BUSINESS leaders hope a chamber of trade - relaunched 15 years after a similar group folded due to a lack of interest - will provide a boost to a town centre.

The newly-formed Shildon Chamber of Trade began meeting recently and has already attracted nearly 40 businesses to its ranks.

It is thought that the town’s former chamber of trade last met in 1999 and since then the shops and cafes have not had a united voice.

Chris Bowman, the owner of Console Connections, in Church Street, sought to resurrect the group last year.

He gained some support but it was the traders’ anger at Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon that forced it forward.

Many businesses felt that the museum did not do enough to push the 120,000 visitors it gained for The Great Goodbye Mallard 75th anniversary display into the high street.

The museum denied the claim but a body of traders were in favour of a group to ensure that they did not miss out again.

Mr Bowman, named the chamber’s president, said: “There was a lack of the support for the group in 1999.

“It’s been a bit of a struggle to get it going again but we have got there at last.

“We want to work together and to show the businesses what they can achieve as there have been some missed opportunities.

“It’s a chamber for all of the businesses whether they can come to the meetings or not.

“We’ve got a strong committee drawn together but the more people that we can get involved the stronger we’ll become.”

In a bid to boost local spending, it is hoped to create a loyalty card which will give shoppers discounts in the businesses of chamber members.

There are several issues which the chamber has on its agenda to discuss like improving relations with Shildon police, Shildon Town and Durham County councils.

The group meets on the last Monday of each month accept in May and August when it is the last Wednesday due to bank holidays.

The sessions are in Shildon Civic Hall from 6.15pm with a year’s subscription to the group £30.

Details can also be obtained online at