The renewed venue will bring to life the rich history of the DMA, the people and the communities of the Durham coalfield.

Building work at Redhills is due to get underway early in 2022. The renewed Redhills is then due to reopen to the public in Spring 2023.

The Pitman's Parliament at Redhills. (Credit_ Redhills - Durham Miners Hall)

Mr McDonald said: “Redhills is much more than a building. It represents the work, sacrifice and achievements of Durham’s miners and their families across the generations. It is deeply important to the people of the county.

“It is our great honour and responsibility to take care of the Miners Hall on their behalf. We are all determined that Redhills will serve as a great legacy for the remarkable people who have gone before us. We will achieve this by ensuring Redhills is here for their communities, serving as an inspiration and a platform for new achievements.

“The story of the Durham miners will continue to be written.”

Redhills was funded by more than 150,000 working Durham miners and it provided mining education, sickness and unemployment benefits, retirement homes, medical care, community centres, libraries, sports fields and more.

Inside Redhills. Photo: Redhills-Durham Miners Hall.

Alan Mardghum, Secretary of the DMA, said: “This is an historic day for the DMA and our communities as we take this vital step in ensuring the future of the Miners Hall.

“Today, we return Redhills to the people. Our thanks go to the CIO board members who have stepped up to serve as the stewards of Redhills on behalf of our communities. All have a deep affinity with our communities and commitment to ensure success for the Miners Hall.

“All of us at the DMA know that Redhills will be in safe hands and will serve our people for generations to come.”

The DMA has spent four years working to secure the future of Redhills as a centre of heritage, culture, and education. Earlier this year, it was awarded £4.5 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, enabling its vision to become reality.

The DMA executive and representatives of the county’s banner groups at the Miners Hall as DMA Secretary Alan Mardghum passes the flame to Chris McDonald, Chair of Redhills CIO.

When the DMA launched The Redhills Appeal, it pledged that it would hand over ownership of the Miners Hall to the communities of the Durham coalfield.

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