THE restoration of a former miners’ memorial hall has won a prestigious architectural award.

The transformation of Esh Winning memorial hall into Eshwin Hall, flats for vulnerable people, has been chosen for the City of Durham Trust Architectural Award of the Year for 2013.

The hall, built in 1923, was saved from demolition in 2009 and developer Mick Brett spent around £1m turning it into housing for 24 adults with mild to moderate learning difficulties.

The Trust praised the project’s sympathetic approach, welcomed the retention of the building’s distinctive down-pipes and bold facade and said the interior was now a pleasurable experience, with several elegant features renewed or inserted.

Dr Douglas Pocock, the Trust’s honorary secretary, said: “It is fair to say that no annual award of the Trust has been more deserving or given with greater pleasure.

“For this, our gratitude is extended to entrepreneur and visionary Mick Brett who, with his architect the late David Spark – succeeded by Garry Hodgson, along with encouragement from Steve France in the county (council) planning office, brought the project to fruition.”

Mr Brett said: “We’re really pleased. The challenge was saving the building. We thought it would fall over.

“It took some doing but we’ve done it.”

The Trust will present a plaque at its spring meeting on Saturday, March 9.

The building of the original hall was funded by public subscription, costing £9,500. It was a memorial to miners who lost their lives in the First World War.

The Twentieth Century Society described it as one of the grandest village halls in England.

It was used as a cinema in the 1920s, a makeshift barracks during the Second World War and a bingo hall and disco in the 1960s before falling into disrepair in the 1970s.