What we do

Community and heritage

Supporting the community and heritage sector

In the Allen Valleys there is a strong tradition of community activity and many active local groups. Even so, a number of new groups emerged as a result of this project, and we have supported them with our time, with training and mentoring. They now support the future of our natural and cultural heritage in the Allen Valleys, and sometimes further afield.

Resilient Allen Valleys

In 2019 an additional fund was secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a project called Resilient Allen Valleys. This 18 month project between February 2019 and July 2020 aims to support these groups further by providing help with fundraising planning, marketing and business planning, and investigate how the sector as a whole can work more effectively together.

Allen Valleys Enterprise Ltd (AVEL)

Allen Valleys Enterprise Ltd was set up in 2014 to support the legacy objectives of the Scheme. A community benefit society was chosen as the appropriate vehicle for thee group, enabling the group to develop a share offer for a planned micro hydro-electric scheme in the East and West Allens. However after three years of technical and financial investigation, none of the potential schemes were found to be viable.

This social enterprise has, however, gone on to enable several projects to take place and to provide them with future management beyond the scheme. Watch our video to find out more:

North Pennines Observatory

We developed the North Pennines Observatory as part of the scheme. AVEL have been involved from the design stage and are now the owners and managers of the observatory. They are assisted greatly by the North Pennines Astronomy Society who run events on the site.

Barney Craig Camping Barn

We saved Barney Craig mineshop from dereliction as part of the scheme and facilitated its transfer into the ownership of the community, in the form of AVEL. Now in use as a simple camping barn on the first floor, the potential for further developments are being explored by AVEL and local residents.

Allendale Growing Together

As part of the Scheme we developed a community growing area in the heart of Allendale. We facilitated the transfer of this County Council owned asset to the community, in the form of AVEL. Now the area is being developed by another social enterprise called Higher Ground, as part community wildlife space, and part horticultural therapy project.

Our Plugging the gaps project also invested in the site and established a wildflower nursery run by volunteers.

Allen Valleys Promotions / Allen Valleys Folk Festival

We worked with the community to develop an annual folk festival, celebrating the musical heritage of our region, and traditional music from around the world. The first three-day festival took place in October 2014. A group of volunteers worked with the Allendale Lions to pull a successful festival together, but it was clear that an independent organisation would be needed to take the festival into the future. With our help Allen Valleys Promotions was born, and has been organising the annual Allen Valleys Folk Festival ever since, latterly with no funding through our scheme.

Deneholme volunteers

Deneholme volunteers came together around the newly open Deneholme Wood. Extremely popular with the public, the wood also provided an ideal venue for a local group of enthusiasts who were keen to take on some of the work of the new woodland management plan, to maintain the access, celebrate the woodland and to socialise around a woodland fire. To join the volunteers you can contact them via their Facebook page.

Allen Smelt Mill volunteers

The Allen Smelt Mill volunteers came together in 2013 to help clear vegetation on the Allen Smelt Mill site and have stayed ever since. We helped provide training and health and safety on site, archaeological recording, bats and working underground and lime mortar repairs. The group still works on the site and have a Facebook page.

Allen Valleys Local History Group

Allen Valleys Local History Group had not been active for a number of years when the scheme started, but are now an active research group. We helped the group to get organised and to start their work on a photographic archive for the Allen Valleys which is now hosted on the new Allen Valleys Local History Website.

North Pennines Astronomy Society

The new astronomy society was established to help us organise events for the public at the new North Pennines Observatory.  It has successfully been doing so now since 2017, and runs events throughout the North Pennines.

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