The Ebchester Village Trust was formed in 1976 and is an amenity society which is non-political and self-funding. Its objectives are to protect the best features of the village and to improve the Ebchester environment generally.
It has been active in a number of areas, including representing the interests and concerns of village residents to our local authorities. It tries to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to control traffic through the village, that footpaths and street furniture are well maintained and that representation is made on major planning applications such as those concerning mineral extraction from sites adjacent to Ebchester in Northumberland.
One of the early projects was to improve and re-equip the Vindomora playground. Lying on the site of the Roman Fort the appropriate planning permission was necessary. When this was eventually granted the project went ahead with the assistance of local organisations and contractors and was funded from local fundraising projects and a grant from the local Council’s lottery fund. Ironically, the equipment that was so carefully chosen was subsequently removed, in 1997, as it was deemed unsafe! Then, in 2010, all was looking well when the Ebchester & Medomsley Ward Partnership (which includes the Village Trust) won a grant from the Government’s Playbuilder scheme to install a new play area. However, the funding was a delayed as part a brief moratorium by the new government. The funds were left in the control of Durham County Council but it was not until 2018 that the playground was eventually created. After a gap of twenty-one years the children of Ebchester can again play safely.
A number of information boards, produced by the Village Trust in collaboration with Durham County Council, highlight the village’s history and buildings of interest, including the nearby Roman Museum. More recently, attempts have been made, but so far without success, to find a new, more accessible, location for the Roman Museum. The collection of artifacts is now housed in the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle. Part of the collection is on display at the village school.
Road safety problems have been an ongoing concern in the village. Lengthy negotiations with the County Council resulted in the extension of the 30mph zone towards East Law. Traffic volume has been a major issue when commenting on planning applications for mineral extraction and waste management. The Trust organised a number of public information meetings to discuss these applications which were very well attended.
A particularly important feature of the village is the riverside, with its weir and boathouse, the scene for more than one hundred years of renowned regattas. Following the winding-up of the Rowing Club in 1974 the building suffered some vandalism and became an eyesore. The Village Trust played an important role in the 1980s in saving the building from demolition and encouraging the 5th Tyne Sea Scouts to make good use of the opportunities for water sports, thus continuing a village tradition that extends over much of the last century. More recently the Village Trust has been playing a leading role in the development of plans for rejuvenation of the weir and riverside.
The weir has already been repaired, a fish pass has been installed, and boathouse development is in the pipeline. This is a collaborative venture involving the National Trust, the Tyne Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and Durham County Council.
In the early years the Village Trust was known for its social activities which included regular dances, Christmas dinners, discos for the younger members, family walks and outings, and an annual firework display. One notable event was the sumptuous ‘Roman Banquet’ to celebrate the 1900th anniversary of the Romans’ arrival in Ebchester. Some of these events raised funds to contribute towards various projects, including the publication of the booklet entitled ‘Ebchester, The Story of a North Durham Village’. A second edition of this booklet has now been published and is available for purchase in the Village Store. Copies can also be purchased via the Contact page on this website
The Village Trust has a close association with the Community Association and the two organisations decided a while ago that the Community Association would organise the social events, leaving the Village Trust to concentrate on environmental issues. It plans to continue making significant contributions towards the preservation and improvement of this historic little County Durham village.