THE onset of 2020 is being heralded as a key year for one of the North-East’s best-loved and oldest buildings.

It is hoped the start of the new decade will bring with it an upsurge in visitors to, and funding for Durham Cathedral, the Norman-built shrine to the great Northern saint, Cuthbert.

Billed as Durham’s Year of Pilgrimage, the cathedral is at the centre of a programme of events and activities, featuring walking routes across the region portraying the stories of the Northern Saints and the role they played in the development of the Christian faith in this country.

The Northern Saints Trail highlights the North-East’s place as, ‘The Christian Crossroads of the British Isles’, with the cathedral recognised as a destination, still, for pilgrimage.

Ex-pats from across the globe and former students at Durham will be welcomed back as the expectation is that 2020’s annual visitor figure will exceed the average of recent years of about 750,000.

Durham’s Dean and Chapter also hopes the year will bring with it more support for its Foundation 2020 fundraising drive to support the ongoing cost of maintenance and refurbishment work at the 900-year-old structure.

The campaign was launched last year with an overriding aim to provide a sustainable future for the repair of the medieval cathedral buildings, ensuring they are safeguarded for the enjoyment of future generations.

Foundation 2020, an endowment fund of £10 million, is being developed over three years to address the financial challenges of the continual conservation works necessary to maintain what is not only a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade-I listed property.

The campaign was kick-started by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s award of a £1m grant, matching the donations raised on a one-to-one basis, ensuring every £1 raised is doubled.

Speaking at the launch, The Dean of Durham, the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, said: “The core vision of the cathedral is to be a place from which to share our faith and heritage globally.

“Conserving our cathedral buildings, towering monuments to Christ’s message in the North-East, is central to the cathedral’s long-term strategy.

“We are enormously thankful to individuals, businesses and the Heritage Lottery Fund for their enthusiastic support of the cathedral and its community.

“The cathedral is much loved locally and further abroad, so we hope that this new appeal will inspire a new understanding of the importance of conserving historic buildings.”

Local businesses are being urged to show their support for the Foundation 2020 drive via the 2020 Club, for a membership fee of £250, equating to £500 thanks to the match funding.

Further details on Foundation 2020 are available via, or by ringing 0191-374 4079.