Year-long celebrations to start as Peterlee turns 75

Year-long celebrations are set to begin to mark 75 years of an East Durham town.

Durham County Council has received a grant of £92,302 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to carry out a programme of events to commemorate 75 years of Peterlee being established as a ‘New Town’.

On Friday 30 June, Peterlee 75 will launch at Castle Dene Shopping Centre with Peterlee: The Place to Be, a unique photography exhibition tracing the origins and early development of the town.

It will also mark the start of the Living Memory project, which aims to unearth more images and artefacts that tell the story of the town’s people by inviting present and former residents to share items from their private collections.

Over the next year, the Peterlee 75 celebrations will continue with a series of events, exhibitions, concerts, and workshops in and around the town, inviting people to reflect on Peterlee’s history and have a say on its future.

The programme will involve the whole community from the centre of the town to surrounding areas, including the villages from which Peterlee was founded.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the local partnerships that have made Peterlee 75 possible, our local communities will have the opportunity of being involved in what promises to be an incredibly exciting programme of heritage projects and cultural events over the next 12 months.

“How Peterlee came into existence is a unique and exciting story even within the context of the New Town movement in post-war Britain. Peterlee 75 aims to bring people of all ages together to learn about, share in and contribute to the heritage and culture of the place they live, work and visit.”

The full Peterlee 75 programme is led by the council and has been put together through a partnership of key stakeholders involving Apollo Pavilion Projects CIC and East Durham Creates, supported by The Story at Mount Oswald, Peterlee Town Council and Praxis, the owners of Castle Dene Shopping Centre. It has also been supported by the local education sector including the School of Architecture at Newcastle University.

David Taylor-Gooby, chair of Apollo Pavilion Projects CIC, said: “As an organisation that has long been involved in cultural developments in Peterlee we are delighted to be part of such an important project for the town and its wider area. In the past we have given special focus to involving young people in our projects and in this anniversary year we hope to take some of the ideals associated with the founding of Peterlee to inspire this next generation.”

Jess Hunt, director of East Durham Creates, said: “We are really excited to be working together with Durham County Council and lots of local organisations to celebrate Peterlee’s unique story. Peterlee is the place our programme calls home and this project is part of our long-term commitment to telling the vital stories of our people and place. Our digital residency will collect, curate and create digital work inspired by 75 years of Peterlee and look not just at Peterlee’s past, but also its future.”