Region: Yorkshire North East

Disabled Facilities: Yes

Category: Day Trip Destinations

Address: Cowshill County Durham, , DL13 1AR

Contact: 013 885 37505



Killhope is an authentically preserved 19th century industrial site located in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

A general school visit normally takes three hours and it is designed to take children back in time and provide a powerful and immersive insight into what it was like to work and live as  both a miner and a washer boy.

A visit includes a trip into the mine itself and pupil feedback confirms that the mine trip is an exciting highlight of the visit to Killhope. Once the pupils come out of the mine they then visit washing floor, where washer boys once had the job of processing the lead ore removed from the mine.

Pupils can engage with this by working the equipment and using the authentic hand tools the washer boys used to look for lead ore and other minerals. Pupil feedback has revealed that after the mine trip, the activities on the washing floor, (and the chance to smash some rocks up) is highly valued and memorable.

The pupils will visit the mine office and mine shop to see where business was conducted and to view the living conditions of the miners and washer boys.

The pupils can also consider water power, discussing how a natural resource was harnessed. Children can see how machinery was developed to improve the mining process. On site we have three working water wheels; the iconic largest wheel is over 30 foot in diameter and is a renowned landmark.

The mine trip; washing floor experience and working machinery engage learners by providing an opportunity for them to experience; investigate and explore.

Research and studies have revealed that well executed learning outside the classroom can motivate learners; lead to better achievement; improve behaviour and assist in the personal development of learners.

Killhope also has a newly developed activity called Boom or Bust which is designed for Key Stage 2 /3 learners.

The activity can take place after the mine trip and washing floor experience. Usually school groups will have their packed lunch before moving onto Boom or Bust.

Boom or Bust is an excellent example of learning being delivered outside the classroom, it engages elements of numeracy and literacy; develops an understanding of industrial relations; and it also encourages the learner to demonstrate/develop character attributes such as communication and negotiation skills; teamwork; and problem solving.

Pupils meet the Mine Agent and the Mine Inspector and take part in a role play activity ‘mining’ for lead ore.

This type of activity can lead to improved confidence and self-dependency and can help individuals to raise their standards and academic performance. By developing these skills learners are better prepared for the classroom and the world beyond it.

Why is this venue great for School Trips and Educational Visits?

Killhope provides a real place, with real experiences and real issues to make learning ‘come alive’ by offering an inspiring and creative learning environment.

Killhope has three working waterwheels, the large iconic waterwheel powers machinery in the jigger house.

The site provides authentic nineteenth century industrial archaeology and historic buildings. As well as the waterwheels and machinery we have restored buildings which include the mine shop; the jigger house; the buddle house and the washer boys shed. The different buildings lend themselves to different lines of enquiry and there is scope for pre visit and post visit activities in order to fully develop learning outcomes for learners.

A trip to Killhope means that pupils can see and experience what it is like to be underground and what it was like to work on the washing floor. Pupils can touch tools; machinery and minerals as well as watch working authentic machinery. It is a fully immersive and engaging experience.

Killhope also has a large yurt which can be useful as an ‘outdoor classroom’ or a base for a visit but this would have to be arranged prior to any visit.

What does a typical school trip or educational visit include?

The traditional school visit is aimed at children aged four years and above. (Children must be aged four or older to take part in the mine trip) Depending on the type of school visiting our delivery will be tailored to meet their requirements.

Boom or Bust is aimed at Key Stage 2 and 3.

We are looking to develop a wider offer at the present time.

Do you have a YouTube Video link regarding your venue?

Are you currently on Twitter or Facebook?!/Killhope

This venue has the following accreditation:

We are in the process of renewing our LOtC Quality Badge and expect confirmation once the invoice payment has cleared.

Heritage Education Award from the Sandford Trust.

Affiliated member of the University of the First Age.

What size groups do they cater for?

We have handled school trips of up to 90 pupils.

We allow 1 free adult for every 14 pupils.

Trips underground are limited to 14 pupils at a time so that means large groups are broken down to this number. We are flexible and will discuss requirements with any school interested in booking a visit.

What can they provide you with to support your school trip or educational visit?

We are currently redeveloping our resources but there will be material available for any bookings. We are also redeveloping our website so there will be resources made available online.

Can you take photos, video or audio? Are there any copyright restrictions?

No restrictions but we cannot be responsible for personal equipment.

How do you arrange a risk assessment?

We provide a Hazard Awareness Sheet so that teachers can complete their own risk assessment document.

We offer teachers a free pre visit session on site before any school trip where a member of staff can discuss any particular needs or concerns.

What are the contact details for their education officer?

Paul Leonard Learning Assistant 01388 537505

What does it cost?

Traditional School Visit

£4 per pupil

1 free place for teacher/staff member for every 14 pupils

Boom or Bust

First visit

£4 per pupil 1 free place for teacher/staff member with every 14 pupils

Second Boom or Bust visit onwards

£6 per pupil 1 free place for teacher/staff member with every 14 pupils

Is specific clothing required?

Stout shoes are recommended and visitors are advised to dress in warm layers.

Do you have first aid on site?

First Aid is available every day on site.

What facilities do they have for school trips and educational visits?

There is a designated area for pupils to eat packed lunches.

There is a gift shop, a suitable pocket money sum would be between £2 to £5 as there are goody bags available for those prices.

Are there disabled facilities?

If we are given advanced notification we can try to facilitate an underground experience for a disabled child. This might not be the full underground trip but it would try to provide a flavour/impression of being underground.

We have ramps available to access the upper area of the mine shop.                               

What are your opening days and hours?

April 1st to October 31st we are open daily 11am to 5pm.

We can consider bookings between November and March by prior arrangement and weather permitting.

Do you have any testimonials from previous customers who have visited you on an educational visit?

‘Well organized. Clearly presented information. Good safety.’ Miss J. Bruce – Sunderland High School – 30/06/15

‘As always very friendly and informative staff…very practical and hands on, useful to maintain pupil interest and accessible to all.’ Joanne McGarr – Kirby Stephen Grammar School – 15/06/15

Feedback from visiting pupils in 2015 has so far revealed that the underground mine trip is the most popular part of a school visit. However evaluation forms have also shown us that many pupils also really value the visit to the washing floor with many references to how much fun they had ‘bashing rocks!

Is there anything else that you feel is important and want to include in your information?

We are currently reviewing our Education Offer and considering what we might be able to develop for the future. We are working on a Geography Field Trip at the moment and have ideas to develop STEM activities possibly based on waterwheel technology.

Age of Children / Pupils: Pre-school 5 – 7 years 8 – 10 years 11 – 13 years 14 – 16 years College University

Type of Visit: Historic Buildings Historical Heritage Museums Outdoor Education Outdoor Pursuits Picnic Areas Safety Awareness Science & Technology Themed Attractions Team Building

Curriculum Topics Covered: Design and Technology Engineering Environmental Studies Geography History Leisure & Tourism Science

Months Open: April May June July August September October November

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