Durham's Mount Oswald Manor House will become a history centre after planners granted approval for it to be developed.

The Durham History Centre will see archive, heritage and registration services brought together at grade II listed Mount Oswald Manor House, on South Road, near to the Durham University campus.

Mount Oswald will also replace the Aykley Heads House and Bishop Auckland register offices, although a facility to register births and deaths will remain in Bishop Auckland.

Now that planning permission has been granted Mount Oswald Manor House's current owners, Durham-based Banks Group, will transfer the site to the council for a nominal fee.

Mount Oswald Manor House will open as Durham History Centre in 2023
Mount Oswald Manor House will open as Durham History Centre in 2023

When will Durham History Centre open?

Work is expected to begin on site next year with a view to opening to the public in 2023.

What will Durham History Centre contain?

Historic records, photographs and objects currently housed in County Hall will be moved to Mount Oswald Manor House. There will also be historic registration records, environmental and archaeological records, and local studies collections.

There are also plans for several other elements:

  • A learning space, exhibition and interpretation spaces
  • A cafe
  • Themed activities and events, alongside a countywide outreach programme
  • An interactive exhibition space, using a £150,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation
  • The Durham Light Infantry (DLI) collection at Sevenhills in Spennymoor and the DLI archives in Durham County Record Office brought together
  • Registration facilities for weddings and civil ceremonies, with space for 100 guests
  • Free entry to permanent and temporary exhibitions exploring the history of County Durham, covering pre history to the present day
  • Storytelling sessions, children's takeover days, behind the scenes tours, volunteering opportunities and community projects

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded the Durham History Centre project a £43,500 Stage 1 development phase grant to create an activity and events programme.