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The Story begins as new County Durham attraction opens to public

Jun 17, 2024 | Local News

A new visitor attraction celebrating the past, present and future of County Durham is now open to the public.

Durham County Council officially opened The Story– a gateway to the history of County Durham and its people, on the outskirts of Durham City.

Located in the recently restored and extended Grade II listed Mount Oswald manor house, The Story blends Georgian grandeur with state-of-the-art modern facilities.

Combining five important collections, it offers visitors access to ancient documents and archaeological finds, records of bravery, and stories of life-changing events. This includes six miles of archives charting 900 years of County Durham’s history and the entire Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Collection, which has been reunited with the DLI Archive for the first time since 1998.

A free, interactive exhibition space lifts the lid on the stories within these collections, and an exciting programme of activities will offer new ways for people to discover and learn more about the people and events that shaped the county.

And, as the new home of the County Registration Service, The Story provides a place for current and future generations to make their own milestones – be that registering a birth or getting married in one of the venue’s magnificent ceremony rooms.

The official opening on Friday kicked off a weekend of special activities for people of all ages to mark the occasion.

Historical re-enactments, pop-up theatre performances, live music and a teddy bears’ picnic were among the free activities on offer, along with the chance to be among the first to see inside the new venue.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that The Story is now open to the public.

“We’ve loved welcoming everyone, from the official opening on Friday through all the special activities over the weekend. We’ve had nothing but smiles on faces and laughter

from old friends and new and it’s been great to show off exactly what The Story has to offer.

“We recognise the importance of conserving historically significant collections such as the Durham Light Infantry for generations to come. This new attraction is a place where County Durham’s heritage is not only preserved but celebrated in a way that we hope will inspire people to find out more. It also gives them the opportunity to create and record their own history.

“We’re really looking forward to The Story reinforcing our standing as the Culture County and supporting the local economy.”

Mount Oswald was built in the early 19th century and was most recently used as a golf club before planning permission for The Story was granted in 2020.

Since then, the building has been restored inside and out. A contemporary extension has been added with views across the grounds, and 291 solar panels and 60 ground source heat pumps have been installed.

Inside, visitors can experiment with audio and visual devices to interact with exhibitions, and a specialist digitisation studio is allowing The Story team to expand the collections that are available digitally.

A state-of-the-art online collections search is also available both on site and online, meaning people can discover The Story’s treasures from their own homes as well as taking advantage of artificial intelligence features.

The Story has been made possible thanks to support from a number of organisations including The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, The Wolfson Foundation and the Banks Group, which gifted Mount Oswald manor house to Durham County Council.

To stay up to date with the latest news, events, exhibitions and visitor information from The Story, visit www.thestorydurham.org and follow @TheStoryDurham on Facebook and X.