To complete a year of reminiscence, celebration and share hopes for what’s yet to come, please join in for the conclusion of PETERLEE 75.

A new exhibition PETERLEE: Living Memory opens on Saturday 9 March 2024, again in Castle Eden Dene Shopping Centre.

Following on from last year’s exhibition, PETERLEE – the place to be, this new exhibition will capture a parallel story told from the perspective of the people who call Peterlee home. Alongside it will be another exhibition, GARDEN CITY FUTURES, showcasing the work of students at East Durham College who have been considering the future of green spaces in the urban environment and the unique landscape of Peterlee.

On Friday 8 March and Saturday 9 March there will also be performances, in the shopping centre by young people who have taken part in the successful Celebrating in Song programme. Further details to follow.

Celebrating in Song

75 years ago Peterlee was built on a foundation of hope and ambition.

On March 1948 Peterlee was designated as the site of Peterlee.

Amongst all of the English “New Towns” designated in post-war Britain, Peterlee is unique in having come about at the request of local people. Designated a year after the nationalisation of the coal mines, its proponents saw it as a “capital for the miners of the East Durham coalfield”. Since then, unemployment, hearsay, and bad press have overshadowed the optimism of those early days. 75 years is the scope of living memory and a good time to take stock.

Peterlee 75, taking place over a 12-month period has been an opportunity to reflect on the life of a community and the lives of the people who have lived and worked here. The programme started with two initiatives: LIVING MEMORY and PETERLEE – the place to be.

LIVING MEMORY was an opportunity for the people of the town to share their experiences of life in the town and to record personal and community activities for future generations, while PETERLEE – the place to be explored the development of the “new town”, through photographs, line drawings and plans predominantly drawn from the Peterlee Development Corporation archives.

The reminiscences recorded in LIVING MEMORY inspired material for CELEBRATING IN SONG, where professional singer-songwriters worked with pupils from Peterlee’s schools to create suite of new songs specifically about the town. All the songs created by the young people were featured in FESTIVAL 75, a splendid series of performances in November and January with celebrated singer-songwriters and musicians.

Living Memory

Celebrating in Song

Between October 2023 and January 2024 pupils from Peterlee’s primary and secondary schools enjoyed workshops with professional singer-songwriters: Jez Low, Elaine Palmer, Rachael McShane, Steve Pledger, Kathryn Williams, Emma Fisk, Liz Corney, Marty Longstaff, Bridie Jackson and Jordan Miller.

Inspired by stories collected during Living Memory the pupils at each school worked with their mentor to create a new song celebrating Peterlee’s 75 birthday. By the end of January over 300 pupils had taken part in the workshops and many of them had joined their mentors on stage to sing with them during Festival 75 at East Durham College.

Garden City Futures

Students at East Durham College have been working alongside artist Sara Cooper and lecturers and design-practitioners from the School of Architecture at Newcastle University to consider the future of green spaces in the urban environment and the unique landscape of Peterlee. They have researched existing projects, shared case-studies, tested and developed ideas and designs, all with a view to actively encouraging community participation in the care of our shared green spaces.

On Saturday 9 March you can see an exhibition of their work in Castle Dene Shopping Centre. It asks us to consider what are green spaces for and who uses or has access to them? How can we increase biodiversity and create sustainable green spaces for the future?

PETERLEE- the place to be

The PETERLEE 75 initiative was launched with PETERLEE – the place to be in June 2023. It was a photographic exhibition, largely drawn from the records of Peterlee Development Corporation held by Durham County Record Office. It was not a celebration of the past 75 years as such, but an attempt to convey the motives that helped shape key aspects of the town, the viewpoint of the authorities responsible for its early developments. In other words, it was about the buildings not the people.

As the PETERLEE 75 initiative draws to a close new exhibition, PETERLEE: Living Memory, captures a parallel story told from the very different perspective, from the people who called and still call Peterlee home. This exhibition opens on Saturday 9 March in Castle Dene Shopping Centre.

“It keeps on going and then it stands still, Peterlee, and everyone tries to put their mark on it.”

Peterlee Poem


In A Peterlee Care Home

Celebrated writer and poet Bob Beagrie has been visiting some of the residents in Bannatyne Lodge Care Home as part of the Living Memory programme. This poem was inspired by their conversations.

Read The Poem

What's happening in Peterlee?

Supported By

County Durham Community Foundation Altogether Better Durham East Durham Creates Towns Villages Durham County Council National Lottery Heritage Fund Apollo Pavilion Project Peterlee County Council The Story Castledene