A £350,000 scheme to restore a 19th century memorial hall to its former glory is gathering pace.

Plans have been submitted to Durham County Council for the second phase of the refurbishment at Scarth Memorial Hall in Staindrop.

The hall’s trustees are seeking permission to install new windows, create a new toilet block extension, reinstate the original cast iron railings and carryout further internal and external renovations.

These include revamping the dated kitchen and installing a surround-sound system to encourage more music and drama groups to use the popular community facility.

The application follows the success of a £66,000 project in 2012, which saw essential repairs carried out to the roof and guttering, as well as the installation of new insulation and a heating system.

Morris Race, chairman of the trustees, said it was all about bringing the hall into the 21st century.

“Over the years the hall has become tired and it needs upgrading,” he said.

“Some people said it should be knocked down and replaced with a new one, but the structure itself is in good shape.

"It is also a wonderful, historic building; the stone work on the frontage and the internal beams are full of character and should be preserved.”

He described the hall, which dates back to 1875, as a vital amenity.

“There are no other buildings like this in the village,” he said. “It provides a place for older people to socialise and mothers and toddlers to get together. It is very well-used and attracts people from surrounding areas too.”

As well as receiving grants from funding bodies such as the National Lottery and the Veolia Environmental Trust, the community has rallied together to raise cash for the project, which has been dubbed Scarth the Hall for All.

An envelope-drop around the village saw residents donate more than £4,000, and a series of fundraising events, including concerts, beer festivals and coffee mornings, have also raised significant funds.

When the work is complete, the trustees intend to set up a maintenance fund to cover the cost of future repairs as and when needed.

The public has until Tuesday, March 11, to comment on the plans at durham.gov.uk/planning