Bowes has had a long journey as a Charity since 1976 but by 2013 had fallen on difficult times and saw its relationships with the Councils of Gateshead and Sunderland deteriorate, grant support withdrawn, staff redundancies and the volunteer base dwindle to a handful of supporters.
In 2014, Bowes Trustees linked with a local community heritage partner Sunderland North Community Business Centre (SNCBC) to explore strategies to avoid site closure. The partnership that evolved from those discussions gave Heritage Lottery Fund the confidence to invest in the site, providing funds for staff resource to target volunteer engagement, restore the Brakeman's Hut which sits proudly in the colliery yard, and improve the visitor experience by updating and enhancing the interpretation materials at site and introducing a media presence, promoting a visitor attraction which caters for both railway/ history enthusiasts and families alike. This has included introducing a dedicated history timeline exhibition, new interpretation and signage, repairing/servicing workshop machinery to enable public demonstrations and developing a tearoom area for visitors to take a break.
The condition of the yard has been much improved and partnerships have been formed with local colleges such as Gateshead and Newcastle Rail Academies who have done much to improve the condition of the tracks whilst students benefit from practical hands on lessons in rail track maintenance - providing a win win solution for everyone.
Yard restoration is ongoing and there is always a new project and plan afoot!