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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Supporting Arts Award

Find out how Durham County Record Office can support Arts projects

Tile mural, inspired by archives, at St John's Catholic School, Bishop Auckland, 2008
Durham County Record Office is pleased to be an Arts Award Supporter. We've provided inspiration for a whole range of artworks and are always keen to take part in Arts projects. 

Our archives are rich, varied and an amazing source of inspiration. They record daily life in County Durham and Darlington over the past thousand years and include photographs, maps, diaries and official records, covering topics as diverse as mining, suffragettes, the First and Second World Wars (including the Home Front), local history, the Holocaust and slavery. 

We've worked with a range of artists in the past on all kinds of projects, from dance to sculpture to creative writing. We are flexible and can adapt our offer based on what you require, even designing something entirely new if that's what you need.


St John's Catholic School pupils performing at Beamish Museum after visiting the archives to research suffragettes, 2008
Most of our Arts based workshops centre on the children or young people coming to the Record Office, seeing our archives and the strongrooms where they are kept and using the experience and knowledge gained to inspire creative work. Depending on the size and age of the group, we might have a range of archives out for them to explore, or show them how to use our database to find records for themselves.

We can also offer sessions at other venues, but will have to use high quality copies rather than original archives, which for preservation reasons cannot leave the Record Office. Visits to the Record Office need to be organised in advance and usually take place on a Thursday or Friday, as we are open to the public Monday to Wednesday. We can organise evening or Saturday visits if required.

The cost varies depending on what you require, but as a guide, we charge £100 for half a day of workshop time, whether here or at another venue. If you are able to secure funding for additional research time (charged at £300 per day), this gives us the opportunity to really dig into the archives and create something extra special. 

Independent visits

Although anyone is welcome to come to the Record Office and do research (though younger teenagers will need to be accompanied by an adult), most Arts work happens through organised projects. If you want to visit us to research independently, we ask that you make an appointment. You would also find it useful to look through our website as it has lots of information about visiting us and the records you will find here.

Recent arts projects

Chilton in the 1970s (2016)

Young people from Chilton, researching their film project in 2016
A group of young people, working on a Heritage Lottery Funded project with local filmmaker Brian Wise, visited the Record Office to research life in the 1970s, for background research and  inspiration prior to making a film set in that period. They were particularly interested in fashion and pastimes of young people, so explored some photographs from the period as well as looking at their own local area. They also looked through local newspapers to find stories that they might like to include in their film.

Sacriston Miners' Banner project (2015)

We worked with a local development worker, artist and secondary school to give a group of Year 10 students an insight not only into the art and process of creating a miners' banner, but also into how their village used to be less than fifty years ago when it still featured a working coal mine. 
Our Education Archivist went out to the school and, using maps, trade directories and local newspapers, allowed the students to see for themselves how different the village was even such a short time ago. They were also shown how to use our database to find records that might be of interest to them. They then had a chance to request to see those items when they visited the Record Office. 

Arts Award qualifications

Find out more about arts qualifications for young people at What is Arts Award?