Works to restore a popular museum in County Durham are set to be carried out this year.
Durham County Council has received funding from Arts Council England’s Museum Estate and Development Fund for restorative and heritage protection works at Killhope Lead Mining Museum.
Part of the museum site and some of its buildings have deteriorated over time and due to bad weather. In 2020, the museum was forced to close part of the site due to structural issues.
Plans have now been developed to repair, refurbish, and restore the site, with essential works expected to start in April.
Delivered across two stages, the first phase of works will focus on the museum’s external heritage features including the mine, the launder, water bridges, and the mine cart ramp.
Essential work will also be taking place on the Armstrong Water Wheel supported by Weardale Area Action Partnership.
The second phase will focus on the restoration and refurbishment of the buddle house and the jigger house, with final details for this phase of work to be confirmed.
It is anticipated that the first phase of works will be completed by this autumn, with the second phase completed by the end of the year.
The works have been carefully planned to ensure the site remains open to the public with the visitors centre, café, washing floor, underground mine tours, and several of the footpaths around the wider site still available for visitors to enjoy.
However, due to the extensive range of works, some areas will be closed off to ensure the health and safety of visitors, staff, and contractors.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We are delighted to begin restoration works at Killhope Lead Mining Museum.
“The museum’s features and buildings are an extremely important part of our county’s heritage, and we were disappointed to have had to temporarily close part of the museum to visitors.
“In addition to the restoration works, we are also taking the opportunity to develop new visitor interpretation and signage which, alongside the physical improvements, will enhance the overall experience for visitors.
“Our cultural attractions play a key role in creating a varied and exciting visitor offer and, as part of our ambition to make County Durham the culture county, we are committed to ensuring these sites are maintained so they can continue to be enjoyed by future generations.”
Killhope Lead Mining Museum will open to the public on April 1, with free entry for visitors. Engagement programmes including school visits, workshops and family activities will continue to take place throughout the season.