Wear

Historic Catholic college in County Durham to close

Ushaw College
Image caption Ushaw College is close to the city of Durham

A Roman Catholic college that can trace its roots back to the 16th Century is to close, its trustees have announced.

Ushaw College in County Durham is home to St Cuthbert's Seminary, which trains young men to become priests.

Run as a charity, it also provides conference and event facilities and accommodation, but maintenance and running costs have increased.

The college is due to shut in June 2011, and its 26 students will transfer to another seminary.

Ushaw College can trace its roots back to Douai College, which was founded in 1568 in the Spanish Netherlands, now northern France, to provide priests when traditional Catholicism suffered persecution under Queen Elizabeth I.

Drastic step

Students and staff later relocated to County Durham and eventually settled at Ushaw in 1808.

Kay Wightman, director of finance and commercial development at Ushaw College, said the business had been facing tough times for many years.

She said: "We are a charitable organisation and as such unfortunately we've had to bear increasing costs of maintaining and running the facilities we provide, and this has led to the sad proposal that Ushaw is to close."

Monsignor John Marsland, president of the college, added: "Words cannot express how sad we are that we are considering such a drastic step.

"We have long tried to find a development partner and it would be nice to believe that a partner will still come forward with a viable business plan, but unfortunately time is running out and we have to face the reality of the situation we are in."

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