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BVC is a community group that
was first formed to honour local people killed
in World War II (1939-45) and to celebrate the
50th anniversary of VE Day.
A stone War Memorial was dedicated on May 7th 1995 and a leather-bound, hand-calligraphed Book of Remembrance, listing all local men killed in action in WWII, was dedicated in Bowburn Community Centre on November 8th 1998.
Later, a brass plaque was commissioned, also for the Community Centre, to add the names of four Bowburn men who died during the First World War (1914-1918), which had not been included, either on the plaque already in the Community Centre (originally in the first Miners’ Welfare and Institute built in 1921) or on the plaque first erected in St. Paul’s Church, Quarrington Hill, and currently in Christ the King Church, Bowburn.
In 1995, BVC organised a Carnival Parade and Fun Day as part of the VE & VJ Days celebrations and this became an annual event – usually a wet one! It was discontinued, however, after 2003. (A different Fun Day has been organised by Bowburn Community Association, the Bowburn Youth Project and Bowburn & Parkhill Community Partnership since 2012. BVC, like many other local community groups, take part in this.)
During those eight years, BVC also organised a best kept garden competition (later taken on by the Parish Council), worked towards starting a local history group (now well-established), helped to re-open the DJ Evans Youth Club (now also known as the Bowburn Youth Project) and, in 1997, conducted a Village Appraisal (with help from Rural Action). This Appraisal included a questionnaire survey and “planning for real” exercises, with a giant 3-dimensional map of the village being made by local school children, showing where residents (young and old) thought improvements were most needed.
An Appraisal report and a “Making Bowburn Better” Action Plan were completed in 1998 and progress was made on a number of its objectives. With significant help from the National Lottery Charities Board and other funders, and in partnership with the Youth Club and the Community Association, BVC replaced one of the “grot spots” identified in the Appraisal with a new footpath and landscaping, between Burn Street and Steavenson Street. (This now runs beside the Youth Club and behind the Community Centre.) Improvements were also made around the front of the Library and at the entrance to the Community Centre.
Other identified “grot spots”, notably the two main allotment sites, the garage site at the bottom of Bow and Burn Streets, and the former cinema/bingo hall, were subsequently tackled successfully by other agencies, including the Parish Council, to produce a GP surgery, the Doorstep Green communal garden, allotment garden fencing and the Wellfields Business Centre (where the derelict cinema once stood, on Durham Road).
BVC also established a computer suite in the Community Centre, with the help of Lottery funding and local businesses (notably PC Henderson’s). This too was in response to interests expressed in the Village Appraisal. It is now a well-used part of the Community Association’s activities.
The decision to concentrate
on producing Bowburn Interchange was
taken partly because it was clear that this was
going to be a long-term commitment, which it was
felt worth concentrating on doing successfully,
and partly because other issues raised in the
Village Appraisal had, as hoped, been taken on
by other groups and organisations. Many of
these became a central part of the Bowburn
regeneration programme, which has been reported
regularly in the Interchange.
A thriving community partnership was established in 2004, bringing together both individual residents and representatives of a wide range of local community groups and other organisations seeking to improve the quality of life of all who live in Bowburn and Parkhill and the surrounding area. (The work of Bowburn & Parkhill Community Partnership is also regularly reported in the Interchange.)
As one of the original aims of BVC was to bring together people from all parts of the community – initially to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, but subsequently in striving to "Make Bowburn Better", members of BVC agreed that the new partnership was far better placed to pursue this aim on the widest possible front. All members of BVC are in fact also active members of the community partnership and it is with satisfaction, not regret, that BVC feels able to concentrate on the newsletter project.
BVC’s editorial policy (see link) continues to support initiatives to support and develop positive aspects of Bowburn’s community life.
Actually, BVC has also retained its special interest in honouring Bowburn’s heroes. After commissioning the war memorial in 1995 and the Book of Remembrance in 1998, BVC continued to play its part in helping to organise annual Remembrance Sunday services at the memorial, in conjunction with local churches. Most years, this has included finding some one to play the Last Post and Reveille. In 2006, that being Bowburn’s Centenary Year, funding was obtained from the village’s Community Chest to hire the full Reg Vardy Band for this occasion.
Also in 2006, thanks to a grant from Awards for
All, BVC organised a ceremony to dedicate a new
memorial, in Bowburn Community Centre, to those
who gave their lives in the quest for coal.
The memorial itself was donated by Bowburn
Labour Party. It listed the 52 men and boys
who were fatally injured at the local colliery and
a further four who died at other collieries having
transferred from Bowburn after it closed in 1967.
BVC, with the help of Bowburn Banner Group
and local churches, arranged a suitable service
which was attended by numerous banners from the
Durham coalfield and some 200 friends and
relatives of those honoured and remembered by the
In October 2017, BVC organised a ceremony to
honour the “Aycliffe Angels” – women who worked,
in often very dangerous conditions, at the
munitions factory at Aycliffe during World War II.
A plaque in their honour was unveiled, and
certificates and medals were presented by the
Mayor of Great Aycliffe to one “Angel” who still
lives in Bowburn and to relatives of many others
who once did so.