Peoples’ Landscape on the Durham Coast: Writing Residency

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This summer New Writing North is partnering with the National Trust to offer a writing residency on the Durham Coast as part of Durham Book Festival.

In 2019, the National Trust is launching People’s Landscapes, a national programme inviting people to look beyond the beauty of our places and discover the hidden histories within. On the Durham Coast, they will be exploring the area’s industrial and social heritage, and how people’s actions and events have helped shape the landscape.

This beautiful stretch of the Durham coast (which lies roughly between Seaham and Horden), was once home to one of the biggest coal mines in Europe and also suffered some of the worst pollution in the world. The area has changed over the years and been transformed by a massive clean up project.

Film and photography collective Amber ( will be working with the local community to explore the area’s mining heritage, whether the impact of the miners’ strike 35 years ago is still felt, and residents’ evolving relationships with the coast’s former ‘black beaches’. Turner prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller is also providing artistic advice to the project.

We would like to invite a writer to undertake a residency on Durham’s ‘radical’ coast during July and August 2019. We would ask the chosen writer to spend time exploring the landscape and meeting with members of the community of all ages. We would ask the writer to look beyond the most recent history of the coastline and consider future prospects for the area, as well as the natural history of the landscape.

During residency the writer will:

  • Meet with the National Trust, Amber Collective and members of Durham’s coastal community, including young people, over a period of 5-10 days during July and August
  • Produce a piece of written work of approximately 2000 words to be shared by the Durham Book Festival and National Trust in print and online.
  • Produce a blog for the Durham Book Festival about their residency
  • Take part in a podcast about their residency

The chosen writer will discuss their residency and experiences at an event at the Durham Book Festival between 5-13 October.

Fee, Travel and Accommodation

The chosen writer will be paid a flat fee of £2,500. They will be able to claim up to £500 travel and subsidence expenses in addition to this. There is an opportunity for the chosen writer to stay at Souter Lighthouse depending on the availability of the cottage for up to 3 nights, costs will be covered by the National Trust.


Friday 7 June: Deadline for submissions

Friday 14 June: Writer selected by New Writing North and National Trust

July-August: Residency undertaken

Monday 9 September: Commissioned piece delivered to NWN

5-13 October: Public event at Durham Book Festival

What to send us:

  1. A statement (up to 500 words) explaining why you would like to undertake the residency and what you hope to achieve
  2. A recent CV

To be eligible to apply, writers must live and work in the North of England and have been previously published in the UK.

Applicants must have published at least one full-length work eg. a novel, creative non-fiction or a poetry or short story collection.

Durham Book Festival and New Writing North support Arts Council England’s Creative Case for Diversity and welcome applications from under-represented groups.

Submit via New Writing North on Submittable.