The opening of a new look café will offer people a taster of a £1.5 million revamp of a historic town hall.

Bishop Auckland Town Hall was due to reopen to the public earlier this year following a major refurbishment programme, but this has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Durham County Council, which owns the building, has introduced a number of measures which mean the venue’s revamped café opened on Monday 3 August.

The improvement work has included relocating the café to the ground floor in order to provide a much larger, brighter and more welcoming space. A new menu featuring locally sourced produce has also been introduced.

The café also provides the new home to Norman Cornish’s Miners’ Gala mural, which has been relocated from County Hall, in Durham. The piece is on display alongside a stunning stained-glass feature by fellow local artist Tom McGuinness. New interpretation panels have been created for the pieces, but will not be installed until the building is able to open in full.

In order to reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus, extra space has been created between tables in the café, while additional signage has been introduced to support social distancing.

Cllr Joy Allen, Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “We are delighted to be able to open the café at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, particularly after such a lengthy closure.

“It is disappointing that we were not able to go ahead with our plans to reopen the whole building in the spring and show off all of the improvements that have been carried out, but at least we are able to finally welcome people back with the opening of the café. Customers will even be able to enjoy our exclusive, locally sourced ‘Bishop Auckland Town Hall’ brand of coffee.

“Since the easing of lockdown restrictions, the town’s market place has seen a real boost in visitors and I am sure the additional outdoor seating will attract even more people, boosting the local economy.

“I very much look forward to the time when people are able to see all of the improvements we have made but, in the meantime, I hope they will take advantage of the opportunity to have a first look at our newly refurbished town hall.”

The café is open Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 4pm, and there is no need to book in advance. It is hoped that an evening supper menu will be introduced when the theatre programme returns.

The town hall’s new-look library is also one of 10 new locations where bookworms will be able to access Pick and Collect services from Monday (3 August). The service, which was launched earlier this month, enables members of the public to order up to three books online or over the phone. They can then collect their chosen titles from a participating library from an allocated day onwards. The library will remain closed for browsing and PC access.

Bishop Auckland Town Hall closed last August to enable the refurbishment scheme to be carried out. As well as significant improvements to the café and library, work has included the creation of a new gallery space and significant improvements to the auditorium.

For more information and for the full café menu visit For more information about the Pick and Collect service, visit, or follow the library service’s Facebook or Twitter accounts at and