RESTORATION of a traditional blacksmith’s workshop has earned a construction industry accolade.

Work to bring back to life the Grade II-listed smithy at Hetton-le-Hole was highly commended in the Constructing Excellence in the North-East annual gala evening.

The refurbishment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and led by Durham County Council’s Limestone Landscapes Project, was highlighted in the heritage category of the awards scheme.

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A single-storey, one-roomed workshop, off North Road, the Smithy is among the former mining town’s oldest buildings.

It is now back in use as a working blacksmith’s shop, with owner John Guy planning forthcoming public demonstrations of the craft.

But it was at risk and in a state of collapse before traditional methods were used to restore its roof, forge and gable, with historic roof tiles provided by Beamish Museum.

The conservation-accredited architect for the project was Beaumont: Brown Architects and the specialist building contractor was Classic Masonry.

David Beaumont, of Beaumont: Brown Architects, said: “I’m delighted the Smithy has retained its historic appearance which is so essential in projects of this nature.”

Neil Foster, the Durham County Council cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The Smithy was in a serious condition but thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, its future has been safeguarded”.

Mr Guy said he is now looking forward to the open days, specifically being able to demonstrate the Smithy’s historic tools and techniques.

They are on the first Saturdays of the next three months, June 7, July 5 and August 2, all from10am to 2pm.