The initial meeting was arranged in March 2012 by Bishop Auckland Town Council to get support from anyone interested to help apply for a bid of up to £100,000 which the Government was offering to Town and Parish Councils for 12 pilots throughout the country.
It was on the back of an independent review into the future of high streets that Mary Portas carried out in 2011. Tremendous support from the local community enabled the bid to come together with new ideas, new partners and a shared vision to revitalise the town.
The Events Team was established to organise events that could increase footfall into the Town Centre. From organising a few events in 2012 which included the Queens Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Torch relay to the success of around 3,000 people attending Bishop Celebrating Together,
Regular popular events have been introduced over the years and have included the Easter Eggstravaganza, Buskers Day, Vintage and Classic cars, Busses Thru the Ages and Monster Saturday.
Bishop Celebrating Together was an idea brought to Bishop Auckland Town Team by Andrew Corry who wanted to put on a ‘Celebration’ event for the end of the first Kynren season and recognise the hard work of the volunteers throughout the town.
Andrew met with Lee Brownson (Town Team) and Colin Wilkes (Durham Markets/Full Moon Street Food Markets) and the idea turned into a full weekend event in around 6 weeks.
The first event took place over the weekend of 23/24th September 2017 and included everything from local singers and performers, children’s entertainment, food stalls and other partners and organisations joining in.
It has since gone from strength to strength and one of the highlights of the event calendar.
One of the most popular events is Santa and Christmas Entertainment. Since 2012, we have brought Father Christmas to Bishop Auckland each December.
Over 3 Saturday’s in December we invite children to see Santa for free with an opportunity for a 6″ x 4″ colour photo printed straight away.
Over the years we’ve used various locations including the Newgate Shopping Centre, Beales Department Store, InShops and No42 Market Place.
In addition to Santa each year we provided some festive entertainment to entertain the shoppers from the Sound Waves Community Choir, Innovations to the Salvation Army.
We’ve had many vocalists including Ruth Stapleton, Steven Berry, Charlotte Forman and Jenna Highfield singing all the Christmas classics.
In December 2017, the first ever Bishop Auckland Advent Windows took place and ended in style with a carol singing walk through the town and the final two window unveilings.
The project was an idea brought to the Town Team by David and Pam Pott who had done this elsewhere in the country. With a successful funding application from the County Durham Community Foundation the event took place during December 2017 with the first window revealed at the annual Bishop Auckland Town Council Christmas event.
Schools and community groups from across the Bishop Auckland area got involved by designing and creating a display for 24 shop windows throughout the town.
Each day during December the windows were revealed and a carol or song was sung. Due to its popularity and success, Advent Windows took place again in both 2018 and 2019.
The quality of events has improved, a change of staging company has improved the settings for the major events. Local sponsorship has helped fund better quality entertainment and a grant from the Bishop Auckland Town Council secured funding for some of the events.
Overall, the Events Team has been successful in organising bigger and more varied events in the last four years, building on the events established in 2012.
These events have been successful in increasing footfall, which in turn, help bring customers to local businesses.
The Bishop Auckland Town Team is an open group of local people, businesses, public sector bodies and other interested parties with the objective of working in partnership to regenerate Bishop Auckland Town Centre.
If you are interested in being part of the team, then simply get in touch!