A STREAM has been returned to its original course for the first time in more than 50 years.

During the 1950s, Stanley Burn, which flows through South Moor Memorial Park, was diverted into a culvert to make way for a paddling pool, which was abandoned after 15 years.

Now, a £90,000 project has seen the old paddling pool removed and the river returned to its original course, slowing the flow of water and improving the habitat for fish and invertebrates.

Residents of nearby Stanley are also enjoying improved access with a new 300-metre footpath and two new footbridges.

The improvements to South Moor Memorial Park have been carried out by a partnership of The Wear Rivers Trust and Environment Agency.

More work is planned in early 2018 to further improve the habitat for fish and naturalise the bankside.

Steve Hudson of Wear Rivers Trust said: “We have managed to improve the stream habitat, reduce flood risk and provide new all-ability access routes for everyone to enjoy this previously difficult to reach woodland park.”