From derelict mine building to warm, welcoming and inclusive community hub

Film released by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) to coincide with #VillageHallsWeek demonstrates what can be achieved when a rural community comes together and creates a friendly space that everyone can use.

There are over 10,000 village halls to be found across the English countryside, many of which date back to the 1920s. According to research conducted in 2020, more often than not they are the only place where people can meet, attend events and access services locally.

But not all rural communities are lucky enough to have village halls. In the remote, off grid settlement of Carrshield in the North Pennines, local residents had to travel 17 miles to the nearest town and seven miles to the nearest pub. There was nowhere to hold village meetings. But in 2018 an old mine shop was gifted to residents by the local landowner and refurbished using Historic England and Heritage Lottery funding to create a vibrant community hub.

Today, as part of #VillageHallsWeek – a weeklong celebration of rural community buildings – ACRE has released a short film showcasing what has been achieved at Carrshield.

The film features conversations with volunteers who helped set up the hall and users, such as old timer Bryen Mayers who has lived in Carrshield most of his life and enjoys being able to socialise at the regular games and pub nights. And newcomer Beverley Warrington who joined the Knit and Natter group, and feels like she has been welcomed as an honorary member of the community.

With thanks to

“The enthusiasm, passion and hard work of volunteers has helped to create an extremely vibrant, warm and welcoming space that serves the whole community.” 

Louise Currie, Village Hall Adviser, Community Action Northumberland

The village hall has been used extensively since it opened in December 2018. Aside from Pilates classes, book clubs and regular social meets, it has hosted some memorable annual events including Burns Night with neeps and tatties and a summer ‘duck race’.

In the same building complex is a camping barn on the upper floor providing simple but warm accommodation for passing outdoor enthusiasts and a pottery workshop which help to bring people into the village and also generate revenue that goes towards the upkeep of the village hall.

Louise Currie, Village Hall Adviser at Community Action Northumberland said, “What has been achieved at Carrshield is something truly special. The enthusiasm, passion and hard work of volunteers has helped to create an extremely vibrant, warm and welcoming space that serves the whole community. The fact they have created something new here goes to show that the village hall model remains as important as ever to the sustainability and wellbeing of rural communities”.

ACRE is hoping the film will serve as an inspiration to other rural communities, particularly those without an existing meeting space.

Deborah Clarke, ACRE’s Village Halls Manager said, “Carrshield represents the very best of what can be achieved by a village hall. The film we are releasing today goes to show how different people can come together and create something really impressive. This is a community that has been hugely successful in levering in funding to create a fantastic local asset.  But it’s so much more than bricks and mortar. Local residents now have somewhere to go, new friendships are being created and local businesses are being supported”.

Notes to editors

Media contact: Phillip Vincent,, 01285 425645.

Village Halls Week is a national campaign running 23-29 January 2023, shining a spotlight on the contribution England’s 10,000+ village halls make to rural communities. It is an opportunity for hall management committees to celebrate their work and get inspiration from others.

For more information about Carrshield Village Hall, please visit:

ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) is a charity speaking up for and supporting rural communities. It is the national body of the ACRE Network, England’s largest rural grouping of community support charities which together reach over 35,000 community groups annually, and lever in over £34 million each year in support of initiatives that equip people with the knowledge, skills, and connections needed to improve their local community.

Community Action Northumberland (CAN) is a member of the ACRE Network with a mission to sustain rural communities in the county.  Since 1951 CAN has offered specialist advice for village halls such as trustees’ roles and responsibilities, health and safety, charity law, energy efficiency, property maintenance and refurbishment and fundraising.

“Carrshield represents the very best of what can be achieved by a village hall”

Deborah Clarke, ACRE’s Village Halls Manager