History lovers in Durham have a new destination to explore after the much-anticipated “The Story” archive and history centre opened its doors to the public on Friday, 14 June.

Located at the restored Mount Oswald Manor House, The Story brings together a state-of-the-art archive facility, a visitor centre showcasing County Durham’s rich past, and a modern registry office. The centre houses nearly six miles of archived materials spanning 900 years, offering a treasure trove for researchers and history buffs alike.

The opening ceremony was followed by a celebratory weekend filled with family-friendly activities, historical re-enactments, and live music. The Story promises to be a hub for the local community, with regular events and exhibitions planned to delve deeper into Durham’s fascinating history.

This landmark development marks the culmination of years of work and represents a significant investment in Durham’s cultural heritage. The Story is expected to become a cornerstone of the city’s visitor experience, offering a unique window into the region’s past.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Partnerships, expressed her excitement about the opening:

“We’re incredibly excited to welcome the public to The Story next weekend,” Cllr Scott said. “Restoring and extending a Grade II listed building and relocating tens of thousands of historical records and artefacts has been a huge endeavour, but I hope everyone who visits The Story will agree it has been worth it.

“What we have created in The Story is a place where County Durham’s heritage is not only preserved but celebrated in a way that inspires people to discover more. A place where people can create and record their own history in a setting befitting of the occasion; and an attraction that will enhance Durham’s reputation as the Culture County and boost our visitor economy.”

Mount Oswald: A Historic Location Breathes New Life

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. The historic building has undergone a meticulous restoration, blending the old with the new.

A contemporary and sensitively designed extension has been added, offering stunning views across the grounds. Sustainability has also been a key focus, with the installation of 291 solar panels and 60 ground source heat pumps.

Interactive Exhibits and Digital Access

Inside, visitors can embark on an immersive historical journey using interactive audio-visual displays. A dedicated digitisation studio allows The Story team to expand the collections available online. A state-of-the-art online search function, with AI features, enables exploration of The Story’s treasures from home or on-site.

The Story’s development was made possible thanks to the support of numerous organisations, including The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, The Wolfson Foundation, and the Banks Group, which generously gifted Mount Oswald Manor House to the council.