A COUNTY Durham village is finding itself increasingly popular thanks to a new £3m hall.

The community of Waterhouses may be small and off the beaten track, but a bumper Lottery windfall has helped put it firmly on the map.

With the facility proving a particular boon for youngsters, the honour of officially opening the community centre fittingly went to local schoolchildren.

The village, in the Deerness Valley, had for years put up with an old church hut for all its community activities.

But then came the £3m National Lottery Charities Board windfall, and Waterhouses was granted a hall, likely to become the envy of every village in the region.

With the funding assured, residents turned their attention to a suitable site for the hall.

It was agreed that the dilapidated former Co-op store in the centre of the village would be the perfect location.

Residents agreed that its rebuilding would not only create a community hall in a convenient setting, but also rid the village of a long-standing eyesore.

The project was completed just before Christmas, but it was only officially opened at the weekend.

Children from Waterhouses cut a large red ribbon, and celebrations were held throughout Saturday afternoon.

Although it has been open for less than a year the hall is already a hive of activity, not only serving Waterhouses but also surrounding villages.

The centre has a thriving youth club, with more than 40 members.

At the other end of the spectrum, it has become a popular spot for the over-sixties, who meet once a week.

There is a mother and toddlers group, an art and craft club, a local history class, keep fit sessions, wine club and a breakfast club.

Villagers are delighted that with its many modern facilities the hall has not only given a new lease of life to Waterhouses, but has attracted customers' from throughout the surrounding area