Investing in community heritage in the North Pennines

A unique project that brings together more than ten community organisations in the Allen Valleys area of the North Pennines is starting work after receiving funding.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting the Resilient Allen Valleys project, which is led by the North Pennines AONB Partnership. Working with the social enterprises, charities and non-constituted groups that make up the community heritage sector in the Allen Valleys, the project will help them to work together and maximise opportunities for the future.

During the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s four year Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership Scheme which ended in 2018, a number of groups were established, enabling the local community to take on more responsibility for some of the area’s heritage assets. Alongside existing organisations like Allenheads Trust and Fawside, these new groups will be supported through the Resilient Allen Valleys project to strengthen their business plans and processes, invest in skills to aid growth and carry out effective marketing and promotion.

David Coverdale, Community Development Officer from the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “We know that there is a thriving community heritage sector in the Allen Valleys. What the new project will allow us to do is to develop a robust plan for these organisations, and develop the skills and knowledge they need to secure their sustainable future.

“There is a real community feel to this, and working together to build on the success of the Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership, the local organisations involved will be able to make the most of the fantastic heritage assets in the area.”

Over the 18-month project, one of the groups the North Pennines AONB Partnership will be supporting is social enterprise, Allen Valleys Enterprise Ltd (AVEL). They will be developing a viable business based around the recently restored mineshop at Barney Craig. Brought back into use by the North Pennines AONB Partnership, part of the mineshop at Carrshield is now a camping barn and the rest of the building will be developed by AVEL with the community.

Steve Agar, chair of the AVEL board, said: “We’re delighted that the National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting community groups and organisations like ours to help build a secure and sustainable future.”

“From AVEL’s point of view, up to now we have relied on grant assistance and volunteer input. Over the next two years, we need to move towards being a self-funded organisation that can meet its aims of nurturing social enterprises so they can stand on their own feet. As well as strengthening our own skills and helping us to work much more closely with other local organisations, Resilient Allen Valleys will help us to access the appropriate external support and professional advice.”

In Allenheads, the best preserved lead mining village in the North of England, attention will focus on helping the community to make the most of the village’s mining heritage and natural beauty. Annie Evans from the Allenheads Trust said: “We are pleased that the Resilient Allen Valleys project is now underway, and we will be starting work with David to develop projects in the village which will help provide more for our residents and our visitors, and put us on a more secure footing for the future.”

The groups receiving support from the Resilient Allen Valleys project are:

  • Allen Valleys Enterprise (Barney Craig Mineshop & camping barn; North Pennines Observatory; Growing Together garden)
  • Allen Valleys Promotions (Allen Valleys Folk Festival)
  • Allenheads Trust (Allenheads Village, Blacksmith’s Shop and mineyard access)
  • Fawside (Deneholme Wood)
  • Higher Ground (AVEL tenants and managers of the Growing Together garden)
  • Allen Smelt Mill Volunteers
  • Allen Valleys Local History Group
  • Deneholme Wood Volunteers
  • North Pennines Astronomy Society
  • Visit Allen Valleys network