Our vision & impact

We work to preserve and explain the unique heritage and environment of Upper Swaledale for the benefit of the local community, visitors and the rural economy.

Our origins developed from the community's desire to make productive use of three Grade II listed buildings - the former Manse, School and Literary Institute - which lie at the heart of the village.  Owned by the United Reformed Church, these buildings had lain unused since the devastating outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001.  Rather than see them sold for commercial, residential or private holiday home use, local people were determined to have them restored for the benefit of the whole community and visitors to the area.

Since taking stewardship of these buildings we have been developing a sustainable programme for their restoration and return to use, complemented by activities and events designed to explain and interpret the area and its rich history, and strengthen our fragile rural economy.

Our programme centres around four main areas of activity:

  • Heritage and environment, centred around the Keld Countryside and Heritage Centre which we operate;

  • Community development, via our Upper Room events and activity space, which is encouraging a wider range of visitors to the area and providing much needed community space;

  • Wellbeing, where we have developed the Keld Well-being Garden and Keld Community Orchard, two beautiful outside spaces for relaxation and contemplation; and

  • Local history, where we are developing an extensive online archive backed up by a regular programme of events.

Our impact so far:

  • 2017: development of a deserted and derelict allotment into the Keld Community Orchard

  • 2016: restoration of the former assembly room (the 'Upper Room') of the Keld Literary Institute as a flexible and attractive events space, supported by a breakout room and tea bar, plus modern toilets and a lift.

  • 2015: preparation of the Upper Room project, which will bring the first floor of the Literary Institute building back into use as a conference, events and exhibition space.

  • 2014: enhancement of the Well-being Garden to include a striking, rough-hewn standing stone

  • 2012: establishment of a programme of events such as guided walks, craft demonstrations, exhibitions and lectures involving visitors, local people and schoolchildren to provide opportunities to learn about the area's heritage

  • 2011: restoration of the former stables and carriage room below the Literary Institute, at a cost of £60,000 and return to use as the Countryside and Heritage Centre, designed to intepret the village and its surroundings to visitors

  • 2010: restoration of the former Manse as a holiday cottage at a cost of £120,000, providing income to support our wider work

  • 2010: creation of the Well-being Garden at a cost of £26,000 to provide a quiet place for reflection and contemplation