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Iconic Cumbrian visitor attraction to bounce back with new identity

The Hive

An iconic Cumbrian visitor attraction is preparing to re-open with a new identity after lockdown.

Nenthead Arts and Visitor Centre was closed by lockdown in March. When the attraction, housed in a former Wesleyan Methodist Church, re-opens after restrictions are lifted it will be as The Hive at Nenthead.

The Hive sits high in a beautiful rural landscape at the crossroads to the three counties of Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland. The management team has been busy during the weeks of lockdown preparing to re-launch with a name more reflective of the wide variety on offer to visitors of all ages.

The magnificent restored organ in The Hive

The Hive will re-start activities on July 4 when, depending on how far restrictions have been eased, it hopes to entice people out of their homes with food and an art exhibition.

The venue opened last year after a £1.7m Heritage Lottery Fund grant brought the dreams of its supporters to life.

The imposing chapel had sat closed and neglected and fallen into disrepair. But the enthusiasm of locals to see it once again be a landmark in the Pennines’ Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty saw a sympathetic renovation take place to rejuvenate the building.

The team was gearing up for its first full summer when it fell victim to the coronavirus lockdown. But those weeks have been put to good use.

Alongside the fresh name there will be a new website, signage and an emphasis on promoting the area’s rich mining and social heritage and natural beauty. Nenthead is one of England’s highest villages, at around 1,500ft, and was one of the earliest purpose-built industrial villages in Britain.

Sandra Mackenzie inside The Hive

The chair of Nenthead Chapel Enterprise Limited, Sandra Mackenzie, said the previous name didn’t portray the central role the former chapel is once again playing in people’s lives.

She said: “Hive suggests ‘busy, active, creative, building something together’. And that’s what we think the centre is doing and what we want it to do for many years to come.

“We had got into our stride with the café, dining experiences, live music and art exhibitions and word of mouth was spreading. Rather than sit on our hands during lockdown we wanted to make sure that when we came out of it, we had as strong a brand as possible.”

While the UK slowly gets back on its feet after lockdown, The Hive will be concentrating on its café and bookings for private celebrations before it gets back to its full range of live events.

Sandra said: “The health and safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers will, of course, be of paramount importance and we’ll be ensuring the services we offer adhere to the guidelines on social distancing, hand sanitising and the like.

“We’re lucky to have a small outside area for tables and chairs and a large car park nearby which means those who may be taking their first day trips in many weeks will have a place to stop and visit.

“We hope people will choose us as a destination and ‘drive to The Hive’.

During lockdown, the venue has kept its fans near and far entertained with a series of online features, including a virtual art exhibition and VE Day memories, alongside songs from the wartime era.

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