The rich history of Bishop Auckland and almost 200 years of the Darlington and Stockton Railway are the subject of an extensive programme of events and activities this month. The theme of the events is ‘Our Heritage’ and here Anne Allen from co-organiser Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone considers what exactly ‘Our Heritage’ means…


Who do you think you are?

I love that TV show where celebrities trace their family history.  It’s a fascinating insight into past lives – and social history.  The theme of the festival this year is Our Heritage.  It’s an invitation for us to consider who are we- and what exactly is heritage

Try googling that phrase and you’ll see that there are many different definitions – but what they have in common is a sense of the value that we put on memories of a lived experience, of places and people. 

Sometimes there are tangible remains in the form of buildings or memorabilia. In other cases, there are stories and perhaps photographs or contemporary artwork through which we recall and keep alive these memories. Of course, memories only survive if we take the time to pass them on – to our families and to visitors.  You don’t have to be an academic to get involved – you just need to be curious.  We all have (hi)stories to share.

Aboriginal people in Australia pass on their cultural history through art – and songlines.  They walk and literally sing their history to life. This collective memory is very powerful – and before the written record was vital to their existence.

I would argue that passing on our heritage today is no less important. It explains where we’ve come from and adds colour and meaning to our sense of place, family and community.

The Our Heritage Festival invites you to join in a journey of discovery, to go back to your roots and to share your memories of Bishop Auckland and the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Take this opportunity to talk to family and neighbours, to research and share your family and local history, learn about the latest archaeological discoveries and enjoy free exhibitions and events.

Events such as the festival display County Durham’s rich heritage, which is a hugely important part of the county’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2025. The Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport is expected to announce the finalists at the end of this month, with the full bids to be submitted by January 2022.

The winning location will then be announced in May.

The festival runs online, in person and on 105.9 Bishop FM until September 27. The programme is published online at